|Project by William||posted 04-22-2012 10:48 PM||30938 views||27 times favorited||50 comments|
I have wanted to build this project for some time now. I guess my wife got tired of hearing me talk about it, because she offered to purchase the plans for me. Then after getting the plans, I realized that it was designed to be used with a palm router, which I didn’t have. I was determined to build it though and had plans on using a full size router. Looking back, that may have been a dangerous decision. One of my sons though, heard me talking about it, and before I could get started on the build, he bought me a Ridgid palm router.
This is a Matthias Wandel design. This is not the first thing I have ever built of his design. He has some amazing designs. They are always well thought out and presented well. If you order a plan for one of his many designs, you get written instructions, plenty of photos, a sketchup drawing of it all, and always enough information that anyone with even limited wood working knowledge could follow the build if they have the patience to do so. The only complaint I have ever had with Mr. Wandel’s plans is that they’re all in metric. That isn’t his fault. Where he lives, that’s the measuring system they use. The more I build of his projects though, I am getting more used to using metric.
Mr. Wandel’s website can be seen here. You can read more about his pantograph design and purchase the plans here. While you’re on his site though, be sure to check out all that he offers. Even if you’re not interested in a pantograph, he has a lot of other machines you can buy plans for that are well thought out and usually superior to factory made tools.
Now on to the one I built. Wait, I built two of them. I will explain that.
To start with I built the pantograph according to Mr. Wandel’s plans. The only change I made you can see in this photo. According to the plans, the router is held in this carrier with some wood that is supposed to be screwed down. I wanted the ability to easily remove the router to use elswhere, either on other tools I may build for it or attached to it’s base that came with it. It really isn’t no big change at all. I just replaced two screws with two bolts and knobs.
If you build this design, Mr. Wandel’s plans were built around a Bosch Colt palm router. If you use any other type of router, as I did, all you have to do is keep the same center point for the router, which is clearly laid out in the 1:1 drawings that come with the plans, and resize this part to fit the router you are using.
I was sure that, being what looks like a complicated piece of machinery, that this would be a long build that would take a week or two. I was so wrong. This is one of the simplest designs in the world. After you get the part built that holds your router, the rest of it can be done in no time with basic shop tools. From start to finish, I built this one in less than ten hours total.
Then I tested the pantograph to see how well it worked. It works great, but more on that later.
My intention with this machine it to cut wooden signs. Yes, I could have just bought a Milescraft Sign Crafter, but I wanted something with more flexibility. I want to be able to design different size and styles of fonts and be able to use them over and over. After building this, I noticed that it has a reach of about two feet long for a sign. This is not a problem. All you’d have to do is move your material over, reset, and you could potentially make a sign as long as you want. However, since the build was so easy, I started thinking about the phrase, go big or go home. So I decided to build a bigger one.
Here are all the parts for the larger one. That is all there is to it. The trick of it all is to get the holes for the steele shafts lined up properly. As long as you do that, it all fits together so easily it almost seems too simple. All I done to make a larger one was to make all the parts twice as long, out of pecan for strength, and adjusted the measurements for the holes accordingly. I guess it was because I had already built one and knew how everything went, I built the larger pantograph in about five hours.
This pantograph desing cuts everything on a one half scale. So with this larger one, I can cut signs now up to four foot long.
That means the follower that you trace your templates with stretches out eight feet.
As you can see from this photo, the follower goes from one side of my seven foot long work table….....
All the way to the other end, without being stretched out al the way to it’s limit.
The plans give instructions for building various styles of followers that can be easily interchanged on the tools to more accurately follow different types of patterns and templates using different types of router bits.
The pantograph is supposed to be attached to a board that serves as a work surface. I decided not to mount mine. I left it so I can clamp the base to my work table when I use it. I think this will work out just fine. However, just in case, I did drill and countersink holes in the base so I can attach it to a large board at a later date if I see this is necessary.
Now, I have not built proper templates for this yet. That’s another future project. I did need to test it out though. So I just wrote my name on a piece of paper and used the follower that is just a rod polished on the end to slide easily and tried following my name, basically free hand.
It isn’t pretty, but I think it’s pretty good for my first time using this. With some proper templates, I can see a world of possibilities for this machine.
As soon as my kids seen this though, two of them just had to have their names in wood, so I done that real quick for them before moving on to some more playing.
J.C. insisted to let him write his own name and have me cut it.
While James wanted me to do his.
Then I wanted to cut something 3-D. This is where I figure this machine would really shine. So I looked around the shop for something to do. I remembered seeing a crescent wrench that Mr. Wandel had cut on his, so I decided to do the same with mine.
The smallest bit I had was a quarter inch, which didn’t allow me to get most of the finer details, but I was happy with the results. With some smaller bits, I can really see the potential here for some cool future projects.
So now I have two pantographs, a large and a small. I still have to make templates and get some better bits. I am excited about the potential this contraption introduces though.