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Hybrid PantoRouter from Woodcraft

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Review by LesB posted 03-03-2018 08:33 PM 3039 views 1 time favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Hybrid PantoRouter from Woodcraft No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

I have had my PantoRouter, “All In One Panto Package” for two weeks. Four packages are offered from $1095 to $1849. The newest rendition has the one piece cast aluminum base with partial assembly of some of the parts. They are constantly improving them and coming up with new applications. The finishing of the assembly was easy and it went together without a hitch. I have been practicing and testing it for a couple of hours almost every day so I decided I had enough to blog my findings.

My over all evaluation of the PantoRouter is that it is a well made device that is capable of making unlimited accurate, repetitive, and precise joinery cuts. It also lends itself to other uses that I’m sure creative minds will come up with as it gets more exposure.
I think it would be a great addition for a small commercial shop or a “hobbyist” who needs to make a lot of repetitive joinery. For instance a hobbyist who sells items at craft fairs.
For those woodworkers who don’t do a lot of this type of repetitive work the devise is a rather expensive indulgence to their need for more tools. I have to admit that I fall in the latter category. As we all know, “He with the most tools when he dies wins”. However the setup and use for even a single project is easy enough to make using it regularly fun and worth while.

I first came across the tool when LumberJock, a1Jim, mentioned it in one of his posts. I was checking it out the wood version when I came across the metal version on the internet and my wife saw me looking at it. She had been trying to come up with a gift idea for my upcoming birthday and asked if that is what I wanted. I bit on the bait. We have reached the stage where it is difficult to find gifts for each other.

First of was making box joints and I found that the PantoRouter makes very clean precise 1/4” and 1/2” box joints right out of the box using the metal template. There is very little fussing with adjustments. The same template makes both size cuts. The finished joints are very tight and I had no chip out, even on soft wood. It is much more accurate and easy than cutting them with a jig on my table saw or on the router table.

I did not get the fixed spacing metal template for dovetails (I will soon) so I tried the variable spaced plastic templates and like most dovetail making devices it takes some patients to get the adjustments for the pins cuts set correctly and if you use a variable setting for the cuts you have to reverse the setup for the pins on one end of each board. That requires set up time and a test cut to make sure you got it correctly lined up but that is the same as when I used a Leigh D-4 to do the same thing. You can get some very tight dove tails but with accessories included in the “all in one” package you are limited to one size for tail cuts. With custom made templates for other size dovetail bits you could vary the size too. The web site is suggesting they will soon have a way to make half blind dovetails. None of the various videos I found for making dovetails on the PantoRouter showed the use of a backer board to reduce chip out. I found when cutting hard wood you can get away with this but I tried on some soft Redwood and there was a little chip out so I used a 1’4” piece of plywood and that eliminated the problem.

Another basic cut is the mortise and tenon. Here the PantoRouter excels. There are three basic sizes, 1/4”, 3/8”, and 1/2” based on the router bits included in my package. My test cuts came out precise with only minor adjustments needed. Also the size and combinations of multi Tenon joints are only limited by the type of templates and guide pin combinations.
Additionally loose tenons can be created quickly and easily. Along the same line there are templates for making dowel type joints or loose custom sized dowels if needed. Angled mortise and tenon joints look to be equally as easy to make although I haven’t tried one yet.

The PantoRouter recently added a dust collector and I have mixed results with it. It does work but has some limitations. As I was getting familiar with using the machine I found taking the skirt on and of, which is easy, was non the less a bit of a nuisance. I wanted to be able to see the cutting bit and the skirt blocked my vision. Once you have the system down and are cutting multiple duplicate pieces it will probably help a lot. Next I found that when cutting tenons with the long 1/2” bit the cutting area was not within the skirt and the shavings collected inside the skirt without being vacuumed away. If you don’t need the extra length you can set the bit deeper in the collet to resolve most of this problem. I also ran into the opposite problem of getting too close some of the filaments of the skirt folded back and got tangled in the dovetail bit I was using. My mistake.

My recommendation is to spend some time viewing all the videos that are available on the PantoRouter Woodcraft web site and other sites for both the metal version and original wooden model designed by Matthias Wandel. By the way Matthias is a consultant for the metal one and he tested the two versions and said the metal one was more accurate.

-- Les B, Oregon




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LesB

1815 posts in 3586 days



11 comments so far

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wrenchhead

220 posts in 3307 days


#1 posted 03-03-2018 10:15 PM

Pretty cool. I feel like i would get tangled up in it somehow. Haha!

-- https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkRuFxW8HhRfyhbTP4SY5UA I could quit if I wanted

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Woodknack

12369 posts in 2523 days


#2 posted 03-04-2018 01:10 AM

Good review. I’m surprised it took this long for a big company to get involved.

-- Rick M, http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

View Rayne's profile

Rayne

1056 posts in 1682 days


#3 posted 03-04-2018 03:06 AM



Good review. I m surprised it took this long for a big company to get involved.

- Woodknack

I wouldn’t doubt it if it had to do with Mathias working with the first company that wanted to make the aluminum Pantorouter. Not sure if they purchased the patent or Mathias licensed it. I’m sure whatever they worked out, it was for a certain period of time and it’s finally viable for a bigger commercial release.

View LesB's profile

LesB

1815 posts in 3586 days


#4 posted 03-04-2018 06:06 PM

I think the process in which the all metal machine was developed is not particularly relevant to it’s availability and function that I was reporting on here. I’m not sure this was a “big” company. The US distributer is Max Sheldon at Woodcraft Solutions located in Portland Oregon. I should add that he has been very responsive to emails I have sent him and seems to be intent on providing good customer service.
My understanding it that a fellow who happens to be Indian and lives in Japan worked with Mathias to build the first metal version. I did notice that some of the current models parts were made in China.

-- Les B, Oregon

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LesB

1815 posts in 3586 days


#5 posted 03-04-2018 06:07 PM

Actually the machine looks more complicated to operate than it is. Once a particular set up is made it operates very quickly and easily.


Pretty cool. I feel like i would get tangled up in it somehow. Haha!

- wrenchhead


-- Les B, Oregon

View Woodknack's profile

Woodknack

12369 posts in 2523 days


#6 posted 03-04-2018 07:41 PM



I think the process in which the all metal machine was developed is not particularly relevant to it s availability and function that I was reporting on here. I m not sure this was a “big” company. The US distributer is Max Sheldon at Woodcraft Solutions located in Portland Oregon. I should add that he has been very responsive to emails I have sent him and seems to be intent on providing good customer service.
My understanding it that a fellow who happens to be Indian and lives in Japan worked with Mathias to build the first metal version. I did notice that some of the current models parts were made in China.

- LesB

Ah, I thought you meant the distributor was Woodcraft, the chain of woodworking stores. Woodcraft Solutions (which is not mentioned in your review as of this post) is a small LLC that is the US distributor for the Pantorouter. My bad for not fact checking. Also his name is Mac Sheldon, not Max. Thanks again for the review.

-- Rick M, http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

View Jon Hobbs's profile

Jon Hobbs

147 posts in 847 days


#7 posted 03-05-2018 07:03 PM


Ah, I thought you meant the distributor was Woodcraft, the chain of woodworking stores. Woodcraft Solutions (which is not mentioned in your review as of this post) is a small LLC that is the US distributor for the Pantorouter. My bad for not fact checking. Also his name is Mac Sheldon, not Max. Thanks again for the review.

- Woodknack

I made the same mistake/assumption. My dream of wandering into my local Woodcraft store and laying hands on this beauty just went up in smoke :)

-- Jon -- Just a Minnesota kid hanging out in Kansas

View LesB's profile

LesB

1815 posts in 3586 days


#8 posted 03-05-2018 07:55 PM

Sorry about the name mix up. I did not catch it until it was to late to edit the posting. I mistakenly used the name off of a email I had from Mac which did not include the “solutions” part.
It is Mac Sheldon at Woodcraft Solutions.
I know he does demos at woodworking shows so you can watch for one in you area.

In the mean time there are lots of videos to watch.

-- Les B, Oregon

View kaerlighedsbamsen's profile

kaerlighedsbamsen

1250 posts in 1856 days


#9 posted 03-06-2018 09:18 AM

Thorough and well written review. Thank you for sharing!

-- "Do or Do not. There is no try." - Yoda

View Bliss Woodshop's profile

Bliss Woodshop

52 posts in 2729 days


#10 posted 03-18-2018 02:15 AM

I too have the metal version and I totally agree with the reviewer. Pain in the ass to setup, but if you are batching out few pieces, it’s totally usefull and worth the effort. I would probably add that this was bit pricey. I initially ordered with out the dust adapter and this made a mess with out it. Bit happier with the unit with dust adapter. So, overall good unit. But if on budget and don’t have small production builds from time to time, then it may not be the best use of your money.

-- Be Bliss. @blisswoodshop on IG

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CyberDyneSystems

288 posts in 2331 days


#11 posted 05-08-2018 05:24 PM

Every time I think they’ve made all the jigs one can come up with for the router, along comes another. amazing tool. I’ve been educating myself on this since reading the review, and it’s a very tempting tool.
Thanks for posting.

-- Without the wood, it's just working

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