|Review by MHarper90||posted 11-27-2013 02:52 AM||6003 views||0 times favorited||16 comments|
So I do most of my woodworking at work because we have a pretty nice shop there. In late September of this year I was routing a 1/2” deep x 2” wide flute into a piece of wood when the workpiece was shot across the room and my left hand was thrown into the router bit.
After a trip to the ER and emergency hand surgery with a skin graft, I was very fortunate in that I only lost 3mm of bone and approximately 5mm of total length off of the end of my left thumb (I still have more than half of the nail). I also lost a small chunk from the tip of my index finger on the same hand, but that is growing back just fine on it’s own.
Everything is 20/20 in hindsight, but looking back, I feel that my biggest mistake was that shape of the router bit and the style of the cut were lifting the stock from the table. It was my left hand that was holding downward pressure that took the hit when the piece of wood suddenly vanished. I can’t fix the past, nor dwell on my mistakes. I’ve been back in the shop since then and have great use of the remaining portion of my thumb.
While I was taking some recovery time off I did a lot of research into router safety. We have a SawStop at work. Actually, the router lift is installed in the extension table of the SawStop. We take safety seriously, and I knew there had to be an ideal product to make our router a little safer.
I stumbled upon the JessEm Mast-R-Fence II. Our router lift is a JessEm, so this is actually one of the first places I looked. I really liked this fence because of it’s compatibility with the JessEm Clear Cut Stock-Guides. They have a similar function as feather boards, but are much more convenient to set up.
I got the boss to order this and I installed it on the router table, which is actually part of the table saw.
The fence has two tracks with a graduated scale on each one so that you can tighten it from both sides and make accurate cuts. Because of the SawStop fence that runs along the entire front side of the extension table, I had to route away part of the table top and set these tracks in flush with the table top so that they didn’t get in the way of any wide table saw cuts. It took some work to do it right, but it was well worth it.
So, long story short, once it’s installed (was very easy once the routing for the tracks was complete), this thing is so quick and accurate to set up, comes with a plexiglass bit guard and the stock guides are very easy to setup and use. The actual fence is a very nice, hefty, solid piece of CNC-ed, anodized aluminum. It has adjustable melamine face boards that let you keep the fence as close as possible around the bit. And it also comes with a universal shop-vac dust collection hookup.
The stock guides are actually little wheels with rubber “tires” on them, and they are cocked to aim 5 degrees into the fence and they also have a bearing that only allows them to roll in the forward feed direction. Once you set the fence, you just place your stock under each of the two stock guides, loosen the thumb screw, press down onto the stock, and then retighten it. Now as you feed the stock in, the wheels push the stock down into the table, and over into the fence, and absolutely avoid any kickback.
The fence runs about $230, and the stock guides were another $100 on sale, but if they save just one more person from losing a part of their body to a router table, they’re worth every penny to me.