Router Template guides problem

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Forum topic by Pinkylabmouse posted 05-31-2016 09:46 PM 756 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Pinkylabmouse's profile


8 posts in 1032 days

05-31-2016 09:46 PM

Topic tags/keywords: router template guides the bit eats the guides

I am having a problem concerning the Harbor Freight template guides, or my ineptness, I suspect it is my ineptness.
Never having used a Router before, I purchased the HB guide set and installed. I did use a centering pin and everything looked copacetic. (Copacetic? I’ve been working around navy guys for too long.)
Anyway, I had a 3/4” plywood pattern and was cutting 3/4” plywood (Bases for a Paulk Miter Station, see Youtube). I cut a couple of the large bases and then the router bit ate the template guide. The ring that holds the template guide was loose. Was the ring loose because the bit ate the template guide or did the ring come loose and cause the bit to eat the guide? I don’t know.
I went back to HB and bought a 2nd set of guides. This time I centered the guide and torqued the ring that holds the guide in place to “Tim the Tool Man specifications”. Within 12 inches of routing the bit ate another guide.
Is it possible that I didn’t have the bit deep enough in the collet and the bit deflected enough to grab the guide?
The bit is a 1/2” shank with 1-1/2” cutting surface, which is also 1/2” in diameter. I did slide the bit out a bit to get it to go all the way through the 3/4” plywood.

4 replies so far

View JBrow's profile


1366 posts in 1122 days

#1 posted 06-01-2016 03:32 AM


I have a brass guide bushing set (but not Harbor Freight). It looks similar to the Harbor Freight set but includes an insert plate that mounts to the router base plate and accepts the guide bushing. I have never had the problem you describe.

On my set, the clearance between the ½” router bit and the interior wall of the guide bushing I like to use is only 1/64”. The threads on the guide bushing permit a maximum purchase of the screw-on retaining ring of ¼”. When I install the guide bushing in the guide bushing base plate, it is hand tight, sometimes with very slight additional tightening with channel locks. I periodically check the tightness of the guide bushing. Sometimes the retaining ring loosens but not so much that the bushing contacts the bit.

If the threads on the Harbor Freight set are poorly machined and do not match up well, perhaps the locking ring would loosen more easily. If this is the case, then some Teflon plumbers tape wrapped around the threads could tighten the connection.

When I install my router bits, I first bottom out the bit in the collet. Then I pull the bit out about 1/16” and tighten it down. MLCS recommends a minimum of ¾” of bit chucked in the router, but I personally feel better when there is a lot of the router bit snug in the collet. Additionally an oily (for example, when new), dirty, or damaged router collet may not hold the router bit in place. Likewise a router bit with damage on the shank may not hold well in the collet. If the amount of router bit secured in the collet is less than ¾” then, depending on the distance of the end of guide bushing from the router base, using ½” or 3/8” thick templates could allow you to achieve greater purchase of the router bit in the collet.

I suspect that router bit deflection is unlikely since the router bit is a ½” shank, assuming multiple passes are taken to complete the profile and the bit is seated deep enough into the collet. If you are making one full depth pass to complete the cut, a lot of vibration could be imparted to the guide bushing and loosen the retaining ring.

View jerryminer's profile


944 posts in 1643 days

#2 posted 06-01-2016 04:41 AM

You probably have a vibration issue. 3/4 ply should not be “hogged out” in a single pass. In fact, it would be better to rough-cut the parts with a jigsaw, then trim with the router.

If you really want to do the whole job with the router, then do it in increments—-no more than 1/4” per pass, and keep your eye on that retaining ring. Mine loosens up sometimes, too. Usually a lighter cut solves the problem. Teflon tape is a good idea, too.

I also like to make my patterns out of thinner stock—-1/2 or 1/4. This puts the router collet closer to the work, and reduces any run-out.

-- Jerry, making sawdust professionally since 1976

View jumbojack's profile


1685 posts in 2826 days

#3 posted 06-01-2016 05:01 AM

On your NEXT set of guides put a drop of BLUE loctite on the threads and let it cure BEFORE screwing it on the guide. The loctite will provide just enough tooth to keep the ring from backing off. Also make sure the base of your router is securely mounted.
Also take the advice above. 3/4” is WAY TOO BIG A BITE.

-- Made in America, with American made tools....Shopsmith

View Pinkylabmouse's profile


8 posts in 1032 days

#4 posted 06-01-2016 02:41 PM

All right, I now feel confident about completing this job. You gentlemen are a great source of information, I am really glad I joined LumberJocks.

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