Microjig Steel Pro Query

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Forum topic by Erik, bauernhof holzwerke posted 04-29-2012 01:27 AM 1805 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch

04-29-2012 01:27 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question tablesaw jig

Hey Folks- First post for me and it comes out of some frustration. Recently had problems installing the Microjig Steel Pro system in Leecraft phenolic ZCI’s. I had previously installed their regular splitters in an UHMW ZCI without a hitch, but drilling the phenolic insert(s) has left me with unusable results.
Before I go into my travails, I just want to throw out there that my woodshop is my business and that my wife describes me as ‘beyond anally retentive’. In other words, I didn’t just get off the boat.
Though the instructions are lengthy, they are straightforward for this system. After following everything to a ‘T’, I commenced drilling the first insert. Drill straight through, with no stops to clear waste they say. This, of course, is counterintuitive to everything you ever knew if you’ve been in a shop more than one day. I started, but immediately had to back off to stop the bit from overheating. Result…...holes too big as they warned. OK, shame on me. One ZCI and $28 gone.
Second attempt…..damn the torpedoes! They must be right, so I throw all caution and common sense to the wind. Result…....lots of smoke, melted phenolic jamming the bit, and a melted drilling jig. One set of holes too big, the other (inexplicably) too small. Think that I’m starting to see a pattern here. Now, I’m out close to $90 for two inserts and the jig.
Of course, Microjig’s video on installation uses an UHMW insert and they drill through like it’s butter. Sooo….has anyone else run up against this wall with the phenolic inserts? Or, conversely, have you had success? Many thanks in advance for you thoughts/advice.

-- Erik, bauernhof holzwerke, Fayston, Vt.

7 replies so far

View NiteWalker's profile


2736 posts in 2539 days

#1 posted 04-29-2012 07:41 AM

Hi Erik and welcome to LJ. :)

I use the steel pro in a phenolic insert and installation went ok, but not perfect. Phenolic is very hard and maybe I didn’t drill it completely straight, but it went in a bit skewed. It works fine though; but I strongly believe there’s better splitter options out there for not much more.

I imagine installation would work great for wood or other softer ZCI materials.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

#2 posted 04-29-2012 01:14 PM

Thanks for the reply, NW. I was able to ream out the second set of holes to make the thing work, but obviously can only use one insert. Incidentally, the Leecraft insert is far superior to the perpetually warped UHMW insert that I previously was using (hence, the change). I do believe that I will have a little chat with the folks at Microjig, though! At least, now I can make some dust as I try out the new Ridge blade that the ZCI was purchased for.

-- Erik, bauernhof holzwerke, Fayston, Vt.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4181 days

#3 posted 04-29-2012 01:59 PM

Just a thought. Did you consider using a slightly undersized bit, backing off as you normally would during drilling?

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

#4 posted 04-29-2012 03:32 PM

On my second attempt, I know that I was more worried about limiting operator error as the root cause of the problem to be thinking outside of the box. Knowing what I know now, perhaps a smaller bit would work, though it would have to be only a whisker’s difference. As the sets of holes must be absolutely parallel to the fence, this might be just enough to skew them off. Unfortunately, or, fortunately, I won’t be doing any further testing on this. Getting to be a bit too rich for my blood! Haha! I have convinced myself that I will be satisfied at this point. That is, unless Microjig agrees that their plastic jig is not designed to stand up to the 10,000 degree drill bit that is the result of following their directions and using a phenolic insert. I will not hold my breath on that one. Thanks for the input; maybe someone else will have a go at it and let us know.

-- Erik, bauernhof holzwerke, Fayston, Vt.

#5 posted 05-01-2012 05:47 PM

In what is going to be the final chapter on this subject for me, at least, I contacted Microjig directly to find out if A) I was nuts; and, B) if my results had any precedent. Turns out that I am only slightly crazy and that (caveat emptor) problems with drilling the holes in phenolic are not uncommon, though the complaints are usually for holes being too small. The Rep (who was very decent and helpful) suggested plugging the holes with epoxy in the first unusable ZCI and utilize it for a different blade; and, just continue using the second, serviceable ZCI as is. A further note, he added, was that for phenolic, perhaps the original, all plastic splitter system should be used as it might be less rigid than the Steel Pro system and therefore conform to the (possibly) smaller holes that result from overheating during the drilling. To make up for my troubles, he is sending me a set of the original splitters and jig at no-charge. Well, that’s it for now…...I hope!!

-- Erik, bauernhof holzwerke, Fayston, Vt.

View Bertha's profile


13518 posts in 2655 days

#6 posted 05-01-2012 06:38 PM

^I have this system in a phenolic insert. Like Charlie suggested, I used a slightly smaller bit (I seem to recall a crummy one being supplied) and way too high speeds. The hole ended up not being perfectly regular and I used a tapered diamond bit in my Foredom to enlarge the holes. To be totally honest, I ended up just popping the stupid things out. I like my crosscut sled too much and I just didn’t like fooling with them.
I still like the phenolic ZCIs but you’re right, they’re pretty expensive. Good luck!

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

#7 posted 05-01-2012 07:52 PM

The Epilogue: After talking to Ron Lee of Leecraft today, I shall pass on his suggestion for those intrepid enough to undertake this installation. He agrees that it would be impossible to drill all the way through the phenolic insert in any accurate way, if Microjig’s directions are followed to the letter. His thought was to use the jig to only drill into the ZCI 1/8” or so, remove the ZCI from the TS, and then finish the drilling on the drill press. Ain’t hindsight grand??

-- Erik, bauernhof holzwerke, Fayston, Vt.

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