Assembling the Duplicator

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This is when the machine really comes together. Because the major unit, the beam-and-column assembly, has already been constructed, you have a sense of what the duplicator is going to look like. But now you are going to mount it on the platen, install the router and the stylus, and ready it for its maiden voyage across your workbench.

1. Join the beam-and-column assembly to the | platen. These two major elements are cinched together with the threaded rod that extends through the main column.

To mount the beam-and-column unit on the platen, you must remove the bottom nut on the center column's threaded rod. (The screws will hold the unit together when you do this.) Turn the rod into the attachment block on the platen as far as it will go. Holding the rod with locking-grip pliers, as shown, tighten the top nut to secure the assembly.

The first thing to do is to place that short column section back around the attachment block on the platen. Don't glue it there—don't fasten it in any way.

Next, remove the bottom-end nut from the 18-inch threaded rod. Turn the top-end nut out near the end of the rod. Right the beam-and-column assembly, and stand it on the short column that's on the platen.Thread the rod well into theT-nut in the attachment block.

To tighten up the assembly, you have to tighten the nut on the rod's top end down against the upper pivot block Before doing this.chcck that the short column at the platen is centered on the lower pivot block and that the beam-and-column assembly works freely. When all is aligned, tighten the nut on the top of the threaded rod. clamping the beam assembly to the platen. You may need to hold the rod with pliers as you tighten the nut.

2. Make the router mounting plate. As noted at die beginning of ibis chapter, the best router for this jig is a laminate trimmer In fact, because the router is mounted between the beam sides, you can't use anything but a laminate trimmer because it won't fit.

To mount the trimmer, you make what amounts to an oversized baseplate and screw that to the bottom edges of the beam sides. Make the mounting plate from a scrap of '/«•inch plywood. Cut it to the dimensions specified by the Cutting List.

Remove the factory baseplate from the laminate trimmer, and bond it to the mounting plate blank using carpct tape. Make every effort 10 align the baseplate's bit opening over the centerpoint of the mounting plate. 11' you don't, you'll have a hanl time aligning the bit in the router directly under the stylus. You can fir.d tips for doing this in the chapter "The Generic Baseplate* on page 63. Use the baseplate as a guide in drilling mounting-screw holes and a bit opening.

3. Install the mounting plate. Screw the plate to the bottom edges of the beam sides, as shown in the Router Duplicator Exploded Vietv. Screwing, but not gluing, the plate in place allows you the option of removing or replacing it at a future time. Gluing might make the mounting a wee bit more rigid, but it isn't essential.

4. Choose a stylus configuration. One of the keys to accurate duplication is to use a stylus of the same size and shape as the muter bit. The best muter bit to use depends on whether you're removing large amounts of stock or reproducing fine detail. A Vinch core-box bit does a good job of removing waste, while a veining, V-grooving, or sign-making bit will duplicate finer detail. If your work requires both extensive stock removal and fine detail, you'll want to use both kinds of bit and will need a separate stylus and mounting bar for each bit.

Each stylus is made from a bolt. Choose one with an unthreaded shank diameter at least as great as the maximum cutting diameter of the bit.Thc length of the bolt, not including the head, should be at least as great as the overall length of the router bit. Extra length is not a problem—the excess will simply project up from the mounting bar.

5. Make the stylus. Start by sawing the head off the bolt with a hacksaw.

Next, chuck the threaded end of the bolt in your drill press. Since you'll need to run nuts down these threads when you install the stylus, you want to avoid distorting the threads with excessive tightening of the chuck. A couple of layers of masking tape on the threads provide some insurance against distortion.

Now file the end of the boll to the shape of your router bit. This is a simple, if somewhat tedious, task. Set the drill press speed quite slow, swing the table out of the way. and file against the rotation of the bolt with a Hat mill file. While you're not hand-tooling a part to spacc-agc tolerances, bear in mind that the more accuratcly you reproduce the router bit's profile, the more accurately your duplicator will duplicate.

6. Make the stylus mounting bar. This bar is a inch-long strip of steel with a hole drilled through it for die stylus.The width of the bar is not critical; anything -V< inch or more in width will do fine. But try to find a piece at least % inch thick. A mounting bar that flexes will give you distorted duplicates, which is especially vexing if you're trying to reproduce fine detail.

Cut the strip to the appropriate length, then lay out and drill the hole for the stylus. Begin with a '^inch-diameter pilot hole, then enlarge the hole with the appropriate-sized twist-dril bit. Be sure to clamp the bar to the drill press table while drilling so the drill bit won't yank it out of your hand.

While you are at the drill press, lay out and drill the two continued

Companion Drill Press

Shape the stylus by filing the end of a bolt while the bolt turns in the drill press. Hold the file against the bolt end, and move it around as necessary to shape the bolt end to match the "companion" router bit's contour.

Companion Drill Press

The stock-and-pattern table is a good way to hold both the pattern and the working stock. It's easy to make and easy to use.


Cutting List







ft" x 16" x 20'


Leg sides'


V*"x2VA"X 131i"


Straight dogs


'A" xl'/i'xl4"


Taper dogs/Wedges 2

'/i" x 3" x 14"




H" dia. x 1 W



drywall screws. #6 x

'The length specified is for (he short-legged version of the table. For the long-legged version, make the leg sides 15 inches long.

A Stock-and-Pattern Table

This two-tiered little table is a very important adjunct to the router duplicator. It holds both the pattern (the object being copied) and the workpiece (the wood into which the laminate trimmer is cutting). Use of the table makes it quick and easy to position and align these two pieces, a not inconsiderable achievement.

The thing is that for the duplicator to do its work, both the pattern to be duplicated and the stock to be routed must be held rigidly. Neither must be able to wiggle or shift. The upper surfaces of the two must be 12lA inches apart, and the pattern must be directly above the stock. Moreover, the sizes and shapes of the workpieces will undoubtedly vary greatly from project to project.

This stock-and-pattern table designed by Fred Matlack and Bob Moran is a simple response to the need. Because the design is so simple, it is adaptable to a variety of specific needs. The drawing Stock-and-Pattern Table Plans shows the details of the table. Notice that two different leg arrangements are shown.


The stock-and-pattern table is a good way to hold both the pattern and the working stock. It's easy to make and easy to use.










2 Va"

1 2Va"

1 2Va"


Clamping Table Plans

The short-legged version accommodates thicker stock and patterns and is easier to clamp to a table or workbench. The long-legged version allows you to reproduce shallow carvings with more precision because the beams of the duplicator will remain more nearly parallel to the surfaces of the pattern and the stock. If you anticipate a need for both versions, make the short one and, when you need the taller version, block it up off the workbench.

The drawing Dogand-Wedge Detail shows one means of clamping the pattern and the stock to the tables. Because it doesn't project above the surface of the stock, this clamping system doesn't interfere with the duplicator. If your stock and pattern are significantly larger than the actual carved area, you can use just about any c amps you want. And if you're just anxious to run tiie duplicator through its paces without taking the time to make your own clamping device, stick the pattern and stock to their respective tables with double-sided tape.

1. Cut the table parts. The tabletops. dogs, and wedges are plywood; the legs, hardwood. Cut these parts to the dimensions specified by the Cutting List.

Duplicators Router

2. Then stick the edge of the newly cut wedge to the edge of the uncut piece to saw the second dog and wedge.

Saw here with this edge against the table saw fence.

A Stock-and-Pattern Table—Continued

END VIEW Dowels and holes in table angle 1:6.


I. Stick one piece to the other with double-sided tape, as shown here, to saw the first dog and wedge.

Saw here with this edge against the table saw fence.

2. Then stick the edge of the newly cut wedge to the edge of the uncut piece to saw the second dog and wedge.

Saw here with this edge against the table saw fence.



2. Assemble the legs. Clue and nail or screw the eight leg pieces into four legs, as shown in the drawing Stock-and-Pattern Table Plans.

3. Lay out and drill the dog holes. The locations are shown in the drawing Stock-and-Pattern Table. Before you drill the holes, however, notice in the drawing Dogand-Wedge Detail that the holes enter the stock at an angle and that the set of holes on one side must angle in one direction while the holes on the other side angle in the opposite direction. These angles ensure that the dogs remain down tight against the table when the wedge is tapped into place and that they won't creep up while you're routing a copy into some very expensive stock.

The actual angle of the holes is not critical. The 1:6 specification is there only to give you an idea of roughly how much angle is appropriate in case you aren't familiar with workbench dogs. It is important that all the holes have the same angle and that the dowel holes in the dogs themselves have this same angle. It is also important that the holes in each pair be equidistant.

The way to drill these holes is not with a drill press but with a hand-held drill. You use a simple jig to guide the bit and position the holes.

Make yourself this jig guide by drilling two holes through a 2-inch-square piece of hardwood. The holes must be 8 inches apart. Then bevel an edge of the hardwood strip with the table saw blade tilted to 83 degrees. With the beveled face resting on the work-piece, the jig will tilt the drill bit to the proper angle for the holes you want to bore. And the jig will ensure that all the holes in each pair will be equidistant.

4. Glue and screw the tables to the legs.

If you haven't kept track of which surfaces of the tables are the tops, mark them now. The tops are the surfaces where the two innermost pairs of holes are closest together; that is, the holes flare out at the bottom like the legs of some tables.

Place one of the tables top-down on your workbench. and stand the legs on end at the four corners, positioned as shown in the drawings. Note that the wide sides of the legs go on the ends of the table, while the narrow sides of the legs go on the front and back. This gives the lower beam of the duplicator the maximum-sized "window" to work through. Clue and screw the legs in place.

Now place the remaining table top-up on your workbench. If you've made the legs to the long dimension shown, prop the table up 1 Vi inches on a couple thicknesses of ^-inch-thick stock. Place the assembled table and legs upright on the bench with the legs straddling the second table. Check that the distance from one tabletop to the other is 12V* inches, then glue and screw the second table in place.

5. Make the dogs and wedges. The angle of the wedges needs to match the angle of the tapered dogs quite accurately. To achieve this without undue fuss, start with two pieces of stock 3 inches wide for both the wedges and the tapered dogs and :wo pieces half that width for the untapered dogs. Lay out and bore the holes for the dowels the same way you bored the dog holes in the tables.

Now rip the 3-inch-wide pieces Into wedges and dogs with a tapering Jig on the table saw. If you don't have a tapering jig, stick one piece to the other piece with carpet tape, as shown in the drawing Dog-and-Wedge Detail. Then make the cuts.

Clue the dowels into the holes in the dogs, and you're done.

Well, almost done. You'll probably find nat the dowels need a bit of shaving in order to fit easily Into the dog holes in the tables.

Here's the setup for drilling angled dog holes.

The workpiece is resting on a scrap piece of plywood. The hardwood drill guide is clamped at one end, held firmly at the other. The masking-tape flag on the drill bit is a depth gauge aimed at preventing damage to the bench top. When the flag sv/eeps the surface of the guide, the bit has penetrated the workpiece (but not the scrap beneath it).



#8X1" Make stylus from bolt of same RHWS shank diameter as router bit's cutting diameter.

mounting-screw holes, as shown in the drawing .Stylus and Mounting Bar Detail.

If you want, if you think it will make it easier to use. you can tap the stylus hole. That way you can simply turn the stylus itself to adjust its length to match the router hit setting. To lock it in position, you jam a wing nut that's been turned onto the stylus against the mounting bar. You do not, however, have to tap the hole. Instead, you can drill the mounting bar to the outside diameter of die stylus and mount the stylus with two nuts, one above the bar and one below.

In either case, remember that you must always match the stylus extension to the router bit extension. Remember also that you need a different mounting bar for every different diameter of stylus you use.

7. Install the mounting bar and stylus. As long as your router is accurately mounted in the center of the mounting plate, as shown in the drawings, the stylus mounting bar's correct mounting position is 2 inches from the web. as shown in the Side View drawing. If for some-reason you've done things differently, make sure that the stylus mounts directly above the router bit. Screw the mounting bar to the underside of the box beam sides. If you anticipate frequently changing the mounting bar to accomodate a stylus of a different diameter, consider using small hanger bolts and wing nuts instead of screws.

Your duplicator is now complete. Why don't you hook it up to the shop vac and take it for a spin up and down the workbench?

Using the Duplicator

Your duplicator is built. The laminate trimmer is mounted at the end of the lower beam. You've got a bas-relief carving you want to copy. And now you pause.

Look at it. It certainly looks as gawky as Ichabod Crane, all elbows and knees. Is this sucker really gonna work? you ask yourself. You've got time and money tied up in it. so it better.

I think it will. It did for Fred and Bob. And it did for mc.

What you have to do is the same thing you do with all these magical, mystical routing machines: Experiment. You have to learn through experience what it is like to maneuver this ungainly device. You have to steer this vessel with just the stylus, and feel the tug and resistance created by the router's energy and the force of the spinning, cutting bit. Sure it's ungraceful, but it is literally FLOATING ON AIR! The 15- or 20-pound device you lift onto the workbench sheds all that weight as soon as you flick on the shop vac.

It's a whopping good trick!

So now you want to go to work. Here's how to set up I and rout a copy of a bas-relief carving.

1. Choose your work surface. Hie duplicator I requires a smooth, flat, level surface; smooth and flat so the platen moves about freely without hanging up on irregularities in the surface, level so it doesn't tend to slide oi I downhill. (Remember, there is virtually no friction between I the platen and the surface it's riding on once you turn on I the air.) A well-maintained workbench makes a good woik I surface. A flat sheet of plywood over a lousy workbench cr table also works fine.

2. Decide how to stage the workpieces. When H you use the duplicator, you have two "workpieces" you arc I addressing simultaneously. One is the pattern, the other is | the stock being routed.

As in a template-routing operation, a very particular rcla- I tionship must be maintained between the pattern and the I working stock. But unlike the template operation, where the I template and the stock are sandwiched together, the two I workpieces must be separated for the duplicator. Working I out a tidy way of positioning and securing the pattern and I the working stock can be a major challenge. And thus is true I when using any router duplicator, not just this one.

With this duplicator, the challenge is compounded by I the fact that the pattern must be suspended directly aboiv I the stock to be routed. The distance between the twj I working surfaces must be 12vi inches.

Once in a while, the workpieces lend themselves to I some job-specific staging that can be cobbled up to support the pattern above the working stock. But more often than not, a tidy and flexible two-level tabic is what you need. I recommend that you spend the time right now, before you really do any purposeful duplicating work, to build the auxiliary project. "A Stock-and-Pattcrn Table." presented on page 32. I Bob and Fred coIlalx>nucd on its design, and it has worked well for the jobs that I've tackled with the duplicator.

The dog-and-wedge setup makes it easy to clamp both the pattern and the work to the table. Lay the pattern on the upper tabletop, tight against the straight dog. Set the tapered dog into a set of holes close to the workpiece's edge, then tap the wedge into the gap between the dog and the work.

fork the table on the workbench, but don't clamp anything just yet. The setup requires a little trial and error, and it can get a little fussy. To position the work, you need to have the duplicator set up with the bit and stylus. Having done that, you'll be able position and wedge the pattern and the work to the table.Then you can nin through the limits of movement that will be necessary, and see if you can complete the router-caning operation with the table in one position. So...

3. Pick your bit (and complementary stylus).

Take a good, long, judgmental look at the pattern.Take the hits and styluses to the pattern, and see which bit is best to use to copy the pattern. If you have a lot of material to hog away, obviously you want to start with a big bit. To trace the details, you need a small-diameter bit. maybe a veiner or a V-groover.

Having selected the bit, chuck it in the laminate trimmer. Remove the motor from the base, tighten the bit in the collet, and return the motor to the base.

Mount the stylus that goes with the chosen bit on the duplicator. This likely means you must screw a mounting bar with the appropriate stylus to the upper beam.

4. Connect the air supply. The air that floats the duplicator comes from your shop vac, as I've said repeatedly. You have to have a vac that has an exhaust port into which the hose can be inserted. Most do. though not all.

Plug in the vac and position it beside the workbench, though out of the way of your movements as much as possible. Plug one end of the hose into the exhaust port, the other into the duplicator's air supply port. It should seal

Adjust the bit and stylus settings using the stock and the pattern after they've been dogged to the table. Adjust the bit, and position the duplicator so the bit rests on the stock, as shown. The device's balance is such that it will settle onto the bit; you don't have to hold it. Then adjust the stylus so it is in contact with the upper tabletop.

tightly without entering the port more than % inch A turn or two of masking tape around the connector should tighten it up if it goes in too far.

Hold on to the duplicator with one hand, while you turn on the vac. If everything is working as it should, the only noticeable resistance to the jig sliding around will be the dragging and flexing of the vacuum hose. If you discover. when you switch on the vac. that the duplicator is suddenly stuck solidly to the work surface, you've connected it to the vac's suction port.

5. Hog the pattern and stock in place. Whenever possible, make setup easy by making the stock the same size as the pattern.That way, you can wedge the pattern on its table, then use the duplicator itself to position the stock-on the stock table.

Using this technique to position the workpieces doesn't commit you to having the table in a particular location. You are aligning the pattern and stock with one another, which is essential. Once they are aligned and wedged to the table, they are set. You can clear the table from the workbench and do something completely different. Move them back to the bench two weeks later, and they'll still be properly aligned with one another.

So here's how to do it. With the router turned off. position the stock so the router bit slides along two of its edges while the stylus is sliding along the corresponding two edges of the pattern. Then clamp the stock in place. You don't need to be overly precise- in this positioning—nobody is likely to notice if the position of a carving in the stock is off by a small fraction of an inch.

Now the workpieces are ready.

as U

Router Duplicator

7. Clamp the stock-and-pattern table. With the shop vac running and the duplicator thus mobile, but with the router NOT running, trace around the pattern to see how best to orient the stock-and-pattern table. You don't need to be too obsessive, since you can move the table without needing to readjust the bit and stylus settings and without needing to realign the pattern and the stock. But a little experimenting now may save you two or three table shifts ;tfter you get started.

Here's the overall setup. The stock-and-pattern table is clamped at the edge of the workbench. On the far side of the table, occupying the center of the workbench, is the duplicator. The shop vacuum is to the side. The operator, suited out with ear muffs, safety glasses, and nuisance dust mask, is seated by the work.

6. Adjust extension of the bit and the stylus. If both the pattern and the workpicce are the same thickness, you can make this adjustment using the labletops as reference points. But the best way to do it is after you've dogged the pattern and workpicce to their respective tabletops.

Extend the bit as far as it can be extended, then rest it on the workpicce. Now move the duplicator around so the stylus just touches the highest spot on the pattern. Adjust the stylus extension so that, when the stylus is touching that high point, the bit i.s resting on the work-piece.To accomplish may be necessary to readjust the bit extension.

8. Rout. Actual experience is by far the best teacher for using this jig. Since the jig maintains the spatial relationship between the stylus and die router bit, you can guide the cuts by holding the stylus and moving it or by holding the router and moving it while watching where the stylus is going.

The latter approach provides much better control. Use both hands. Grip the duplicator on either side of the laminate trimmer, but watch the stylus. Guide it by moving the router. Don't rush; take your time. You want to trim away the wood a little at a time, rather than burrowing into it. Glancing at the stock occasionally will reassure you that the duplication is progressing as intended. It probably will reveal from time to time that you've missed an area. Just keep at it until the stylus has traced all the ins and outs of the pattern.

The quickest carvings to duplicate are those that retain the carver's original gouge marks. By using a bit and stylus that closely match the curve of the carver's gouge, you can follow right down the carver's strokes with the stylus, reproducing each of the original gouge marks in I your duplicate.

If a carving has been smoothed out. you can usually rough out the duplicate with core-box bits, then smooth out these "gouge" marks with rasps and abrasives, presumably the way the carver did the original.

Keep your eyes on the pattern as you work. With practice you'll gain confidence and feel comfortable using the duplicator even though you can't see both the stock and the pattern at the same time. Every movement of the stylus will be replicated by the router (right).

For routing smallish disks and holes, ranging from a 1-inch diameter up to about 16 Inches in diameter, this is the ideal trammel. What I like most is its ability to do those small-diameter cuts—the I- and 2-inch ones.The fact that it's got good range l>cyond is merely a plus.

The prototype is in the working half of tlic Rodalc woodworking shop, the half where Phil Ciehret spends each day building furniture and tchotchkcs. cabinets and garden contraptions, industrial displays and a whole lot more. Phil designed and made the original trammel for his Porter-Cable 100. I've borrowed it innumerable times; it just works for me.

Eventually I made my own, fitting it to a small Bosch plunge router.

The trammel is a roughly teardrop-shaped baseplate made of '.-inch plywood. A S'/»-inch-long T-slot. extending from the bit opening out to the most distant edge, houses a slide with a pivot-nail driven through one end. Move the slide in or out to adjust the radius of the cut. then fix its position by tightening the locking knob.

A small router works best on the trammel, and a plunge router has the ability to initiate and deepen a cut easily. That's why I fitted my trammel baseplate to a small plunge router. To me, routing 1 '/2-inch disks with a 3

horsepower router is like commuting across town in a Pctcrbilt truck.

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