Bench Interlocking Sign Kits archive

Wednesday 17 July 2013

Derek Jones unravels this routing by numbers conundrum


I was immediately intrigued by this set when it arrived in the workshop for review a few weeks ago. I'll agree the product is not core F&C material but I thought it interesting to highlight some of the issues that exist between accessories like this and the machines for which they are intended. Incompatibility between systems is more widespread than you might imagine and more than a little frustrating. Such anomalies are not restricted to routers but they are a regular source of consternation to many woodworkers.

In use

This letter and number template kit is a very basic system: click the right sequence of templates together, tape the entire strip down to the workpiece and you're ready to go. At least that's the idea and it probably works on the majority of fixed-base routers found in the US. However, things are not quite as straightforward if you have just bought one of the hundreds of thousands of new routers sold in the UK each year.

Incompatibility issues

With at least 10 different types of guidebush system in use today and as many unique styles of router base configurations, it's a miracle we get anything done with our routers at all. These Bench Dog templates come with a 12mm guidebush that will not fit a majority of UK style routers, and by that I mean those from Trend, Bosch, DeWalt, Makita, Hitachi, Ryobi, Triton or Festool. You get the picture.

Perhaps there's nothing surprising about this to a seasoned pro, but I'd hazard a guess that this set is aimed at a different audience; a user not so wise to the unique and mysterious ways of branded systems. The experienced tradesmen would of course reach for the equivalent 12mm guidebush to suit their machine but chances are it won't work either, or at least not without some resizing. This kit requires a bush with a 2.25mm deep collar and fortunately as we're spoilt for choice in the F&C workshop, we found the very thing, designed for use on the Festool VS600 joint system. Knowing a little bit about the market I think it unlikely that in general, these two items would be found in convenient proximity of each other.

I don't want to beat the guys up at Bench Dog too much over this as it's not an isolated case, but maybe some information supplied up front would be a good idea for all manufacturers. After all forewarned is forearmed and it would avoid a negative customer experience.

Woodworkers Institute

Tagged In:

Derek Jones , Bench Interlocking Sign Kits

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F&c Verdict

The templates themselves work well enough although it does require a light touch to avoid distorting the shape of certain characters. The cutter must complete the shape with the bush running against both sides of the channel for good clean results; think of the character as a continuous circuit that starts and ends at the same point. The Comic Sans font will not be popular with everyone, and if the bush fitting were tight in the channel, a V shaped cutter could be used to achieve a more classical look. As it is, a flat bottom cutter or core box bit are the only options.

Pros & Cons

Easy to use click system
Loose fitting guide channel
Limited cutter choice


Price: £27.01 – per set