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Rotary tool routing?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by complexprocess, Dec 25, 2004.

  1. My brother just got a craftsman rotary tool (very similar to a dremel) and it came with a cutting guide that has a depth from 1 mm to 1 inch or thereabouts. [link]
    He also has one of these multi-purpose cutting bits. I'm wondering if this would be suitable for a little freehand pickup routing on a VERY beat up project bass, or if it is only good for cutting all the way through material (for example cutting a slot in a 1/2 inch board)? Thanks a lot.
  2. PasdaBeer


    Nov 2, 2002
    Santa Rosa California
    SandStorm Designs
    those types of tools arent really what you should use for that kind of work, not enough power, cheap metal bits, all that jazz

    you really should be using a router...

    but if you are goin to use that, use a drill press or a drill with a depth attachment and a fostner bit to get most of the wood out of the cavity, and trim up to the exact size with the rotor tool.

  3. M_A_T_T


    Mar 4, 2004
  4. Josh Curry

    Josh Curry

    May 29, 2003
    Frisco, TX
    I am by no means a pro, but I think that's a VERY bad idea. That tool really isn't designed for it.
  5. So, if I've gotta use the rotary tool, spring for a router attachment and an actual router bit?

    It's going to be used mostly for cutting sheet metal and other tasks that it's meant for, but I'm trying to get an Idea of the minimum I'll need for like one or two pickup routs. Not looking to do a lot of building or anything.
  6. No, the point here is that there's not enough horsepower in the rotary tool - not that it doesn't have the right accessories. The hand held routers that are most commonly used in this type of work begin at about 1.5 HP and stop at about 3 HP. Think about it - technically that's the amount of HP a lot of lawnmowers have and your little whirlygig can't measure up. Besides, the largest bit that one of these things handles is approximately 3/16" dia x 1/4" cut depth. That would make for a LOT of time to remove the 4 cubic inches or so of wood that a pickup route requires.

    If you can't afford a larger tool, you can't afford to do this job. If dollars are truly that tight, you can get a 3 horse plunge router with ¼" & ½" collets for under $40 from Harbor Freight. That will get you started and going until you buy something better. At the least you will be getting a tool that can be used safely and efficiently. You really need to trust us on this and not second guess it.

    Dremels do have a place in the shop building basses. I use mine all the time to do different small routing jobs. With an adjustable router base they are quite suitable for routing for inlay. I use them for intricate carving, enlarging holes, cutting string slots in nuts, and other small duties.
  7. Money isn't the issue, just checking if it's possible. I'll probably go with a rental or use a friend's. I don't have any plans to become a builder, so I don't think I'd use a router enough to buy my own. Thanks for the feedback. :)
  8. PasdaBeer


    Nov 2, 2002
    Santa Rosa California
    SandStorm Designs
    routers are always nice to have around : )

    i use a seprate router set up with a dimmer switch as a drum sander ( after my near death experience of tryig to use it WITHOUT the dimmer switch to decrese speed)

    also, for almost ANY kind of small craft building, routers are nearly essential. I justg finished oiling up a jewlery box ( out of pau ferro fingerboard scraps : P ) that i used only a router, and a handsaw to do the entire thing.
  9. luknfur


    Jan 14, 2004

    Like a lot of things you're not supposed to do, I tried it. At least I think we're talking about the same kind of gadget - in between a router and a dremmel. My brother had one and I had about the same situation - nothing precious and no real precision required. I liked the aspect of being able to see what you're doing better but that was only using the small baseplate. Using the larger router type baseplate was like using a router in terms of visibility.

    On the flip side, the smaller baseplate made it hard to control - especially to keep it vertical and it was fatigueing to use. A router is low and steady and basically supports itself. And when it kicks out it's more of a handful and it tends to do so more than a router due to lower speed and the issues mentioned above.

    Freehanding a straight line with one would be no small feat. Even using a template with the small baseplate would not produce anything approaching precision. A router bit is accurately centered and so you're equadistant no matter how it's rotated. The baseplate on this thing just ran up and down a screwslot for height adjustment and tightened with a plastic knob. Depending on where the template touched the baseplate around it's preimeter, you could get an 1/8" or so difference.

    Bottom line: if you absolutely had to use it to get by, you probably could without killing yourself.

    Oh yeh, if you've got any kids - I'd suggest you lock that sucker up and don't ever leave it laying around unattended any more than you would a loaded handgun!

  10. It's not really a 'VERY BAD' idea. But it's definetly not a good one. With a routing attachment I routed the trussrod channel + the carbon fiber rod channels (1 x 1/4" and 2 x 1/8") using a dremel tool with a router attachment. They came out good enough to be useful, but really chippy, plus I had to take like 5 - 6 passes for each channel, a router could have handled all that cleanly and in only 2 passes per channel.

    Please, even if it is one of those cheap no name $25-on-ebay routers, get those to do your routing, leave your dremel for very light duty tasks. A router is a must-have for any woodworking professional or hobbyist for that matter. I had a trusty milwakee router but had to sell it when I moved ...just purchased my new router this morning!
  11. The man has touched on a very important part of this subject. One must be ever vigilant that one has the right tool for the right job. If one doesn't, we all know what that means...

    :hyper: TOOL SHOPPING! :hyper:

    and that can't be bad in any case. :D
  12. JTGale


    Oct 26, 2004
    Hummelstown, PA
    Has anyone used a Dremmel-like tool to cut fret slots? Either Stew Mac or LMI has a guide plate for one and I was just curious if this really worked. I borrowed a buddy's Dremmel-like tool to cut the headlight holes on my Baja Bug and it worked really well. But I could see where it might be too rough to do detailed work.

    Power to the routers! :D