SAWTRAX Floating Router Plate Turns any Panel Saw Frame into a Panel Router! Why a Good Floating Router "Sinks"
Sheets of wood or wood fiber may sometimes be warped, twisted or bowed. These irregularities are not a problem when sawing through these materials. Those imperfections can be a serious problem when trying to cut a consistent depth dado. Dadoing with a table saw or router table does not provide a "uniform" depth of cut for these sheet goods. The large surface area of the table will not allow the cutting tool to follow the contours of the sheets. Ideally, you want to have a cutter that can raise and lower, or "float", while moving along the surface of the sheet. The set up for this kind of precision in a production shop is too costly in time to do it by hand with a router and straight edge. The simple solution, for those that can afford it, is a panel router. For the small shop, the $5000 + cost of the panel router has been too high.
A router plate that suspends the router above the material has been available in some panel saws. This was not an effective solution for irregular material because the router did not "sink" to ride on the material to follow the contours.
Saw Trax Mfg. Inc. has announced a new "Floating" router insert for their panel saw systems. It utilizes a Porter Cable 891 router or a Bosch 1617 EVS router. Both routers are available with dust collection hook up. Other routers may be available to use in this system too.
The router insert uses sealed bearings to float. This system connects the router platform plate to the insert allowing the router to move vertically on an irregular sheet. There is a circular plastic "bump" on the bottom of the platform. The router cuts through a hole in the bottom of this bump. The smaller surface area of this bump allows the router to more closely follow the contours of the sheet. The bump is sealed for greater dust collection. Other features include a lock up mechanism, a depth limiter for the platform and a spring to ensure constant pressure on the sheet while cross and rip dadoing.
Swapping the saw insert for the router insert takes about 10 seconds according to Vicki Duffy, a Saw Trax spokesperson. The unique carriage on the panel saw allows to "quick change" many cutting tools including different saws, routers and knives. Expect to pay another $200 or so for the router.