Perhaps not so futile

I didn’t choose the Festool.

That’s probably the biggest takeaway from today, a day where I could have easily chosen to spend a boatload of money but took a chance on the more responsible path. Once I made the decision, I felt good, and at least to start, I’ve gotten good results.

I had been thinking about the LR32 for many months now. I watched a series on cabinetmaking, and it looked dead useful. It is, however, a huge amount of money to spend on a task I don’t do very often. I mean, $500 plus a rail for holes? I could have justified it to myself, and I could have easily bought it. I still might…one day. For now though, I went another direction.

My current shelf pin jig is a Rockler, and it’s pretty decent. It is a good thing to have around for pin drilling on an existing cabinet. I wanted something a bit better, longer, and primarily concerned with making the holes via router. I was so convinced I would eventually get the Festool solution I bought the OF1400 in advance. However I saw the Woodpecker jig being used in a video, and I started that great internal debate. Do I buy the thing I know I would be happiest with at the least happy price, or take a chance on something which may only be a stopgap but for considerably less money?

Making the systainer storage, I utilized the 5mm shelf holes to mount drawer slides. This was a huge upgrade on having to mount them the traditional way. I might lose a fraction of an inch on where I could place them, but simply lining up the holes and inserting screws was brilliantly easy. I knew that it would become my de facto way of doing it if I had the choice. Whatever jig I bought had to allow me this option, which is why I leaned Festool – I knew without a doubt I could. Then I realized, that the drawer slides also operated on a 32mm standard. If I just turn the jig sideways, I should have perfect hole registration. That was the final push I needed to buy the Woodpecker combo jig and the Festool 5mm brad bit.

The jig is very nice. Phenolic, fairly long, and eased edges on the holes. It uses a 3/8″ hide bushing to register the router, but can also be used with drill bits. Perhaps the Rockler could also be used with a guide bushing? Something to investigate. Anyway, it comes with six pins for registration, and will allow for perfect 37mm front offset, or three choices in imperial.

I got about thirty minutes of hands-on use with it, and I’m impressed. Registering for standard use (shelf pins) is absolutely no problem. I then attempted to get the back hole of the drawer slide registered. I knew I needed six spots behind the first, and a square allowed me to get the jig lined up right. The drawer slide went in perfectly, and perfectly perpendicular. Success. Now if I wanted to make a back line of holes right there, like the sysports, I might need a bit of practice. However, my first attempt looked like it was only off by a fraction of a millimeter. Promising.

Early, but I’m happy thus far. If results continue to hold, it will make the next few projects pretty enjoyable to work on. It will also allow me to put that money otherwise spent into materials for the new shop. Seventy beats six hundred any day.

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Update – After thinking on it a couple of days, I am at this point undecided again. I like the Woodpecker jig, I think it is solidly built, and gives good results. However, my heart I think is with the original plan to get the LR32, as expensive as it is. I’ll explain my reasoning. If I want to put in 7mm pin sleeves (check them out at Lee Valley, they are posh), I may not be able to use the 3/8″ guide bushing- the 17/64 bit required for softwood is a mere 1/64 smaller than the bushing, the 7mm is even less. Heat transfer is concerning.  To cut the holes for the hinge cups I would need to turn to a drill or a homemade jig, which sort of defeats the purpose. The LR32 rail is much longer than the Woodpecker, eliminating much re-positioning. The learning curve is apparently steeper, though.

One thing I have found I don’t really like about the jig is having to place the router with the bushing in the holes. There are times where I can’t seem to find the right hole, and am cutting a hole twice. Not a huge deal in the scheme of things, but it’s there. The other thing is dust collection. The 1400 is normally very good, however with the added height of the jig and bushing, the dust production is that much further away from the chute and stays in the hole. I’ve gotten very used to having to clean up as little dust as possible, so this goes against my current ethos. An ethos about not wanting to spend a lot of money has been severely impacted though, it should be said.

So, I have to sleep on it another night. I really have to weigh my needs and wants here, and have something I will be happy with for many years to come. The reality could be that I could keep the Woodpecker jig, and simply use it until I have a need or capacity to add the LR32 system. Or I could return it immediately for the required rail, and wait on the rest until a suitable time – the Rockler jig is still perfectly functional and accurate, I assume.

I’ll update once I make a decision. The decision will be do I hang onto the Woodpecker jig for now and decide a course of action later, or do I return for the rail. I’ll have to make that decision probably tomorrow. The jig should be returnable, I would think. I wouldn’t return the router bit, that’s just not in good taste. If I buy the systainer set, I’ll have or sell the extra bit. If I buy the kit, I’ll then have a bit.

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