Working with The Pathfinder

 The set-up for tenons with the Pathfinder

The set-up for tenons with the Pathfinder

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9423 The Pathfinder Pf1

We have insisted since our beginning that the WoodRat is not a jig, it's a tool. But making round ended tenons to match round ended mortises just does need a template of some kind. 

The recent new M and T jig technology (by Leigh Industries, Trend and others) featured a mortise and tenon jig using the same unit for both the mortise and the tenon. We decided that our Mortise Rail MR4 cannot be bettered for mortises as it is, so we developed a separate tool for tenons only. What we came up with led on to all sorts of new ideas from making templates. 

The Pathfinder uses familiar technology: the Half-plate is CNC cut phenolic laminate, as are the templates. The drop-pin plate is clear acrylic so that you can see the wheel running around the template below it. The plunge pin is to our own design with a bearing to reduce friction as it traces the shape in the template. 

The template is attached to the left cheek of the MB3 Mitre Box part of the Pathfinder, held on a bracket, and the wood is held below the plates by the Rod Locks of the MB3 Mitre Box. The templates are positionable in the Bracket. 

The whole is designed to take the Template attached to the left cheek, and the workpiece held in the MB3 Mitre Box to travel together east/west, so that the plunge pin, linked to the router bit, can go north/south over the top of it until you drop the pin. The two freedoms when working together make shapes as the pin is kept against the “islands” of the Template. 

A little awkward at first, it soon becomes a pleasure to work with, following the shapes. The workpieces are turned into parts of boxes for dovetailing, or tenons for framing, table making etc., or for toy parts or irregular shaped boxes, wheels, stars, or Christmas trees, or company logos, lettering or whatever you wish.

In theory you can have your own template made. All that’s necessary is a programme on a file that can be read by our CNC machine. Just let us know what you need.

The Tenon Template has room for dowels and tenons of different sizes.

The Template can easily join up the islands to form longer tenons, by placing a Peg and the Angled Stop in the Guide Rail for the back and front cuts. This effectively doubles the length of the Template.

It is assumed that you’re making tenons to fit mortises made in the MR4 Mortise Rail using either 8mm, 10mm or 12.7mm straight bits. The tenons are in two gangs of paired tenons of equal length, for different widths of single or twin tenons. One gang makes thicker tenons that the other. 

It is designed so that by using an 8mm bit on the smaller gang of pairs you make a 10mm tenon, a 10mm bit will cut 8mm tenons. These are either single or twin, and with practice, are very quick to make. 

On the bigger gang a half inch (12.7mm) cutter will cut 10mm tenons and a 9450 Half-blind Template and Drawer Making

We were then on our mettle to make a template that would make lapped/half-blind dovetails for drawers. We came up with Half-blind Dovetail Template. 

Start here if you need to make a lots of drawers each taking less than five minutes jointing time…

The pitch is fixed, but the plate has two different pitches, so you can choose which is closest to your drawer height. You lose a little flexibility, but gain in speed of working. The setting up takes a little time, but that done, it will make perfect, light, strong, classic dovetailed drawers of different sizes, without compromising quality. The rounded corners of the router work are lost in the joint and the result is perfect lapped dovetails, and with no extra chisel work.

 

The Pathfinder is set up as before, but the MitreBox is first used to make a 45°angle on the outer corners of the board. The lapped dovetail joint is then built into the inner faces using the half-blind template in a similar way to the half blind joint. 

10mm cutter will cut half inch tenons. 

It will also cut dowels integral with the rail. 

The Dovetail Template gives us simple dovetails. The pitch of the sockets is, of course, fixed into the template, so you have to make the work fit the spacing. But on the other hand, you can, with the same spacing, have different thicknesses of wood, and use the right length of bit for that wood thickness. There will be other pitches for larger or smaller dovetails bypopular demand. You can use our HSS bits both for the and for the pins. 

From there it was a short hop to a Blank Template for DIY shapes for toy making etc. Going around a templated shape is as easy as it gets, so these shapes are quick and simple to make. Make your own from 3mm acrylic and glue them into the blank template. 

Half-blind Template and Drawer Making

We were then on our mettle to make a template that would make lapped/half-blind dovetails for drawers. We came up with Half-blind Dovetail Template. 

Start here if you need to make a lots of drawers each taking less than five minutes jointing time…

The pitch is fixed, but the plate has two different pitches, so you can choose which is closest to your drawer height. You lose a little flexibility, but gain in speed of working. The setting up takes a little time, but that done, it will make perfect, light, strong, classic dovetailed drawers of different sizes, without compromising quality. The rounded corners of the router work are lost in the joint and the result is perfect lapped dovetails, and with no extra chisel work.

Secret Dovetails

Secret dovetails have two important applications: for jointing under veneer, so that the veneer will not be distorted by the end grain of the joint, and for using when the feature of a box, for example, its exquisite grain or carving running around from face to face would be spoilt by joints. 

 

 The Half-Blind dovetail template in action

The Half-Blind dovetail template in action