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Alan Tadd
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My new Slot Shed has been delivered and speedily erected, all ready for me to start work on my permanent layout.

I have all the Sport track I need, having spent months fiddling about with various track planning programs and have come up with the perfect layout to suit my requirements.

So what has happened?...

I've decided I want to build a routed track.....Now My Carpentry skills are pathetic, I've never used let alone owned a router and I haven't a Clue about Power Supplies or how to go about wiring a layout.

Any advice appreciated, and Fergy......I expect you to design all the electrical bits and pieces.

Regards

Alan
 

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Brian Ferguson
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3,652 Posts


It's easier than you may think, Beejay! The router is nothing more than a very fast spinning slot cutter - think of it as a dremel on steroids!
You don't need an expensive router for this. Buy a good one, but don't buy a top line unit unless you plan to use it for general woodworking as well. Instead, spend the extra money on top quality router bits. Practice on some of the same material as you will use for the track itself. Get comfortable with the router and with any techniques you choose for cutting both curves and straights. It won't take long.


Welcome to wood, Beejay!


Oh.... and did I mention how tiny my consulting fees are?
 

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How big is said shed?

Only ask as one of our neighbours has bought a large shed come cabin and it had occured to me that it could quite easily contain a decent sized track.
 

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John Roche
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4,155 Posts
My track lives in a 24" x 12" shed at the bottom of the garden. there are some old pictures on www.slotcenter.net/roche.htm

When I built my track I had expected that routing the corners would be the hardest part but in fact I found the straights harder.

I built a baseboard and then used whatever the metric equivalent of 1/4" MDF to rout the track.

For the straights I got the timber merchant to cut strips the distance between the lanes (4" in my case incase I ran 1/24 cars) which were glued & screwed to the base board.

My router which was a cheap £20 model had a rod that it could pivot on so I got a mate to scrounge a longer one the same diameter for routing the curves. I just cut once as going over it wasn't completely accurate and resulted in too wide a slot, go over it with sand paper if necessary instead.

At the moment I use a scaley power pack for each lane but plan to upgrade sometime.

Go for it, it was well over 30 years since i had done any woodwork at school. You'll learn as you go along and the satisfaction is immense.



John
 

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Premium Member
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4,213 Posts
Hi Beejay

Forget building it your self!

Buy all the materials you need, plan, draw it then find your self a local exhibition company with a CNC cutter!

Take the material to them and they can route it for you in mins! Much better and more accurate then a router!

A word of warning! in 20 years of working in the exhibition industry the most horrific injuries I have seen involve routers! They are very dangerous bits of kit and not to be treated lightly!

The rest of the build should be easy (if you have the time) but leave the routing to someone else!

Good luck

Gareth
 

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Brian Ferguson
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Jexy, with all due respect, in 32 years of woodworking the only serious router-related injury I have yet seen was caused by someone not unplugging the tool before attempting to change bits - a violation of rule #1 for all power tools. I have seen (first hand) far worse injuries from saws, drills, and even air tools! Any power tool can be dangerous but a little common sense goes a long way. I use the router for every job I can as it is safer than any power saw, shaper, or jointer.

I did, a couple of years ago, examine the CNC option. It was not just a case of going in with a drawing and getting the finished product a few minutes later. By the time they converted the drawing (even if working with CAD files), the setup cost was prohibitive for production of single copies. And the increase in precision is neither warranted nor noticeable on a slot track if the builder takes a little care.

If a track builder has hurt themselves with a router, I have not yet heard about it.

Your experience may be different but the router is often considered dangerous simply because it is not a mainstream tool for most people. On a use-percentage basis, more accidents involve circular saws and table saws.

Cutting slots with a router is a very safe procedure. The bit is quite small, the tool is between the bit and the operator, a broken bit has nowhere to go (it is captured between the tool and workpiece), and standard safety equipment (glasses and dust mask) are adequate precautions.

Just wanting to maintain perspective on an often misunderstood tool.
 

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I've also never heard of any router related injuries...

If you can't source a dustmask and goggles, do what I do. Ductape a sock over your mouth and find a pair of old sunglasses
. Surprisingly enough I've (almost) never hurt myself with a powertool, with my major injuries coming from trying to force stuff with a screwdriver or knife...

Anyway... go for the routed option. I was thinking about it for a home track but I just don't have the space. So long as you set everything up first the results should be great.

A guy called Oldslotracer on SCI does an awesome video which shows you everything you need to know. You can find his site and butt loads of inspiration here.

McLaren
 

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QUOTE (Fergy @ 15 Oct 2004, 17:33)Jexy, with all due respect, in 32 years of woodworking the only serious router-related injury I have yet seen was caused by someone not unplugging the tool before attempting to change bits - a violation of rule #1 for all power tools. I have seen (first hand) far worse injuries from saws, drills, and even air tools! Any power tool can be dangerous but a little common sense goes a long way. I use the router for every job I can as it is safer than any power saw, shaper, or jointer.

I did, a couple of years ago, examine the CNC option. It was not just a case of going in with a drawing and getting the finished product a few minutes later. By the time they converted the drawing (even if working with CAD files), the setup cost was prohibitive for production of single copies. And the increase in precision is neither warranted nor noticeable on a slot track if the builder takes a little care.

If a track builder has hurt themselves with a router, I have not yet heard about it.

Your experience may be different but the router is often considered dangerous simply because it is not a mainstream tool for most people. On a use-percentage basis, more accidents involve circular saws and table saws.

Cutting slots with a router is a very safe procedure. The bit is quite small, the tool is between the bit and the operator, a broken bit has nowhere to go (it is captured between the tool and workpiece), and standard safety equipment (glasses and dust mask) are adequate precautions.

Just wanting to maintain perspective on an often misunderstood tool.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Here, here Fergy!!


Go the router yourself and enjoy a good clean fast track with minimal costs.
 

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Hi Fergy

You make some very valid points, but I still say the router does present a danger in inexperienced hands. As with all tools in the right hands, with the right skills and properly maintained equipment they are fine. Problems arise when people see cheap tools at B&Q and think because they are cheap they must be OK for DIY use. In my experience this is not the case. Just trying to point this out, no offence meant to the thousands of users of routers, just trying to point out the possible dangers. I can well imagine with 32 years of experience you know your stuff.

Ref the CNC - I'm very surprised by this. One of our local clubs used CNC to cut a long 6 lane circuit and I have found the results to be much better than hand cut routed circuits, especially from straight runs to curves. It also allows the simple insertion of a small recess for the cooper tape. Perhaps we are just very lucky, we send CAD drwg files to our contractors and they are feed straight into the machine no problems.

The one off aspect might be applicable if the firms you approach are used to producing large runs, but exhibition contractors are more used to one offs.

Were ever possible we use CNC because of it's accuracy and speed.

Each to their own



Photo of Bolwextric club in Clanfield

Gareth
 

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Alan Tadd
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4,029 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Thanks for your comments Chaps, it would appear I'm maybe not as insane as I thought, (don't say a word Fergy!).

I must admit I am a little concerned about using a router, and Gareth has quiet rightly outlined potential dangers, I think I may hire one for a day to try out different approaches and see how I get on with it.

John I'm intrigued by the way you dealt with the problem of parallel straights, this is very similar to the approach we took on the original Bath ECRA track in the sixties, when routers were never used. I had hoped to route the lot this time.

Mclaren, I know students are always looking to save money, so that it releases more capital for other essentials, like drinking and general socialising, but I got to draw the line at the use of "old socks" as a filter!. Very valid point about the need for adequate filtration.

Luf's site is superb and has been on my favorites list for a long, long time, his Targa layout is the best I've ever seen. I would love to get hold of his video but unfortunately it only seems available in the US/Canadian TV format. Does anyone have DVD of this as it seems the best way for a novice to learn the art of routing, also the use of his Lexan strip seems to be the way to go.

JP...I too blame Graham!...If he hadn't invited us to Pendle this never would have happened.

Regards

Alan
 
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