Take the guesswork out of setup
By Bob Ohm, [email protected]
October 15, 2009 | 7:00 pm CDT

Sommerfeld Tools of Remsen, Iowa, recently developed its "Easy-Set" jig to take the guesswork out of setting router bit heights on its line of more difficult-to-set cutting tools. The Easy-Set has eight profiles used for setting the height of a raised panel coping bit, reversible glue joint, 45 degree lock miter, drawer lock, glass and panel ogee coping bit, tongue and groove, 22-1/2 degree miter lock and raised panel coping bit.

To use it you just accurately measure the thickness of your wood (best with a digital caliper), transfer that number to the height adjustable Easy-Set Jig by rotating its numerical dial, rest it flat on your router table, then adjust your router bit elevation to mate with the corresponding jig profile. It will then cut a profile that is centered for your particular thickness of wood.

The tests

A good first test was using the reversible glue joint profile since router bit height is critical to mating adjoining wood parts flush. I measured my stock at .880 inch, set the Easy-Jig dial to 113/128 inch (increments of 1/128 inches), raised my router tool till the jig profile and bit snug together evenly, adjusted the fence and cut some parts. The resulting flushness was .000 to .005 inches, which is pretty good for a first try with that type of profile.

I next set up a two bit rail and stile door set. I only needed to set the jig for the coping bit since the pattern bit will keep the same height. Sommerfeld recommends placing their grommet inside the collet base to give you a positive depth stop when changing mating bits of a set. I used a 1/2 inch L x .480 inch D brass plug myself that seemed to work fine. The resulting parts had well centered profiles, within a few thousandths of flush for easy sanding.

Another two bit set I tried was the 22-1/2 degree lock miter, which like the door set needs only one height adjustment. In mating with the Easy-Set the fit seemed a bit loose. Some horizontal profile lines on router bits are not perfectly flat to allow for clearance in cutting plus having inside corner radiuses. The Easy-Set horizontal surfaces are exactly level and its corners are sharp. In those cases, I used my alignment reference marker as the router bits tongue at its upper tip and the jigs mating horizontal surface.

Overall the results were good with five of the profiles I tested with both the Sommerfeld and Freud router bits. The only slow part was setting my fence exactly right. It takes the same time as it always has, it's just that the router bit setup took so much longer before.

The Easy-Jig retails for $29.90 and comes in various router bit manufacturers versions. For more information visit  www.sommerfeldtools.com.

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