Multiple identical routers vs switching bits

I am of the Henry Ford mentality that I prefer commercial tools be for one main purpose. So in my shop I tend to have a different table saw for each main dado width. Etc so when I am manufacturing drawers I just go from one machine to the other and finish the whole drawer before I could even change the blades.

A way I could see being a time saver would be if you have projects that have different bits you could have multiple but identical routers that you can have each of your main bits all loaded to same exact length and just switch the router instead of trying to pull the bit out, put in new bit and align it.

This could save some time and reduce human error. Especially when the routers are not that much more expensive than some of the bits!

Not sure where you are getting your bits, but mine were way cheaper than the router.
Your suggestion would work and I believe that swapping the router of the standard setup would be faster than changing the bit, but:

  1. I would still use the automatic zero z-axis adjustment
  2. I think a good z-axis control outweighs a quick router swap. Of course you could come up with a quick swap solution. Let us know if you do so.
  3. For hobbyists, like me, price is a big factor and time is not.

I have z axis control and if the all the bits are set to exactly the same length it reduces problems and setting zero at tool change.

I am thinking more for signage where you may have a v-bit, a straight bit, and ball tip. So when time comes to change bit, just switch the router for next operation.

Or Cabinetry where you will have a straight bits, and like roman ogle bits etc.

BTW bits run about $12 to $100 depending on the bit. My rigid router ran me I think $79 bucks.

I worked in a manufacturing plant that had somewhere between 100-300 tool tapers per machine for a similar idea to what you’re talking about. Would it be easier to have multiple collet chucks that bolt to a spindle nose? I have a spindle similar to the one below and one set screw to change chucks seems a little bit easier than a whole router change.
CNC Spindle Kit 500W Air Cooled 0.5kw Milling Motor + Spindle Speed Power Converter + 52mm Clamp + 13pcs ER11 Collet + 10pcs CNC Bits for DIY Engraving

The emphasis is on good z-axis control such as the “Meticulous z-axis” or the “3D printed z-axis that can be found in the forum. (Sorry on my cell and can’t find links that easily.) These are a little harder to swap the router with. A stop for exact positioning would have to be added if you don’t use the automatic zeroing of the z-axis which is a great feature for tool swaps in my eyes.

On the meticulous z axis etc- if you dont remove the router how do you change bits? I will have to search that and see what you mean.

Snailpowered: I think I get what you mean.

ON my cnc to remove the rigid router is simply push one button and it slides out.

yeah, changing bits is somewhat finicky. You move the router up all the way and fiddle with your tools. I wish they’d be a better way.
My suggestion would be to have a system where you can remove the router quickly, swap the bit, put the router back in, re-zero the z-axis and continue.
Swapping in a prepped router with bit would remove one step.

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@Jb_Skaggs I have a linear actuator for my z-axis so swapping motor bodies would be a PITA. what I’ve done to streamline the bit change process is install drill collars on my bits so that they all chuck at the same depth. This eliminates the z-axis calibration step after a bit change. There are also collet adapters that use an Allen key to tighten the collet. The only downside to these is that you need one for each shaft diameter you work with.

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But how expensive would it be to have maybe three routers on 3 sleds with these z-axis setups? Could one just switch to the next sled? For me I cant seeing needing more than 3 or 4 for what I want to do.

As I mentioned before my saws and their blades are about $400 to $500 a piece and I made that money back in labor. I got to where I could cut a drawer, dado and rabbet, and assembly in 10 minutes per drawer. Faster if multiple people.

So if say on the maslow I was making decorative drawer fronts. 3 bits: A straight bit for drilling and cutting part out and cutting pockets, a v bit for cutting scroll work and patterns, and a raised panel bit for interior panel pock edges. SO if the z-axis was complicated would switching the whole sled assembly be too expensive?

with a touchplate, a Z axis calibration is pretty fast, and not all bits can be
chucked to the same length (small carving bits just aren’t as long as big bits)

David Lang

too expensive is a matter for you to determine, keep in mind the maslow is slow,
so the bit changing is probably far less of your overall time than you are

There is a difference with a machine running while I do something else and than fighting router bits. I cant tell you how many times I have had bits get stuck in a collet or the wrench vanish etc and spend a half hour to hour trying to remove the bit and end up damaging it.

I think it happens because the bits heat up or something I dont know. I have one router that I could not pull the bit out using a vise a pliers! Had to resort to a heat gun to get it out. And the heat warped the casing.

Its the same changing saw blades on a saw- in theory takes under a minute- but in practice I have had to spend all day trying to get a blade off.

if you buy a quick change chuck it’s easier to change the bit without having to remove the router from the maslow machine. just get a long allen t wrench

people use them a lot on router tables.

for free hand work they are not as beneficial since the router is easier to access.

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I believe you can buy the parts for each Z axis for about $200 + the cost of the wood + the time invested to make multiple sleds = a personal decision for each of us. It sounds to me like paying less than $250 so that you have the ease of grabbing a new sled off the wall and plugging in the connectors would be well worth it. I haven’t set up my Maslow so I have no idea what setting a Z height is like. I would definitely like to see a way to set tool length offsets (TLO) for quick change bits. Having TLO and work shift offset would be great IMO.

I bought a second router because I was doing a lot of projects with different size bits. I found it just more convenient to to do bit changes that way.

You mean changing the router not the bit?

Yes, I have two R22002 routers and I just kept one size bit in one and another size bit in the other. To do a bit change, I just unlatch the router base, pull out the router and swap in the other one. I would still zero the z-axis but if you get the bits at the exact same depth, that step could be avoided. The nice thing also if you have 3-bits in your cut, you can swap the bit on the router not being used while the machine is running and be ready to swap it in when needed.


Thanks, That is what I did with manual carving with routers as well. I appreciate that my ideas seem validated.