Essential Router Table Tools: The Pantograph

Without a doubt, a router is a must-have for any woodworking workshop. A manual router can do a lot of useful woodwork. However, you can increase the efficiency and utility of a router by using it on a router table.

Router tables are a useful addition to any woodworking workshop. On a router table, you use the router upside down and move the wood against the router head or the bit. There is no doubt about the utility of a router table in a workshop. It is used to great effect in all aspects of woodworking.

Yet another essential router tool is a pantograph. But what is a pantograph? And what can you do with it?

A pantograph is a mechanical device that allows you to make an enlarged or smaller version of a drawing. As you trace a drawing with a stylus or pencil on one end, the other end of the pantograph traces out the same drawing in an enlarged or smaller form.

A router pantograph works similarly. The only difference is that when using a router pantograph, we use a router on the other end of the device. The router traces and cuts or etches the drawing, pattern, or letter onto wood, metal, or any other material. 

You could design and make a router pantograph for yourself. Or you could buy one. Either way, you will find that a router pantograph is an essential router tool for your woodworking workshop. Even if you are a hobbyist, you could use it to create signs. With most router pantographs you can even create flat 3D designs. However, that is for advanced users who have used a router pantograph for some time and know how to control it to create 3D designs.

To use a router pantograph, you will have to clear your router table. Preferably, put a plane 48” x 20” flat piece of wood on the router table as a workspace for the router pantograph.

The router pantograph has three rods. Two parallel rods, one long and one short, are connected using two elbow hinges to the third rod on one end. The router clips on to the long and short rods almost parallel to the third rod, towards the end of the shorter rod. 

The hinge joint, where the short rod and the third rod are connected, is fixed to the work surface. The longer and has a tracing stylus at the tip, with two small handles to control and move the stylus over the trace design.

The material or wood on which you want to etch a design is clamped under the router head. The design to be traced is placed under the stylus on the end of the long rod. As you move the stylus slowly over the design, the router traces the design on the wood.

It does take a bit of practice to master the art of using a router pantograph. You would need to practice using it a few times to get the hang of it.

Let us take a look at three router pantographs in this article. Perhaps you will be enticed to buy one of them.

Some Popular Router Pantographs

All the router pantographs mentioned below are similar in design. However, each has its benefits. Select the one you like. But make sure you have a router pantograph in your workshop. You will not regret it.

Milescraft 1221 Pantograph

The Milescraft 1221 Pantograph is a great way to enhance your woodworking. The ready-assembled device allows you to trace out almost any design onto a piece of wood. The 1221 Pantograph comes packed with three router bits, three stylus tips, two fonts, and a bunch of traceable designs. This router pantograph can reduce any design to 50 percent of its size. The device features the TurnLock BasePlate Technology that can accommodate almost any router easily. The base plate comes with a centering pin for accurate base plate installation. The base plate can be modified to accommodate a nonstandard router. The clear base plate is connected to the router using screws.

Benefits

  • Comes almost fully assembled. All you need is a router and the wood.
  • Has the TurnLock BasePlate Technology that allows you to turn and lock any router in place.
  • Comes with three bits, three stylus tips, two fonts, and some designs to trace.

Craftsman Deluxe Router Pantograph

Here is another great router pantograph that allows you to create awesome signs with your router. The device can accommodate almost any router. It can reduce any design to 40, 50, or 60 percent of its size. The device comes with three fonts and about 10 designs that you can use. You can use it to etch 2D and 3D designs onto flat pieces of wood. Yet another great routing pantograph option.

Benefits

  • Can accommodate any router.
  • Comes with 3 fonts and 10 designs.
  • Can reduce the design to 40, 50, or 60 percent of its size.

Rutlands Pantograph Routing Kit

This kit comes with two fonts and three ¼” routing bits. It can take almost any router. Use it to trace a design to 50 percent of its size. This device can be used to create great signs. Use it to create stunning 2D or 3D signs and designs.

Benefits

  • Can take almost any router.
  • Comes with 2 fonts and three router bits.
  • Can trace a design to 50 percent of its size.

Final Thoughts

Nobody disputes the utility of a router in a woodworking workshop. You need to add a routing table to enhance the value of a router. A routing table allows you to do a lot more useful work with a router, and every workshop simply needs to have a router table.

Another extremely useful addition to every woodworking workshop is a router pantograph. This is a useful device to trace letters and designs onto wood. You can create lovely signs and designs with a router pantograph. Do consider adding one to your woodworking arsenal to enjoy more ease and practicality.