Robert trained at Loughborough College, and at Leeds College of Art, followed by a degree at Leeds University.
After several years teaching, he set up a workshop designing and making furniture in partnership with his younger brother George, who had arrived at this point through the more design orientated route of the Royal College of Art.
In conjunction with his teaching, Robert has his own business, Robert Ingham Designs, and wearing this hat he makes one-off pieces to commission and for exhibition both in this country and abroad. Several of his pieces have been awarded Guild Marks.
In this review Robert tests the Imperial Micro Fence Edge-Guide, we now stock the Metric Micro Fence Edge-Guide for the European market.
Micro Fence Edge-Guide Review
There is no doubt in my mind that of all the applied arts and crafts, woodworking is the most equipment- intensive. With all the tools and machines that are available and the costs involved in equipping a workshop, it can take a long time to amass a compliment of goodies to be fully effective in making things efficiently and with the satisfaction that is representative of the deep involvement that many of us have with the art. I have been in my own workshop for five years now and have reached a point where I have almost everything that I need to make the pieces that challenge me.
My main limitation now is space, and while among other things a thicknessing speed sander would make veneered body work faster to produce, it would take up more space than its inclusion would justify. So, I rarely go to woodworking trade shows any more with the intention of buying equipment! However, I have had the opportunity to look at the new goodies offered from the many tools and equipment suppliers who take part in woodworking shows. My list of things to buy consists mainly of replacement items and this is always a great opportunity to check out what developments have taken place since last year.
I certainly was not prepared for the pleasant experience that occurred when I visited the booth where Richard Wedler was demonstrating a range of equipment that went under the impressive title of ʻMicro Fenceʼ. It didn’t take me long to be convinced that this was a system that extends the potential of the router into realms of accuracy and control that the machine rightfully demands. While many of the accessories manufactured and supplied with routers leave a lot to be desired, this was a sophisticated piece of equipment that really looked the part. So, without further thought I took out my check book and made the purchase.
The Micro Fence fit in perfectly with my working philosophy of accuracy and control of dimensional settings that much of my workshop equipment represents. The engineering machines that I find essential for some of my work have calibrated dials that enable me to establish settings to dimensions that I measure with dial callipers. There is only so much that one can do with a lathe and milling machine, whereas a router offers a multitude of different options. At last I had found a calibration system that gave me accuracy and, equally important, the ability to reset dimensions that may need to be used later.
A Complete Package
The first in a series of evolving tools is the Micro Fence Edge-Guide, to give it its official title. It has the aesthetics and presence of a well designed product. The main body is machined from bar stock aluminum to which an underhung wooden fence is attached. The kit is supplied with deep and shallow wooden fences but the instruction booklet encourages experimentation with the development of your own additional fence, should you desire to do so.
The main body also carries a pair of stainless steel guide rods that are in turn held by the spindle bar and moved by a stainless steel lead screw spindle. But this is no ordinary adjuster. It includes a precision screw thread that works smoothly and with absolutely no backlash due to the pair of compressible thrust washers that have been incorporated. Furthermore the lead screw is equipped with a dial calibrated for thousandths of an inch. The instruction book is clear and concise, starting with “the core philosophy of the Micro Fence” which emphasizes the precision and reliability of adjustment made available. It then goes on to describe the method of setting up and follows with optional edge guide accessories. In one short paragraph Richard sums up what is probably the most important reason why he developed the Micro Fence in the first place – to address the problem of the dimensional variables that exist in the different standards and manufacturing tolerances of materials, hardware, tools and router bits.
Method – ‘Dial the Difference’
The principle is stunningly simple. In most situations involving the use of a router fence the resulting cut is made to hold or house an insert. With the Micro Fence fit to your router, first measure the thickness of the insert with a precise measuring tool such as dial callipers. Then select a bit that is the next size smaller than this measurement. Set the dimension of the distance from the edge of the component to the groove, zero the dial and make a cut. Then using the micro adjuster, reset the fence to the difference between the insert and the bit and make a second cut. All dimensions can be accurately measured with dial callipers and a simple sum can be carried out if necessary with a calculator. It is even possible to add a couple of thousandths to allow for a sliding fit or the addition of glue to a joint.
The instruction booklet lists many processes for which the fence can be used including the fitting of hinges, inserting inlays, cutting mortise and tenon joints, cutting housing joints or dadoes and parallel grooves, edge profiling, sliding dovetails, circles, curves, arcs, the list is extensive.
The Micro Fence Edge-Guide is supplied with an assortment of accessories that are designed to be used, as the title suggests, from the edges of components whether they be straight or curved. With the range of routers made by different manufacturers, a selection of mounting bars is available to fit any of the popular makes.
I used the word ʻevolveʼ earlier in this article. After the basic edge-guide had been developed and put into production, Richard put his mind to the evolution of a series of other jigs that use the Micro Fence adjustment system. These include a circle jig and an ellipse jig. If they offer the accuracy and control of the Micro Fence, then Richard could very well be on to something.
In conclusion, this is a comprehensive system that has a considerable degree of potential. It will make your use of the router so much easier and more enjoyable, and will extend options for the development of your skills and expertise. That should be welcomed by all router users.
Click here to view the Micro Fence range