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To Jewelers who woodwork

…or woodworkers who make jewelry:

I have a dozen hobbies, and it’s hard to budget for all the
equipment. You will have my deepest admiration if you can tell me a
way to jury-rig my router into a flexible-shaft tool! It’s a 2-hp,
10-amp router with speed from 8,000 to 24,000 rpm.

Never having seen a Foredom close up, I don’t know what the
non-business end of a flexible shaft looks like, or how it connects
to the motor. My router holds bits with round shafts either 1/4" or
1/2" in diameter. Is the motor end of a flexshaft just a rod?

Janet

8000 rpm? 2 HP? Your going to be turning in circles around your
work!

Ringman

... can tell me a way to jury-rig my router into a flexible-shaft
tool! 

Hello Janet,

Foredom saw you coming. The part you want is an accessory called
"Flexade" which is the flexshaft part of a foredom rig with a
coupler at the motor end. It costs about US$25. You can order it
with one of four sizes of coupler, including both 1/4 and 1/2 inch.
I tried to find it on Foredom’s site but couldn’t get their fancy new
product document pages to work but you can see it at
http://www.lopacki.com/foredom/accessories/ about half way down the
page.

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I have one of these units and used it on my bench lathe before I
bought a low-speed Foredom motor. It’s dead simple to use. You just
slide the shaft sticking out of the coupler into your motor --just pop
it into your router like you would a router bit-- tighten it up and
away you go.

That said I hope you have a good set of ear protection because a
router is one heck of a lot noisier than a Foredom motor. You
certainly won’t be wanting for power though … and that can be
dangerous. If you jam up your bit you’re going to have 2 hp of
energy with nowhere to go and it can get ugly. Been there, done that
and that was only with a 1/10 hp motor.

BE CAREFUL!
Cheers,
Trevor F.

Janet,

I do a little woodworking but I would never try to use my router for
the power for a flex shaft. The motor has too much torque and could
break your cable etc.
A complete Foredom kit can be purchased for $200.00 Just the motor is
$110 to $130 so that is all that you would save but,
You need a hand piece from $40 on up
You need the cable around $20
You need the foot control around $30
You would have to make a means of fastening the outer cable to your
router housing; little machine work would be required.
To drive the cable you could probably make a slotted tube that would
fit in a 1/4 inch arbor. Just hardening it for wear would be the
obstacle. Besides, since I have had my flex shaft I now use if for
some woodworking.

Warren Townsend


Trenton, MI 48183

    You  will have my deepest admiration if you can tell me a way
to jury-rig my  router into a flexible-shaft tool! It's a 2-hp,
10-amp router with speed  from 8,000 to 24,000 rpm. 
    Never having seen a Foredom close up, I don't know what the
non-business  end of a flexible shaft looks like, or how it
connects to the motor. My  router holds bits with round shafts
either 1/4" or 1/2" in diameter. Is  the motor end of a flexshaft
just a rod? 

No, Janet. Unfortunately, the end is keyed to a slot in the motor’s
shaft. There may be a flexible shaft available somewhere that can
attach to a 1/4" or 1/2" arbor via a set screw, but I’ve never seen
one, and a Google search yielded no viable results for me. Also,
there would have to be some sort of housing for the sheath of the
shaft to attach to the body of the router. You’ll probably want
something capable of a much lower RPM than 8,000, too.

There are plenty of inexpensive flexible shaft tools out there. I
found one by a company named PTA for around $65 US. Other companies
make similar models. Of course, it doesn’t run quite as true and
smooth as the Foredom and Pfingst models I’ve used, but it does the
job for me. And if you don’t need a great amount of torque, Dremel
makes a flex shaft for their hand-held units.

Another alternative is a small bench grinder with a flex attachment
from Harbor Freight. I’ve never used it, so I have no idea how well
it works or how long it’ll last. They claim it’s no-load speed is
variable from 0 - 10,000 RPM and the flex shaft’s collet is 1/8".
Price is $29.99.

http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/Displayitem.taf?itemnumber=43533

James in SoFl

I bought a type of flex shaft from Indian Jewelers Supply that takes
a foredom hand piece. I use it with a 5000 rpm max cheap surplus DC
motor so I can use a hammer handpiece without damaging it by
overspeeding.

They still have it !! item 351-FBBO Flexade @ $21.00. page 78 of
paper catalog. It has a 1/4" female connecter so you only need a
short piece of 1/4" rod to adapt to a router… The catch could be it
is only rated to 14,000 rpm. I don’t think this may be areal problem
for you as the thing seems to be a foredom item simiar to they
usually use on their other tools ??? You will need to clamp your
router down to use this so it stays were you want it.

http://www.ijsinc.com

Indian Jewelers Supply on Ganoksin:
http://ganoksin.com/resources/detail-indian_jewelers_supply-1530.html

jesse

Hello Janet,

I am a woodworker who ‘jewels’. Anyway, I’ve been doing both kinds
of work for over 40 years and I am willing to try anything. At least
that’s my stated approach to problem solving and creative work - but
I have to put my real-world experience up against my imaginative
willingness. Merely wishing won’t make it so. (Walt Disney and Geo
W Bush to the contrary.) My experience tells me that even if you
could figure out a way to hook up a Foredom handpiece to a 2 HP
router it’s not something you’d be able to control or use safely.

Yes - The back end of a flex shaft machine like Foredom has some
sort of rod - which is the end of the shaft itself - and which
protrudes from an outer tube within which the shaft rotates. The
shaft end could conceivably be adapted to be fixed in your router
collet but the outer tube would have to be fixed to the router motor
housing or baseplate so it cannot rotate along with the shaft. This
is because the other end, the ‘business end’ of the tube is what you
have to hold in your hand when guiding the tool - so, obviously, it
must not rotate.

Your motivation seems to be at least partly due to budget
constraints - trying to get one machine to do double duty instead of
buying a second machine. But to make parts that are machined
accurately and fastened strongly enough to adapt the Foredom to the
router is itself likely to be an expensive custom job - likely more
than the cost of a new Foredom.

As well, I suspect that if you break down the cost of a whole
Foredom kit into its component parts you will find that the motor,
the one part which you want to eliminate, is not a major part of the
total. The shaft, handpiece and motor controls are the major
portion. So you will still need to buy those and you won’t save much
money. In addition, all the routers I know about have a simple
on-off switch so you cannot control the speed of the cutting tool
with the sensitivity required to do handwork. I doubt that router
motors are set up to tolerate a variable speed control even if you
could figure out how to insert that kind of control into the system.

BUT EVEN IF YOU COULD SOLVE THOSE TECHNICAL PROBLEMS - Here’s the
main problem . . .

The router has a certain weight and inertia which enables it to
encounter and pass through various irregularities in the workpiece
without reacting violently to the concommitant changes in resistance.
The large power and weight of the machine is directed against a
relatively small cutting area. It is therefore more likely that the
material will yield to the machine than vice-versa. The router is
typically held firmly with both hands or even mounted in a router
table. A flex shaft handpiece, however, is designed to be a
relatively lightweight item, held typically in one hand, like a
pencil. All the weight of the machine is elsewhere. It is operated
without the ball-bearing guides, fences, or fixed-depth settings of a
router. It is used more-or-less freehand and so a minor change in
material density, or a miniscule change in your angle of attack or
cutting depth, something that a tiny tremor of your hand could
produce, will result in a violent kickback or other uncontrollable
response in the handpiece, damaging your work or your fingers or
worse.

So - PLEASE - don’t go off half-cocked with this idea because it is
SERIOUSLY DANGEROUS.

I’m sure there will be someone out there who will be captivated
enough by the challenge to disagree with me and present you with a
technical solution - just because it can somehow be done - Whether it
solves your budget problem or not. Well,nothing is impossible, I
suppose, except maybe doing fine work without all your fingers.

Enjoy all your hobbies.

Marty in Victoria BC where I can still count to ten without taking
off my shoes

Janet,

I do a little woodworking when time permits. I can’t see how your
idea will work. From what I gather, you are doing this as a hobby.
So, my suggestion would be to take a look at Dremels. They make a
model that has a flex shaft that would work in a hobby situation. I
picked up mine in a pawn shop for $25 and used it in my shop last
year for bristle brushing at the buffer when one of my flex shafts
was sent out for rebuilding.

James S. Cantrell CMBJ

Majority opinion is that it would be dangerous to connect a
flexible-shaft tool to a router. Keeping my fingers is important (I
use them just about every day) so I will heed your advice and give
up this approach.

I was going to buy a used Dremel on eBay, but will probably end up
buying a Flexade (or a generic version).

Thanks to all of you for your input.

Janet