A Pair of Twins that I Love! – Clear-Cut Stock Guides – Jessem 04215
Today I’d like to share with you a discovery I made last winter during an in-store visit at Elite Tools. I was having a discussion with the owner Mr. Patrick Garant and then he showed me a new product received a couple of days ago. Following our discussion during which I told him I was working on my entertainment center and that I would have several feet of mouldings to prepare, he offered me to lend me a sample of the product so I could test it and give him my impressions about it. I accepted the offer and I left with the product under my arm. So you must be scratching your head to know what is that product? It is the Clear-Cut Guides from Jessem for the router table. I take care to specify router table because they recently introduced on the market a table saw version but I cannot comment on these ones. I didn’t have a chance to put a grab on those…
For those curious among you who would like to see what we are talking about exactly, click the following link:
The concept behind those clear-cut stock guides is really simple. It is in fact a roller guide placed before the router bit and a similar one placed behind. If I say similar it is because they are not perfectly identical and it’s through those little differences I’m going to explain you that the magic happens if I can say so! Each roller is mounted on a one way needle bearing. Did you read between lines here? No kickback possible so a big risk is gone. Also each roller is oriented toward the fence with a 5 degrees angle so fence contact is maximized as well as the contact between the router bit and your workpiece. We get a consistent cut result with no effort at all. The last noticeable point is the material used to make the rollers. These are made of urethane and have a good adherence on wood without marring workpieces. This adherence combined to the one way bearing and the 5 degrees angle toward the fence makes router table work safer and yields to better results.
So this is the principle behind and what the manufacturer gives as information. What is really important is to know if the product does deliver results good enough to fulfill all those nice promises. After having routed several mouldings of various profiles, lengths and thicknesses I must say I’m convinced. I always used feather boards on my router table before. Since the Clear-cut found their way through my workshop, the feather boards are now gathering dust in their drawer!
In fact I did noticed only one inconvenience to the Jessem clear-cut stock guides. At the moment Mr. Garant lend me the set, you absolutely needed to have a router table fence equipped with a T-track. In my case, my guide did not have one. It was a guide home made out of MDF with plastic laminate applied on its face but quite heavy. I resorted to build a new one out of lighter material keeping the features I liked from the old one and adding a T-track for the guides. But don’t panic yet if you find yourself in the same position I was since Jessem released an adapter to use the Clear-Cut on homemade fences lacking a T-track shortly after I rebuild mine:
It would have save me some work but the more I use my new fence the more I like it.
One thing I really like about the Clear-Cut guides is the easy way they can be taken out of the fence and back on. You just have to release the two screws holding the guide in the T-track. Jessem had the nice idea to make those screws as thumb screws. You can manipulate these without any specific tool, and if you need a greater torque while tightening, you can still use the provided hex key to do so. What’s good too is that you can move the guides out of the way for a specific cut simply by releasing the thumbscrew close to the router bit, lifting the guide and locking everything in place by tightening back the thumbscrew without having to take it completely out of the track. But should you need to remove the guides completely, it can be done as quickly and easily too.
For what is about drawbacks, except having to rebuild my fence, well I’m still on the lookout. And having to rebuild my fence was not really a drawback in my opinion since I improved it and I was able to reuse most elements from the old one.
It’s during utilization that I really discovered those little gems and their added safety features. As I said earlier, I routed many mouldings of various shapes and dimensions with a consistent cut quality on each and every pieces, something that could hardly be achieved while working freehand or with feather boards. I even had to redo a moulding piece of about 18” long and I was left with only a narrow piece of walnut to do it while I would normally have used a larger one that would then have been ripped on the table saw to get the needed moulding. Since I didn’t have much choice I decided to use the narrow piece and the Clear-Cut guided the piece through the router bit safely while holding it securely. Also their action allowed me to keep my fingers further away from the router bit without any risk of kickback. These are now permanently installed on my router fence and I only take those away when their presence would bother me. I can even use these on my router table with pieces as thin as 1/8”.
In the end, would I keep these? Totally! In fact, when I returned at Elite Tools, I asked Mr. Garant to keep these as I was absolutely satisfied with their performance. Of course, I got a special price in return of the evaluation work for the store but I still consider the regular price around 100$ to be worth every penny when looking at the product quality and results. I even think about trying the table saw version someday…
Here the youtube video of the Clear-Cut Stock Guides :
With that, happy woodworking and see you soon!