While the name suggests a dance club or perhaps a record label, the GrooveCenter is a new router table fence-position system available from Prazi U.S.A. It allows the user to cut a groove in the stock's exact center and pulls double duty as an aid to setting up lock miter bits.
The goal of inventor Sjoerd Van Valkenburg, a native of the Netherlands, was to eliminate the burden of hand-measuring and making trial cuts. "The tool is basically aimed at setting up your router fence in such a way that irrespective of the thickness of your stock and irrespective of the diameter of your router bit, you immediately in one pass make a perfectly centered groove. This looks like a very simple operation to set up by hand, but often turns out to be surprisingly difficult," he says.
The GrooveCenter will find the center in stock up to 4-1/2" thick and is accurate to .001", according to Van Valkenburg. The tool uses the router arbor as its reference point, rather than the router bit.
"Once you set up your router fence, you can take the tool away and begin your routing operation," says Van Valkenburg.
Van Valkenburg says the GrooveCenter is particularly useful for finding the exact center of MDF and plywood, which tends to vary in thickness.
As he was developing the GrooveCenter, Van Valkenburg also found it useful for setting up lock miter bits. "A lock miter bit is terribly difficult to set up and extremely frustrating because there is only one setup possible in relation to the thickness of your stock. If you don't get that right, the lock miter operation will not be successful. There's really no tool on the market that does that for you. There are setup blocks that are made by major manufacturers of those bits, but the blocks only work on 3/4" thick perfectly cut stock.
"Once you get the habit of using this setup procedure, you will be using lock miter bits all the time, instead of them being the least used - and most expensive - bits in your collection".
A depth gauge is offered as an accessory to the GrooveCenter, which can be used either vertically or horizontally to set the bit's height off the router table.
The GrooveCenter sells for $149.99. The depth gauge accessory costs $49.99.
Contact: Prazi U.S.A., 214 South Meadow Road, Plymouth, MA 02360. Tel: 800-262-0211. www.praziusa.com
This article originally appeared in the June 2010 issue.