Elu MOF 11, Elu's First Router

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custard

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Following on from another post about Elu, here's a MOF 11-1, this was Elu's very first router which was launched in 1951. I don't know exactly when it was superseded by the MOF 11-2, but I think it was within a couple of years. So this router is probably from the period 1951-3. Incidentally I still use it and it works a treat!
Elu-MOF-11-01.jpg

Elu-MOF-11-02.jpg


The few accounts about router history that I've seen tend to give the impression that the router was born fully formed as the massively versatile tool that we know today. Having used this MOF 11-1 I'm not so sure. I don't know this for a fact, but I get the impression it was originally conceived as a more specialised tool, with particular application for through and stopped housings. And only later did the penny drop that it could a lot more than that.

Let's say you want to run a housing in this piece of Pearwood, and you've attached a bit of MDF as a fence.
Elu-MOF-11-03.jpg


The MOF 11 is a brilliant machine for this job. The router body sits in an accessory housing with a fence, plunge mechanism, and two offset stops that can be set to place the cutter in one position like this,
Elu-MOF-11-04.jpg


and then reset to a slightly different position, thereby moving the cutter away or towards the fence a mill or two, like this,
Elu-MOF-11-05.jpg


So if you don't have a router cutter that's the precise size needed for your housing joint then no problem. You just do one pass with the router against one stop like this,
Elu-MOF-11-06.jpg


And then you move the router against the other stop and come back for a second pass like this,
Elu-MOF-11-07.jpg


Now all this is just guess work on my part, I've never seen any original sales material or spoken to early users of this router, so I don't actually know that the MOF 11 was chiefly designed with housings or dados in mind. But that's certainly the application that leaps out at you when you actually use the machine. And there's three other bits of evidence that might support this view.

Instead of a collet the cutters on this machine are threaded, and screw straight into the router spindle. That tilts costs away from the machine and towards the cutters, which suggests that the machine designer assumed that the owner would only ever have a relatively small number of router bits.

The mounting is an accessory, but pretty much every MOF 11 I've ever seen has it, which implies this was the default way to use the machine. But if you look at the photos you can see that the built in metal fence won't allow the router to be used like a modern router fence, ie running against the edge of the workpiece, it's designed to only run against a supplementary wooden fence or fixture fastened to the workpiece itself.

It's also interesting that the early 50's coincided with an explosion in the use of plywood in furniture construction. Given that ply thickness is only nominal, and in practise varies from sheet to sheet, it would have been impossible to have a range of cutters to cover all housing joints in all possible thicknesses of ply. But the MOF 11 seems designed to accommodate that variability, and also deliver the plunge mechanism which uniquely transforms the cutting of stopped housings from a right faff into a simple job. So if you were making veneered plywood furniture in the 1950's the MOF 11 would have been an efficient solution to all your housing joint needs.

I suspect that once these appeared in a few workshops and factories then the craftsmen using them very quickly realised that they could be used for a lot more than just housing joints, and so the versatility of the router might have been a serendipitous discovery around a machine designed for a much more limited application.

I'm sure you've heard that quote from the early days of computing that forecast the total world market for computers would be just a dozen or so machines. Well maybe routers are similar, and it was originally thought it was a specialist machine, and only later did it dawn on users that it had a vastly wider range of applications?
 

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Can you still get the threaded cutters, or do you have a stash of NOS?

We think of power tools being disposable these days. If you get 10 years from a router, you figure that it doesn't owe you anything. if it breaks it is replaced rather than repaired.
 
marcros":1paf91qv said:
Can you still get the threaded cutters, or do you have a stash of NOS?

Yes, they're still widely available and sold on Ebay as new/old Elu stock.
 
Very interesting write-up and what a well designed machine. Built to last and it certainly has!
 

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