Perhaps it is a little outdated but does anyone remember that Golden Earring song Radar Love? You know “I’ve been drivin’ all night, my hand’s wet on the wheel. There’s a voice in my head that drives my heel. It’s my baby callin’, says I need you here. And it’s a half past four and I’m shiftin’ gear…Don’t need no phone at all. We’ve got a thing called Radar Love.” It’s a great song, you gotta love the Dutch! Regardless of whether you remember that song (or like it), this article has nothing to do with it. Instead, we’re here to talk about Radarcarve. If you’re a woodworker you might want to keep reading, and we promise note to quote any more lyrics.
Radarcarve is a non-CNC router that is capable of routing out patterns based off of existing pieces. For example, if you have a decorative leg or a gunstock that you want to reproduce, you can make an exact copy in less than half an hour. The secret to the Radarcarve’s success is the mounting system. The original piece is mounted on one-half of the machine and the blank is mounted on the other. Attached to rails that run the length of the machine is a bracket to hold a router (purchased separately) and a nylon point that is calibrated to be at the same depth and location as the end of the router bit.
As you manually work the nylon point over the original, the router bit cuts an exact match to the original. It’s kinda like tracing when you were a kid except know you’ve got a sharp bit spinning at 25000 rpm, which is way cooler. The original and blanks can be oriented in any direction and will rotate simultaneously so you can get to all sides with ease.
Radarcarve has three basic models and then two specialty models. The basic models, oddly named model 1, model 12, and model 2, are all essentially the same with the exception of stock capacity. Model 1 can hold stock up to 8”, model 12 can hold stock up to 12” (see the correlation here?) and model 2 can hold stock up to 16” wide (like guitar bodies). The specialty models are designed for specific carvings. You can probably guess what the duck decoy model carves. The decoy model can be bought as a complete package or as an attachment to another model. And then there’s the propeller carver. It’s a bit bigger. It can handle 12” stock like the model 12 but can carve propellers up to 18 feet long, not that size matters. If you’re looking to deck out your man-cave with a bunch of propellers, then this is the tool for you.
The prices seem pretty reasonable considering what the product accomplishes. Model One will set you back just under $1200 USD and the propeller model will set you back $1675 USD (prices are for basic models only). You’ll need to pony up for the router as well, if you don’t already have a Bosch Colt on standby (or a Bosch 1612 for the Prop version). Of course, if you didn’t want to spend the money you could try to hand carve everything, and have your arm fall off in the process. On the other hand, you could try and hire a CNC-router technician, but I’d be willing to bet you’ll get a piece of your hide carved out of you for that as well. If speedy DIY duplication seems like it might be up your alley, you can see if you might want your own form of Radar Love at RadarCarve.net