The phrase, “Necessity is the mother of invention,” could not be more accurate when it came to creating the first product from the California concern Micro Fence. The owner of the company, Richard Wedler, had to reinvent himself as he transitioned into woodworking. Plus, after he came to understand the lack of accuracy in small hand-held tools, specifically router edge guides, he did what any musician turned woodworker turned entrepreneur would do. He built one.
It isn’t difficult to see how a musician from northern Ohio could end up in California, but a career path that lead to inventor and entrepreneur had to have had twists and turns along the way. As a struggling musician, Rich took on odd jobs, which provided him contacts and potential customers. Jobs included built-in cabinets and custom furniture, and eventually led to a full-time career as the owner of a custom-furniture shop.
As business grew, Rich discovered that none of the available router fences were as accurate as he wanted. He worked with his father, a retired machinist, to develop and build the most accurate fence system for routers, the Micro Fence edge guide (Fig. 1). His fine-adjustment router accessory debuted at the 1993 AWFS show. The newly designed edge guide immediately drew attention from show goers and woodworking-tool manufacturers alike. Rich’s career path took another turn. To this day, no other router fences measure as accurately as his edge guide.
While Rich still works in the shop building furniture for himself and clients, it’s, at least for now, only a part-time gig. His business, from that fateful day in 1993, has been Micro Fence. Throughout the years the company has developed edge guides, plunge bases and circle and ellipse jigs that are without question some of the most accurate additions one can find for woodworking routers and rotary tools.
One thing that became evident as we talked is Rich’s almost psychic abilities when it comes to routers. Micro Fence was early to develop and release a plunge base designed for laminate trimmers. (Today many manufacturers produce and sell smaller routers with both fixed and plunge bases.) The company was also a pioneer in adding lighting into its plunge base to make working in tight areas more accurate (Fig. 2). (Other manufacturers have since installed built-in LED into their routers.)
The details and stories of his transition from out-of-work musician to the owner of Micro Fence, and what Rich Wedler has in store for woodworkers in the future, is a great story best told by Rich himself.