Power Tools for Professionals

Wood Working Tips

Wood Working Tips


Using a Router
Using a Router, Best Practices

Expert Advice for Using a Router

Popular Mechanics says that the biggest mistake woodworkers make in using a router is advancing the router in the wrong direction. Always move the router against the rotation of the bit. That allows the bit to cut into the work, giving you full control over the tool. If you advance the router in the same direction as the bit's rotation, the router will run along the edge of the work piece and you'll have to fight to keep control.

When looking straight down at the top of a router before using a router, the bit rotates in a clockwise direction. That means the user should move the router from left to right, when the router is positioned in the middle between you and the work piece.

Highland Woodworking has another way of putting it: Routers always go left. To make the work easier, when using a router employ a router fence. If you put a fence to the router's left, control is effortless and precision is virtually guaranteed as the router's urge to go left holds it against the fence.

Popular Mechanics

Highland Woodworking


Using a Router, Best Practices

Lots of experienced woodworkers name the router as one of most versatile power tools. Workers using a router can shape decorative edges, form raised panels, cut grooves and slots, carve signs, make moldings, rout intricate inlays, trim plastic laminate and veneers, and mill dozens of woodworking joints, including rabbets, dovetails and mortises. And while the best router is handheld for most operations, it can also be mounted in a router table, creating a small stationary shaper.

If you're new to using a router, start off with a small fixed-base router or trim router, something in the 1-hp to 1-1/2-hp range. As users become more confident and comfortable using a router, move up to a larger fixed-base or plunge router in the 1¾- to 3½-hp range. Look for one with these five features in the best router: soft-start motor, smooth-operating depth-adjustment mechanism, comfortable handles or grip, push-button arbor lock for one-wrench bit changes, and a flexible power cord that's at least eight feet long.


Don’t Forget the Bits

Using a router requires a collection of router bits – carbide-tipped bits are best because they last the longest and give the best results. While there's no hard-and-fast rule about which bits to own, a good starter set includes ¼" and ¾" diameter straight, flush-trimming bits.

Professional woodworker Chris Baylor points out that correct care and installation of bits is important. Before beginning any routing operation or using a router, check your bits to make sure that they are clean, relatively free of pitch, and most of all, sharp. If the bit is dull, chipped, is excessively burned or has any other defect, it should be sharpened or replaced.

Then, rather than completely “seating” the bit in the collet, push the bit in until the shank reaches the bottom and then ease it out about 1/8 to ¼ of an inch before tightening the collet. There should be no less than a ¾-in. length of shank in the collet.

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