How to Use a Wood Router

Fixed Base Woodworking Router

A router is a woodworking tool used to hollow out the face of a piece of wood board. The router is used for making finished edges and design shapes in your wood working projects. Woodworking with the router will allow you to complete a wide range of functional, and detaining processes on your pieces.


Wood Routers

Most professional wood shops have a habit of buying several routers. Like ten or more. My shop is no exception. We have at least ten, and are still tempted at times by the latest models. (like the new Festool router, which will work with their track system). They range in power from 1 H.P. to 3 1/2 H.P. Each one excels at a particular job, and that's how we determine it's use, and also which type of router bit that will be used in it.  While this might sound slightly excessive, the reasoning behind it is sound. The belief behind this compulsion, is it saves time to just grab the router with the bit you want, already set up and ready to go. We use this same policy on laminate trimmers as well. They're set with small round over bits, for which they have enough power to handle. We use a variety of routers, some are plunge, some are D handled, some are double knob handled. Some  have variable speed controls. Some have a soft start feature, meaning they build up speed gradually. This is nice for routers with a toggle type on / off switch. Holding a 3 horse router with one hand, and turning it on is somewhat dangerous, due to the torque of the motor. I personally don't like routers with a toggle switch for two reasons. One, you have to let go of the handle with one hand to turn it on. The second reason is I've seen people plug it in without checking to see if it's off.


Woodwork Router


If you're a woodworker, you've probably considered buying a router, or perhaps you already have a basic model which may no longer suit your needs. With the wide variety available, it can be confusing to make a choice, and there's no single model that's perfect for every job. So, most professional woodworkers (and even serious amateurs) usually decide to buy more than one router.  While many routers available today offer two different bases (a stationary base and a plunge router base), for most beginners, a quality stationary base model will take care of quite a number of tasks, and it can be mounted in a router table should you choose to invest in one down the line. If you only invest in one router, choose a model that is at least 2-HP and variable speed (as larger cutting bits should use slower speeds).


Which Router Should I Buy?


Just on the face of it you know that this can't possibly be true. Gird your loins and just resign yourself to the fact that you will ultimately own several routers. You will have a 1-2 hp plunger for hand held plunge use, a 1-2 hp fixed base for general use, and you'll have a Big Boy for the table. Call these the Big Three, and don't think that's all, but that would be a lot.
Horsepower  creep has hit the world of routers now just like it has in shop vacs and compressors. Look at the current draw. Obviously, a 10 amp, 1½ hp router is not underpowered compared to a 10 amp 2 hp router. Don't chase numbers.


Introduction to Woodworking with a Router


Routers have become one of the most used tools in a workshop, possibly even more popular than a table saw. A well equiped shop will have both a plunge base and a fixed base router, it is now possible to get a combination kit where one machine has both bases. There are many different bit profiles available, probably a straight bit and a round over bit are the first ones you will need, but this depends on the type of projects you will be doing. It is much easier to work with smaller pieces if the router is mounted on a table. Generally much better results are achieved by taking several passes making a shallow cuts rather than one pass if a lot of material has to be removed. 


About Hand Routers


Depending on the wood detailing that you're doing, you have the option of using hand routers or a more conventional router that is table mounted for your wood work. Routers allow you to make finished edges and design shapes in your wood working projects. Routers are also useful if you need to cut any holes or do any contouring.  If the wood work that you are doing is delicate and on the smaller side, then you will want to use a handheld router. Because you have complete control over them, hand routers offer more control and diversity of cut that a conventional router. So if you are attempting to cut small holes, shapes or designs in your wood, a hand router will make the job a lot easier.  A down side of using hand routers instead of a conventional router is safety. Because a standard router is attached to a table, it is more stable and injury is less likely.


Types of Wood Routers


Wood routers are categorized by the way the base is attached to the motor. You can use both plunge and fixed-base routers in either of two modes: hand-held or mounted in a router table. This is more or less like the difference between using a circular saw and a table saw, or a Jig Saw versus a Scroll Saw. In one mode, you hold the wood steady while moving the tool; in the other, you hold the tool steady while moving the wood.  You can use both plunge and fixed-base routers in either of two modes: handheld or mounted in a router table. This is more or less like the difference between using a circular saw and a table saw, or a jigsaw versus a scroll saw. In one mode, you hold the wood steady while moving the tool; in the other, you hold the tool steady while moving the wood.


All About Router Bits an Introduction


Routers are one of the most versatile tools in the wood shop. Armed with a good quality stationary or hand-held router and the proper assortment of bits, you can perform a virtually unlimited variety of specialized woodworking operations. To perform this woodworking with the router, you will need a variety of different shaped bits. More about these shapes later...but first, let's look at some bit basics. 
To perform these operations, you will need a variety of different shaped bits. More about these shapes later...but first, let's look at some "bit basics".  Router bits are available in a variety of shapes and sizes, each designed to perform a specific operation...but all sharing three basic components.


Working with a Wood Router



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