A woodworking router is a tool that allows you to make smooth edges on wood, create profiles, cut dadoes, rabbets, patterns, and much more. It is a fantastic tool that we highly recommend for anyone who is serious about woodworking and wants to make their work as visually appealing as possible.
Routers work by spinning a motor-powered bit that projects out of a flat plane; this bit rapidly spins and can then be used for a variety of purposes. Due to the many different projects and problems a woodworking router can handle, it may appear as though this tool can also function in a similar way to an electric saw, which leaves the question… can you use a woodworking router as a replacement for a table saw?
The capabilities of a router are diverse; although it is a versatile tool that could potentially cut wood in the same way a table saw can, the design and functionalities of these two tools are very different. We do not recommend trying to substitute a router for a job intended for a table saw.
The router bit will simply not be able to cut through wood in the same way a table saw can; although it could certainly do some damage on a very thin piece of plywood, a router is not sharp or powerful enough to saw through wood. Even when compared to a hand saw, that is still a more effective tool to cut lumber with than a woodworking router.
In this article, we will go over exactly why you shouldn’t use a router as a table saw and then go over other tools (manual and electric powered) that can work as a substitute for a table saw; also, we will explain why a table saw is a worthwhile investment for you and your ‘woodworking career’.
Why You Shouldn’t Use A Router As A Table Saw
Here’s the deal; a hand saw would work far better for any cutting job you have as opposed to a woodworking router.
If all you have is a router and you need to cut something, there are many other tools that would work better (which we will get into later in this article).
A router is a tool that has no sharpness to it whatsoever; the way it works is by grinding across the sides (or surface) of wood. The speed of the spinning drill bit is fast enough that it slowly chips away at your piece of wood until you have your desired result.
If you had a very thin piece of plywood that needed to be cut, you could possibly get away with only using an electric router for the job; what you would need to do is clamp an edge onto the wood – then, simply makes lots of passes until it is eventually enough to break the wood.
Using a router for a woodcutting job will not have the intended result, at least not nearly as good of a finished and clean job as a table saw is capable of… so, we do not recommend using a router in place of a table saw.
If you have yet to purchase a table saw, here are some substitute tools that can handle all your woodcutting needs.
Table Saw Substitutes
If you are at the start of your woodworking career then it is common to have not yet made the investment for a good table saw.
In this case, there are other tools that can perform similar tasks.
These tools include:
Using a band saw for woodcutting is just fine, especially if you are ripping cuts. While this tool tends to have a lot of drift, as long as you have a fence then it should be okay.
The reason a table saw is preferred over this saw is because a band saw will not cut as smooth of edges; using this tool will result in ripples that you will, unfortunately, have to remove after cutting.
A benefit of band saws is that they tend to be safer than table saws, primarily because they have no kickback.
A band saw is probably the best alternative to a table saw, but it is still not as versatile, powerful, or accurate.
If you are cutting plywood that is less than an inch thick, you should be able to do so using a circular saw – you will also need a rip guide fence.
Just like with a band saw, it will still not be nearly as good for woodcutting as a table saw is; also, it cannot handle large pieces of lumber (which, if you are serious about woodworking, is essential).
Also, circular saws (due to their design) can be very awkward to use; on top of this, the accuracy is nowhere near as good as with a table saw.
Steering away from other electric saws, a hand saw works perfectly fine as well.
Hand saws are the manually-powered alternative to electric saws; it is more effort to cut wood with this tool, it takes a much longer time to do so, and the finished wood will not be as ‘clean’ as with a table saw.
All things considered, using a hand saw for a woodcutting job is perfectly fine – it’s only when you are taking on big projects (requiring speed, accuracy, and a visually appealing finished piece) that an electric saw is truly essential.
While most woodworkers (no matter how experienced) will have access to a hand saw, it is likely that if you don’t have a table saw, then you don’t have access to a band saw or circular saw.
Since a hand saw is not nearly as powerful, effective, or precise as a table saw is, there will be woodcutting jobs that a manual tool simply can’t handle.
For these reasons and more, we highly suggest making the investment for a quality table saw… here’s why.
Why You Should Invest In A Table Saw
A table saw is one of the most popular tools in the woodworking world, and for good reason; it is an incredibly useful and versatile tool that can take on most woodworking jobs you throw at it.
Here are some reasons why investing in a table saw is a great idea:
The table saw is an incredibly accurate electric saw and this is one of the main reasons this piece of equipment is prized by woodworkers everywhere.
Using a table saw, you have the ability to check your measurements often using the fence and the blade or the side of the bench and the blade.
Also, you are able to press the wood you are cutting up to the fence; this pressure allows you to feed the wood through the saw straight as an arrow… this means no damaged wood or messed up projects.
Obviously, speed is a major benefit of using electric saws as opposed to any manual or handheld saw; that said, even compared to other electric saws, table saws are typically more powerful than average and can make the woodcutting process extremely fast if necessary.
If efficiency is a value you consider important, a table saw is a great investment.
Ease of use is a major benefit of the table saw, and this is especially crucial if you are a beginner woodworker.
The easiness of using a table saw also ties in with speed, but it’s more than just that; the natural design of the table saw allows you to guide the wood in a way that makes achieving accurate and straight cuts very easy (at least, much more easily than other electric saws).
The natural power of table saws means you can take on any type of wood material, no matter how big it is, hard it is, or ‘stubborn’ it is.
This has been mentioned a few times in this article, and it is worth repeating over and over… table saws are a very versatile piece of equipment.
Table saws are used for furniture and other woodworking that revolves around an ‘attractive’ finished product; in addition to this, they are also the best home option for a saw simply meant to cut lumber.
The versatility is a major factor as to why this piece of equipment is so popular – if you are new to the woodworking space, an electric saw (such as the table saw) that can do everything is a major benfit, considering you won’t need to buy lots of other saws as long as you own this one.
The caveat to this is that table saws are usually bigger than other electric saws, which means you can’t always bring them to the lumber you need to cut – you have to bring the wood to the table saw.
It’s also worth mentioning that your table saw will last you a long time; considering this and other factors, this piece of equipment is a worthy investment for any woodworker who is serious about their craft.
So, while a router can sometimes – rarely – take the place of a table saw, we do not recommend it, and we do suggest buying a table saw.