A router is a very useful tool that has many uses when it comes to woodworking, although the most common task it’s designed for is for cutting edge profiles on wood. This tool is basically a fast-moving rotary tool that connects to the end of the shaft of the motor, allowing you the ablity to apply varying ‘profiles’ onto the edges of your wood.
Typically, routers are used for carpentry since they are known for their ‘finishing’ capabilities; that said, there are certainly many more applications and uses for this versatile tool, even if you aren’t an experienced woodworker. When it comes to basic woodworking, many people are conflicted as to whether this tool is necessary to own or not.
A wood router is not a required piece of equipment, but if you are serious about woodworking and enjoy not only making functional woodwork but aesthetically pleasing woodwork, then it is a tool worth purchasing and having in your arsenal.
There are many different types of woodworking routers these days; this useful tool has evolved into many designs for various functions. It’s important to note that a wood router doesn’t only cut nice edges on wood; it can also create attractive patterns, hollow out lumber, and cut dadoes (in addition to many other uses).
In this article, we will go over what exactly a router is, what it does, how it works, what it can produce, the types of routers, as well as how to use a woodworking router.
Why You Need A Woodworking Router
As mentioned, routers are a great tool that have a wide range of uses and benefits.
First, let’s take a look at what a woodworking router really is and how it works.
What Is It And How Does It Work?
Woodworking routers are tools that hollow out materials.
Originally, wood routers were manual handtools but have evolved into what we use them as today; generally, they are associated with power tools since this is the most common form of the router used in the present time.
Back in the day, a router had a large base and blade that projected past its bade plate – now, a router has an electric motor spindle that has a flat plane with a rotating bit or shaft that comes out the bottom. Using the electric motor, this bit spins very fast and enables woodworkers the lucury of being able to build woodwork that is not only functional, but attractive.
These days there are a few different types of router, each having different strengths and design.
Types of Routers
The three main types of router are:
This type of router is great for beginner woodworkers; these are easier to use and are great for straight-line cutting, such as edges or molding.
This type of router is also more affordable than the others.
Fixed-base routers work best when they are ‘fitted’ onto a bench or table, hence the name. They are lighter than the other router types, and you cannot adjust the blade depth (as you can with plunge routers).
If you are doing simple at-home woodcutting, a fixed-base router is likely all you need; the downside is they are not as versatile as the other types (for example, because of the fixed base, you can’t gouge or overcut with this type of router).
If you are not a beginner, you might want to take a look at a plunge router.
If you are a more experience woodworker, a plunge router is what you need.
This type of router offers much more stability than fixed-base, and lets you adjust the cutting depth as well (you can adjust the depth while the router is actually in use).
Plunge routers can be used for:
- stopped dados
- incised letters
Plunge routers are heavier than fixed-base routers, and are also more expensive.
Sometimes, you need a bit more versaility; if a simple plunge or fixed base router won’t do, you might want to take a look at combo kit routers.
If you often need to change bases for your woodcutting projects, combo router kits are a great investment. Basically, this router has both plunge and fixed-base built-in; they are essentially a hybrid ‘kit’ that allows you the ability to move the engine from one base to another.
Since combo router kits combine fixed and plunge base routers, they are the most versatile and are ‘more bang for your buck’; it costs less to purchase one combo-kit router than to buy one of each other router.
Before you buy a router, make sure to consider what you will be using it for, your experience level, and budget; choose the type of router you need – fixed base, plunge base, or combo kit – accordingly.
Let’s take a look at the various uses of woodworking routers.
A router is capable of much more than fancy edges, as some people would believe.
You can use routers for tasks such as:
- shaping molding
- cutting perfect edges
- cutting dadoes
- carving rabbets
- ‘fancy’ patterns
- finishing furniture
- duplicating shapes
- carving letters
- softening edges
- creating profiles
- door hinges
- inlaying banding
- dovetail joints
- and much more.
The types of woodwork the router helps to make include:
- kitchen cabinets
- picture frames
- wood boxes
Routers have essentially changed the woodworking landscape; now, designs and patterns are much more easily drawn onto the woodwork, and creating exact replicas in furniture is easier than ever. Precise cutting, scrollwork, edging work, and cabinetmaking has been revolutionized thanks to the invention of the electric woodworking router.
Now let’s go over how to use a woodworking router.
How To Use A Woodworking Router
Using a woodworking router is inherently not that difiicult, although the task you are taking on is another story; while we can’t offer you instructions on every single application that a router is used for, we can explain how to use the tool itself.
Step 1: Safety
First, you should make sure that you have the necessary safety equipment; although a router is not nearly as dangerous as other power tools (like a table saw, for example) it is still motor-powered and can do some serious damage.
So, before you use a woodworking router, put on safety eyewear, ear plugs, and a mask – this will save you from any kickback and shreds of wood that is discarded during use.
Step 2: Attach The Bit
If you haven’t already, it is now time to attach the actual router bit.
All you need to do is loosen up the part of the machine called a router collet; this is what secures the bit to the spindle. After you loosen the router collet, the bit should then be able to attach into the spindle.
Step 3: Action
Once the router bit is safely secured, you can now get started on whatever woodworking job you are doing.
It’s important to remember the rotation direction of your router bit; you must always ensure that the rotation of the router bit is moving opposite the direction of the router. What this does is maintains the pressure between the machine and the wood and prevent any kickback during use.
Whatever skill level or experience you have with woodworking, a router is a worthy investment if you want to vastly expand the type of woodwork you can produce. By acquiring a woodworking router, you are taking the next step in your career and the more you use it, the better you’ll get with it and the better-looking your finished pieces will become.