Wood routers are versatile tools that can be used in many different ways. However, it can take some time to get used to. Learn the basics of using this staple workshop tool like a pro and top tips for how to use it in everyday tasks.
Once you become comfortable with the wood router, it will be easy to use. It may feel strange at first, as it is not like other tools. You should wear safety glasses and ear protection as the tool can make a lot of noise.
Three Ground Rules to Use a Wood Router
Rule 1: Use two hands to hold the tool
Use both hands when running your router, that’s the first rule. This means you need to fix your workpiece onto a table or another surface.
Keep the router in place until the motor speeds up to full power. The bit should be kept clear of the workpiece as the motor’s rotation will cause it to spin out of control if it comes in contact with wood during startup.
Rule #2: Use the rotation
The router’s motor rotates clockwise when you look at it from the top. You can use this to your advantage by moving left to right along the edge in front of you so that the bit rotates and draws the router into the cut.
When routing the perimeter of a piece of wood, you should work counterclockwise. If working on an interior cut or a resaw, turn the machine clockwise.
Rule 3: Listen to the tool
As you use the tool, the motor will “talk” to you. With some practice, you’ll learn to recognize the sound of a groan (when you are pushing too hard, it means don’t cut so much at a time) and the lonely squeal (when the blade spins at full speed with nothing to cut). You’ll hear a variety of happy sounds as the router moves at a steady, measured pace.
Three Top Tips to Make Your DIY Project a Success
Tip #1: Use straight edges
If you are using the pilot tip of a bit to guide your cuts, ensure that the workpiece has an edge. The router will create an uneven surface if it doesn’t.
If you’re cutting dadoes or grooves, a straight piece of scrap stock can be clamped to act as a guide.
Tip #2: Cut End Grain
If you are only shaping the ends of a piece, begin at one edge and work your way to the middle. If you are working on all four sides of a piece, start at the edges and work your way to the middle. This will prevent you from tearing stock at the corners.
Tip #3: Router Jigs and Guides.
The router is a remarkably versatile tool and is made even more so when jigs or guides are used. You can make dovetails quickly by using scrap material as a guideboard.
In many cases, follower guides (a bushing that is mounted on the base through which the bit passes), are very useful to protect templates and guide the cut precisely.