Tips for getting better cuts from your router

Routers may not be the most frequently used tool in your shop, but they are probably the most valuable and versatile power tool in the workshop.   This one tool can do many different jobs, including shaping edges, trimming plastic laminate, routing intricate inlays, creating raised panels and cutting grooves.  Routers can also be used to make a great variety of woodworking joints including: rabbet joints, dovetail joints, mortises, and so much more.

The router can be used in a router table or as a handheld power tool.  Using the router in a router table does offer many advantages.  By using your router in a router table, you are basically creating a stationary shaper.  Here are some tips for using your router that will help get the best cuts.

 

One of the most common mistakes that new woodworkers make when using a router is moving the router in the wrong direction to make their cuts.  Always move the router against the direction of the bit.  This allows the router bit to cut into the workpiece and gives you more control over the router.  If you try to make your cut so that the router is moving into the wood in the same direction that the router bit is turning, the router will run along the edge of the workpiece, creating a constant struggle to maintain control.

Instead, always make sure that the bit is turning against the direction that you are cutting into the wood. (ie: if the router bit is spinning clockwise and the router is positioned between you and the cut you are trying to make, you would move the router from left to Right to make the cut.)

 

Using your router in a router table makes routing easier and safer.  Using the router upside down in the router table frees up both of your hands, allowing you to safely move the stock and guide the workpiece through the cut.  It also makes the bit visible so that you can see exactly what you are doing, which is not always the case with a handheld router.  Router tables make it much easier to cut smaller parts, stopped grooves, and to use large-diameter bits and raised panel bits.

 

  • Tip:  Safety first.  Always use a push stick or Micro Jigs Push block so that your fingers stay clear of the cutting tool.

Router tables also come with many accessories that help to keep you safe and get better results from your cuts.  You can attach feather boards, and fences to help keep the workpiece from moving during the cut.

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