Ever wonder how professional or amateur woodworkers create precise cuts and profiles into the face or edge of a piece of wood? If so, chances are, some type of router was the tool used to do it.
Routers are designed to perform tasks from the grand (cutting out a mortise or stair) to the intricate (putting grooves into a sign or side of a table) and everything in between. Each type of router has its own specific characteristics and features, and is ideally equipped to perform certain tasks.
If you’re looking for the woodworking industry’s most popular router, meet thefixed-base router. It has few moving parts, it’s simple to use, and its safety ranks the highest in the router universe. The handles and wide rounded base add stability, and cut depth can be set prior to cutting.
With a plunge router, you can actually adjust the cut depth while it’s turned on-a handy feature when your project requires you to make several passes on a board. Also, many models include depth stops to accurately place the tool to your desired depth.
Combo routers combine a fixed-base and plunge router base. This isn’t the largest router around, but should be able to help you accomplish most woodworking tasks.
Trim routers can squeeze into spots larger routers can’t. Other advantages include the bits’ faster rotating speed, greater accuracy and precision for smaller projects.
For those who fear too much router is not always good, there’s the palm router. This smaller tool can usually address most amateur woodworker’s needs.
Those who use a D-handle router enjoy the control and safety of the pistol-style starter switch, which allows you to shut the tool off quickly. Many woodworkers prefer a D-handle router with variable speeds when working in tight quarters or on a meticulous job, since the handle configuration promotes better control.
Router bits come in dozens of shapes and varieties. They’re typically classified as either carbide-tipped or high-speed steel. Additionally, bits can be grouped as edge bits or non-edge bits.
Here are a few must-have features if you’re shopping for a router, consider the following:
Power up. Commercial routers range from 1 to 3 horsepower.
Variable speed controls. One or two speeds are nice, but a router with multiple speeds adds versatility and maximizes its potential.
Soft start. This allows the motor to gradually build up speed, ensuring it won’t go to full speed at the start.
Chip collection system. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could eliminate all wood shavings and dust from your work area? This feature will do that for you.
Anti-kickback bits. Select a bit that prevents kickback, a potentially dangerous effect.
Jeremy Broun suggests in his book, “The Incredible Router” that the router is “the most versatile tool in the world.” And while hyperbolic statements like this may be hard to quantify, Broun also may not be too far off the mark.
Until next time, Happy Home Improving!