The Router

  • The Router

    The router is one the most important and versatile tools in the shop. A person that learns how to use a router can build complicated and exquisite pieces in their home shop with minimal expense, as compared to purchasing large stationary equipment. The router is used to cut grooves in wood, called dadoes and rabbets. It can also make very decorative edges. The type of cut depends on the type of bit installed in the tool.


    Parts of the Router

    As machines get more complicated you need to learn the various parts that make the tool operate. It is important that you understand what the various components of the tool do. 

    The router is made up of two large parts, the motor and the base. All adjustments are made on either the motor or base. We begin with the motor. The motor has the on/off button and the collet that holds the bits.



    The on/off switch is crucial to safe operation of the tool.


    The collet is the device that holds the bits in place. Special wrenches are used to install or remove the router bits.


    The base is the part of the router that controls the depth of cut.  In order to adjust the depth, the base plate clamp screw must be loosened. The base will then float up and down to the desired height. Once at the correct height, tighten the base plate clamp screw. Never use a wrench or pliers on this screw. You will crack the base. Only hand tighten.


    How to Use the Router

    Now that you know the parts of the router and have installed the proper bit, we are ready to cut. Here are the specific safety rules.

        Wear safety glasses.

        Make sure router is unplugged before making any adjustments.

        Inspect bits before using for damage. Never use a damaged bit.

        Make several small cuts to reach desired depth. Hogging cuts are unsafe.

        Secure work piece with clamps or use the router pad. Never hold work with your hands.

        Before starting a cut, make sure the bit is not touching the work piece.

        Grip handles firmly, with the switch facing  you,  if possible.

        Allow motor to come up to speed.

        Secure loose clothing or long hair.

        Keep hands away from underside of router.

        Do not set router down until it has come to a complete stop. Keep router vertical.

        Do not touch bit directly after use. It is hot.

    There are too many router applications to describe, so I am going to give a brief overview on router use. If you are routing the outside edge or your work piece, you must move the router in a counterclockwise direction. If you are routing an inside edge, the the hole in a donut,  you must move the router in a clockwise direction. This is important because you must move the tool in sync with the rotation of the motor. If you go the wrong direction, the bit is being forced away from the work piece and this is not a safe operating procedure. 

    You must also make several small passes in order to reach the desired depth of a cut. Making one deep pass will cause the bit to break or cause the router to perform erratically. This erratic action could cause the router to jump out of control.

    In conclusion, when using the router: Install the the desired bit and set to correct depth. Make sure the router is unplugged. Predetermine the direction of cut. Secure work piece. Grasp router firmly, with switch facing you. Before turning router on, make sure bit is not touching the work piece piece. Turn router on. Make desired cut. Wait until the router bit is no longer in motion. Set down, unplug, make adjustments and make next cut. Repeat procedure until desired depth is reached.