Woodworking Router Basics and Safety

Learning new “bits” about routers

DEWALT DWP611 Router, one of the best selling routers on Amazon

Woodworking allows someone to make something beautiful out of something as plain as an old piece of wood. However, in order for a woodworker to do that, they need to have the right tools.

One tool that they commonly use is a router.

So, how does a router help a woodworker? And what are the best routers available that are worth getting? Those will be uncovered here.

What Is A Router?

A router is a hand or a power tool that’s used for hollowing out hard materials like wood or plastic. The router allows woodworkers to fashion their material to sport the design that they have in mind.

Whether they want a hole in the wood or just plain carvings to make it look more beautiful, the router is the best tool to do the job.

Just look at the grooves at the wooden door or any other furniture that you have at home. Take a look at the corners of your wooden dining table having smooth, curved cuts. All of these, and many more, are made by a router.

What Are Router Bits?

To get the desired cut or design using the router, you need to have the right router bit. These bits have different designs, and were made to fulfill specific purposes.

Here are some of the most common router bits that you can find and their purpose:

  • Straight bits
    Used to cut straight into materials to form a groove across the wood grain (also known as dado) or for hollowing out an area for an inlay or mortice.
  • Rabbeting bits
    Used to cut rabbets, or shoulders, on edges of the workpiece. These are used to join pieces together.
  • Chamfer bits
    Used for cutting bevels in the wood. Bevels are made either for easing or decorating the edges of a surface, or to create edges that can be used for joining multi-sided constructions.

35 piece 1/2" router bit set used for woodworking routers

35 piece 1/4" router bit set for use in woodworking

Router bits come in different sizes, but the two sizes commonly used are the ¼ inch and the ½ inch sizes. Experts recommend buying the ½ inch bit. The price difference for each bit size is barely noticeable. It also has advantages.

  • The bit is more stable when it’s cutting something. And since it doesn’t move around too much, you can expect it to give you a cleaner cut.

Since the ½ inch bit is longer, it gives the machine more space to grab. With that comes the stability and the lower possibility that it will come loose from the machine (and cause an accident).

Safety Tips When Using Routers

Using power tools carry some risks with it. In order to stay safe while using routers, it’s best that you start with ear and eye protection.

For the ears, it’s recommended that you have muff-style hearing protectors. Hey, wood is a hard material, so expect that it will get noisy once the tool hits the wood. Protect your ears from possible hearing damage.

Safety glasses are preferred for eye protection. Running the wood through the tool (or vice versa) can cause wood dust to affect your eyes. Well, you just can’t afford getting specks of wood dust in your eye if you want to avoid accidents.

Since we’re on the subject of wood dust, why not get a wood dust mask as well? This reduces the possibility of inhaling minute particles that are foreign to your body. If you have asthma or respiratory problems, consider getting this for added protection.

If you are using a manual router, you need to have a router mat. This will give you a non-skid surface to work on. Although clamps can secure the material in place, sometimes, it gets in your way while working. And when you have to stop just to remove the clamp, it can affect the finished work. With the wood secured, there’s less possibility that you’ll get into an accident.

Safety can also be ensured if you move the router in the right direction. Depending on what you want to do, the tool should be moved in a specific direction. If you’ll be routing the outside edge of your material, you’ll have to move the tool in a counter-clockwise direction. On the other hand, if you’re routing the inside edges, move the tool in a clockwise direction.

Ear protection is a must when using woodworking tools

Eye protection for use when using woodworking routers and tools

Dust masks for protection from dust while woodworking

Router mats for use with a router when woodworking

What Is A Router Table?

The router table is exactly what it says – table with an upside-down router.

A router table is great because rather than controlling the tool, you are controlling the wood. It’s as if you’re just passing the wood over the tool, not have the tool run from one direction to another.

The router table is also perfect for cutting small pieces into shape. One situation where the router table is commonly used in relation to small pieces is when you want to cut wood so that it follows the shape of your pattern.

When using a router table, additional equipment will be needed. The first things that you need to acquire would be the push sticks and wood block holders. These are necessary so that you can run the wood through the equipment without the risk of your hands getting caught or injured during the process. It also allows you to have more control over the wood. With more control, the wood will be cut uniformly.

The router table is also necessary if you need to use larger router bits. Any router bit which is 1 ¾ inches in diameter should be used in a router table. That’s because bits of this size are harder to control if used in a hand-held router. This is especially true if you’ll be using it to cut the edge of the material. With a table, routing is also more stable.

Best Selling Routers Worth Checking Out

Planning to buy your own router and get started with woodworking?

There is a lot of routers available on the market. And with that many choices, it’s easy to get confused as to which one offers the best!

Let’s help you with this brief review of the best routers that you should definitely look for.

DEWALT DWP611 1.25 HP Max Torque Variable Speed Compact Router with Dual LEDs

Looking for the best selling router on Amazon? Then this is the product for you.

DEWALT DWP611 Router, the best selling router on Amazon

This router only measures 8.4 inches, making it easy to carry and store. The small size also makes it easier to control and make more precise routes to the material. More precise cuts also contributes a better look to your project.

It also has 1.25 horsepower, which makes working on tough materials easy.

It’s clear sub-base and dual LED light make it easier to see where you’re going while doing the project. This will ensure accuracy.

The motor housing is also made of aluminum, making it durable.

Bosch 12 Amp 2 1/4 Combo HP Plunge & Fixed Base Variable Speed Router Kit

This product from Bosch has a lot to boast of. It has an aluminum body that makes the machine durable and lighter than others. The wooden handles are also comfortable to hold on to, which in turn give you more control.

  • It also has a strong motor.
  • At 2.25 horsepower, it is possible for the bits to rotate between 8000 and 25000 RPM.
  • The tool also has a speed control dial, helping you cut the wood exactly how you want it to be.
  • It’s also highly accurate up to 1/64 inch.
  • Regardless of the size of the material and the cuts that you want to make, you are still able to make precise ones.

Bosch router kit for woodworking with 1/4' and 1/2" collets

Makita RT0701CX7 1-1/4 HP Compact Router Kit

Even if this Makita router only has 1.25 horsepower, its power should not be underestimated. That’s because the bits can rotate between 10,000 and 30,000 RPM! That will surely allow you to route through tougher kinds of wood.

Makita compact woodworking router easy to use

  • Aside from having an aluminum motor,
  • This tool only weighs 3.9 pounds. It’s the perfect combination of durability and handiness.
  • It’s also double insulated. Now, you won’t have to face the problem of the machine getting too hot for handling.
  • Its slim body also makes handling and control easier. Since you can get hold of the machine, it’s easier to maneuver it to the areas that you want to get routed.

DEWALT DW616 1-3/4-Horsepower Fixed Base Router

  • This tool’s 1.75 horsepower, 11 amp motor is enough for easier routing on tough materials.
  • It also has a dust-protected switch, protecting it from any possible damage that can be caused by dust ingestion.
  • It has a rubber handle on the sides for maneuverability. Being made of rubber, allows you to easily move it even if it’s routing through tough surfaces.

DEWALT DW616 router, available at Amazon

Conclusion

Having the right equipment is just one area that will help you with your woodworking project.

If you’re just starting out with this hobby, it’s best that you start acquiring knowledge on how to operate the router correctly. That way, you’ll be able to create a good output while keeping yourself safe.