What is a Woodworking Router and What Can it Do For Me

By November 15, 2017Uncategorized

So what does a router do and how to use a router.

I thought I’d first take a look at the word router and this originates from a verb to rout. Rout is also a noun but this doesn’t relate to our woodworking router. The definition of the verb appears to be to rummage or to hollow out or furrow, as with a scoop, gouge, or machine. So perhaps my definition of a woodworking router would be to gouge out or machine out some part of a piece of wood. This could simply be to make a groove or round the edges of a piece of timber.

The first routers were of course hand operated and were similar in appearance to a flat wood plane but having interchangeable narrow blades rather than the large flat blade. These blades would be shaped to make a grove or round the edge of the timber. The electric router was introduced in the first half of the last century but in fact was a very different product for achieving similar results and relied on a spinning cutter and was known as the spindle router. A company called Elu developed some of the first products and I remember having a quality Elu router myself. I believe Elu is now part of the Makita power tool and Makita router range of products.

The first electric routers had a fixed base and subsequent routers called plunging routers were sprung such that the spinning blade would not protrude beyond the based as the weight or pressure was removed. These types of router were moved over the wood area. The alternative method of use is to mount a router to the underside of a router table and then move the wood over the router and maintaining a fixed position for the table router. This is ideal for a workshop environment and lends itself to additional safety features.

The handheld plunging routers can be used (should be used) with a variety of controls. The base of the router can be fitted with a sidebar device to ensure that the cutting blade remains a constant distance from the edge of the wood you are routing. For example you may wish to cut a groove 4 mm deep and 3 mm from the edge of your piece of wood. The depth can be set to the maximum 4 mm and the sidebar guide will ensure that the groove is not made more than 3mm from the edge of the wood. You could achieve the same results by clamping a straight edge over the surface of the wood to be machined and keep the electric router pressed firmly against the straight edge.

Router cutters or router bits come in many different shapes. The different shapes allow you to use your router to cut square, vee and rounded grooves. There are more router bits to enable round, angular and decorative edge finishing. An edge finishing router bit has a spinning guide at the base of the cutter that prevents the blade cutting deeper into the timber. Generally speaking buying router bits can be a little of a lottery because you want the best bits but don’t want to spend a fortune. Unless you need a large selection of router bits for professional work I’d suggest buying a set of router bits with most of the shapes you could ever envisage using. You’ll probably also require 1 or 2 straight cutting bits and you may wish to pay a little more money to get the best you can afford if you are to use these bits frequently. For example you may wish to have a 3-4 mm straight cutting blade for groves and rebating edges of your chosen timber. A larger 8-10mm is always useful for taking a little timber off a wider area. Cheaper blades will soon lose their cutting edge and could scorch or burn the timer if you are not careful.

You can choose a router from a variety of manufactures notably Makita, Bosch, Dewalt, Festool, Milwaukee and Porter-Cable. A router is still very much a corded power tool and is often required for long periods of use so there hardly any cordless routers. The Ryobi ZRP600 Trim Router is an 18v cordless device but very much intended for lighter trim work. Many of the manufacturers also supply factory reconditioned routers and router combo kits.

Once you’ve mastered the use of a router you’ll be amazed how many tasks can be improved by using a router.

Source by Peter H Williams

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