Buying a Router
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.
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. Routers are designed to perform tasks from the grand (cutting out a mortise or stair) to the intricate (putting grooves into a sign or the side of a table) and everything in between.
The following is designed to help professional and amateur woodworkers find the perfect router. What are the different types, and what kinds of bits are available for these woodworking marvels? Also, what are some of the features that make routers so highly sought after?
Among the many projects routers can be used for include creating and cutting moldings, mortises and tenons, dovetails, cutting circles and other shapes, and many, many more. 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 the fixed-base router. This tool is the dominant router for a number of reasons. It has few moving parts, it’s simple to use, and its safety ranks the highest in the router world. The handles and the wide rounded base add stability, and cut depth can be set prior to switching the fixed base router on.
With a plunge router, you can actually adjust the cut depth while it’s turned on. This is a handy feature when your project requires you to make several passes on a board. Also, many models of plunge routers include depth stops to accurately place the tool to your desired depth. Plunge routers can cut mortises, stopped grooves, dados, and incised letters.
Proving that bigger isn’t necessarily better, trim routers can squeeze into spots larger routers can’t reach. Additional advantages of trim routers include the bits’ faster rotating speed, greater accuracy, and precision for smaller projects.
The D-handle router is the least popular fixed-base type, and yet typically the most costly. 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. But this type of router definitely has its drawbacks (and detractors). The handle design itself could possibly impede your cuts, and stability could be compromised when the power is being shut off.
In addition, we offer a wide variety of router motors.
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Bits and other accessories
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. Router bits come in a number of different sizes, including (in order from smallest to largest):
- 6 mm
- ¼ inch
- 8 mm
- 3/8 inch
- 10 mm
- 12 mm
- ½ inch
ToolsDirect.com also carries hundreds of other router accessories including carrying cases, shapers, and attachments.
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Nearly each type of router includes 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 will not only add versatility, but it will also maximize its potential, further broadening the scope of your woodworking projects.
Soft start.This allows the router motor to build up speed gradually, ensuring it won’t go to full speed at the start. This could be dangerous, especially with a larger motor.
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.
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Whenever using a wood-cutting power tool, safety must be your top priority. When operating a router, ALWAYS:
- Wear eye protection
- Maintain sharp bits
- Make sure hands are kept at a safe distance when the router is in operation
- Be wary of cutting poor lumber
- Always hold the router with two hands
- Make sure the router is off when you plug it in
As mentioned above, kickback is a significant danger to look out for. This happens when the bit catches the wood and spins it.
Note: Because of the high speeds Router bits can turn (some are designed to withstand 30,000 rpm), the material being cut can get thrown, Potentially resulting in a SErious injury. Always make sure to wear appropriate eye protection. FOR more information on proper use of a router.
Comfort and safety are your top priorities when using any type of router. It may take actually holding one to find the type that’s right for you.
Whatever woodworking project is on the horizon, there’s no doubting that a router is an amazingly versatile and helpful tool. The span of tasks and designs available is limited only by your imagination. Let ToolsDirect.com help you find the best router and accessories for your woodworking project.
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