Wood routers are power tools that have earned their place in the current woodworking industry. Today, wood router are used for a diverse amount of applications. The applications can vary from functional to decorative projects around the home. What you can do with a wood router is up to you as long as the task is within the capabilities and powers of the wood router you have. But the most basic use of these tools is routing out and cutting holes in pieces of wood, as well as hollowing out wood, plastic, and metal while still providing clean finished edges, curved contours, and cutaways.
Simply put, routers are the go-to tool for any and every artisan whether professional or DIY. In this piece, we shall cover some of the basics of using routers, some hacks that you can use to protect yourself and how you can produce beautiful art pieces.
The very first thing you should do before you start is to loosen the collet. You can do this by turning the collet nut in an anticlockwise direction. After this, you can insert the router bit you prefer to use. To complete the router bit installation, all you need to do is tighten the collet nut in the clockwise direction. It is important that the router bit installation is done perfectly. If it is not done well, the bits may break once you start routing and shaping your wood. Also, it is important to ensure that the bits are sharp. If they are defective in any way, it is best that you replace or sharpen them.
For a proper installation, have the shank touch the bottom of the collet and then ease it out about 0.25” before tightening the collet. After tightening, about 0.75” should be visible. If you have anything shorter than this, you should replace the bit altogether.
After installing the router bit, you can switch on the unit and test it on a sample piece of wood to ensure that all is working as required. If any adjustments are needed, this is the time to make them.
Secure the surfaces
The most annoying thing you will have to do is chase a piece of wood around on your worktable. To save yourself the trouble, you should secure the wood on your worktable. To do this, you can make use of a router mat that is designed to provide a perfect non-skid surface. With this mat, you will be able to work on all edges of your wood without any hassles. Router mats are available in woodworking stores and even on online woodworking shops.
Even with the best wood router, how will you achieve that piece of art if you cannot see what you are working on? It is imperative that you protect your eyes and ears. Wooden chips are bound to fly off the wood at high speeds enough to cause you serious damage. To avoid this, have safety goggles on at all times. Additionally, routers produce enough noise to potentially damage your ears. As such, ear protectors are in order.
You can make use of a router table if you have a large or medium sized plunge or even fixed base router. These tables vary from bench tops to standalone units.
On the router table, the tool is mounted upside down and fits in a hole cut into the table. Aside from this, they operate the same way other routers do. The only pro is that they are more stable and accurate in the cuts they make.
Wood routers are nothing without router bits. As a matter of fact, without router bits, the tool is just but a well packaged and protected motor rotating at very high speeds. But with so many router bits, which one does one purchase? Which one is perfect for your needs?
Below are some of the router bits that you will have to choose from:
- Rabbeting bits
- Straight bits
- Chamfer bits
- Edge-forming bits
- Specialized bits
- Flush trim bits
Take your time
The router bit that cuts the wood rotates in a clockwise direction. As such, you will need to hold the router firmly and move the unit from the left to the right so that the wood is feeding into the cutting bit for maximum efficiency. When working along the grain of the wood, the cut will be smooth. However, if you work against the grain, it is advisable to place a piece of scrap wood where the wood ends to avoid the wood from splitting.
Unless in an unavoidable situation, you should never run the router from right to left while the bit is still rotating in an anticlockwise direction as this will force the bit to run on the surface of the wood which could be highly dangerous.
When you start routing, make shallow cuts at first. This will prevent your wood from splintering and will provide you with superior control over the power tool. The shallow cuts will also work to cancel out the inadvertent gouges the router makes on the wood.
To avoid this, you should at all times ensure you are using top quality and sharp bits. Cheaper bits translate into low-quality carbide which does not provide clean cuts. Sure some cheaper bits are great, but you would have to know how to pick them out.
When working on wood that feels as though it will splinter or chip at any time, it is important that you work along the grain of the wood for a smoother cut. Also, starting with the edges also works in helping to prevent splintering.
In addition to using sharp bits only, you also should pay attention to the router speeds in relation to the bit sizing. Bits with larger diameters require slower speeds while narrow bits need faster speed settings. Adjusting the speed as needed will help to prevent an insane heat buildup and the wood from burning.
Another way of preventing tear-outs is to position piece stocks at the end of edges being routed. The router will in the process cut into the stock and keep the router bit from grabbing the end grains.