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Get the Most Out of Your Router

Woodworking Tips for Your Fixed-Base Router or Plunge Router


With a router and a few bits, you can apply hundreds of various shapes to the edges of a piece of stock. Most router bits are versatile enough that they can be used fully or partially to help form complex profiles. In these articles, learn how to get the most out of your fixed base or plunge router.

1. Routers

Fixed-Base Router
(c) 2010 Chris Baylor licensed to About.com, Inc.

The router is a mainstay power tool of the modern woodshop. Many woodworkers will have two or three different routers of varying horsepower levels or bases. Whether you prefer a fixed-base router or a plunge router, there are a number of features you should consider when purchasing a router for your shop. This woodworking article will give you some guidelines to consider.

2. The 10 Basic Router Bit Profiles

Bosch 1617EVS Router
(c) 2010 Chris Baylor licensed to About.com, Inc.

Both fixed-base routers and plunge routers have a collet that can hold a variety of router bits. With a single bit or a combination of a few bits, a variety of edge profiles can be applied to a board. In this article, learn about the ten most versatile router bits that you should have readily available for your routers.

3. How to Properly Install Router Bits

Using a Router on a Dovetail Jig
(c) 2010 Chris Baylor licensed to About.com, Inc.

While various router bits are able to apply a wide variety of shapes to the edge of a piece of stock, the router bits will not cut properly if they are not installed into the collet of the router properly. An incorrectly installed bit can vibrate excessively (called chatter) that will yield a rough profile at best, but could be quite dangerous at worst. By properly installing your router bits, you will go a long way toward using your router more safely and efficiently.

4. Partial Profile Router Cuts

Rounding Over on a Router Table
(c) 2010 Chris Baylor licensed to About.com, Inc.

While there are a wide variety of router bit profiles available for you to use with your router, by applying partial profiles in combination with two or more bits, you can create a nearly unlimited variety of profiles onto the edge of a board. In this woodworking tip, learn some tips for applying partial profile router cuts to create varied profile shapes.

5. Straight and Spiral Router Bits

Spiral Router Bit
(c) 2010 Chris Baylor licensed to About.com, Inc.

When looking at certain router bit profiles, you may find a variety of bits to make the same cut. For instance, to make a straight cut you may find updraft or downdraft spiral cutting bits or a variety of straight cutting bits with one or more straight flutes. All will make the same cut, but do you know the advantages of each? In this article, learn  the difference between a straight-cutting bit and a spiral-cutting bit.

6. Avoiding Wood Splintering with a Router

Routing Oak on a Router Table
(c) 2010 Chris Baylor licensed to About.com, Inc.

Some strongly grained woods such as oak can easily splinter when routing. How can one avoid having such routing splinters occur? Learn some woodworking tips and techniques for avoiding splinters when routing. Use of some of these woodworking ideas may help reduce the routing splinters that can occur when routing oak or other strongly grained woods.

7. 1/4" vs. 1/2" Shank Bits

Plunge Router
(c) 2010 Chris Baylor licensed to About.com, Inc.

Most router bits come in either a 1/4-inch or 1/2-inch shank. Many routers come with a collet for each type of shank, allowing the router to use either type. Since many router bit profiles are available in either shank, which should you choose to use on your woodworking projects? Learn the advantages of both 1/4-inch and 1/2-inch shank bits, so you can choose the one best for your particular needs.

8. How to Reduce Router Tear-Out

Routing with a Milwaukee 5616 Router
(c) 2010 Chris Baylor licensed to About.com, Inc.

One of the most common problems that woodworkers encounter is when the wood tears while applying a profile with a router bit. While it's nearly impossible to completely elimate the possibility of a tear-out, by taking certain precautions, you can reduce the frequency with which they occur. Learn some woodworking tips for dealing with tear-out when using your router.

9. Dovetail Joints

Using a Dovetail Jig with a Router
(c) 2010 Chris Baylor licensed to About.com, Inc.

While dovetail joints have been cut by hand for many decades by woodworkers to join boards, in recent years using a router with a jig has become a much more popular (and exact) method for cutting matching pins and tails of a dovetail joint. In this series of articles, learn all about dovetail jigs and how to cut them using a router and a jig.

10. Replace a Router's Power Switch

Replacing a Router's Power Switch
(c) 2010 Chris Baylor licensed to About.com, Inc.

Routers are designed to be quite durable. One of the most common problems that can occur with your router is if the on/off switch wears out and needs to be replaced. It is really a very simple procedure that can be completed in just a few minutes. Learn how to replace the switch in your router quickly and easily.

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