Router Tips and Techniques
Set the Table
After you've used a router for a little while, you'll realize that securing the work piece to your bench often requires a high degree of ingenuity and that you're spending more time spinning clamps than routing. In many cases, it's easier to move the work piece than the router. For those times, you need a router table.
At its most basic, a router table mounts the tool upside down so its bit projects above the surface. Added refinements include mechanisms for raising and lowering the router, a miter gauge slot, provisions for dust collection and a fence to guide the cut.
The fence can be as simple as a straight piece of wood clamped to the edges of the table, or as elaborate as a split-fence system that permits individual adjustment of the infeed and outfeed sides.
There are two key considerations when buying a router table. First, ensure that it will hold your router. Second, make certain that the top is flat. Push on the top to make certain that it won't deflect under the weight of your router. A router tabletop that isn't flat is as useless as a stretchy tape measure – both make accurate work nearly impossible.
Advice on Bits
Entry-level routers accept only 1/4-inch diameter bits, while more powerful units feature an interchangeable collet that can also grip bits with a 1/2-inch diameter. Although bits with larger shanks cost more, their larger cross-sectional area minimizes deflection due to lateral pressure, and the increased diameter provides more clamping surface for the collet, making bit slippage less likely.
It's a wise decision to hold off buying a bit until you have a need. Some of the most popular profiles include round-over, V-groove, flush-trim, chamfering and cove. Each has a wide range of radiuses.
Follow these tips for caring for your router and bits.
• When removing large amounts of material, make multiple passes. Doing so will put less strain on the
router and bit, plus produce a cleaner cut.
• Pitch and debris on the bit dulls the cutting edge and causes overheating. A mild household cleaner often
does the trick. Soaking the bit overnight in a sealed kerosene container usually does the trick for the
worst cases (remove bearing first).
• Leave sharpening of bits to professionals (look under Saw Sharpening in the Yellow Pages).The larger
the bit diameter, the slower it should spin. Here's a table with operating guidelines:
MAXIMUM SPEED (RPM)
|Up to 1"||Up to 24,000|
|1 to 1-1/4"||6,000 to 18,000|
|1-1/4" to 2-1/4"||12,000 to 16,000|
|2-1/4" to 3-1/2"||12,000|