One of the woodworking tools that serious woodworkers cannot do without is a ‘wood router’. This is because with this tool and a set of wood router bits, one can create an impressive array of designs, shapes, grooves, etc.
But, before you take the plunge and buy one for yourself, you need to understand the basics of the various types of wood routers and bits. Knowing the kind of work you will be carrying out with it is also essential in deciding the type of router and bits that will prove useful for you. Router design is important factor to consider when buying a wood router.
Two Groups Of Wood Router: Fixed Base vs. Plunge Router:
Typically, there are two basic types of wood routers – the fixed base style and the plunge router. Both have their pros and cons and each of them is suitable for some particular types of jobs. To understand which types meets you needs, let us first try and understand the basic router designs and construction.
The body of the router is the place where the motor of this tool is housed. This case not only has the responsibility of insulating the motor, but it also comes with handles that are there to guide the router across the material to be cut or formed. There is a metal clamping sleeve or collet that is meant to hold the bit in place at the base of the router.
In simple terms, a fixed base wood router comes with a stationary base and the plunge router has a spring loaded base. When working with a fixed based router, you have to set the specific depth before starting the work and that depth remains consistent while using the tool. On the other hand, in a plunge router the bit depth can be changed while running just by unlocking the release system and moving the base inwards or outwards.
Fixed based routers are perfect for woodworking beginners; they work perfectly for edge cutting and for designing that need straight line precision. Plunge routers on the other hand offer the added advantage of cutting when it is needed in the middle of a piece of wood. Since, they are more versatile, they are more expensive that fixed base routers and operating it well enough comes with practice.
Features to Consider Before Buying A Wood Router:
Horsepower: The horsepower rating of the motor is one of the important features to look for. Buy wood routers with a motor rating of 2 HP or more. This is because power is need to push larger bits through the stock.
Variable Speed: Single speed routers are good only when you are using small bits. When working with a larger bit, the cutting speed need to be slower, hence having a variable speed router makes sense.
Collet diameter: Wood routers can make use of ¼ inch or ½ inch diameter bits. ½ bits are pretty expensive but are more stable and produces less chatter. Buy a router that accepts both ¼ inch and ½ inch bits.
Comfortable Grip: Choose a router that is comfortable to hold. It will not only help you in working longer but will also save you from any discomfort in your wrist when working for long periods.
Dust Control: When working with a router a lot of dust is created. So, having a router that comes equipped with a vacuum port is going to save you a lot of time that you would otherwise spend in cleaning. It will also keep you safe from some health issues. You can find many routers from various manufactures that comes with a dust port.
Last but not the least; ensure that the power switch is well within your reach. Some routers are so designed that you just need to use your thumb to switch it off, so you do not have to remove your hands from the job.
Wood Router Accessories:
In order to be able to carry out all the jobs a woodworker has in mind with a wood router, he will need to invest in some of the basic router accessories such as various router bits, fences, table, jigs, clamps, etc.
Routers bits: Different types of bits worth considering includes beading, chamfer, cove, dado, dovetail, rabbeting, V groove, round nose, etc. These bits are available in different shank sizes. Buy those made of carbide tip as they are more durable.
Router Table and Fence:
It allows the router to be placed a bit up and secured. There are various types of it – tabletop model, freestanding router, etc. Most of the times, fences come along with router tables. Fences are meant to guide and ensure a precise cut.
Router Jigs and Clamps:
Router jigs are needed to hold the wood in place when one needs to perform specific cuts such as hinge recesses, dado joints, dovetail joints, etc. Clamps typically hold the wood in place to prevent any slipping. Clamps are also useful to hold the jig to the worktable so that it does not move from its place.
If you are just a beginner in the field of woodworking, you can consider buying a basic good quality, fixed base wood router that comes with a 2 HP motor and variable speed motor. When you are able to use it well enough and feel the need to upgrade to a plunge base, you should then go for it.
When using a router always stick to the safety precautions. Make sure that the bit is sharp enough and is tight in the router. The stock that you want to work on should be properly clamped. The router should always be fed from the left to the right. Keep an eye for any knots or nails that can come in the way of the process. And never push the router; it will do the work on its own.
With all these information, you now know all the features that you should consider to find the ideal router for your woodwork.