Why get a router? Once you have one, you’ll wonder why you waited so long. These relatively inexpensive power tools are limited only by your imagination. Whether you want to get into cabinet making or renovating, you’ll find a router perfect for cutting decorative edges on furniture, dovetails, dadoes, rabbets and mortises, or to design your own trim. That’s for starters.
A router spins a sharp bit at high speed to cut wood. The bit shape determines the shape of the cut, from a square mortise to a gentle curve to an ornate edge.
You’ll come across two basic types: the fixed base and the plunge router.
On a fixed-base router, you set the depth of the bit (and the cut) before you begin cutting, and it stays there.
With a plunge router, you can plunge the bit into the wood, and can usually adjust the depth by quite small amounts. Obviously, this type gives you more flexibility.
Here are some other features you may want to consider.
Variable speed routers allow you to reduce the speed of the bit, which has two advantages. It reduces friction, which means there’s less chance you’ll burn the wood and have to sand off the char. Secondly, it’s safer. If the router motor spins the bit shank at 20,000 rpm, the outside edge of the bit is actually spinning even faster. The larger the bit, the faster it’s spinning, and the more dangerous it is to manage.
With a soft-start feature, there’s less kick on startup, which lets you set the bit against the stock before you start cutting — reducing the risk of gouging.
And consider a router which allows you to use both 1/4″ and 1/2″ shank bits. This gives you more to choose from when selecting bits.
Next, using it.