Overview Of Wood Routers
A wood router is a machine that is used for hollowing holes and cutting edges in the material.
When installed on the center of the workpiece, it helps to provide support and balance to the piece which makes it easy to maneuver and cut through.
There are many types of wood routers available with different functionalities such as fixed type routers, plunge routers, benchtop routers, and handheld routers, etc.
A brief explanation of each type will be given below
1) Fixed Type Wood Routers
Fixed or stationary routers do not come with a plunge mechanism and hence they cannot be moved vertically during operation.
They can only perform the routing process on a flat surface using bits that have pointed ends like those of the trimming bit set.
The speed of this kind of operating system is slow when compared to that of others.
Uses Of Fixed Type Wood Routers
These routers are installed on workbenches and used for tasks like cutting grooves, mortising hinges, dovetails, etc.
2) Plunge Type Wood Routers
Plunge routers can move vertically by plunging into woodwork pieces during operation.
It has a range of features that allow the users to vary depth, height the depth adjustment mechanism is called the plunge lock system.
Which works in two stages which enables it to be controlled through an easy interface.
These types of routers have bits with pointed ends but unlike fixed types, they can rotate around their axis to perform different tasks instead of using one type of orbit only.
They are more flexible than fixed types as they can be moved anywhere according to the needs of the user.
Uses Of Plunge Type Wood Routers
Due to their versatility and usefulness, they are suitable for edge trimming, coping woodwork pieces into shape, and sanding as well.
3) Benchtop Wood Routers
These types of routers come with a fixed base and thus cannot be folded into different shapes or moved during operation.
These routers are most common among woodworkers due to their low cost and high durability.
They can also be used for smaller tasks like removing paint, chopping small pieces of wood and plastics, etc.
Which helps in saving time and money as well as providing accuracy during operation.
They can be mounted onto the benchtop or tabletop which makes them easy to operate and use.
Uses Of Bench Top Wood Routers
They can work on both softwoods as well as hardwood since they do not require the installation of any bit or accessory.
This attribute makes them best for tasks like making toys, furniture, and cabinets.
It is also easy to install the benchtop router on your table saw which gives more workspace during operation.
These types of wood routers are highly portable since they can be carried anywhere easily unlike others that require mounting or breakdowns.
Some models come with a long cord that lets you work without interruptions.
While some other models come with battery packs which make them more flexible and handy as well.
Uses Of Handheld Wood Routers
They can be used for different purposes like working on crafts like wooden boxes, tables, etc.
Carvings on woodwork pieces like picture frames, or giving finishing touches to wardrobes along with sanding for furniture.
5) Top Handle Wood Router
The top handle wood router is ideal for the people who work on projects involving smaller areas of (2-10 sq. ft.).
Note that the top handle wood router is not suitable for making large cuts as it does not come with a fixed base that can be lowered vertically for making large cuts.
As the name suggests, it comes with a top handle which helps in providing enhanced balance to the users during jobs.
Uses Of Top Handle Wood Router
This type of wood router is best suited for tasks like cutting around door frames or windows.
Since they are less powerful as compared to other types, it means that the user will not experience any difficulties while operating them.
This makes them ideal for use by beginners and children since they can work on different projects for decoration purposes
Such as making wooden signs, picture frames, etc., without facing any issues.
6) Fixed Base Wood Routers
The fixed base wood router features a fixed shaft and hence its depth cannot be adjusted easily.
The spindle lock button helps in the quick release of bits, however, they are quite heavy to operate as compared to other types of routers mentioned above.
This type of wood router comes with a variety of different speed motors ranging from 10000 rpm to 25000 rpm, soft start feature, etc.
Uses Of Fixed Base Wood Routers
They can cut grooves into the workpiece which makes them best for tasks like edging, joining drawer parts together, and making boxes with lids.
Since they have a variety of accessories available along with different kinds of edges.
The fixed base router is mostly used by carpenters thus making it suitable for heavy-duty operation.
7) Sliding Top Wood Router
As the name suggests, the sliding top wood router features a sliding table that supports both vertical and horizontal operations on the board.
A locking handle and depth adjustment knob are also available which makes it easy to change spindle speed and depth while routing.
Uses Of Sliding Top Wood Router
Their sliding top table makes them ideal for making large cuts which are not possible using other types of wood routers.
However, they are quite difficult to operate as compared to other types mentioned above since they consist of a variety of additional components.
8) Radius Base Wood Router
The radius base wood routers come with a slide-out metal or plastic template base for making matching cuts at the corners of the board during the woodworking process.
Note that these templates can be extended up to 18 inches for larger routine tasks as well as they come with variable speed motors ranging from 5000 rpm to 25000 rpm.
Uses Of Radius Base Wood Router
This type of wood router is best suited for making large cuts on the board along with cutting out matching joints.
Since they come with a wide variety of different types of templates, it means that they are quite popular in most carpentry workshops.
9) Trim Router
Even though this type of router is best suited for edge trimming it can also be used for decorative purposes giving the woodwork a different look using specialized bits.
It consists of a fixed depth so the user can easily control the depth when making cuts.
Uses Of Trim Routers
They are suitable for edge trimming but in contrast to standard routers.
They have a smaller base and are thus well suited for small tasks like rounding over door frames, molding edges, etc.
Which gives it a unique feature from other types of wood routers.
Tips For Using Wood Routers
1) The first tip is to never force your machine by feeding too much material at one go.
This will burn the motor and shorten the life of your machine instantly.
2) Avoid cutting any hardwood or plywood that has voids or knots inside-out as these kinds of woods are very brittle and pose higher chances to break down inside out.
Loose pieces can ruin your router bits easily if you try to cut them over again.
3) Always use high-quality bits to get perfect cutting edges over hardwoods just like cherry, maple, etc.
4) For making large cuts it is better to use a plunge router than the other two types of routers mentioned above.
The reason behind this is that while working with fixed and benchtop routers, you need to be very careful not to move your machine vertically.
As they do not support such moves and hence it will ruin your project instantly.
5) It is also important to vacuum or vacuum clean your working area after the routing process.
If you don’t want loose pieces of wood dust to ruin the computer keyboard and electronic devices nearby.
Working in a well-ventilated place reduces inhalation of dust particles into the lungs resulting in harmful diseases such as allergies and breathing problems.
Always wear eye protection (safety glasses) to protect your eyes from flying particles when working around router machines.
6) Router machines are not meant for making joints between two boards.
If you want to make joints between two pieces of wood, use a circular saw with a perfect blade to get clean cuts.
7) Always set up your machine properly according to the width of your board before beginning your job.
Loose settings can deflect your router bit during the cutting process which will ruin your material (wood).
Which Router Bit Should I use?
This is one of the most commonly asked questions by people who have just started learning how to use a router.
Keep in mind that different types of woods require different kinds of bits to get the perfect cut.
For example, cherry and maple require high-quality bits whereas plywood does not work well with such kinds of bits as they easily break down.
The bottom line is that you will need different types of bits for making cuts on different woods based on their hardness and strength.
Other Things To Consider When Buying Wood Routers
Always look for routers that come with good carrying cases as they will help you carry your machine easily (and safely!) from one place to another without damaging the parts.
Find out if there are any additional warranty offers available for routers on online shopping portals so that you can get some extra features or a money-back guarantee on the purchase of your router.
You can also visit forums and review sites to know which brands provide the best after-sales service in case anything goes wrong with your product.
Keep all this information handy before making a final purchase decision!
Different types of routers come with unique features to make them suitable for specific uses.
If you want the first router then benchtop or fixed base machines would be your first choice but if you want something more advanced then the plunge router should be your ultimate pick.
In addition to this, remember to use a good quality drill bit when routing hardwoods as it pays off in the long run and gives you clean cuts every time without ruining your machine or board.