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How To Use A Wood Router | Step by Step Guide For Beginners

how to use a router

A woodcraft project necessitates a significant quantity of craftsmanship and exceptional talent. As a result, experienced woodworkers rely on routers to create exquisite wooden furniture, as they may carve and shape hardwood in a variety of ways with a router. The first step is to learn how to use a wood router as a beginner. Everything else comes afterward.

Whether it’s about shaping the edges of a wooden table or creating a mortise in the heart of a hardwood panel, routers are used by woodworkers to complete such tasks. For a beginner, You always need to learn using the router to aid you out, whether you’re involved in a factory or home-based router projects or are a woodworker or someone who wants to work on complicated joinery jigs.

A wood router is a powerful tool that may be used to create simple or complex edge profiles on a piece of wood. The router may be used to do a wide range of woodworking operations that would otherwise be done by hand with a little practice. This is a wonderful place to start if you’re a newbie woodworker.

how to use a router

What is a CNC Wood Router?

what is a wood router

The first question that pops out in one’s mind is what is a router, and what does a router look like? A wood router, for starters, is a high-speed rotary tool with a collet on the motor’s shaft for connecting multiple router bits to the motor. The carpenter can create an almost infinite number of profiles on the edge of a board by combining several pieces.

Many router kits contain a single motor that can be swapped between two bases for adaptability. Sharp edges can be turned into various attractive profiles with a router. It can make dadoes, grooves, rabbets, dovetails, mortises, tenons, and box joints. Do you require duplicating a large number of parts? For a router and a template, this is no problem. It may also be used to surface planes, flatten edges, carve inscriptions, cut circles, and drill holes.

The “can-do” list of router uses is endless.

How Does a Wood Router Work?

The working of a router depends upon its type. There are two main types of routers.

1. Fixed Based Router

How to use a wood router

Fixed-base routers have a simple design with the body and base connected, making them excellent for new carpenters. When using a fixed-base router, determine the exact cut depth before proceeding. Throughout the session, the depth should be consistent. The wood to be cut is usually secured tightly to a worktop to reduce movement. As a result, you can’t work outside materials vertically from the top; you can only start from the borders. Although the router has a fixed base, it is nevertheless adjustable. The bit’s depth can be adjusted by loosening the collar and fine-tuning the control buttons.

2. A Plunge Router

how to use a plunge router

Because of their spring-loaded bases, plunge routers are great power instruments for cutting from above. They’re built in a unique method to allow the rotating router bit to be lowered into the material. Even while operating, you may modify the depth of your plunge router by loosening the lock mechanism and shifting the base in the desired direction.

The base of a plunge-base router is placed on the workpiece with the bit directly above it when using it. The bit is then lowered onto the workpiece after the motor has been turned on. The biggest benefit of using a plunge router is that it allows the woodworker to cut the workpiece at any location. Compared to fixed-base routers, this device is more expensive due to its adaptability.

For more in-depth analysis of these two router types and which suits your requirement we have covered it here PLUNGE VS FIXED ROUTER – DO YOU NEED BOTH?

The Function of Wood Router

Now that you know about the router and its types let’s discuss what does a router do?

1. Creating a Perfect Edge

It can be difficult to cut a clean and smooth edge on a thin piece of wood, but a router can always give a neatly completed edge. Routers can create even, and level cuts on both straight and curved edges, and they can replicate those cuts across many pieces of wood.

2. Creating Molding

The most intriguing thing a router can make is decorative molding. Using various doors, windows, baseboards, and chair rails, you can make everything from simple circular moldings to more intricate Roman ogee or beaded patterns.

3. Making Simple Dadoes

A dado is a hole or trench used to assist shelves in a bookshelf or cabinet that doesn’t include being seen. A dado is a highly stable way to affix shelves, and it’s cut with a straight bit on a router. The tool makes it simple to cut the two most frequent types of dadoes: a through dado, which passes through both sides of a surface while leaving the ends open, and a stopped, or blind, dado, which finishes before one or both cuts hit the surface’s edge.

4. Creating Crisp Rabbets

A rabbet is a recess or groove cut into the edge of the wood, commonly found on the back edge of cabinets or the sides of bookcases. Rabbets are also used to make door and casement window jambs, and they can be used in conjunction with a dado to produce a robust joint. A variety of rabbet bits, which cut the grooves to the desired width, can be used with most routers.

5. Pattern Re-creation

Routers can carve patterns, grooves, and designs into various wood types. For example, if you have a broken table or another piece of wood, you may use the router to “trace” the original item’s outline and recreate it as many times as you want. Routers can also trace elaborate drawings or text on flat slabs of wood.

6. Hinges for Recessing Doors

Use a router and a jig to cut space for recessed door hinges or lock faceplates. Recessed hardware has a more polished appearance and operates more smoothly.

How to Use a Wood Router?

All you require is a router and a panel of wood; you can construct anything. It can cut dovetails for drawers and even case sides. It can cut the drawer bottom groove. It can also form an appealing ogee on the top.

What can you do with a router? Well, there are hundreds of things. The purpose of a router is to make routing easy for the woodworkers. Before using a wood router, loosen the collet by rotating the collet nut counterclockwise and insert the straighter bit and perhaps other router bits that you will be using. Rotate the collet nut counterclockwise while inserting the bit, but don’t over tighten the collet.

1. Secure the Material

how to use wood router for beginners

The first step in knowing how a router works is to keep the supplies safe. If you have to pursue items on your workbench while using a router, it will certainly result in disaster. A bench should be used to secure the material you’re routing. A router pad with a non-skid material is recommended.

2. Starting the Wood Router

The bit rotates counterclockwise. Keeping the router securely with a sturdy base and route from left to right is critical. It should be rather simple and uncomplicated to cut throughout the wood grain. When cutting, place a scrap piece of wood at the end of the wood to keep it from blowing out. If the bit turns clockwise, never do the straight routing right to left unless required. You may lose control rapidly, which is extremely dangerous. If you’re just getting started, start with shallow cuts. Or, to put it another way, a sequence of shallow slashes. It will gain greater control over the router and compensate for its unintended gouges.

3. Route Right

how to use wood router to cut a groove

The most common error made by inexperienced woodworkers is advancing the router in the wrong direction. It’s easier to demonstrate than to describe the proper procedure, but here goes: To begin, always turn the router in the parallel direction of the bit’s rotation. This allows you to manipulate the tool by allowing the bit to cut into the job. If you move the router in the same direction as the bit’s rotation, it will run along the edge of the workpiece, forcing you to fight for control. The bit revolves clockwise while looking straight down at the top of a router. That implies you should move the router from left to right, but only if it’s positioned in the midway between you and the workpiece, which is critical.

For example, when routing the edges of a board, you would move the router from left to right beyond the edge nearest to you. However, you’d advance the router from right to left while routing the opposite edge, the one furthest away. This is because the workpiece, not the router, is now in the middle. The router travels right to the left in that position, but it correctly cuts against the bit’s rotation.

4. Being the Co-Pilot is the Key

We use router bits with ball-bearing pilots to learn how to use a router tool. It is one of the safest and most effective ways to start routing. The bearing rides along the workpiece’s edge, keeping the bit on track and under control. You’re ready to route once you’ve set the cut depth. There’s no need to use a straightedge fence or attach an edge guideline to the router. By itself, the bearing will ensure that the bit cuts to the correct width. Ball-bearing pilots are offered for nearly all edge-shaping and trimming bits, including rounding-over, Roman ogee, chamfer, rabbeting, and flush-trimming.

5. Guided Tour

use a wood router

Once you’ve mastered fundamental routing techniques, add a guide bushing and a straight-cutting bit to your router to make a precision milling machine. A router guide bushing is a steel collar attached to the router’s base. A short steel tube protrudes from the collar, all the way through which the bit extends. The tube is driven along the edge of a template, allowing you to cut boards to almost any size or form in a matter of seconds. Advance the router into the workpiece after clamping the template in place. Make sure the guiding bushing is placed closely on the template’s edge. Guide bushings are important for correctly routing curved, irregular shapes and cutting hinges and mortises. You may buy guide bushings individually but buying a multipiece set is usually more cost-effective.

6. Route Upside Down

Inverting your router in a router table substantially improves its capabilities, enabling easier and safer routing. With the tool securely in position, you may safely put the stock further into bit with both hands. You can see precisely what you’re doing because the bit is readily visible. (With handheld routing, this isn’t usually practicable.)

When milling tiny pieces, cutting halted grooves, such as using large-diameter bits, router tables come in handy. Some pieces, such as certain raised-panel bits, should be used in a router table. Many table saws have extension blades that accept a router, so you may easily create your router table. For most DIYers, though, a store-bought router table is the ideal option because it comes with everything you need, including an adjustable fence, miter gauge, On/Off switch, dust-collection port, and bit protection. However, double-check the specifications before purchasing one to confirm that your router will fit because router tables don’t usually come with a router. HOW TO SETUP A ROUTER TABLE – BASICS, TIPS & TECHNIQUES FOR BEGINNERS will guide you more in setting up the router table properly.

7. Make Door Panels

Without a router, making classic frame-and-panel cabinet doors is nearly impossible. The stiles and rails that get up the door’s frame connect with coping and sticking joints that fit snugly. The beveled routing edges of wood door’s raised panel fit into shallow grooves created in the frame sections. Because the frame is solely held together by glue, all joints must be machined to exact tolerances for the parts to fit together properly. To cut these joints, the router is the tool to utilize. To make the cuts safely, you’ll also need a router table. Raised-panel parts are offered singly, while rail-and-stile bits are supplied in sets. Cabinetmaking sets that include all three pieces are also available.

8. Dovetail Details

Few wood connectors are as sturdy or as attractive as a dovetail. Wedge-shaped pins snugly fit into dovetail-shaped tails, thereby joining the two boards. Drawers, blanket chests, and jewelry boxes are all made with dovetail joints. While cutting dovetail joints by hand is doable, using a router and a dovetail jig template is more exact and faster. A dovetail template is essentially a vise with metal fingers that can be adjusted. The tailboard is clamped into the template, and the tails are cut with a dovetail router bit. Install the pinboard onto the template and cut the pins with a straight router bit.

9. Router Bit Speed

In addition, the router bit speed should always be changed as per the size of the bit being transmitted. For example, the speed should be slower for bits with a large diameter and vice versa for bits with a small diameter. You can also minimize tear-out by routing the edge of a piece of stock attached at the end of the edge you are routing.

10. Cutting Direction

basics of using a wood router

When cutting any material using a router, make sure you always cut in the right direction. For the safest use, cut in the direction indicated on your wood. Also, when cutting the board’s outside edge, make sure to proceed counterclockwise. However, when routing, the inside border of the frame moves clockwise. If your route is in the correct direction, the router will not get away from you, which is bad for you and your business.

Another important consideration is to begin in the appropriate location. You must make cuts in the appropriate sequence, especially if you wish to rout all four corners of a specific piece of wooden board. Starting in the wrong place will guarantee that your job will fail from the start. That is why, for proper practice, it is critical not to rush but to take your time and double-check everything.

Woodworking Router Accessories

To enhance the uses of router, we use some router accessories.

1. Router Table

how to use a router freehand

A Router Table is a unique type of table in which a suitable handheld router may be fixed downwards to the underside of the tabletop’s surface. This space will be sliced by the router cutter, orbit, located at the top of the table. Afterward, the material is bolstered with the table and against the rotating cutter to be sliced or molded. Router tables are shipped with a slew of attachments that can be used to assist with a variety of cutting and forming jobs and increase the mobility of your router.

Benchtop router tables and portable router tables are the two most common types of router tables to be found. Portable table router uses are numerous. They are widely regarded as suitable for operating in restricted spaces. It can also be folded to transport from one location to another for storage or other purposes. It’s not particularly weighty, and it just has a little surface area on which to operate.

Benchtop router tables are often smaller and lighter in weight than freestanding router tables, making them more convenient to move around the house. They are intended to be used on the surface of another table or workbench, and they are typically equipped with brackets that allow them to be securely attached to the table surface.

2. Router Bits

how to use the router the right way

Router bits are a broad term that refers to bits used to create joints, grooves, and profiles on CNC routers. Construction companies typically use these, but they may be added to a homeowner’s toolbox and used for various tasks throughout the home. When the wood is burned at a high rate, it is easier to extract its temper. As a result, the router becomes a little boring.

Nowadays, tungsten carbide tips are nearly totally welded to router bits, which is good. This results in a substantially firmer cutting edge that is less affected by heat, allowing it to remain sharper for longer periods and cut more straightly. Because a carbide router bit can endure for decades without diminishing in cutting quality, they are the best router bit sets for woodworking when used and maintained properly.

Router bits are offered in a variety of sizes and forms. To begin your search for the highest-quality router bits appropriate for your application and demands, you must first become familiar with the 13 fundamental categories of bits. Once you have familiarized yourself with the various bit types, you should examine the following considerations to make the best choice possible.

Router Bit Cleaner

basic guide to using a wood router

The Powdered Brewery Wash (PWB) from Five Star is a safe cleaner that may be used in homebrewing. It contains 30% sodium metasilicate and is non-toxic. It costs about $20 for a pound of this stuff at the brewing store, and it makes numerous gallons of cleanser that I use for a variety of other reasons around the house. PWB is excellent for removing carbonised sludge and burned-on grease from stove drip trays that may be removed for cleaning. I immerse them in a sink overnight before giving them a good scrub. Unless the substance is quite thick, in which case it requires a second soak, the item comes easily off.

Mistakes to Avoid When Using A Wood Router

As soon as they get their hands on an electric router, the majority of people make a couple of simple but surprisingly prevalent mistakes in woodworking. To begin with, they use the same bit for various sorts of wood, which is inefficient. Here are some router tips to avoid mistakes:

1. Remove the bit from the cuff

Second, if you are working with an extremely thick piece of material, your router may develop burn scars from the metal. This affects the wood and affects the precision with which the router operates. Don’t forget to clean the router after every session.

2. Router Maintenance

how to use a wood router step by step

Most newcomers believe that routers do not require maintenance; however, this is not true. If you do not clean the router bit after each use, resins and dust may accumulate on its surface, increasing its resistance and making it impossible to achieve perfect edges. Furthermore, all the dust accumulated on the router bit increases the likelihood of wood burning.

3. Protective Gear

right way to use a router

Mastering the art of controlling a wood router may appear to be a difficult task at first, but with even a small amount of practice, you will discover that it is not as difficult as it appears. However, safety should always come first, and you should always check that the lumber you’re working with is completely dry before beginning to work with a router. You should always wear protective eye and ear gear when operating a power tool or machine, especially when using a router, no matter what type of equipment or tool you are using.

4. Use Router bits Accordingly

Also, keep in mind that there are many distinct types of router bits, and each has a specific role. Before beginning any activity, it is essential to examine the task at hand and the tools you intend to do it. Using the improper bit to cut or plane will accomplish nothing other than perhaps causing harm to the router’s motor or the wood substance being cut or planned. The only thing left to do now that you have read through all of the guidelines for safely using a router is actually to get started routing.


When you use the router in routing projects with other woodworking tools, the possibilities for making intriguing objects are virtually limitless. To execute your plan flawlessly, you’ll need to be innovative and skilled in your approach. If you want to take your woodworking skills to the next level, it is critical to understand what type of router is best suited for your project and use it. The contemporary woodworking industry does provide a wide selection of wood routers from which to choose. Each has a unique perk tailored to a certain demand and job description.

In conclusion, there is a lot that you can do with a wood router. Hence, learning how to use a router must be a top priority for a beginner woodworker. Selecting the most appropriate one might be a challenging process to complete; nonetheless, we hope that our guide can assist you in resolving your difficulty.

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