What Is a Wood Router?
If you’ve ever delved at all into the realm of woodworking you’ve probably come across the term “router.” No, this has nothing to do with wireless Internet service. In the world of woodworking, the term “router” means something entirely different. So just to clarify things a bit for everyone, let’s take a look at wood routers and explain what they do.
An Essential Woodworking Tool
A wood router is a tool used by pattern makers and those who make wooden staircases to make intricate cuts in lengths of wood. The typical router consists of a plane with a blade projecting beyond it for cutting the routes desired. While early routers were of course hand-powered, most wood routers you’ll find today are electric. Many woodworkers still insist that hand routers are superior for more refined woodworking, but for large-scale jobs the electric routers definitely come out on top.
- The router unit itself
- A cutting tool or bit (with different types, such as fluted, profile, and helical)
- A guide template
The cutting tools and bits are what give routers their versatility. There are literally hundreds of different kinds of bits that allow woodworkers to craft a mind-boggling amount of variety in their craft.
Different Types of Router
Despite the myriad uses of a standard router, there has still been advancement in the field that allows for even more uses. First, let’s talk about the spindle router. Basically, you’re looking at a vertically mounted electric motor with a collet (for holding the tools) on its shaft. You can adjust the bit for height and you control the router by holding onto the handles (often called D-handles because of their shape) on the side.
The spindle router breaks down even further into two types: the plunge-base router and the fixed-base router. The difference between the two lies in when the depth of the cut is set. With a plunge-base router, you lower the cutter onto the wood and adjust the depth manually, whereas with the fixed-base router the depth is set beforehand. The plunge-base router is considered a more refined tool, but the fixed-base router is often quicker and easier for novices to use.
There are also table-mounted routers that essentially turn the router upside-down and allow you to pass the wood over the router, rather than suspending the router over the wood. Such routers are often better for smaller jobs and considered safer by many.
What has been presented here represents just the very basic facts about wood routers. Though there has been a lot of variation discussed, we’ve really only scratched the surface. The amount of variable bits is simply staggering, and there are new bits created every day. You can also buy accessories that allow you to use your router as a different kind of woodworking tool, such as a bench top shaper or portable plane. The sky is the limit when you are working with a wood router.
About the Author: Mike Rocha is an engineer from Florida with a passion for woodworking. As an engineer and hobbyist woodworker, he uses wood routers regularly and recognizes the ingenuity and versatility that they represent. Being an electrical engineer who designs and develops medical imaging systems, Mike appreciates more than most the ingenious simplicity of these tools. Check out his website if you are looking for the best wood router for your project or if you are looking for router tables for sale.
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