Power Tool

What Is a Router?

If you do a lot of serious woodworking and cabinetry and haven’t considered a router before, then it’s time that you should get one! It will surely be a indispensable tool once you have it.

A router is a power tool that is used to make hollows, or “rout out,” an area to create patterns on a hard material like wood and plastic. Basically, a router is all about grooves and fancy edges – and sometimes, more than those. It can also create flawless rabbets, dadoes and other inlay wood patterns. A router proves itself to be a versatile tool as it can also be used for plunging and can be inverted in a router table as well.

There are the two main types of router:

Plunge – This is the type of router that is used by most woodworkers. A plunge router allows the user to make cutting adjustments without having to turn the motor off. It has an electric motor mounted between two posts. The motor rests atop of springs, while a flat base supports and guides the motor at an angle of 90 degrees. Plunge routers are great for making dadoes, mortises and other patterns because you can move them into position and lower the bit accurately.

Since plunge routers are a bit unwieldy and difficult to work with, some peple do not like to use them and instead prefer the fixed routers. However, it can be addressed by placing the router in a router table. There are store-bought router tables which are relatively cheap, or you can make your own router table.

Fixed-base – Also called stationary routers, fixed-base routers are ideal for woodworking jobs that do not require midcut adjustment to the depth of the cut. Fixed-base routers are also ideal for making rabbets and dadoes and for making decorative edges. These types of routers give you better control and stability when moving the machine over the workpiece, as it allows your hands to be much closer to it. This makes fixed-base routers ideal for making freehand edgework and jig work.

Most fixed-base routers are relatively small and lightweight, and are also inexpensive compred to plunge routers. You may actually lock a plunge router at a particular depth and use it in a way that you would with a fixed router, but you need to keep a close eye on the depth that you've just locked. But with a fixed-based router, all you need to do is to just set the depth – and that's it. That will be the only depth that you'll be cutting throughout the job.

Features, details and accessories:

  • Handle – Routers come in D-handles and knobs. Many people have their own preferences, but D-handles seem easier to grip since it also features a switch that can be triggered by your index finger.
  • Collets – A collet is a steel-based that holds the bit in the router. It works with the router shaft and the collet nut. Self-ejecting collets make changing bits a bit easier and simpler since it also comes with a spindle lock.
  • Power – Power may range from 1 to 3.5 hp. Obviously, the more horsepower a router has, the more efficient it will be in making deeper cuts on hardwood. But there's a trade-off: the more power means the heavier the tool. That's why it is up to you to decide which of these factors are important: power or comfortable weight?

Laminate trimmer – If you are on a tight budget but are needing a tool that will work improve the edges of your work piece, you may want to purchase a laminate trimmer. This smaller, lighter and more portable version of a router basically trims laminate and typically has a 1/4-inch collet. It is also good for making clean and even decorative edges on a workpiece such as tabletop or the edge of the shelf.