Routers - the most versatile tool

Date Posted:18 November 2015 


Routers are considered by many as being the most versatile woodworking tool. There are two types of routers available

  1. Plunge
  2. Fixed Based

Plunge routers have a spring-loaded base that allows the bit to be pushed down into the wood. The base can be locked into position, set to a particular depth. This depth can be altered while operating simply by unlocking the depth release and moving the base in and out. Plunge routers offer more flexibility than fixed based ones but are generally more expensive.

Fixed based routers are not adjustable when operating with the depth being set prior to work commencement. This type of router is ideal for edge cuts and moulding designs that require straight line precision. Fixed based routers are generally lighter and easier to use than plunge routers. This makes this type of router a popular choice for beginners. Fixed based routers perform well when fitted to a router table.

Routers can be further classified as

  1. Trim routers
  2. Mid-Sized Routers
  3. Combination Fixed/Plunge
  4. Full size

Choosing the right router for you.

Picking the right router can be a daunting task with different brands, models, types and costs available. To help you decide you need to be realistic with what you want it for, your abilities and budget.

For example, if all you want the router for is cutting soft edges or the odd moulding then a basic trim router is all that’s needed. However if you are going to perform more delicate work then one of the others will provide more flexibility.

Some features that are important

Variable Speeds: This feature is more common with mid to large sized routers which allows you to use a variety of different bits. Smaller cutters may require the router to run at a slower speed so by a simple turn of a dial the speed is adjusted.

Electronic Feedback Circuitry: Known by numerous names this feature enables the router to adjust its motor depending on the load and changing the torque output to match. This is standard on most modern routers but absent on older models.

Soft Start: Having a router start on full speed can be a little startling that can lead to damage the work. A soft start slowly builds the speed up to the required level then the router is ready to use.

Spindle lock: Many routers require two wrenches for making bit changes. One wrench holds the motor shaft, and the other wrench loosens or tightens the collet. With spindle lock, you push a spring-loaded pin or engage a locking collar to hold the motor shaft in place, so the only wrench you need is the one for the collet. This is a particularly handy detail on dedicated plunge routers where you can’t remove the motor to get better access to the bit.

Different Types of Cuts to use with the Router.

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