What is a Router? Woodworking Basics

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Jacky C

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A router is a hand tool or power tool that a worker uses to rout (hollow out) an area in relatively hard material like wood or plastic.

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A router is a hand tool or power tool that routs (hollows out) an area in hard material such as wood or plastic. It is usually used in woodworking, especially cabinetry. Routers are mainly used for three purposes:
– To create a hollow area or recess in the face of a piece of material
– To shape the edge of a piece of material
– To cut a profile or shape into the edge of a piece of material

What is a Router?

A router is a hand tool or power tool that a worker uses to rout (hollow out) an area in relatively hard material like wood or plastic. Routers are mainly used in woodworking, especially cabinetry. A worker uses a router by hand to rout freehand shapes and in some cases to trim laminates.

Types of Routers

Routers come in several sizes and shapes, but all share certain features. A router has a base to which is attached a motor that spins a bit at high speed. The base rides on a square or round rod called a spindle (or quill), which is threaded to accept the router’s depth-of-cut adjustment collar. When you plunge the router (lower it straight down into the workpiece), the spindle and bit descend as one unit.

Most routers have above-the-table height adjustments, which let you alter the vertical distance between the bit and the table’s surface without removing the router from the table. Many routers have fine-tuning knobs that let you make small, precise adjustments to this height while the router is running.

As you might expect, there are several types of bits, each designed to perform specific tasks, such as shaping an edge or cutting a groove. Router bits are classified by their diameter and by the shape of their cutting edges. The most common diameters are 1/4″ and 1/2″.

plunge router

A plunge router is a type of router that is commonly used in woodworking. It is designed to create precise, clean cuts in a variety of materials, including wood, plastic, and metal.

Plunge routers are typically more powerful than other types of routers, making them ideal for more heavy-duty applications. They are also generally more expensive than other types of routers.

Fixed-base router

Fixed-base routers are the most common type of router, and are typically less expensive than their plunge counterparts. A fixed-base router has a motor that’s connected to the base with screws, which allows for more accurate depth adjustment. Fixed-base routers come in two primary designs: D-handle or pistol-grip. D-handle routers (referring to the shape of the handle) offer more control for precise work, while pistol-grip routers are better suited for power and speed.

Handheld router

The handheld router is the most versatile of the three main types of routers. It can be used for a wide variety of tasks, including shaping edges, making joinery, routing out mortises and dadoes, decorative work, and even surfacing wide boards. Handheld routers come in two basic styles: plunge and fixed-base. Plunge routers allow the bit to be extended below the baseplate for tasks that require a starting hole, such as making mortises. Fixed-base routers are more compact and are generally less expensive than plunge routers, but they can’t be used for tasks that require a starting hole.

Most handheld routers have variable speed controls, which allow you to adjust the speed of the router to match the speed of the cutter and the material you’re working with. You’ll also find routers with soft-start motors, which ramp up gradually to full speed, reducing the risk of kickback. And finally, many routers have bases that can be rotated so that you can work in either a left- or right-handed orientation.

How do Routers Work?

A router is a hand-held power tool that shapes wood by routing (hollowing out) an area in the face of a piece of lumber. The bit projects slightly beyond the baseplate of the tool, and as the router is moved along the surface of the workpiece, it cuts away material, leaving a smooth, finished surface.

Most routers have two handles for improved control and balance, and many offer variable speed settings to allow the user to choose the best speed for the particular application.

The Router Bit

A router is a hand tool or power tool that routs (hollows out) an area in hard material, such as wood or plastic. Routers are mainly used in woodworking, especially cabinetry. Routers are also used to cut grooves, dadoes, and rabbets (cabinetmaking), as well as making joinery templates.

The vast majority of routers today are powered by electricity, although there are some models that are powered by compressed air (pneumatic routers) or even hydraulics.

The router bit is the heart of the router. It is a cutting tool that is used to shape and form the materials being routed. Router bits come in a wide variety of sizes and shapes, each designed for a specific purpose. The most common router bits used in woodworking are:

-Straight bits: Used for making straight cuts, grooves, and dadoes
-Flush trim bits: Used for trimming laminates and veneers
-Dovetail bits: Used for cutting dovetail joints
-Pattern bits: Used for cutting specific shapes
-Ogee bits: Used for cutting ogee (S-shaped) edges
-Rabbeting bits: Used for cutting rabbets
-Roundover bits: Used for rounding over edges

The Router Table

In woodworking, the router is a handheld or small stationary power tool that cuts various shapes into wood. The main use of routers is in decorative work, such as shaping molding and making joinery, though they are also used for tasks such as cutting dadoes and rabbets, and hollowing out stock. Several cutters can be used depending on the shape required.

The router table is a stationary woodworking machine in which a horizontally oriented spindle of a wood router protrudes from one end of the table and is used to mill various woodworking joints (such as dovetails, dadoes, box joints) and to shape edges (round over an edge, chamfer an edge). A routing table usually has various inputs and outputs for handling sheet stock efficiently. Newer models also have commercially available downdraft dust collectors built in beneath the tabletop to minimize the amount of airborne debris generated during use.

Router Safety

A router is a hand tool or power tool that a worker uses to rout (hollow out) an area in relatively hard material like wood or plastic. Routers are mainly used in woodworking, especially cabinetry. Routers are also used to cut grooves and shapes into wood. When using a router, it is important to follow safety precautions.

Router Maintenance

Routers are one of the most versatile tools in a woodworker’s shop, but they can also be one of the most dangerous. Like any power tool, routers need to be properly maintained and used with safety in mind.

Here are a few tips for router maintenance:

– Always unplug the router before cleaning or performing maintenance.
– Use a brush or compressed air to remove sawdust and debris from the router.
– Inspect the router bit frequently and replace it when it becomes worn or damaged.
– Make sure that the router bit is installed correctly and that the clutching mechanism is engaged.
– Keep the router’s speed settings low when performing precision work or working with small bits.

Router Accessories

Router accessories include bits, the interchangeable cutting tool used with the router. There are many different types of bits available for routers, each designed for specific tasks. The type of bit you will need will depend on the job you are doing.

Some of the most common router bits include:
-Straight bits: These are the most versatile bits and can be used for a variety of tasks including cutting grooves, shaping edges, and making rabbets.
-Flush trim bits: These bits are used to trim off an excess material flush with an edge.
-Dado bits: Dado bits are used to cut dadoes, or grooves, in material.
– Rabbeting bits: Rabbeting bits are used to cut rabbets, or slots, in material.
-Cove bits: Cove bits are used to cut coves, or curved slots, in material.
-Piloted Bits: Pilotedbits have a guide at the end that helps to keep the bit steady while cutting. This type of bit is often used for routing out mortises and tenons.


There you have it: a basic overview of routers and their many uses in woodworking. In short, a router is a powerful tool that can be used to create intricate designs and shapes in wood. With the right bit, a router can also be used to smooth out rough edges or create decorative features such as grooves or patterns.

If you’re just getting started in woodworking, we recommend that you invest in a good quality router and experiment with different bits to see what kinds of results you can achieve. With a little practice, you’ll be able to create beautiful pieces of art using nothing but your router and some imagination.

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