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Buying a Router 101

Types of Routers - Router Sizes - Collet Sizes - Router Speeds - Your First Router - Router Bits - Projects & How To's - Accessories

Often described as the most versatile tool in the shop, a router consists of a circular base housing holding a vertically mounted universal electric motor with a collet on the end of its shaft. The bit depth is adjustable by moving the motor up or down in the base housing. Control of the router is derived from knobs or D-handles on each side of the device. Routers are used to cut profiled edges, dados, mortise and tenons, hinge inserts, dovetails and will work as jointer in a pinch. For convenience routers are often mounted under a table, it is generally easier to feed the material to the router in a table than to use the router freehand, especially the larger models.

Building a Router Table 101

Types of Routers

There are two standard types of routers, plunge and fixed. When using a plunge-base router, the sole of the base is placed on the face of the work with the cutting bit raised above the work, then the motor is turned on and the cutter is lowered into the work, an adjustable stop controls the depth of the cut. With a fixed-base router, the cut depth is set before the tool is turned on, the sole plate is then either rested flat on the workpiece overhanging the edge so that the cutting bit is not contacting the work, or the sole plate is placed at an angle with the bit above the work and the bit is "tilted" over into the work once the motor is turned on.

Each type has advantages and disadvantages, in fact some manufactures sell combo packages where you get both bases with one motor unit.

New! Porter-Cable 893PK Router Package
The NEW 890 series is loaded with great features to give you an easier-to-use, more powerful router. Ideal for all router table applications. This package includes 2-1/4 HP motor, fixed base, plunge base and carrying case.

New! Porter-Cable 893PK Router Package

New! Porter-Cable 893PK Router Package

Router Sizes

There is a range of sizes from fractional up to over 3 horsepower, the smallest are laminate trim routers, the largest are usually mounted in a router table.

Porter Cable Trim RouterPorter Cable Trim Router
Excellent for trimming laminate plus general edge and corner trimming. Model #7310. The compact and lightweight design makes for easy freehand use. ..

Porter Cable Trim Router

Speedmatic 3-1/4 HP Five-Speed Router, Model #7518Speedmatic 3-1/4 HP Five-Speed Router, Model #7518
This 3-1/4 HP variable speed router from Porter Cable has an electronic 5-speed control that ranges from 0-21,000 RMP's!..

Speedmatic 3-1/4 HP Five-Speed Router, Model #7518

Collet Sizes

Collets come in either 1/4" or 1/2" diameters in America, smaller routers will be only 1/4", larger routers may offer both or an adapter to use 1/4" shank bits in a 1/2" collet. If you have a choice use the larger shank bits, they are less prone to vibration (giving smoother cuts) and are less likely to break than the smaller sizes.

Tip: never bottom out the shank in the collet, raise it about 1/8" before tightening, you can stuff a bit of foam rubber into the collet opening to act as a stop.

Router Speeds

A typical router motor runs at 22,000 revolutions per minute, it must be understood that at this speed the cutting edges of a 3" diameter bit are travelling much faster than a 1/2" diameter bit, too fast to be used safely in fact. To accommodate larger diameter bits a variable speed router must be used to slow the shaft speed down so they are spinning at a safe speed, this may be a feature built into the tool or a separate control unit. A "soft-start" feature is good to have in larger routers, otherwise some of the big models are hard to hang on to when they start up.

Router Speed Control
New and improved router speed control gives you much more range in your speeds than our previous model.

Router Speed Control

Router Speed Control

Your First Router

Trust me you will have more than one router eventually, they are just too handy to only have one. With this in mind I would suggest a smaller good quality model to start with, it will not be as intimidating while you get used to using it. This will likely be your "go to" router for freehand work long after you get that monster for the router table.

Router Bits

I am not a big fan of router bit kits, I prefer to purchase the bits separately as I need them, that way I can afford to buy a better quality bit. Cheap bits leave much to be desired, look at the diameter of the bearings compared to quality bits, they are usually much smaller. There is more of an effect on small bearings running over sawdust or small blobs of adhesive than on larger ones which will cause a wavy edge.

Router Bit Basics

Routers and Accessories from Rockler

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Routers & Accessories


$25 or $50 Gift Card Promotion with Delta and Porter Cable Tools
$25 or $50 Gift Card Promotion with Delta and Porter Cable Tools
Routers
Routers
Router Tables Packages & Accessories
Router Tables Packages & Accessories
Router Bits
Router Bits
Dovetail Jigs & Templates
Dovetail Jigs & Templates
Router Templates & Jigs
Router Templates & Jigs
Router Accessories
Router Accessories
Bushing & Edge Guides
Bushing & Edge Guides
Router Lifts
Router Lifts
Router Plates & Bases
Router Plates & Bases
Sign Making with Routers
Sign Making with Routers


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