Woodworking 101: What Does A Router Do Really?

It requires an impressive amount of craftsmanship, and extraordinary skill, to build an intricate wood craft project.

For that reason, professional woodworkers count on routers to create perfect wooden furniture, as a router helps them to carve and shape hardwood in a number of ways.

To put it simply, a router is used to carve various shapes into wood. It is lightweight and surprisingly powerful, and what’s more, it can be used alongside other router cutters.

What does a router do woodworking

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Do I Need A Router For My Next Woodworking Project?

The answer to that question depends on what kind of wood craft you’ll be making.

You see, the great thing about routers (and why they are so immensely versatile) is that they are small enough to carve into spaces that other bulkier cutting tools can’t reach.

How Does A Router (For Woodworking) Work?

On a technical side, there are many types of routers and most of them are powered by an electric motor. For example, there are fixed-base routers, plunge-base routers, and hand-held routers.

Fixed base routers are locked on the base, whereas the plunge-base routers lock the bit and plunge it in and out of the wood.

Give the 5 minute video below a quick look, to see the clear differences between Fixed and Plunge based routers:

A handheld router, on the other hand, is used for making trim boards, as well as for working on smaller pieces of wood. They are also known as ‘Palm Compact Routers’; and they have variable speed control features that allow you to see the tool as it touches the material.

This lets you adjust the speed, in the middle of the project, to avoid accidents.

Cutting tools on woodworking routers specifically are known as ‘bits’ or ‘router bits’. Once you turn your router on, the bit spins at an immense speed to shape the wood based on your preferred pattern.

If you are working on a big project, you can use the radial arms as well; they connect with the router and make it more manageable.

The radial arms particularly assist in cutting long pieces of wood. Instead of moving the big piece of wood, you can move the router around through the radial arm to get your desired cut.

With radial arms, from carving effectively to imitating a sculpture, you can do anything.

Examples Of Router Uses

There are countless reasons why routers are so useful for woodworking;

  • Routers can create lots of of different holes and grooves, which can be flat-bottomed, V-shaped, or rounded.
  • Routers can make multiples of the same item; particularly helpful for those of us who deal with a variety of template work.
  • Routers can trim excess laminate or wood lipping quickly and easily, especially if it is paired with a trimming cutter. You might have seen this sort of work done on the edges of furniture or strips of wood.

Bear in mind, however, that while a woodworking router is an exceptional tool, its efficiency relies upon your level of expertise.

For example, if you’re planning to make complex designs and seamless patterns with fancy edges, you have to count on your skill-set too.

How Do You Use A Wood Router (For Beginners)?

If you are a beginner and interested in woodworking projects, fortunately, you don’t need a full workshop. Just invest in a decent router for learning the craft.

You can use it in many ways – with different types of hardwood board – just as a means to improve your skills.

Use it for edge profile

Use it to create smooth, beautiful edges on your craft work.

Start shallow with the first cut and then make it deeper with each pass. This is great for routing practice, and helps you learn exactly how professional woodworkers knock off sharp edges.

Check out Steve Ramsey’s video below to learn more:

Are you interested in wood engraving?

You only need a good router and a steady hand to start doing some engraving work.

From letters to pictures, it is possible to engrave anything into the wood. It is the best way to show your artistic side to your loved ones by making them personalized engraved gifts. And you could even sell your wood engraving work for profit.

Create a picture frame with bevel edges.

This is one of the best projects for beginners as it is a tad bit complex, yet allows you to learn the highs and lows of using a router.

Use the router to shape the outside and inside of the frame, and also learn how to put different pieces together.

Make a pattern (and create multiple copies of it)

When you have a perfect pattern, you can just run the router around it to create duplicates. However, be sure to use thick material as thin wood-types don’t give enough depth.

Stuck for router design ideas? Then just make a simple cutting board

The main purpose behind this is for you to simply learn how a router works on a piece of wood. After cutting perfect rectangular pieces successfully, use the different router bits for decorative edges.

If you want an incredibly easy cutting board tutorial, then click here to watch and learn.

Woodworking Mistakes When Using A Router

There are a couple of small – yet surprisingly common – woodworking mistakes that most people do once they get a router.

Change The Bit

First, they use the same bit for all types of wood. Doing this not only destroys the wood, but also damages the quality of the router bit.

Clean The Bit

Second, if you are working on very thick material, your router can get metal burn marks. This not only affects the wood, but also impairs the precision of the router.

So, don’t forget to clean the router after each use!

Most beginners think routers don’t require maintenance; this isn’t correct. If you won’t clean the router bit after each use, it will build resins and dust on its surface that will create more resistance and won’t allow you to have smooth edges.

Besides, all of that dust build-up on the router bit increases the chances of wood burning.

Final Thoughts

When you pair the router with other tools in woodworking, the possibilities of creating interesting objects are endless.

However, you need to be creative and skillful to execute your plan amazingly. So, it is important to know what kind of router is suitable for your project, if you want to take your woodworking to the next level.