A person beginning to get into woodworking will not go long before they see reference after reference about a tool called a “router.” With its many uses in the craft; it is essential to have a good basic understanding of what a router is and does.
The wood router is used to cut patterns, joists, insets, and other intricate designs into wood or other firm materials such as plastic and some metals. Most often a router looks like a planing tool with a blade protruding from the planing surface. While many people now prefer the modern electrically powered routers, there are still some uses that are best performed by the old hand powered routers of old.
Routers are usually hand-held tools but can be attached to a table for specific cuts as well as safety. The most basic router uses a spindle. An electric motor is attached with a collet to the shaft and is manipulated via the handle or handles attached. Most of the router and the guide templates are simple.
It is because of the variety and versatility of the cutting tools and bits that can be used that give the router its extreme range of uses. Depending on the cut, the route, or hollow, can be anything from a connecting joint, like a dovetail or v-groove, to an intricate design or beveled edge.
The bits vary greatly and are generally classified by the type of material they are best used with and the design or cut desired. Edged bits are used to mold the sides of a wood piece. Examples would be for crown molding, ogee or beading. They include a “fence” to hold the bit steady and create a consistent edge. Non-edged bits most often create interlacing joins to wood pieces or as a cutout for holes or decorative designs. The size of the shaft also adds variety to the cuts available to the DIY woodworker.