How to Operate a Wood Router Edge

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Bullnose bits are used to learn router skills.
Bullnose bits are used to learn router skills. (Image: router bit s image by Michael Cornelius from Fotolia.com)

There are two types of commonly used routers. One is a plunge router, used for cutting holes and doing decorative routing, and the other is a fixed spindle router, used for edge routing. For most everyday woodworkers, a fixed spindle router does the job just fine, and they are less expensive. A fixed spindle router is adjusted by sliding the base of the router up and down in relation to the router bit. This allows the woodworker to center the router bit on the edge of the wood.

Things You'll Need

  • Fixed spindle edge router
  • Bullnose bit, 3/8-inch radius
  • 2 Router specific wrenches
  • Wood blank

Lay the router on its side on a work table. Using the wrenches that came with the router when it was purchased, place the big wrench on the axle nut nearest the place where the spindle emerges from the motor. Place the smaller wrench on the collett. The collett is the large nut with the hole in it that the bit fits into.

Insert the bullnose bit into the collett until it bottoms out. Apply force to the small wrench with one hand as you hold onto larger wrench with the other hand, tightening the collett around the router bit shaft.

Lay the wood blank out on a table. Set the router down on the blank with the bit hanging out over the edge of the blank. Loosen the large wing nut or knob on the side of the router that locks the router base.

Lean down and get at eye level with the wood blank. Slide the router up and down inside the base as the base remains in contact with blank, observing where the router bit will make contact with the edge of the blank. When the router bit is centered on the edge of the blank, tighten the base-locking knob.

Slide the router over so that the bit is not in contact with the wood. Hold the router with both hands as you reach up with your thumb and turn the router on.

Gently ease the router over, watching as the bit begins to cut into the edge of the blank. There is a bearing on the bottom of the router bit when it makes contact with the wood. Begin slowly pulling the router toward your body along the side of the blank as you step backward.

When you get to the end of the blank, let the router glide easily off the blank. Turn off the router with your thumb.

Spin the blank around and repeat routing the remaining edges to finish edge routing the panel.

Tips & Warnings

  • Always wear safety glasses when using a router.
  • Be sure to have a firm grip on the router at all times.The torque of the router will cause the router to kick in your hands when you turn it on and when the bit makes the initial cut into the wood.

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