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How To Use Router For Wodworking? - Best Advice From Experts

Brandon Carter
  Mar 27, 2023 6:59 AM

Are you a woodworker looking to add a router to your arsenal of tools? If so, you’re probably wondering how to use a router for woodworking. While routers can be used for a variety of tasks, they are most commonly used for cutting and shaping wood. 
In order to use a router for woodworking, you will need to purchase a router bit. Wood routers are available in a variety of shapes and sizes, so you will need to choose one that is suitable for the task at hand. 
Once you have chosen the right router bit, you will need to attach it to the router. Once the router bit is attached, you will need to adjust the depth of the cut. The depth of the cut will determine the amount of material removed from the wood. 
If you follow these steps, you can use a router for woodworking like a pro! This article is a guide for using wood routers for beginners.

1. Edge Routing

The two secrets to routing crisp edges are using a sharp bit and rotating the router counterclockwise around the top of the workpiece. In this manner, the router is pushed toward you rather than pulled away, making it safer and simpler to manage.
But it's only sometimes successful to use the counterclockwise wood routing method. At the corners, the wood has the propensity to chip out. The solution is to "climb-cut" (or cut clockwise) a few inches on the end grain at the board's "northeast" and "southwest" corners. Then, starting anywhere on the workpiece, move the wood router counterclockwise around the wood. But keep in mind that you should edge-route in a clockwise manner if you're doing it on the inside of something, like a picture frame.
To ensure correct cutting depth, always test your cuts on a scrap piece of wood that is identical. If the wood burns, make three successively deeper cuts to get closer to the final cut depth. Burns may be avoided by taking out a small amount of wood at a time.

Router Bits for Woodworking
Router Bits for Woodworking
Source: Pinterest

Pro Tip

Before using edge trimming bits for routing, sand the wood's edges smoothly, any imperfections in the edges the bearing runs into will be carried over to the new profile.

2. Make Deep Cuts in Stages to Prevent Burning

To reduce the likelihood of chipping and create a more refined profile, perform deep cuts in stages. Start by making a shallow cut and then increase the depth with successive passes until you have reached your desired outcome. To ensure success, it is recommended to test this technique on a scrap board made from the same wood species as the material you are cutting.

3. Edge-Routing Narrow Stock

Routing a clean edge on a narrow piece of wood can be difficult. To solve this, secure a support board to the workbench with screws. The support board should be equal in thickness to the workpiece. Additionally, add a stop to the end of the board to keep it stable and prevent slippage. With this, the router has more surface area available when placed on the board, eliminating any rocking movements and keeping everything securely clamped in place without having any addition hardware.

4. Use a Jig to Cut Dadoes

The strongest and cleanest approach to covertly support shelves on the sides of bookshelves or cabinets is with dadoes (or grooves). Dadoes will become a staple in your shelf-building arsenal after you give this jig a try. Dadoes are simple to build using a wood router, a straight bit, and a straightforward DIY jig. Simply a T-square constructed from a straight 2-foot length of 12 screwed to a straight 1-foot length of 16, the jig is all that it is.

  • Make the 16 several inches longer than the wood you are routing, plus an additional 1-1/2 inches to attach the 12 together.
  • Use 1-1/2 in. wood screws to assemble the jig, keeping it square during construction with a carpenter's square.
  • Buy a bit that will create the dado cut at the specified width in a single pass.
  • Set the straight bit 1/4 in. deep and pass through the right side of the "T" part of the jig and into the wood while clamping the jig (front and back) to a test piece.
  • To ensure that the new dado is square and that you are prepared for the real deal, check it with a square.
  • Plan and mark the workpiece's dado sites, align the jig's groove with your layout markings, clamp it to the wood, and start dadoing.
  • The rotating direction of the wood router bit will draw the router base up against the jig if you only cut on the right side of the jig and push the trim router away from you.
  • A run-amok dado will result if your router is on the left side because the router tends to stray from the jig.

5. Rabbets and Rabbets Bits

To insert plywood backs, rabbets are grooves carved into the back edge of cabinet or bookcase sides. For a cleaner appearance, rabbets hide unsightly plywood edges. Using specialized rabbet bits that automatically cut the proper width is the secret to making good rabbets. Home centers and woodworking shops sell them singly or in kits that let you switch out the pilot bearings to change the rabbet width while using the same cutting bit.

Rabbet Bit for Wood Router
Rabbet Bit for Wood Router
Source: Pinterest

  • Choose a pilot bearing that will cut a groove the same thickness as the plywood back before using a rabbet bit. This way, the plywood back will be flat with the cabinet's back.
  • The router's depth should then be adjusted so the bit will only cut about 1/2 inch into the surface, giving plenty of room for glue and fixing. Cut the other way around.
  • Utilizing the correct pilot bearing, cut rabbets in a single pass. You may change the bearing size to alter the rabbet cut's breadth.

6. Cut Perfect Patterns

With a wood router and a bottom-bearing flush trim router bit, patterns let you create several copies of almost any form. This method works well for many different router tasks. A flawless design with clean edges is essential. For the pattern, use 1/2- or 3/4-in: plywood, particleboard, or fiberboard. Because of the thinner material, the pilot bearing won't have enough depth to ride on.

  • After the pattern has been cut out and its edges have been rounded, trace the outline onto the stock used for cutting.
  • Use a band saw, jigsaw, or scroll saw to cut off the form approximately 1/8 to 1/4 inch outside the line. You won't need to worry about obtaining an even, smooth cut since the flush trim bit will remove any flaws.
  • Using a few drywall screws, fasten the pattern to the stock. Use shank lengths that won't protrude through the workpiece's "display side."
  • Use thin brads to pull the pieces apart after routing carefully; if both sides will show, then repair the holes. Then, all that is required to make the duplicates is to flip the assembly over, clamp it, and run the flush trim bit around the pattern.

Pro Tip

You might need help to complete the edge in a single move. The clamps could be a hindrance depending on the form. To finish the edge, you'll need to pause, move the piece, reclamp, and then continue routing.

Router Bit Savvy

The best Router for Woodworking
The best Router for Woodworking
Source: Pinterest

Router bits for wood come in two varieties: high-speed steel and carbide-tipped. Spending money on high-speed steel pieces is a waste. Although they are inexpensive, they will only maintain an edge for a short time, and since they lack ball-bearing pilots, you risk burning and tearing the wood. High-speed steel bits are roughly three times more expensive than carbide ones, although the latter is sharper for at least ten times longer.
There are two different sizes of router bit shanks: 1/4" and 1/2". To find out which bit shank sizes your router can accommodate, look at the collet (where the bit inserts). Some routers can only use 1/4-inch shanks, while others include interchangeable collets or sleeves that can adapt to other collet sizes. Generally speaking, get 1/2 in shank parts. With that size, the shank deflects less, resulting in cleaner cuts and less wobbling.


To sum up, you need to know how to use a router for woodworking in order to get the best results. It would help if you were very careful when using this tool and made sure that you followed all safety precautions. Always use the proper router bit for the job at hand, and take your time to get a smooth, even finish.

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