Idea Shop 6, Paycheck 7: On the Right Rout
Many woodworkers rate a router as the most versatile tool in a shop. It performs dozens of operations: creating decorative edges on workpieces, cutting dadoes, grooves, and rabbets (see definitions of those terms at the end of this article) for joinery, duplicating parts, and more. If you haven't used a router before, get started with the basics of handheld router operations here. When you mount the tool under a table with the bit extending through, you dramatically increase the router's usefulness. It enables you to steady small or narrow workpieces on the broad tabletop and guide them along the fence past the bit for consistent cuts. And router tables don't come much simpler than this version that rests on your folding sawhorses, and requires only a half sheet of plywood to build. Find the plans for the router table here. To get started with its use, watch WOOD's contributing craftsman Jim Heavey show just some of what a router table can do in this free video.
So as you've likely guessed, this check (and a portion of the savings set aside from previous checks) purchases a multi-base router kit, along with a straight router bit, and a spade bit to drill a hole for the router bit in the router table.
Spade bits can cause awful chip-out when they exit a hole unless you use this simple trick: Drill carefully until the point of the bit just pokes through the opposite face of the workpiece. Complete the hole by drilling from the opposite face. By placing the point of the bit in the small hole it made, the two large holes will align perfectly and both faces of the workpiece remain chip-out free.
We selected a Hitachi multi-base router kit (KM12VC) that includes a 21⁄4 hp motor, and 1⁄2 " and 1⁄4 " collets (the part that grips the bit). This allows you to use a wider variety of bits than a router with only a 1⁄4 " collet. A kit such as this essentially gives you two tools for the price of one. The single motor fits two bases: a spring-loaded plunge base allows lowering the spinning bit into the work to make cuts that start and/or stop in the middle of a surface. Mount the fixed base in a router table and quickly switch the motor from handheld work using the plunge base to table work. The kit also includes guide bushings, which thread into the base of the router and guide the router along a pattern to duplicate parts or shapes. (Learn more about using guide bushings here.) A centering cone helps with positioning auxiliary bases when mounting them to the router. Click here to purchase the router, drill bit, and router bit and have them sent to your door.
Routers perform so many jobs, we can't possibly outline them all here, so we've gathered lots of tips here to help you work safely, and learn to create decorative edges, cut dadoes, grooves, and rabbets, make identical pieces, and much more.
Dado (DAY-doe): A flat-bottomed channel running across the grain
Groove: A flat-bottomed channel running with the grain
Rabbet: A flat-bottomed cut along the edge or end of a board
Next up, Idea Shop 6 - Paycheck 8.