Read these 9 tips for small-part routing safety. Remember, even the most experienced woodworkers could use a rule reminder.

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Small-part safety

When routing small parts, it pays to employ the tricks shown in the photos at right to keep yourself safe while making quality cuts. For more guidelines, check out the "Rules of Thumb" below--so you can keep yours.

Routing Rules of Thumb

1 Always wear eye and ear protection while routing. Always.

2 Keep all bits clean and in good working condition--poorly maintained bits are accidents waiting to happen.

3 Ensure the workpiece is solid and free of splits or knots in areas that will be routed.

4 Plan so that your direction of feed moves against the rotation of the bit--this ensures the bit's thrust will pull the part against the fence, not push it away and send it flying. As a reminder, mark a curved arrow on your table showing the bit's rotation.

5 If possible, avoid using large bits when routing small workpieces--their size and force could destroy the parts.

6 Check to ensure you're using the right speed for each bit--for a bit with a diameter of 1" or less, keep the speed below 24,000 rpm. For 1--2" bits, keep the speed under 18,000 rpm.

7 Make your cuts in small increments (called "skinning") to help maintain control of the part. Try 1/8" as a rule.

8 Use a zero-clearance router base plate or table insert to prevent the small piece from tipping into the hole surrounding the bit.

9 Finally, rely on common sense. If it feels wrong in your gut, don't make the cut.