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7 Router Trim Tips

Multiple bases
make this
compact router

By Randy Johnson

Laminate trim routers are amazing
little machines. Their light weight
and compact size make them exceptionally
easy to use. Although they are
designed primarily for trimming plastic
laminate (p-lam), they also work
great for light-duty wood routing.

Trim router motors range from 3.8
to 7.5 amps and run at speeds as high
as 30,000 rpm. Add a base and the
trim router weighs between 3 and
4-1/2 lbs. All models use only a
1/4-in. collet. You can buy a variety of
bases and accessories (see Sources, below). Prices range from $80 for
just the router with a standard base to
$250 for a kit with several accessories.

Understanding what each of these
accessories is capable of doing is the
secret behind getting the most from
your trim router. These accessories
make the trim router very precise.

1. Protect the plastic laminate

Apply a lubricant, such as wax, soap or Trim
Ease (a commercial product available from
p-lam and trim bit distributors), to the plastic
laminate’s face when you use self-piloting
bits. The lubricant protects the p-lam from
burning or marring. Self–piloting bits are available in flushtrim
or bevel-trim profiles. The flush trim (shown here) is
used when you want to leave a flat, square corner. Its single
cutting flute makes it fast-cutting. A solid carbide selfpiloting
trim bit costs $8 to $10, which is about half of what
a ball-bearing-guided trimming bit costs.

Click any image to view a larger version.

2. Ball bearings reduce marring

Ball-bearing-guided bits greatly reduce the
risk of marring and can be used without a
lubricant. The bearings do wear out, so you
should replace them as soon as they show
signs that they’re not spinning freely. It’s also
important to keep them clean of built-up glue. Ball-bearingguided
trim bits are available in either a flush-trim or beveltrim
profile. The bevel profile (shown here) is used when you
want to ease the edge to make it friendlier to the touch and
reduce its chance of chipping when bumped. Ball-bearingguided
trim bits cost $12 to $24 each.

3. Mar-proof routing

Use a ball-bearing guide attachment
when you want to totally eliminate the
chance of marring the finished surface
or when you want to leave an overhang
on the part that you are trimming.
A nonpiloted trim bit is used
with this guide. The bit is a combination
flush and bevel cut. You
can trim straight or curved surfaces
with this setup.

4. Get a super-straight cut

Use a straight guide when trimming against the substrate
material. The straight guide bridges the small
voids or gaps common in particleboard and
plywood. The result is a straighter edge on
the p-lam. This is important when
another p-lam piece will be laminated
to this edge. Straight edge guides do
not work on curves or close in inside corners.
A regular straight bit works fine with
the straight guide.

5. Move close into corners

Use the tilt base when you rout inside
corners on countertops and inside cabinets.
The router must be kept perpendicular
to the edge of the p-lam
or an uneven trim will occur. You can
use either a self-piloting bit or a ballbearing-
guided bit with this base.

The tilt base replaces the regular
base on the trim router and can
be angled from 45 to 135 degrees.









Trim odd angles with ease

An odd angle, such as the outside corner of an angled
countertop, requires no special jigging when you use
the tilt base. First, adjust the base to match the corner’s
angle and trim the first piece of p-lam edging. Then
apply the second piece and trim it using the same


6. Use it for wood, too

A trim router is also great for light-duty wood routing,
because it’s compact and lightweight. It can easily handle a
small profile bit for edge trimming or even a small straight
bit for shallow grooving. It’s a handy router and worth having
around the shop, even if you never do any p-lam work.
You can even get oversize bases for some trim routers. The
oversize base provides more stability when working on
large surfaces.



The oversize base that comes with Ryobi’s
trim router has two handles. This provides you
with the same two-handed control you get
with a midsize router.


7. Scribing is almost automatic

An offset base is great for scribing a backsplash to the wall.
Start with the backsplash 3/4 in. out from the desired final
location. The small end of the offset base follows the wall
while a straight router bit trims the back edge of the backsplash.
The offset base can also be used to scribe a cabinet to a wall.





The offset base uses a small belt to drive the
offset router shaft. The wedge-shaped base
plate enables you to get up close along walls.




Easy trimming in tight quarters

Trimming in tight areas and close to a wall is no problem
with an offset base. In the photo at right, it’s being used to
put the final bevel trim on a backsplash. The angled end of
the base allows moving in close at inside corners.




(Note: Product availability and costs are subject to change since original publication date.)

Bosch,, 877-267-2499,
5.7-amp laminate router with
straight base, #PR10E,
5.7-amp laminate router kit,
includes straight, offset and tilt
bases, #PR10EINK.

Freud,, 800-334-4107,
6.6-amp laminate router with
straight base, #FT750T,
7.5-amp laminate router kit,
includes straight, tilt and
two-handled plunge bases,

PorterCable,, 800-321-9443,
5.6-amp laminate router with
straight base, #7310,
5.6-amp laminate router kit,
includes straight, offset and tilt
bases, #97311.

Ryobi,, 800-525-2579,
4.5-amp laminate router with
straight and two-handled oversize
bases, TR45K.

DeWalt,, 800-433-9258, 5.6-amp laminate router with
straight base, #DW670, 5.6-amp laminate router kit,
includes additional bases,

Craftsman,, 800-377-7414,
3.8-amp laminate router with
straight base, #27512.

800-462-5482, 4.4-amp laminate router with
straight base, #3707FC, 4.4-amp laminate router with tilt
base, #3708FC.

This story originally appeared in American Woodworker May 2005, issue #114.

May 2005, issue #114

Purchase this back issue.


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