Router Basics: Work Safely – Work Confidently
With wood routers, working safely almost always equates to working more confidently. When you are not sure how to use a power tool, especially something as intimidating as a router, it can lead to bad cuts, frustration in woodworking and possible injury. There are lots of great things that can be built, changed, tweaked and enhanced with a router, so knowing your router basics can positively change how you do woodworking.
One small example: For years I made cabinet doors the hard way, and trying to fasten corners and keep them square was a real challenge. So challenging that I would shy away from some projects, especially if they had doors. Then one day, at a woodworking show, I watched a tool rep making doors with a router on a router table. I had a router at the time, but no router table. As I watched him make a door, I was shocked at how easy he made it look. I was so amazed that I came back and watched the demo two more times to make sure I wasn’t missing something. It was one of those “Ah Ha!” moments that changed my woodworking life.
I, too, was one of those people who were introduced to routers when they first became popular decades ago, when all you could get was a fixed speed router that only took quarter inch bits. I found them, well … not all that useful, but little did I know then that having a router table would open so many new doors of woodworking for me. It wasn’t until I saw the demo of door making that I understood that a more powerful router that took half inch router bits, and used on a router table could be such a versatile and useful tool.
It was at that wood show that I talked to the demonstrator between his demos, asked questions and in no time he had explained details of other things about using a router and router table that made sense and gave me the confidence to try it. I used his router and router table at the show; it wasn’t much but it made me understand router basics and he showed me how to work safely, which I understand now, also gave me the confidence of using the tool.
The best thing any woodworker can do in order to get the best use from his tools is to learn how to use them safely, and to use safety equipment like glasses, hearing protection and dust control. All of these elements will come together in helping to get the best value and the most rewarding results from power tools.