Plunge Router Depth Adjustment Trick - Popular Woodworking Magazine

Plunge Router Depth Adjustment Trick

 In Shop Blog, Techniques, Tools in Your Shop, Tricks of the Trade

ArouterDepth_1411A plunge router is a versatile tool, but setting an exact depth can be perplexing. There are a bunch of knobs and levers that control how far down the bit will go, but if you’re trying to make a precise adjustment you rapidly run out of hands and patience as you fight the springs and line up a ruler. There is an easy way to do it; here is how I set the depth for the mother-of-pearl inlay on the face of the Voysey mantel clock I made for the August 2013 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine. If you click on the photo, a larger version will appear that will give you a better look at what I’m doing.

First I placed the template (a plywood circle) in position on the face. Because the template is so small, there wasn’t any room for clamps. I put some double-sided tape on the bottom of the template, and also drove a screw through the template and walnut face and into my bench. ARouter_1409With everything secure, I set the router on the template and lowered the bit until it bottomed out on the face and locked the depth-control lever. Then I flipped the router upside down. I released the depth-stop rod, stuck a piece of the inlay between the rod and the stop on the router base, pushed the rod up and tightened it.

That changed my setting from where it was (the surface of the face) to where I wanted it – below the face by the thickness of the inlay. When I went to make the cut, all I had to do was release the lever so the router was above the work, turn it on and drop it down to the position of the stop and lock the lever again. No measurements, no numbers and right on the money.

–Robert W. Lang

We filmed a start-to-finish video of me building the clock. It’s a great project and you can get the video from our store.

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Showing 2 comments
  • Old Baleine

    That’s a neat trick. Like many neat tricks, it seems so obvious, once someone points it out…

    I’m thinking you could also use gauge blocks, or even a taper gauge to set the depth for fixed increments. Beats using the gauge on the router!

    • John J

      It’s the fastest and most accurate way to set the depth on a plunger. Forget all the scales and dials that the manufacture supplies. All you need is the stop rod. In addition to gauge blocks you can use transfer punches or drill bit shanks as gauges. Even feeler gauges. Bob’s method of using the material in question may be the best.
      I occasionally give router seminars in conjunction with a local tool merchant. As a demonstration of how accurate this method is, I demonstrate routing through a piece of plywood but leave the masking tape on the back of the plywood untouched. A bit theatrical perhaps, but it gets the point across.

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