The router is amongst the most versatile woodworking energy tools accessible. It may be applied to automate traditional carpentry procedures like producing mortice & tenon or dovetail joints right through to trimming modern materials which include engineered timber or laminates. The versatility in the router is enhanced considerably by the multitude of router bits and jigs that are obtainable. Therefore, it’s no surprise that a router could be found in most respectable carpenters’ tool vaults. Obtaining a router may be a daunting task. There is a lot of technical jargon to understand. In this article I have summarised the 4 main things to consider when you are considering investing in a router. It is, by no means, an exhaustive list.
Size in the router
Broadly speaking, routers may be split in to three categories: heavy duty, medium duty and light duty. The light duty routers are sometimes known as “laminate trimmers” or “handheld” routers. Light duty routers are only really designed for basic operations including trimming. They are lightweight, not very powerful and are, therefore, designed for infrequent use. Medium duty routers are more powerful and more bulky. They could be made use of to perform more demanding tasks and are designed to be utilised frequently. Heavy duty routers are the top of the range varieties. They are by far the most powerful and are designed to be made use of for daily milling operations. They might be utilized for hand milling and can also be table-mounted for use as fixed routers.
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Collet corresponds to where the router bit is attached to the router. The collet diameter is equivalent to the route bit diameter. They are offered in two sizes: ½” and 1/4″. Light duty and some medium duty routers have 1/4″ collets while heavy duty routers come equipped with ½” collets. It is also possible to use adaptors to allow ¼” inch bits to be utilised in ½” collets. It follows that ¼” router bits are meant for basic milling and ½” router bits are meant for more demanding projects. The size from the bit also determines how much material is often routed out in 1 pass and thus affects the strain that is put on the router’s motor. It would be pertinent to browse through the broad variety of router bits (and their application) obtainable in the market before deciding which router to purchase.
Medium to heavy duty routers usually come with variable speed control. This variable speed corresponds to how fast the motor, and therefore, the router bit turns. While this is not a crucial requirement, it is worth paying a bit extra for it if your budget allows. As we learnt earlier, the bigger the router bit (in either depth or width) the more material it will remove with each pass. It is good practice to reduce the speed of the motor when using larger bits to reduce the strain on the bit and, ultimately, the motor.
This is a feature usually found in medium to heavy duty routers. The soft start means that the when the motor is started, it gradually increases in speed. This is a useful feature to have as it means that the tool won’t push or pull suddenly as you begin routing. This feature makes the whole routing operation smoother and can prolong the life of the router and router bits. Again, it is well worth going for a router with this feature, if you budget permits.
I hope the above will provide you with a good starting point. Please remember that this is, by means, an exhaustive list. You should refer to the manufacturers’ sites to obtain detailed information relating to their product offerings.
1 last thing I wanted to mention is health and safety. Be sure to follow all precautions when using power tools. The type and standard of PPE (personal protective equipment) that needs to be worn when using any given power tool is clearly listed in the operation manual. Please take the time to read the operation manual. And, remember, a blunt or damaged blade can more dangerous can a sharp one particular. This applies equally well to routers and router bits.
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