Router Help

I have a Plunge router, and approx 50 bits that I picked up last summer. I originally bought the router to do some work on speaker cabnets I was working on. The speaker cabnets I was working with where constructed with MDF wood, so there was no grain or anything to worry about. Since then, I have done a little work with it creating shelves and so on. What I am looking for is information and tips on how to use this router with verious types of wood. So far all my working with this router has been trial and error. So far everything has turned out alright, but I would like to obtain some pointers as to limit future frustrations when working on projects. Any information would be great.
Mike mlawrenc(at)rcc.on.ca
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Start by getting inspired the router capabilities at www.patwarner.com Pat has a couple of books also as well as some tips.
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Cool link. Wow, these are some EXCELLENT photographs. Wonder what kind of camera?
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Books would be a good investment.
Here are a few things that come to mind, though.
1. Keep your bits sharp. Invest in a diamond hone and use it on your bits. Only hone the flat side of the cutter and not the bevel. Don't get overly zealous about it. Three or four strokes is usually plenty.
2. Keep you bits clean. Remove pitch and other gunk from the bits. Clean and relubricate bearings. Replace as needed. Clean new bits in mineral spirits before using them, too.
3. Don't try to hog off large quantities of wood in a single pass. Light passes are better.
4. Don't make climb cuts. Think about the way the router bit is turning. A climb cut allows the bit to get hold of the wood. Either the router will try to escape from your grip or it will attempt to yank the wood from you and pull your hand in at the same time. (The latter is an issue when using the router in a table.) There are a few cases where a climb cut is desirable. If you have one of them, be very careful.
5. Think about the direction of cut relative to the grain of the wood. It's kind of like petting a porcupine. If you run your hand the right way, you won't get poked.
6. If possible use a pattern or straightedge as a guide.
7. Don't short-chuck the router bit in the collet. Don't drop it to the bottom of the collet, either. There should be a little bit of space beneath the shank of the bit because the collet pulls the router into itself as you tighten it. If the bit can't move, the collet may score the bit and not hold it tightly.
8. Don't try to catch a router bit that has been ejected from the collet.
9. Don't use large diameter bits (i.e. panel raising bits) in a handheld router.
10. Larger bits should be turned at a slower speed. Check the manufacturer's suggestions as to what setting to use with various bit diameters.
11. If you suspect the quality or integrity of the bit, don't use it. In all cases, it is cheaper to by a new router bit than to have a piece of carbide removed from your flesh.
12. Use hearing protection. What? I said, use hearing protection!
13. Use eye protection. It really sucks when you're in the middle of a cut and suddenly you can't see because you got sawdust in your eyes.
14. Use a dust mask. There is a lot of dust generated by a router. It's better not to have it in your lungs or sinus cavities. This is especially true with MDF. Keep in mind the dust from some woods is at least an irritant if not toxic.
15. Don't let the router sit in one spot too long. Unless you like that burned look on the edge of your wood. Cheery is especially easy to burn.
That's probably more than you wanted so I'll stop now.
Oh, wait.
16. Don't set the router down while the bit is spinnig if it is also still extended. It'll take off and probably bit you in the leg or on the foot.
Have fun. A router is a cool shop tool.
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Thank you Dave for the input. Some of your information I had already known or learned from use of the router. I have used the router so far on MDF (and yes, lots of dust) and on pine, which appears to be the cheapest wood to learn on for beginner projects. I am still trying to figure out how to make the cross grain edges smooth. I had done the edging on a pine board that was to be a shelf for the laundry room, and could not figure out how to get the cross grain edges smooth. I did some sanding with a piece of sand paper as the edge was not flat, and could not use a sander on it. This worked a bit, but the cross grain was still a little rough. Being that this was a shelf for the laundry room, I left it as is. Mike mlawrenc(at)rcc.on.ca
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