Been look at Google for old threads on routers - but I have some specific
jobs in mind so haven't found a definative answer yet...
I've always wanted one - now I have an excuse, being:
Kitchen worktops and morticing for door locks.
All the Axminster jigs for kitchen worktops require (and for locks
recommend) a 1/2" router, obviously one that is good to handle would be
The other job I can see is rebating door architrave 2-4mm to handle
variations in plaster depth vs. frame, so perhaps a table would be a
luxury, but if I can manage that with the piece clamped to a long bench,
that would save money...
I don't want to spend a fortune, because after this handful of jobs, it's
going to be odd hobby use.
All thoughts gratefully received :)
The Natural Philosopher coughed up some electrons that declared:
Something like a Trend? Been looking on ebay - there's a couple, but they
look a bit chunky to hand hold...
Are Freud any good - there's a few of them?
Or there's this Ryobi, with table:
Not sure what to look for in a table though, feature wise...
Conventional wisdom is that you need a 1/2" router for worktops and
heavier stuff, so I can't disagree with the above.
Trend, Freud, Makita, Hitachi are good brands. CMT router bits are as
good as trend/freud, but often not as expensive.
Norm on New Yankee workshop has over a dozen routers and firmly believes
that there is a right size and type of router for every job - mind you,
he probably didn't pay for all of them!
I have 1/4" Bosch - small & light and a 1/2" Trend T10 - for heavier work.
You should definitely consider buying both. Look on the bright side -
no matter how much you spend on routers and jigs, it's still gonna be
much less than employing a good chippie to come and do it for you.
Just a word of wisdom - I have a Makita, and whilst it's a beautiful
piece of kit, it doesn't take the popular Freud fittings, requiring
instead a 3rd party sole-plate adaptor. Not what you need to find out
when you're in the middle of a job.
Great router, just be aware of the compatibility with other bits.
For what you're doing - get a 1/2" certainly. Decide then if you can
justify the 1/4" (in the end, from above, and with the time I had
available to me for the job I was doing, it was easier for me to get a
cheap 1/4" end-of-line router, than a sole-plate adapator for the Makita)
A cheap, lightweight 1/4" won't be wasted, even if you buy a bigger &
better later. They're far more portable, thus remain useful.
What you need for these uses though is a decent 1/2" with good
rigidity and a stable base.
A Freud 2000 has been the favoured choice for 10+ years. Big,
powerful, good pricing, and a decent depth adjuster.
Tritons are nice too, as are some DeWalts (I like the one with dust
extract up the inside of a fattened pillar)
Most routers don't have a screw depth adjust, but rely on pressure
against a spring and a depth stop. That's just not the same thing at
all, especially for depth-critical jobs like morticing hinges.
A table makes a big router far more useful and should be an early
acquisition. You can make your own (fence too) very easily. Most
commercial tables, especially the little ones, are worthless. Most
router work for joinery (as opposed to on-site carpentry) is, or
should be, done on the table rather than freehand.
A table _must_ have push blocks available. It's quite hard to stick a
paw into a hand-held router cutter. It's horribly easy to do this when
working on a table, without push blocks. One rule is having a big
table and never letting your hands closer inboard than keeps your
fingertips touching the outer edge (this does need a decent sized
Tables also make good rocket launchers. Trapping timber between a
fence and a cutter (Doh!) will easily throw it through a window - or
you. You _never_ cut on the "back" of a cutter like this.
Once you have your router, a selection of baseplates is helpful. Make
them easily out of clear Perspex or polycarbonate sheet and make a
range with different sized holes in the baseplate. Although routers
are supplied with a vast gaping maw to allow big cutters, this is a
real pain to use as it doesn't support close to the cutter and is
likely to tip near the ends of cuts. Make a couple of others up, with
holes that just barely fit over your favourite cutters.
Make lots of MDF / birch ply templates. A templated cut is not only
quicker, it's usually so much quicker that you break even the cost of
making templates on only the second cut. It also reduces the risk of
screwing up on the expensive timber - routers just love to take an
unexpected bite out of near-finished pieces.
A guide bush set is handy when working with templates. Turned brass
are usually nicer than pressed steel.
90% of your work is done with the same cutter - a simple 1/2"
cylindrical rebate cutter of medium length, using the depth and fence
adjustments to make a range of different cuts. So get a decent quality
one, or a couple. Using the shortest possible cutter improves
9% remaining is with a 45degree chamfer bit.
You very rarely use the parson's nose shaped weirdy you bought from
the catalogue that promised its ownership would turn you into the next
Bearing-guided cutters mostly suck and you'll do better working in a
fence, or with a guide bush in a template.
Learn the use of a spelch plate to stop breakout and get into the
habit of rough-sawing things over-long, routing and then trimming to
length. Routers cut great in the middle of a cut, poorly and with
difficulty at the ends.
Learn about which way to cut, which way the torque reaction will kick,
which speeds to use and how to burn wood by cutting too slowly.
You need eye protection and ear protection. If you're working MDF or
anything man-made you want dust protection too. If you're working
tropicals you want serious dust protection, as many of those are a
real hazard for allergies. Dust extraction is less of an issue - some
jobs need it, for others the hose is more trouble than a help. It's
another reason to favour working on a table, which should always offer
dust extraction from behind the fence.
This looks like a wiki article in the making.
I have /never/ used a 45degree chamfer bit. I use an ogee bearing
cutter quite a lot for rounding over edges, and I have used it for a
decorative moulding on shelves.
I used straight bearing cutters quite a lot too - but that could be
because I only have a 1/4" router, so I run the router against a
straight-edge for half the cut and run the bearing along the previous
cut for the bottom.
A 1/2" router would be quicker, but given the amount I use it, I
couldn't justify the cost (and I don't have room for a table).
Thank you Andy for such a comprehensive reply :)
Andy Dingley coughed up some electrons that declared:
OK - so Freud is good.
Right - I didn't know that.
OK. I look into these more. How thick can a table be? 20-25mm? Only,
especially as I don't know what I'm doing, I could easily modify my
worktop/bench which is birch block kitchen worktop, as a quick and free
first attempt. If I emptied a cupboard I'd have plenty of space to mount a
router underneath and the top is flat, stable, heavy and solid. Things also
screw down and bolt down to it very well (I have two vices, a bench grinder
and, on a separate section, a sliding compound saw mounted).
I'm thinking a hole for the router bit, and some wood on sliding brackets of
some sort for the fence. Or even just screw the fence down as, especially
for the architraves, the width of the cut will be constant for loads of
I assume the router can be locked at a certain, variable, depth cut? Or am I
barking up the wrong tree?
I have a healthy fear of spinning sharp things, and lots of random timber.
Yes, I can imagine!
OK - didn't think of that either. Might be very relevant with the mortice
jig, which isn't that much wider that the door
OK - that's good advice.
Righty ho - I have all the protection gear, and an old Vax which puts up
with crap and dust quite well, for limited sessions.
Some people prefer 'soft start' as opposed to instant high speed. I think
soft start is a bit easier and safer so try to get a test run with each
type. B&Q usually offer this test facility even if you don't want to buy
If you've got a bench pillar drill consider using that with a simple fence
and router bits for the long straight cuts.
Using Ubuntu Linux
On Tue, 31 Mar 2009 14:26:45 +0000, Stuart Noble wrote:
=========================================Not necessarily so. I use standard router bits as described and have been
doing so quite successfully for about 20 years. Most common routers have
variable speeds, in the range of about 8000 rpm to 20000 rpm, but the
cutters will work quite satisfactorily at much lower speeds.
Using Ubuntu Linux
That's damn dangerous, and has a track record of sprained or broken
thumbs in its wake.
The problem is that pillar drills are slow, so they won't work with
router tooling (just don't cut) and the tooling that does work with
them (now fortunately rare, but popular in the '70s) was large
diameter and with multiple teeth. These had nasty habits for grabbing,
throwing workpieces around and generally creating leverage injuries to
the operators hands.
You can still buy some of these (Safe-T-Planer ?), esp in the USA, but
they're even bigger and have fewer teeth. A bit better, but still too
On Tue, 31 Mar 2009 09:24:58 -0700, Andy Dingley wrote:
Sorry to disagree with you, but I've been doing this for about 20 years
without a single injury or mishap. As far as the coarse-toothed cutters
are concerned I think they're the ones to avoid. I have several
('Wolf' brand, I think) and I never use them now as it's difficult to get
a good finish with them. I do remember making a set of stair spindles with
them about 12 years ago in another house and I had to finish them off with
quite a bit of sanding.
Using Ubuntu Linux
If I were buying my first router (I have three now) I'd deffo go for the
Trend, simply because its such a 'system' machine. Trend have a huge range
of accessories which will obviously fit Trend machines without having to
worry about base's & stuff.
Dave - The Medway Handyman
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