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
9. Don't use large diameter bits (i.e. panel raising bits) in a
10. Larger bits should be turned at a slower speed. Check the
manufacturer's suggestions as to what setting to use with various bit
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
That's probably more than you wanted so I'll stop now.
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
Have fun. A router is a cool shop tool.
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.