What Is a Woodworking Router?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari

A woodworking router is a type of power tool used to manipulate the shape of wood. The router can be used to create shapes on the edge of a board, or it can be used to hollow out the center of a piece of wood. The size and shape of a woodworking router can vary, but most feature a flat base with a motor mounted on top of it; in the center of the base is an opening through which a cutting bit can be inserted. When the machine is powered on, the bit will spin at high speeds, making it possible to cut wood smoothly.

A handheld woodworking router is likely to feature large handles on either side of the motor. This makes manipulation of the machine much easier, and it allows the user to access the controls easily as well. The router is turned on using a finger switch mounted on one of the handles, or mounted somewhere on the motor body. Some woodworking router models will also feature a dust collection system that will suck sawdust away from the cut to prevent it from circulating into the air. Sawdust can be harmful if inhaled, so the dust collection system can be considered a piece of safety equipment.

Handheld routers are not the only models available. A woodworker may also commonly use a table router instead, which is suitable for working on smaller, more delicate pieces. The table woodworking router features a flat work surface through which the bit can extend upward. It is essentially an inverted router, as a handheld router's bit faces downward. Table routers are often considered safer to operate because the user will have more control over the cutting process; the piece of material being cut is moved, unlike the process with a handheld router, in which the piece being cut is secured and the router itself is moved.

Regardless of the type of woodworking router being used, it is possible to change bits very easily. This means the woodworker can quickly and easily change the shape of the cut to be made. Some bits are fairly simple, creating rounded edges around a board, while others feature more ornate patterns or stepped patterns that create a visually appealing aesthetic for the finished product. Some bits are made specifically for removing a significant amount of material, while others may be designed for more subtle cuts.

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