If you’re reading this, chances are you already have a router – just not the kind we’re referring to. Because whereas your wi-fi router may give you fabulous Netflix streaming, it’s pretty useless when it comes to fine woodwork. For that you need a router of a different kind.
A power tool that makes even woodwork amateurs look good
For its wide range of cutting, trimming and shaping, a router is not just a logical addition to your DIY toolkit, it’s an essential for anybody remotely interested in cabinetry and pro-looking woodwork crafts.
From cabinet doors to picture frames and coffee tables, shelves and drawers to wooden chopping boards… Take a look around your house – if it’s made of wood, chances are a router was involved in the process. Its versatility is almost endless, but here are the TOP FOUR REASONS WHY WE REALLY LOVE A ROUTER.
#1: MOLDING AND BEVELINGS
Want to make your own decoratively beveled crown moldings or base boards from MDF or solid wood? A router does it. Want to frame a bookcase with shaped trim? Your router is the go-to. Routers come with a variety of bits that allow you to quickly, accurately and easily cut anything from simple rounded moldings to very elaborate Roman ogee or beaded patterns.
R 1,295.00 R 1,850.00
Want to make a mid-century style kidney-shaped coffee table? A router is the easiest way of cutting curved shapes with perfectly clean edges. Simply draw the shape you want straight onto the wood or create a template and clamp it onto the wood. With a router and a steady hand you get incredible cutting accuracy with no furry edges, nicks or deviations. Use a template and you can replicate those cuts on multiple pieces of wood – really handy when you want to make more than one or glue two exact pieces together to create something chunkier.
R1,425.00 R 2,500.00
Want to make a large wooden kitchen clock? A simple circular guide rail that you can buy or even rig yourself enables you to cut perfectly round circles. Pop on the correct bit and easily cut grooves/trenches (aka dadoes) for invisibly supporting shelves in a bookcase. Pop in a rabbet bit and cutting a neat rabbet recess in the edge of wood is done and dusted in seconds. Cutting a neat space for recessed invisible door hinges? You guessed it – nothing does it better than a router.
Of course if you want to ‘write’ letters on wood or ‘draw’ any intricate decorative pattern on wood an old-fashioned chisel is not what you turn to. A router is.
Which one should you get?
There are essentially three kinds. Trim (aka compact, palm or hand routers) are smaller routers that can be guided with just one hand. They are ideal for smaller jobs. If basic woodcrafts like stenciling letters in wood and making chopping boards with liquid-catching grooves are all you’re ever going to do, this would be a good choice. For anything bigger than that, we’d recommend you rather opt for a stronger, bigger model and here you have two choices: a fixed base router or a plunge router.
Fixed base routers continuously cut at the same depth. The depth can be adjusted between cuts, but you can’t lift and plunge while it’s cutting. A plunge router, as the name suggests, allows you to plunge the bit into the wood and lift it back up. This is really handy when you’re carving intricate designs or letters into wood or you’re working with templates. If you do opt for a fixed base router, go for one that gives you the best of both worlds – a model that offers a separate attachment to give you both fixed and plunge base options.
All power tools are dangerous but routers more so than many because they have no auto cut-off switch. A router keeps on running until you turn it off. Never leave it running on a worktop and don’t walk around with it running. Also…
- Always wear safety goggles.
- Wear a dust mask too because routers make a lot of dust, especially if you’re working with something like MDF.
- The bigger fixed base and plunge models have dual handles for greater control. Use both, they’re there for a reason.
- Never use your hands to hold the wood you’re working on, always clamp it down firmly.
- Using a router table is not essential, but if you have one, you can mount the router upside down, making routing not just easier but safer.
- Don’t cut too much too fast. If wood is thick, rather take less at a time and do multiple passes.
- Always check any stock you are cutting for objects like staples and nails.
Routers take some getting used to, so have a few practice runs first, then get down to business and have some router fun. Check out our great router deals below and don’t forget to visit us at www.toolcityonline.co.za for more expert DIY power tool tips.