6 Beginner Ways to Use a Woodworking Router

Any woodworker is well-acquainted with the router's myriad uses. The tool comes in handy for many projects around the house, both functional and decorative. It's a great power tool to own because it is portable and can be used for a range of cutting, trimming, and shaping tasks on wood, plastic, metal, and laminates. Indeed, many woodworkers consider the router to be the single most versatile woodworking power tool in their arsenal. At its most basic, a router is used to “rout out,” or hollow out, a hole or groove in a piece of wood, metal, or plastic, producing finished edges, cutaways, curved contours, and precise holes. Routers are frequently the go-to tool for cabinetry and decorative molding. There are literally hundreds of router bits available, all designed for different patterns and uses. If you're wondering how to use a router, here are a few common applications.

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  1. Making Perfect Edges


    Cutting a clean and smooth edge on a narrow piece of wood can be tricky, but a router can produce a nicely finished edge every time. Routers are used to make even and level cuts on both straight and curved edges, and can replicate those cuts on multiple pieces of wood.


  2. Shaping Stylish Molding


    Decorative molding is perhaps the most interesting thing a router can create. Using different bits, you can craft everything from simple rounded moldings to more elaborate Roman ogee or beaded patterns for doors, windows, baseboards, or chair rails.


  3. Cutting Easy Dadoes


    A dado is a slot or trench that is used to invisibly support shelves in a bookcase or cabinet. A dado is the strongest method to affix shelves; it's cut using a router with a straight bit. The tool makes it easy to cut the two most common types of dadoes: a through dado, which runs through both edges of a surface, leaving the ends open; and a stopped, or blind, dado, which ends before one or both of the cuts meets the edge of the surface.


  4. Carving Out Clean Rabbets


    A rabbet is a recess or groove cut into the edge of the wood, usually used on the back edge of a cabinet or the sides of a bookcase. Rabbets are also used to create door and casement window jambs, and can be used with a dado to form a strong joint. Most routers can accommodate a variety of rabbet bits, which cut the grooves to the desired width.


  5. Re-Creating Patterns


    Routers can be used to cut patterns, grooves, and designs across multiple pieces of wood. For instance, if you have a broken table or other piece of wood, you can use the router to “trace” the outline of the original piece and re-create it as many times as you like. Routers can also be used on flat pieces of wood to trace intricate designs or lettering.


  6. Recessing Door Hinges


    Routers can be used with a jig to cut space for recessed door hinges or lock faceplates. Recessed hardware yields a more finished appearance and smoother operation.


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