Wood routerA cleanly cut edge is important to a successful woodworking project. Rough edges are not something you should strive for. Which is why knowing how to use a router will help you with all projects, from practical to decorative, and greatly expand your skill in your shop.

A router’s purpose is basically as its name describes: it is used to “route out,” or hollow out a groove in your piece of wood (or plastic and metal), create a smooth outside edge, cut precise holes, or establish a smooth, unrivaled contour.

For the decorative woodworker, it is used to hollow out holes in woodworking projects, and can even be used to cut out patterns and shapes.

For all intents and purposes, a router is a woodworker’s best friend; a jack-of-all trades in the shop.

With that, here are 3 tips to help you get the most out of your router, and work your way up to being a router pro.

  1. Always move to the right. A novice user may feel inclined to move left for the sake of the project, but that’s a huge mistake. You always want to be moving the router against the rotation of the bit.
  2. Let the router do the work, you are nothing but the guide. So, as the guide, never force the router to do things that it can not or will not do. Just keep control of it, and let the router move along whatever surface you are working on, doing all the hard work for you.
  3. Mount it upside down for optimum usage. Attaching your router to a routing table can greatly increase a router’s usability. Plus, because now it is completely visible, you’ll have greater insight as to what you are doing and what you need to be doing.

Becoming a proficient router user takes some practice. But with a little consternation, and tad bit of savvy, you’ll be cutting dovetails and joints in no time.