The primary functions of a router are to: remove. Shape, profile, groove & carve. Routers are a major source of enjoyment to use; they are definitely a product that the more you use them the more you appreciate the precision and quality of work you can produce with them.
WHAT MATERIALS CAN YOU USE A ROUTER ON?
The most common of materials used is timber but with the correct cutters you can also rout aluminium and corian (man made material).
HOW DO WE RATE ROUTERS?
Routers are rated in the following ways: power, collet size, base configuration, plunge depth.
POWER – the power of routers is rated in wattage or horsepower the range is 1/4hp to 31/2 hp.
COLLET SIZE – collet sizes vary from country to country and are in either imperial or metric. The two most common sizes in Australia are " (6.35mm) & "
BASE CONFIGURATION – the two types of base configuration are Plunge or Fixed base. To use a plunge router the base is placed on the work with the router bit above the material. Turn the router on and release the plunge mechanism, this allows you to plunge into your material to a set depth.
With fixed base routers the depth of cut is set prior to turning the tool on, for edging work you turn the router on ensuring the router bit is not in contact with the material and then move the router bit to the material. If you are starting a cut in the centre of your work you should place the base on an angle with the router bit above the work and slowly lower it into the work.
Both styles of routers can perform the same cuts but the plunge router does it in a safer way.
POWER – higher power is normally associated with " routers, the higher power allows you to use larger router bits
COLLETS – the collets are held inside the outer collet nut, you place the shank of the router bit into the collet and tighten the collet nut.
VARIABLE SPEED – is used for different size router bits and different materials you are routing, a slower rotation allows larger bits to be used safely. Typical speed ranges are 8000 – 30000 rpm.
ERGONOMICS – a router should feel smooth when running and all of the controls should feel comfortable to hold and operate.
SPINDLE LOCK – by depressing the spindle lock you then lock the bit from turning and only require one spanner to loosen the collet nut. The Triton routers have a unique through base collet locking system that when activated also locks the switch from being turned on (a great safety feature).
FENCE – the fence is designed to allow you to make precise cuts in your material, for example cutting slots that need to line up is done easily with a fence attached to your router. Some fences do more than this like the Triton fence it also acts as an extended baseplate and circle cutting guide.
TYPICAL ROUTER APPLICATIONS
Straight routing, Chamfering, Mortising, Laminate trimming, V-grooving and lettering, Decorative grooving, Frame routing, Rebating, Profiling, Rounding over, Copy routing.
WHAT ACCESSORIES CAN I FIT TO MY ROUTER?
There are many accessories available for routers apart from the multitude of different router bits. Apart from the different shapes and sizes of router bits they are made from different materials, High speed steel, Tungsten carbide tipped and solid carbide bits.
High speed steel bits are the cheapest style available and are best used in softwood only, if used in hardwood they can burn the timber and become blunt very quickly.
Tungsten carbide tipped and solid carbide bits are more expensive than HSS bits but they allow you greater flexibility in the material you can rout and last much longer before requiring sharpening.
Some other accessories available for routers are, Copy following attachments, template guides, router tables, dovetail jigs, circle guides, letter templates.
- Disconnect the power prior to changing any accessories
- Wear approved safety equipment
- Ensure the router bit is firmly tightened in the collet
- Always clamp the work where possible
- Retract the router bit prior to laying the router down after you have made your cut
- Make several passes taking small amounts off the work instead of one deep pass, this also will give you a better finish