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What is a woodworking router?

"Photograph of a woodworking router, a versatile power tool used for cutting, shaping, and edging wood, placed on a workbench."

What is a woodworking router?

Woodworking has been an essential craft throughout human history, and it continues to thrive today as an art form, a hobby, and a profession. One tool that has significantly revolutionized woodworking is the woodworking router. This versatile power tool has become a staple in the workshops of both amateurs and seasoned craftsmen due to its ability to shape, trim, and create intricate designs with precision and efficiency.

At its core, a woodworking router is a power tool used to hollow out an area or create decorative edges on wood. It consists of a motor, a collet (a type of chuck that holds the cutting bit), and handles for guiding the tool. Routers can be handheld or mounted to a router table for more stability and accuracy. The cutting bits attached to the router come in various shapes and sizes, allowing woodworkers to achieve a wide range of cuts and designs.

There are two main types of woodworking routers: fixed-base routers and plunge routers:

Fixed-Base Router: This type of router is designed to be set to a specific depth, and the depth remains constant during operation. Fixed-base routers are often preferred for tasks that require precise cuts, such as edge routing and dadoes. They are easier to handle for beginners due to their stability, making them a popular choice for many woodworkers.

Plunge Router: As the name suggests, a plunge router allows the cutting bit to be plunged into the wood while the tool is in operation. This feature enables woodworkers to start and stop cuts anywhere on the material, making it ideal for tasks like mortising, intricate inlays, and fluting. Plunge routers offer more versatility in terms of cutting depths and are favored by experienced woodworkers who require more advanced functionalities.

The woodworking router is renowned for its versatility, and its applications are seemingly endless. Some of the common uses include:

1. Edge Profiling: Routers excel at creating decorative edges on boards and panels, adding elegance and character to furniture and cabinetry. The ability to use different router bits allows for a wide variety of edge profiles.

2. Joinery: Routers are invaluable for creating strong and precise joinery such as dovetails, box joints, and mortise and tenon joints. These joints ensure sturdy connections between wood pieces.

3. Inlays and Engravings: Routers can be used to create intricate inlays and engravings, adding personalized details and artistic flair to woodworking projects.

4. Hollowing and Trimming: Routers are adept at hollowing out spaces in wood, whether it's for creating bowls, trays, or recessed areas for hardware installation. They are also useful for trimming excess material and achieving a smooth, even surface.

Using a woodworking router requires precision and caution to ensure safety and achieve the desired results. Here are some tips to consider:

A. Wear Safety Gear: Always wear appropriate safety gear, including safety glasses, ear protection, and dust masks, to protect yourself from flying debris and harmful dust particles.

B. Secure Workpiece Properly: Make sure the workpiece is securely clamped or held down to prevent movement during routing.

C. Use the Right Bit and Speed: Select the appropriate router bit for the task at hand and set the router to the appropriate speed based on the bit's diameter and the type of wood being worked on.

D. Router Direction: When using a handheld router, move the tool against the rotation of the bit for better control and safety.

E. Practice on Scrap Wood: If you're trying a new technique or working with a new router, practice on scrap wood first to get comfortable with the tool and achieve the desired results.


The woodworking router is a tool that has earned its place as a woodworker's best friend. Its versatility, precision, and ability to unleash creativity make it an essential addition to any woodworking workshop. Whether you are a seasoned craftsman or a woodworking enthusiast, the router opens up a world of possibilities for creating beautiful and functional masterpieces. As with any power tool, remember to prioritize safety and take the time to learn and practice using the router effectively. Embrace the art of woodworking and let the router be your guide to turning your visions into reality. Happy routing!

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