It might not be the first power tool you think of, but the humble router can do more than you might think. But before you pull the trigger on the best plunge router you can afford, here’s what to look out for:
The power of the motor inside your router and the variable speed controls work together to spin the bit from anywhere between 6,000 and 32,000 revolutions per minute, or rpm. Being able to control the speed of your router bit accurately really helps to make clean cuts and avoid chips and tear out.
There are plenty of guides available online to help you pick the right speed for different bits: whether you’re cutting straight into the workpiece, putting a chamfer on the edge or even making a fancy dado, the general idea is the wider the bit, the slower the rpm.
Take the Plunge
There are two main types of router- fixed base (palm) and plunge. Fixed base, like it sounds, is held in place by a static collar, and plunge base can be raised and lowered during operation by a pair of handles and a spring mechanism. One of the best ways to get the most from your router is by investing in a router kit – you can fit a fixed or plunge base to the motor and get the best of both worlds.
Top of the Table
A table router is another versatile tool for creating mouldings, or when you want to work on narrow or awkward shapes of wood. They work by turning the router upside down so the cutting bit extends through the surface of a table so you can trim or shape long workpieces with ease. You can buy purpose-built router tables or mount the fixed base of a router to a workbench to make your own DIY version as well.
Different Bits for Different Jobs
What makes the best plunge router a versatile tool is the wide range of bits you can get that all perform different tasks:
The most common bits are for straight cuts, but you can also get round-over bits for creating curved edges on timber or fancy bits such as Roman ogee for making decorative mouldings or edges. Another useful bit for woodworkers is the dove tail, which is a brilliant shortcut for making dovetail joints or flush trim bits that have a guide wheel on the top for following patterns and making copies of any shape you like.
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