The Basics of Routers and Router Tables
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Is it any wonder routers and router tables have leaped in popularity in recent years? There are many reasons why routers are becoming more and more popular.
Even if this is the ONLY power tool you own, you can still make many, many projects with it.
Routers and router tables take up less space than most other power tools
The vast selection of bits and attachments makes them extremely versatile
They are easy to use and capable of excellent results.
If you ever talk to anyone who has a router, you will find they often have 2 or 3 routers or they have none at all. Unless you are Norm Abram from the New Yankee Workshop who admitted to having 25 routers during one episode of rebuild a work bench. You may ask, “why would anyone need more than one router?” but the answer is more complex. Most of of bought routers years ago, like an older Craftsman or even a Makita, but with the advances they have made in recent years we have also purchased new routers from makers like Dewalt, Porter Cable, Freud or Festool.
One of the advantages to having more than one router is that very often you need to do some sort of a routing project with a router that is not mounted in a table. This means we can do routing with one router mounted in the table and other router work like edging with another router.
Many of you have already leaped ahead at the mention of two routers and are now questioning what the real differences are between fixed base and plunge routers. Well, we need to step back for a moment for those who are not as familiar with routers to briefly explain that there are basically two types of routers. 1) Fixed base routers and 2) Plunge routers. Both routers allow the up and down movement of the bit, the difference is that a plunge router contains springs that allows the user to move the router up and down during the router procedure. A fixed base router must be turned off in order to adjust the bit height and then it is fixed in that position throughout the cut. More on these later.
One of the most important factors to keep in mind with any router is that if you are a woodworker (as opposed to working on house construction or renovation), your router use, using a router table, will likely be 80% of the time or more. Most woodworkers find that a router without a router table gets very little use, so if you are buying a router you should probably also be purchasing a router table with it. There are of course a few exceptions but generally woodworkers use routers mounted in router tables.
I'm often asked, what should I purchase a fixed base or a plunge router. My answer is always the same, a plunger router will do anything a fixed base router will do and more. Plunge routers are normally a bit more expensive but are more versatile in their use. If you are using ONLY a router table, a fixed base would work fine, the real problem is that once you begin to see what can be done with a router, you will want to use it both on and off the router table.
If you really want to expand your woodworking experiences and get into doing some innovative and creative work then get yourself a good router and explore what can be done.
Copyright - Colin Knecht