Many people consider routers "scary tools", this is probably because they can spin at such a high rate of speed, but truthfully, routers are among the safer tools in the workshop. Not that they should be taken for granted, ANY tool can do serious harm even a router. The thing that I like most about routers is they can be used to make entire projects. If the only tool you have is a router, you can make many projects with only a router.If you are new to routing, you will soon discover that the most of the things that you can do with a router involve using a router table. Routers with tables are useful too, but having a router table opens a whole new world of projects and woodworking elements.
If you are about to invest in a router, make sure you choose a good brand name like Porter Cable, Freud, Milwaukee, DeWalt or similar. If you are also investing in a router table do NOT purchase an inexpensive table based on price. You will soon find out that your money was wasted and now you still need to go out and purchase decent table. Most bench top tables are not worth bringing home, although there are exceptions, even some of the floor standing models are sketchy, so take your time and buy a decent table.
Making the investment of a good quality router and router table is just the first step in routing. Then of course there are the bits and a few accessories to purchase.
Lets talk about bits for a second. Again, purchasing quality bits is imperative, for a couple of reasons, 1) some poorer quality bits have been known to "shed" bits of carbide. It is NOT a good thing to have carbide bits hitting the operator at 300 miles and hour. 2) many of the poorer quality bits we have seen either go dull very quickly, and/or, they do not line-up properly such as in rail and style sets.
Be careful when buying router bits in sets. Many manufactures will try get rid of poorer selling bits by including them in "sets", so you could end up buying bits you will never use. Most woodworkers will have one or two roundover bits, a trim bit, a rabbet bit set, chamfer bit and a small assortment of straight bits. An assortment like this will fill most routing needs.
Last but not least you will want to have good ear protection and good eye protection. This is particularly important with a router because when you are wearing good protection you can take your time and do a good job. Not being protected often means rushing through the job which is what creates accidents and poor quality work, so be prepared to spend some time at the router and enjoy the process. It is where your biggest rewards will come.
Copyright Colin Knecht