wood routerMost people who purchase wood routers, start off by purchasing just the router unit - no router table. A router by itself is a great tool, and is enhanced by matching it with a router table. Although the standalone router has somewhat limited use, for some, it is all they need and does a perfect, quick, easy to replicate job for them.
In this video and associated article we talk about using a standalone or freehand router unit, how to use it safely, how to set it up and what you can hope to achieve with it. In our case we will be using a Plunge Router, but a Fixed Base Router would have similar set up, with the exception of the depth setting. If you are looking for more Router Information you can also purchase Colin's One Hour Popular Woodworking Course "Router Basics" ... click here to check it out.


In order to make this quick and easy to understand we are going to try on put everything in point form so it is easier and quicker to read through. We would appreciate your feedback on how this works for you ....

 So ... to set up a standalone router, here are the steps

1 - Ensure the router is NOT PLUGGED IN (any routers have somewhat sensitive switches and it doesn't take much to inadvertently turn them on)

2 - Select the bit you want to use

3 - insert it in the collet, push the bit all the way in, then pull it back about the thickness of a coin or washer (about 1/16th of an inch or 1.5mm)

4 - Thighten the bit in the collet as per manufacturers specs

5 - Decide if you want to to use the Depth Gauge Pin and Turrent, or the mechanism that will re-adjust the whole motor and collet/bit assembly up and down. (Colin prefers to use the Depth Gauge Pin and Turrent as when the cut is finished the bit is tucked back inside the router unit and the bit is not exposed)

6 - Locate the plunge locking lever (this is the lever or mechanism that can lock the motor assembly in any depth location)

7 - Set the depth of the cut you want to make, i.e. how far down below the face of the router, the router bit will extend.  When you have determined a depth, use the locking lever to set this depth.

8 - Now, re-set the depth pin and turrent adjustments to the same router depth as what the router is locked at now.

9 - Now you can release the router locking lever and check the depth to make sure it is where you need, make adjustments as needed.

10 - Ensure your work piece is fastened SECURELY to your work surface, and that there is now place that the spinning router bit will touch any other surface except the one that is being routed.

11- Plan your cut, remember, if there is ANY edge grain involved you need to start on the edge grain first, then progress to the long grain wood.

12 - Know which way your router will need to be pushed against the wood, REMEMBER the face of the spinning bit ALWAYS wants to bite into the the wood as this is the cutting surface of router bits.

13 - Preset your motor speed (depending on your bit and wood being cut) to approximately half speed (assuming your router has a speed control)

14 - Ensure you have safety glasses and hearing suppression on

15 - Only NOW are you ready to plug in the router

16 - Locate the router where you want to begin the cut  - plunge it down until it stops at the predetermined stop, and lock the depth gauge lever.

17 - Turn the router on and begin routing ....

 And with that, you should safely and comfortably routing the wood you need to cut.

18 - When the cut if finished turn off the router and release the depth gauge lever

19 - Best Practices say to lay the router on its side on the bench


And with that, you should have safely and comfortably used your router in a freehand or standalone mode.

Repeat as needed ...

Copyright - Colin Knecth





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