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Fear of Wood Routing
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Would anyone buy a router and then never use it? It happens all the time. According to a statistic quoted by Chris Marshall in Woodworker’s Journal Summer 2007 special issue, “Router Projects and Techniques”, roughly “60 percent of all routers purchased are used only once or not at all.” It's a surprising number, but guessing the reasons behind it isn't difficult. The tool seems straightforward and harmless enough in theory - or when a pro uses one on a TV woodworking show - but when it comes to flipping the switch for the first time, it can be a different story: The thought of all that dangerously sharp carbide whirling around at hundreds of miles per hour tends to give a newbie pause to reconsider.

We hate to think of thousands and thousands of expensive routers sitting uselessly on basement shelves, and we hate to think of all of the people out there who’d get tremendous pleasure and satisfaction of working with this versatile tool, but don’t because they can’t get comfortable with the idea of actually using it. Used correctly, a router is safe and fairly easy to get the hang of, and for those who take the time to learn a few a basic facts and safety rules, the new router user’s fear and intimidation is typically soon replaced by a healthy respect, enthusiasm, and rapidly increasing skill.

Educating yourself on the subject is a simple matter: There’s plenty of information available for anyone who wants to learn about routers, router technique and router safety. The above mentioned Woodworker’s Journal Special Interest Publication is a great place to start. A virtual one-stop router reference, it contains the latest on everything from choosing the right sized router and evaluating router bit quality to building router tables and jigs. You’ll learn what makes that Porter Cable 890 WWJ editor Rob Johnstone’s top pick for a mid-sized router, how to make reliably accurate cuts, what a consortium of experts say are the most important things for a beginner to know, and a lot more. It’s on newsstands right now, or you can order it from the Woodworker’s Journal website.

new yankee workshop router 101 dvdFor more advanced research, try a router book or video. Rockler offers a number of excellent books and DVDs specifically devoted to routers and router technique, including Patrick Spielman’s classic Router Handbook and the highly recommended New Yankee Workshop "Router 101" DVD. Or, if you’re fortunate enough to live near a Rockler Retail Store, check their schedule of upcoming classes. Many locations offer basic router operation classes and demos on a regular basis. There’s no better way to learn than face to face with an experienced instructor.

If you’ve got a router collecting dust in your shop, or you just aren’t getting anywhere with your router work, don’t give up. In an hour you can learn everything you need to know to do most basic router operations correctly and safely. And with a little practice and a few tips on advanced technique, you’ll be a pro in no time.

posted on June 6, 2007 by Rockler
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6 thoughts on “Fear of Wood Routing”

  • John DIckinson
    John DIckinson June 8, 2007 at 6:08 pm

    Well, funny you should mention this because my first of two P-C 692's came from a friend who'd bought it and never even taken it out of the case. He even threw in a set of bits when he gave it to me. My second equally unused one was found on Craigslist from an equally frightened purchaser -- it was a bit more expensive at $100. So now one sits in my router table and the other is for freehand use. Check with your friends, and on Craigslist or eBay . . . you'd be surprised!

  • blog editor

    Thanks, John. But we're still hoping the original owners will give their router another try, instead of offering them at giveaway prices on craigslists.

  • I too was given one, because the original owner 'couldn't get on with it'. Being a newcomer to woodworking I hashed around a bit before realising that I could mount it on a table and it would be much more 'friendly'. only problem that i encountered was that the depth lock became so loose as to be unuseable. So now I jack it up using a car scissor jack and a block of wood. It leaves a bit of shake on the finish but allows a millimetre adjustment with a simple twist.<br /><br />Books - well I have read several articles in your magazine about craftsmen who simply practiced till they learned. It beats TV

  • Eldubusi

    I've been shamed, I'll take it out of the box. Thanks for the motivation

  • Blog Editor

    Speaking on behalf of Rockler and the other two commenters: Glad to be of service. Let us know how it goes.

  • My dad was injured by one, my brother won't touch one, and I just love all three that I have. <br /><br />I've only been using one for a two and half years. There are just things that I would not attempt to do without my routers anymore. My Colt does all the narrow stuff. My 2 hp Sears is in my router lift in the table I made for it (Yes, I used my routers to help me built it). and my 2.5 hp Harbor Freight special does all the dovetails. <br /><br />They get used about every other weekend when I'm home. <br /><br />Do you need to practice? Yes. Do you need study how to use it? Yes. DVD's, book and practice gives you the confidence to use this incredibly flexible tool. <br /><br />Go have fun

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