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How to Use a Router Table for Small Edge Profiling with a Workpiece Fixture
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Q: What is the best way, or perhaps I should say, the safest way, to rout a profile on the edge of a small round piece such as a pedestal base on a router table? With a square or rectangular piece you maintain a straight push, but, as you’re constantly re-orienting your fingers on a round piece, one that’s less than six inches or so can put your digits in danger.

This small workpiece fixture allows you to do edging detail on small projects safely and easily.

A: I have a healthy respect that borders on fear when it comes to routing really small objects on a router table. So, in order to protect both my fingers and my sanity, I take three lines of defense when routing the small, circular sorts of shapes you suggest.

First, I get my fingers well clear of the bit by attaching a two-handled fixture on top of the workpiece — something made from scrap that keeps my hands far enough up and out of harm’s way but not so tall as to limit my control of the work. I attach it to the workpiece with a few dabs of hot-melt glue or a strip of heavy-duty double sided tape.

Second, I always begin each routing pass with the workpiece held against a starter pin that’s fixed in the table. It gives me a fulcrum to pivot the wood safely into the cutter and bearing. And third, I cut the profile in a series of deepening passes to remove material a little at a time. That reduces stress on the bit and router and leaves a cleaner final cut.

I recommend that you not be overly concerned about trying to cut all the way around the circle in one continuous pass. Rout a third of it or so, pull the workpiece away to rearrange your grip on the handles, if necessary, and resume. There’s no need to be a contortionist and risk throwing yourself off balance.

posted on August 1, 2010 by Chris Marshall
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