Are you looking to get into woodworking and create a stunning furniture workpiece for your home like a beautiful bedroom cabinet, a set of kitchen cabinet doors, or a centerpiece coffee table?
If so, you need to make sure that you get the most out of your wood router bits and blades, which are essential woodworker tools. The specific router bit that you use is going to depend on several things, but it’s going to start with the type of material you’re going to be cutting through.
Only after you know the answer to that question will you be able to decide which router bits you can choose from and which size or style you really want. If you don’t know the material you’re going to have a hard time just getting started, and that’s definitely not going to help you get going.
One of the easiest things you can do to get the best out of your bits is to use a ½” shank. You can actually choose between a ½” and a ¼” but between the two you’re going to be better off with the larger. A ½” shank is going to be a little bit larger and that means it’s going to have less vibration and definitely increased stability. It’s also going to have a smoother cut because of this and it’s going to last a bit longer. Both, however, are definitely important.
Also important is how you feed your router. You want to always feed a vertically mounted router table from right to left because the router is upside down and this ensures it’s spinning in the correct direction. A horizontal router table will feed from left to right.
If you feed opposite this you could jam the bit and end up with a completely destroyed piece or even damage to the router itself, not just to the bit that you’re using with it. That’s definitely not something that you want to risk, especially when it’s so easy to feed the right way.
Keeping your bits smooth and clean is going to keep them sharp, and keeping them sharp is going to keep them working the way you want them to. If you get too much build up as you’re going through the material it will start to dull your bit.
It could also damage the material that you’re trying to cut, which definitely isn’t going to help you with anything. Just a little extra time and effort can help you immensely by getting that buildup off or grounding out nicks in your bits so they’re going to continue to work just the way that you want them to.
Keep your bits running at a moderate speed that is well within their capability. You don’t want to push a bit too quickly because it could vibrate greatly and that could affect the quality of your cut. You want to look at what your bit can handle and you want to make sure that you definitely don’t exceed that, but also think about what you’re asking that bit to do and whether you should slow it down because of the material or anything else that you’re working with, to help preserve the quality of the bit and the project that you’re working on.
Don’t push your router to do too much, too quickly. If you’re planning on making a deep cut into your wood or taking off large sections you definitely don’t want to do it all at the same time. You want to be a little more careful about easing your way into it.
Put the bit at a lower level to start and carefully work your way to where you want to be. That way you will definitely preserve the bit and have a much better-looking project when you’re finished.
Next, always make sure that you install your bits properly. If you do it’s going to extend their lifespan by a lot. If you don’t… well, you could end up breaking them quite easily. You want to insert the flat, back section of the bit into the router and push it in as far as it will go.
Then pull it forward about 1/16” and tighten it down. The collet is the piece around the bit that tightens to hold it in. Keep in mind that the slight pull forward is important. You want the collet to connect with the smooth area just below the transition from smooth to cutting surface otherwise you won’t get a good fit.
Make sure you keep your material right where it needs to be while cutting. This might mean you need guides to help push it along and keep it right up against the fence. You don’t want to find your material slipping away from the fence, as this causes an uneven cut and means you’re going to have to redo a lot of your work.
It’s definitely not going to be as fun to do the second or third time when you’re just trying to get one thing done and it doesn’t seem to be working. A guide will hold everything right where you need it to be, the entire time that you’re cutting.
If you’re going to rout all the way around a board you want to make sure that you start with the end-grain edges. While this doesn’t really have anything to do with the bit that you use, it is going to protect the material. If you’re working on an end-grain corner you could end up with some splintering (this is normal).
If you start with the long-grain edges you’ll have to go back and do them again when this happens. If you start with the end-grain edges you just continue around and the splintering will all be taken care of when you rout those sections.
No matter what you’re planning to do with your routing project, the most important thing is making sure that you know the steps to protect your router and your bits and even more importantly, your projects, from damage. By using the bits properly and caring for them properly it’s definitely going to be a better experience for you and it’s going to result in some really great projects while you’re at it. Each of these tips can definitely save you a lot of heartache from a jammed or broken bit, right in the middle of when you need it most.