How To Use A Router (Section 1)

How To Use A Router

Techniques, Tips and Guides on all aspects of working with a Handheld Router

how to use a hand held router correctlyThe use of the router for jobs on-site and around the home is certainly under estimated.

In this section we will be illustrating thirty simple examples of its application.

The router is the most suitable tool to use for many applications simply because it will get the job done quicker and will give a far superior finish than when using any other power tool.

Sometimes, applications just simply cannot be done any other way.

I have divided this section into four sub sections:

Routing 1: Introduction, Safety, Holding The Work, Template Use

Routing 2: Windows & Doors

Routing 3: Kitchen & Bathrooms

Routing 4: Joinery

Section 1:

Safety, Holding the work and Use of templates

Includes: Safety, Holding the work, Templates & Guide Bushes, Template Construction, Feed Direction

Always switch off the router and isolate from the mains supply when changing cutters or making adjustments to the router.

Before re-connecting to the mains supply, make sure the power switch is in the ‘off’ position.routing technique 1

Ensure that the power cable is kept well away from the cutter and cannot tangle or catch on the work piece, jig or fittings.


Routing Techniques

  • Check before starting to cut that clamps will not obstruct the path of the router. When cutting through the full thickness of the material, ensure that the cutter cannot foul the vice, bench edge or other obstacles beneath the work piece.
  • Most construction sites only allow the use of 110v/115v power tools and this may be a deciding factor when purchasing power tools.
  • When routing, a flat and stable work table is essential.
  • Always wear eye protection such as goggles, and wear ear defenders if routing for a lengthy period.
  • Do not allow loose clothing to dangle over the work area. Roll sleeves up and ensure long hair is tied back.
  • Keep fingers clear of the cutter and never touch any part to try to slow or stop the cutter.
  • Practice the procedure first before switching on and concentrate carefully on what you are doing.routing technique 2
  • Use dust extraction wherever possible. Many routers have dust guards as standard or as an accessory.


Routing Techniques

  • Take care when handling cutters as they are sharp. Store them carefully.
  • Always feed the cutter into the material against the rotation of the cutter.
  • Do not switch on the router with the cutter in contact with the work piece.
  • Make sure the router has come to a complete stop and isolate the power before making adjustments.
  • Where possible release the plunge lock and retract the cutter.

Holding The Work

1. Quick-action clamps are effective for holding the workpiece or jig to the bench and can be positioned in seconds.

clamping method 1 Routing Techniques_holding the work 2 Routing Techniques_holding the work 3

Sash cramps or Trend Clamp Guides are ideal for holding larger sections for preparation and assembly.

2. Toggle clamps are useful where repeated clamping is required such as on work-holders and support jigs.

Alternatively if an obstruction free surface is required, end socket clamps can be used and require a 9mm hole in the material or waste-piece.

3. In situations where clamps or other mechanical devices are impractical, pins may be used.

Where these may spoil the work piece, double-sided tape or hot-melt glue can be used. This will only work if the material is flat, clean and dust-free.

Routing Techniques Routing Techniques_holding the work 5





4. Cams, blocks and wedges used with a sacrificial top may be more practical, where the work piece may be large and its surface irregular.

They combine a quick-release facility together with an obstruction-free surface for the path of the router.

Templates & Guide Bushes

A template is often used to simplify demanding copy routing operations or as an accurate method of speeding up repetitive work.

It also reduces the risk of spoiling expensive materials. The use of a template will therefore provide a solution for a whole range of possibly otherwise difficult operations.

Routing Techniques_template 1 Routing Techniques_template 2 A guide bush is used for guiding the router around the template.

The guide bush itself, with its base fitted flush into the base of the router, has a bush flange concentric to the cutter.

This runs against the edge of the template.

Templates can be cut from any piece of smooth sheet material that is easy to work with and finish. The material depth must be greater than the flange depth of the guide bush.

Routing Techniques_template 3When designing the template shape remember that the difference between the cutter and the outside guide bush diameter needs to be allowed for.

This offset is calculated by deducting cutter diameter (d), from the outer guide bush diameter (D) and dividing the remainder by two.

For external templates deduct this amount from each edge of the template.

For internal templates add this amount to each edge of the template.

Routing Techniques_template 3Guide bushes are available in different diameters to allow various diameter cutters to be accommodated.

Many makes of router do not offer a range of guide bush sizes. Therefore a sub-base should be fitted to the base into which the full range of guide bushes can be fitted.

These are available in diameters of 10mm to 32 in 2mm increments, and also in a 40mm size.

Templates for use with guide bushes should not be made from too thick a material otherwise it will restrict the depth of cut. MDF, hard plastics and Tufnol are ideal materials to use as they are flat and stable.


To construct a template, often jigsaws or other power tools can be used to remove the bulk of the waste.

But take time to make sure that the template edges are free from irregularities, as they will be reproduced in the finished work piece.

Often the router itself can be used to shape or produce the required slots and apertures in the template.


When routing, follow the correct feed direction, depending on whether it is an internal or external template.

Keep the bush flange tight against the template and upon completion of the cut, release the plunge to withdraw the cutter rather than lifting the router away.

Templates are also ideal for use with cutters having shank mounted bearings.

The advantage over guide bushes is that the final shape will exactly match the template, making the template construction easier.

Routing Techniques_template 5 Routing Techniques_template 6 Routing Techniques_template 7

Shank mounted bearings facilitate deep cutting and profiling. In operation, the first cut is made with the bearing engaging the template, and thereafter deeper cuts are made with the bearing following the board edge.


Related Routing Pages:

Routing 1: Introduction, Safety, Holding The Work, Template Use

Routing 2: Windows & Doors

Routing 3: Kitchen & Bathrooms

Routing 4: Joinery