How to Use a Woodworking Router

Updated February 21, 2017

A router is a woodworking tool that is similar in function to a drill, but it uses bits with a cutting edge to remove larger areas of wood. A router is a very versatile tool that is able to perform many functions, mainly due to the fact that there are many different types of bits. These bits are used to create specific types of cuts. A router is a wood shop essential but it must be used properly and handled with care.

Select a bit. For basic cuts, there are two types of bits. An edge bit has a wheel on the bottom that rolls along the edge of the wood. A non-edge bit does not and is used to cut inside the perimeter of the wood piece.

Place the bit into the collet without sinking it all the way to the bottom and tighten the collet.

Clamp the piece of wood you will be working on very solidly in place. Routers operate at a very high rate of speed and can send an insecure piece of wood spinning through the air.

Put on safety glasses, earplugs and a dust mask.

Plug in the router and turn on the power switch. Hold onto it with both hands at all times.

Move the router across the wood from left to right to avoid splintering from the clockwise motion of the cutting bit. Running the router in a direction opposite to the bit's rotation also keeps it from running out of control. Cut in 1/4-inch increments or less on each pass.


Read your router's owners manual.


Always wear safety equipment and handle power tools with caution and common sense.

Things You'll Need

  • Router bits
  • Wood
  • Safety goggles
  • Earplugs
  • Dust mask
  • Work table
  • Clamps
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