When working with a router, it's important to use carbide-tipped bits, as they stay sharper longer and provide a cleaner cut with less burning. Discover the importance of shank size in a woodworking router with help from an experienced woodworker in this free video on routers and woodworking.
Hi, I'm Dave Trull with the Trull Gallery, a custom furniture shop in St. Petersburg, Florida. And I'd like to talk to you about some router woodworking tips. I like to start with something pretty simple. And that's the bits themselves. When you're purchasing a bit, you're really better off to buy what's called a carbide tipped bit. All my bits are carbide tipped. They stay sharper much longer. Give you a cleaner cut, less burning. Steel bits, the old steel bits, actually are getting harder and harder to find and that's a good thing. They cost a little bit less and if you're working in hardwood, if you're working in oak or maple, you might get about a three foot cut in it before it dulls. Whereas with a good carbide bit, you can cut hundreds and hundreds of feet before it will dull. The next thing is shank size. Now the two bits that I'm holding are the exact same profile. The difference is the size of the shank. The quarter inch shank and a half inch shank. Those are the two standard sizes of router bit shanks. I have the exact same profile, why do I have it in two different shanks? The heavier the shank, the more stable the cut is going to be. The smaller shank could give you more vibration and a rougher cut. So if you have the chance, it may cost you an extra dollar but it's certainly worth it for a bit that you're going to be using for years to come. So always go with the heavier shank when you can. Another item that I find useful with, when I'm setting up my router is a depth gauge. It's a really handy tool, fairly inexpensive and it gives you the ability to set the depth of your cut to the height you need and the legs will just stay on the router. And you can set this up for, I got pretty lucky there. It's almost exactly a quarter of an inch cut. Very simple tool to use, very inexpensive. Comes in handy both when using router tables and hand held routers. One of the biggest tips I think I can share with you is when you're using a complex bit, this is called a lock miter bit. It's a very strong joint, but it's very fussy to set up. This particular bit has to be used on a router table with a fence. But still it is a lot of fussing to get it set up right. So what I have done is when I use my bit, when I get it set up to exactly where I like it, I ran a couple of pieces of scrap. And you can see how the joint comes together real nicely. But now I keep these pieces of scraps with my cutter so that when I go to set up, I can just set this on my router table, adjust my height and my fence so that the cutter is exactly at the right height and gives me a great time saving in the setting up of my cut. Some other basics about the router, generally some safety information, when you're changing the bit or working near the bit with your hand, you want to make sure it's unplugged. That way you'll avoid accidental starting. When you do go to plug your router in, I still hold on to my router so I have a good grip on it, just in case it had been turned on by mistake. If I plug it in and it's on and I'm not holding it, it's going to take off causing damage. We don't want that. So you want to make sure you're holding on to your router as you start. Those are some router woodworking tips for you. I'm Dave Trull, the Trull Gallery, the fine art of furniture making.