Awhile back I promised that I would provide a post on my router table set-up. If you couldn’t tell from the title, this is that post. And this will be where my expertise ends on the subject. Yes, I know I have not yet begun.
But I have used a router table successfully (as in I still have all my fingers and the edge of the wood looked different from when I began), so I will tell you what I know and try to point you in the direction of someone who actually is an expert.
For someone as unversed in the subject, you may find it amusing that I actually have two router tables in my current possession:
You loosen the bolt and unscrew the entire router to change out the bits. You also adjust the height of the router by the same method. Sawdust also flies into the cabinet when using the router, so this isn’t really a viable storage area as it is now.
Second router table:
This one doesn’t have an attached fence. My stepdad says to use some C clamps and a board to make a fence if you need one, but I’ve just used this one with bits that have a bearing on them, which means you don’t have to have a fence. The bearing keeps the wood an even distance from the bit, which eliminates the need for a fence (which does the same thing). See the photo:
The shank is the straight part of the bit. What is important about the shank is that in order to get the tightest grip on the shank (and make the bit less likely to fly out while you are cutting), you need to insert the shank all the way in and then bring it up a tiny bit and then tighten. This allows the collet (the gripper part that tightens on the shank of the bit) to get as tight as possible. Or so they say.
Being able to raise and lower the bit in the table gives you a greater amount of variety in each bit that you own. This picture is of a round over bit. This bit will just round over the edge of a board if you adjust it so that only the curved part is above the router table. If you raise it like it is in the photo, you get this cut:
The direction that you cut is very important. On my tables, you begin the cut with the wood to the right of the bit and move the board to the left. I hear that you only make a directional mistake once, because the wood goes flying if you do it incorrectly. You want to move the board against the direction that the bit is spinning. I hope to never forget this important information.
Also, I’ve heard you should only buy carbide bits instead of steel because they stay sharp longer. I would guess that if you were only going to be using the bit for a few projects it would be ok to skip the higher price tag. But again, I’m not an expert… (but it’s what I’d do 🙂 )
With my current setup I have found it difficult to get a great cut. Even with boards that are pretty straight, it is hard to make sure every movement has the same pressure from the top and front so the bit is getting a consistent depth the entire length of the board. I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong, but it’s definitely something. I’m guessing that a featherboard would be helpful (a special guide for saws and routers), but I don’t know if I can attach that to what I’ve already got.
Before I began using the router tables, I did read Taunton’s Complete Illustrated Guide to Routers and a few other books to make sure I understood how to use them safely. I also read the Family Handyman’s tips online:
And here’s one to whet your appetite for once you’ve got some skillz with the router:
Hope that helps!