How to Use a Router

A router is a small equipment used to cut, shape, and polish wood or metal. A router is a versatile tool that can be used in completing anything from a household project to a building construction. However, a router is potentially a dangerous tool when not used properly. A little knowledge in its safety and usage goes a long way when working with a router.

Materials Needed

  • Work gloves
  • Safety goggles
  • Dusk mask
  • Router
  • Router bits
  • Wood piece

Safety Tips

  1. Use safety goggles and dust masks before the beginning of any project.
  2. Check that the intended wood surface is free of nails, knots, or warps.
  3. Do not use a router on damp or wet wood.


  1. Decide which type of router bit to use. This depends on the scope and the desired outcome of the project. Always use a sharp bit; dull edges make for more work.

    The following can be used as a guide for determining router bits:

    • Round over bit – used to create simple, finished edges on furnishings and moldings;
    • Classic bits – used to create elaborate woodwork corners;
    • Rabbet bit – used to create step cuts for drawers, pulls, and handles;
    • Laminate trimmer bit – used to make clean, finished edging;
    • Plunge bit – used when starting any work away from edging first;
    • Dovetail bit – used for creating wedge-shaped groovings on corners;
    • Straight bits – used to make flat bottom square-shaped grooves on corners;
    • Veining bits – used for creating lettering or patterns.

  2. Clamp a work piece securely on a table surface.
  3. Affix a piece of wood of equal thickness as the work piece onto the workbench. The piece of wood provides stability and support for the router.
  4. Move the router from left to right across the wood surface. This method ensures that the bit’s cutting edge comes in contact first with the wood surface.
  5. Start with a series of shallow passes over the work piece. This movement gradually extends the bit into the piece, preventing binding or burning of the wood.
  6. Do not push the router. Pushing causes the engine and the blades to slow. This creates more chips and splinters, or even burns on the wood surface.
  7. Always use an edge guide. Cutting freehand pieces requires a steady hand, patience, and a lot of practice.
  8. Begin with plunge cutting by lowering the spinning blade into the work piece. Cut away from an edge or a corner.