If you’re just starting out on woodworking projects and need help understanding your way around how to use a router table, this guide is the right one for you.
Router tables help users achieve smoother finishes and finer details while molding profiles into the workpieces.
Let’s dive into the details of the tips and tricks that’ll help you work better with your router table.
Router table components
First things first, you need to know the main components of a router table. There are main or basic components that come with every router table.
Take a look at this diagram, it shows you the main parts that you will find in any router table.
The Guard: It is just a piece of plastic that protects you from the bit while working. It mainly protects your hand. Another function is that it directs the chippings away from the table, usually behind the fence or under the table where you can attach a dust port.
The Fence: fences are used to support the workpiece, they can be positioned vertacally or at any position that you want.
The Plate: I consider that part the most important thing in a router table, its main function is to attach your router with the table, it has holes where you should attach the router with some screws and nuts, and the middle hole, which is the big one, is the one that the bit goes up and down to create your cuts.
Miter Fence Slot: This slot is where you can attach a miter gauge so you can move the work piece at any position, straight routing or angled routing, in order to create precise and angled routing, you should have a miter gauge so you can attach it in the miter fence slot.
This is a simple demonstration for the main components of a router table and how it works.
How To Use a Router Table for Beginners
A starting pivot can help you hold smaller pieces of wood in place very easily.
This way, you can add shapes or patterns to your workpiece with no trouble. You should pivot the wood against the starting pivot block for better control.
Attaching a Router to a Router Table
On the majority of routers, you’ll find a hole known as the starting pin which does the same job.
It’s worth mentioning that pivots should be firmly attached around two or three inches away from the bit.
Using a medium density fiberboard to cut pattern pieces and using a sander to smoothen the surface.
Afterward, the pattern can be attached to the wood piece and you can start molding it with a router table.
How to Cut Pieces That Are Too Big For the Table Saw
Using a regular router with large pattern type bits can help you work with pieces of material that you’re unable to fit onto the table saw to crosscut.
To make the job even easier, you can use a jigsaw to cut off the top end to match the exact length you’re aiming for.
After that, you can use plywood or fiberboard with two adjacent edges to serve as a guide for your router. These edges will guarantee a square shape to your top.
1-inch diameter pattern bits are the ideal ones for this job as they will result in the smoothest finish.
Adding a Base Plate
Installing a base plate can give you a great advantage –especially when cutting a wide distance.
You should install the base plate very carefully and accurately as any mistakes with the screw holes may affect your precision later on.
Locating the cutting bit in the very middle of the plate will bring you closer to the maximum precision. A set of specialized cone-pointed setscrew would be your best bet for doing this job.
Make Use of Clamps
Not using clamps when cutting through the material is one of the most common rookie mistakes when it comes to woodworking.
The more experienced you get, the more you realize that clamps are an essential part of your workshop as they can hold more or less any type of material in place as you work on it.
And since precision is always the number one priority in the field of woodworking, using a high-quality set of clamps is highly recommended.
It will definitely help you save material and time as it will prevent any mistakes that may happen due to instability.
Producing Identical Pieces
Any craftsman knows that producing two identical shapes is almost an impossible task.
However, a simple trick can help you achieve identical pieces easily and perfectly.
You can simply use a template or pattern bits. This way you can make sure that your pieces will come out looking exactly the same and so can be used in the same set of cupboards or cabinets.
Making Use of Ramps with Your Templates
Using templates will help you make identical pieces, but you step this modification up a notch by adding ramps to your template.
Putting a ramp across your workpiece will step your game up and help you produce work of higher accuracy, more professional-looking pieces, and generally enhance the overall quality of your work.
Adding a Shape to the Board Edges
Using a router table rather than a router would make your job to mold a profile into a wood piece a much easier task.
When you’re cutting through a table router, make sure to apply some pressure to the board. Then, steadily feed the board in order for it to be fixed perfectly.
As a result, you’ll avoid any burn marks from the project.
How to Use a Router Table Fence
Knowing how to use the trio of the router table fence, the pressure, and holding will make a world of difference in how smooth your project turns out to be.
Cutting less than 3/8 inches deep might have a toll on the motor. However, you can adjust the fence to avoid that impact.
However, to avoid getting the wrong direction, do not add too much pressure as you work.
And this is where the fence adjustment comes in. That’s because it’s less about the edge you’re going to cut and more about the fence adjustment and placement that help you perfect the cuts –much like the fence on the Bosch Benchtop Router Table RA1181.
Using Featherboard for Added Precision
Whether your budget-friendly tool didn’t achieve the precision you need or you want to maximize the precision of your high-end tool, adding two feather boards will definitely help you achieve that goal.
This is especially useful when you’re cutting narrow moldings as maintaining straight and smooth cuts can be a little bit of a tough task.
The trick here is keeping the extra wood at the end of long moldings to use it as handles.
When you’re finished cutting and the router reaches the furthest point, you can turn it off and get rid of the extra material at the end.
This way you’ll always get the perfect cut in a single go, consequently saving a lot of time and material.
Routing in End-Grain
There are 3 main benefits to using router table techniques in end-grain.
Firstly, to avoid the chipping which keeps falling all around the working area.
Secondly, the fence guides the cutting tool. And lastly, it helps you rout slim and thin wood pieces.
Using the Router Table as a Jointer
You can save both time and money if you use your router table as a jointer.
By clamping a piece of plastic laminate on the left-hand, outfeed end of the fence, you can add an edge-jointing function to your router table fence.
You can use a sandpaper to smoothen the edges near the router bit in order to prevent them from catching your workpiece as the board slides past.
Moreover, use a steel ruler to accurately align the laminate with the cutting edge of the straight bit mounted in the router.
After that, set the bit at a height that enables you to trim the entire edge of the board in a single pass.
Following that, turn off your router and move the board across the table from the right to the left.
By removing 1/16 of an inch with each pass, you’ll get a perfectly straight and square edge.
And by repeating this process with another board, you’ll end up with two pieces that you can glue together without any gaps between.
Enhancing Your Miter Joints
Not all table saws don’t work very well when cutting miters when the blade is tipped over to 45 degrees. Their blades might shift out of alignment and produce a burnt edge.
However, you can avoid this problem by using a chamfer bit. These bits always achieve an accurate 45-degree angle and come in a variety of sizes.
Before you use your chamfer bit, however, make sure that you use your table saw or band saw to get rid of as much waste as you can before routing. Smaller amounts of wood will help your chamfer bit perform better.
Moreover, create a zero-clearance opening around the bit by cutting the router table’s fences. This way, you can avoid having the workpiece tipping into the bit as you cut.
Furthermore, holding a backer board behind the workpiece will help you avoid any blow-out.
Another clever trick to do is to leave a point on the end of the workpiece when you’re setting up your router table without shortening its length.
To achieve this, you might need to adjust the fence or the bit’s height, but the miter cuts will be much faster and easier to make.