Routers are not limited only to applying edgings on various materials. A router can be one of the most valuable tools in your shop.
Routers can be inverted and fastened to a router table to provide control while allowing the ability to produce an array of profiles and joint cuts.
Most routers can be purchased with 2 collets for 1/4″ and 1/2″ shank bits. The 1/4″ shank bits are used mainly for non-production work such as edging and beading or chamfering while the 1/2″ shank bits are mostly used for heavier jobs such as raised panel doors, large dovetails and large mortises.
It is best to have an array of different router bits which can be purchased in a kit. Many times individual bits will need to be purchased for certain projects, but many parts of a project can be completed with just a few basic bits.
Free-hand routing is a common method when using a router. Accompanied by a straightege, most cuts can be made with precision when free-handing. Free-handing is usually performed to create edges, trimming laminates and repairing surfaces.
Plunge routing is another way to use routers. Many router manufacturers provide a plunge router base attachment at an additional cost, although the plunge base can also be purchased in the form of a kit.
Some of the applications for the plunge router are cutting mortises, hinge pockets, inlay and surface repair. The advantage of a plunge router is the ability to have the router turned on while positioning it and allowing for raising and lowering the bit while cutting.
Duplicating is another method for use with the router. This method requires a duplicating accessory attached to the router. Duplicators allow for precise reproduction of many different shapes and objects.
Styles and sizes of routers vary and each have the ability to work in certain applications. Trim routers are generally used for trimming laminate or for use on smaller projects while other routers are for general use. A good all purpose router is a 1-1/2 hp router. This will work for most projects. I prefer to have a trim router and an all purpose router with a de-tachable plunge base.
Routers can be used for many different applications, so be creative and get the most out of your router.