What is a Router in Construction?

January 22, 2024

The router is one of the most versatile woodworking tools in the home shop, and it is not just for trim work. It can cut grooves, patterns, and shapes into materials like wood, metal, plastic, or composite. The router spins a cutting bit at a high speed to remove material from the piece of material it is passing over or through. This process creates a finished edge, smooth contours, and curved or straight cuts.

In its most basic form, a router consists of a motor with a sharp spindle poking out the bottom of the motor (though the size and style of the motor and housing will vary widely). The router is then attached to a wood-cutting bit for cutting. Routers can also be attached to a template or jig to make repetitive or angled cuts that would be difficult by hand.

Routers come in two styles: a fixed base with the bit set to a specific depth before use; or a plunge base that allows you to lower and raise the bit into and out of the workpiece. You can also purchase router kits that swap the motor between the fixed and plunge bases for different applications.

While the router is a powerful tool, it must be used carefully to avoid injury to the operator and damage to the project. It is important to keep a firm, two-handed grip on the router, especially when the bit first comes into contact with the workpiece. It is also recommended to wear personal protective equipment such as long pants, a sturdy jacket, closed-toe shoes, gloves, a dust mask, and safety glasses or ear plugs.

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