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Routing - First Steps

Routing - First Steps
  Beginner techniques for routing and the use of your router.
     
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Cutter Feed Direction?

Cutter Feed Direction?
  Of all the queries that the Trend technical support receive during the course of the year, the most common relate to confusion over the correct feed direction when using both hand-held or table mounted routers.

One of the most important rules of routing is feed direction. This refers to the direction in which the workpiece is fed across the face of the cutter, or the cutter across the workpiece in relation to the rotation of the cutter. The golden rule is that for all routing operations the feed direction should oppose the rotational direction of the cutter.

What is important to remember is that when the router is above the cutter, shank pointing upwards, the cutter is rotating clockwise when viewed from above (see A). When the motor is beneath the cutter with the cutter shank pointing downwards, the rotational direction of the cutter is anti-clockwise when viewed from above.

Cutter Feed Direction?
  Hand-held routing
When using the router as a hand held machine for edge rebating, planing or moulding, the rotational direction of the cutter is used to pull the cutter into the timber. This ensures that the fence is also pulled into the edge of the material. If fed in the opposite direction, the fence will tend to wander away from the edge leaving an irregular width moulding and making it more difficult to maintain a smooth and even feed speed. Also, there is the risk of the router running away from you creating a safety hazard.

Cutter Feed Direction?
  Inverted routing
When routing on a table, that is with the router mounted beneath it, the feed direction is always from right to left (against the face of the fence). This ensures that the workpiece is pushed by the cutter against the table fence. If you attempt to feed from the opposite end, the workpiece will be pulled away from you. Not only will you not be able to machine the work successfully but you are likely to be set off balance, again setting up a safety hazard.

Cutter Feed Direction?
  Overhead Routing
When using an overhead router, the feed direction should always be from left to right. Again the rotational direction of the cutter will pull the workpiece against the fence face. Feeding in the opposite direction will create an unsafe and unworkable situation as before.

     

Plunge Routing Guide - Part 1

Your first steps.
Plunge Routing Guide - Part 1
  1. The router is undoubtedly the most versatile power tool you can have in your workshop. It will groove, cut, mould, and machine wood, MDF, and plastics. The beautiful finish it gives to the work is unsurpassable by any other machine or power tool.
With a small selection of basic bits and standard accessories, even the beginner can produce work with the speed and precision worthy of the most meticulous professional.
It is important to familiarise yourself with all the components accessories and functions of your router.

Plunge Routing Guide - Part 1
  2. Fitting Bits
The collet is an essential part of the router. It ensures maximum grip on the bit shank at the high rotation speeds.

Always choose the correct size collet to match the diameter of the bit shank.

At least three quarters of the shank length should be held securely in the collet to reduce vibration and prevent damage to the shank.

Never insert the shank completely otherwise the collet will tighten onto the flange of the shank and cause damage.

Thread the nut by hand, tighten it using the correct size wrench to avoid cross-threading.
Always tighten the collet nut securely, but do not over-tighten. Most routers are fitted with a spindle lock, so only one wrench is needed.

Plunge Routing Guide - Part 1
  3. Setting the Depth of Cut
Always rout by taking a series of shallow passes to reach the full depth required.

With the router switched off, plunge the router down gently until the bit just touches the workpiece.

Release the depth stop rod until it rests on one of the staggered spindles of the rotary turret stop.

Raise the depth stop to match the depth of cut you require.

Alternatively, insert a piece of material the same thickness as the depth of cut required between the depth rod and the stop.

When repetitive deep cutting is involved, the cutting depth can be staggered by rotating the turret stop on the router base (if fitted).

To adjust the height of a stop, slacken off itŐs locking nut and raise or lower the screw. Measure the height of each stop and re-tighten its locking nut.

Always leave a minimal cut on the final pass to leave a precise smooth finish.

Plunge Routing Guide - Part 1
  4. Your First Step
To familiarise yourself with applying the router, first make a simple groove with a straight bit.

Ensure the router is disconnected from the power supply.

After fitting the bit and setting the depth of cut, insert the side fence and adjust to suit the position of the groove required.

Secure the workpiece and check there are no obstructions, and all knobs are secured.

Make sure the router is NOT switched on and the bit is free to rotate.

Connect router to the mains and rest router on the component with the side fence against the edge.

Switch on and allow router to reach full running speed.

Release locking handle (or knob) and plunge to first depth setting.

Immediately guide router in direction shown. Keep a steady feed speed with gentle pressure
in the direction as shown.

When work is complete, release plunge control to allow bit to retract from workpiece.

Switch off router and wait for it to stop revolving.

Put router to one side and disconnect from mains.
     
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Plunge Routing Guide - Part 2

Using accessorises.
Plunge Routing Guide - Part 2
  5. The Guide Bush
A template guide bush is used in conjunction with a template when the routing operation is repetitive or complex in shape. The template is cut from 1/4Ó MDF, plywood or plastic to the shape required. The template is then fixed to the top of the workpiece.
The guide bush is fitted into the base of the router. A bit is chosen with a diameter which will pass through the centre of the bush leaving enough clearance.
The router can then be guided around the template so that the shape of the template will be replicated.
It is important that the material used for the template is thicker than the projecting guide bush.

Plunge Routing Guide - Part 2
  6. The Beam Trammel
The beam trammel is used for routing curves or circles accurately. The trammel is fitted into the base of the router and adjusted to suit the radius of the curve required.
The router is fed in an counter-clockwise direction, with constant pressure placed on the pin to prevent it from moving.
Plunge Routing Guide - Part 2
  7. Batten Guide
Guidance from a batten or clamp guide is similar to that obtained from a side fence.
This method is appropriate if the edge of the workpiece is not straight or is not very smooth or simply the guide rods of the side fence are too short.
Standard technique is used, and side pressure used to ensure the router does not wander from the batten.

Plunge Routing Guide - Part 2
  8. Know Your Bit

The Shank
Unlike drill bits, these are made to close tolerances to match the size of collet.

Shank Flange
To give the bit strength. Always ensure bit does not grip at this point.

Round Anti-kickback Design
Bits made to European Safety Standard EN847-1/2 which ensures quality materials are used and that tools are balanced and are round form to reduce user injury.

Tungsten Carbide Tip
Tungsten carbide tips are brazed to the steel body and ground to specific angles to cut efficiently at high speeds.

Ball Bearing Guide
Bearings are mounted onto bits using a hex socket screw to secure them in place. Bearing guided bits self-guide themselves around templates or curved workpieces, thus simplifying edging work.

     
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Setting the Depth of Cut

Setting the Depth of Cut
  To set the required depth of cut (that is the full depth of the groove or rebate), most routers are fitted with a depth stop. On light duty routers, this is likely to be a simple graduated rod held in a clamp. To set the depth of cut, fit the cutter and rest the router over the work. Release the Plunge lock and lower the cutter until the tip rests on the work. Re-tighten the Plunge lock.
Setting the Depth of Cut
  Drop the depth stop rod until it rests on the stop (usually the head of one of the turret stop screws). Raise the rod by an equal amount to achieve the depth of cut. Alternatively if you are recessing for a fitting such as a hinge, use the hinge flap itself, as a gauge to set the gap.
Setting the Depth of Cut
  Many routers are also fitted with a three position turret stop. When cutting in several steps, this allows each depth to be pre-set and and quickly selected on each consecutive pass. When using the turret stop, set the depth of cut for the final pass (i.e. full depth) on the lowest screw, and set the others at equal steps for the first two passes.
Setting the Depth of Cut
  Using a three position turret stop
Once the turret stops are set up, the procedure for using them is as follows:
Step 1 - Set the turret stops to equal steps (i.e. 3mm or as required). Lower the tip of cutter onto workface and set the depth rod to equal a distance of 3mm above highest stop.
Step 2 - Plunge cut to the first stop (3mm) and rout to complete cut to that depth.
Setting the Depth of Cut
  Step 3 - Rotate turret to the centre stop and cut the work to that depth (i.e. 6mm total depth of cut).
Step 4 - Rotate turret to the lowest stop and cut the work to that depth (i.e. 9mm total depth of cut).
Step 5 - To cut a further depth, set the cutter to the bottom of the cut, and retract the depth stop rod. Rotate the turret back to highest stop and set the rod to the required depth (i.e. 3mm). Repeat steps 2 to 4 until required depth of cut is reached.
     
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