Is a router table a must-have in your workshop? Yes! Perhaps you're a professional who already understands the value of this handy tool.
All the same, if you're a beginner who's not purchased a router table, this piece will help you better understand what a router table is and why it is important to have one in your workshop.
What is a router table for woodworking?
This is a fixed woodworking power tool whereby the vertical spindles protrude from the table and can be rotated at different speeds, usually between 3000 & 24000 RPM. You can also mount cutter heads on the spindle chuck. Since the wood is fed to the router table, the cutter heads come in handy in casting a profile into the wood.
A router table has a vertical fence, where the wood is placed and steered to limit the cut's horizontal depth. That being said, router tables are utilized to improve the flexibility of a hand-held router since each application is suited to a precise purpose.
For instance, huge workpieces might be too big to be handled on a router table, thus most suited for a hand-held router. On the other hand, small workpieces are best handled on a router table compared to a hand-held router.
Types of router tables
Router tables are available in two types;
Benchtop router table
Freestanding router table
Freestanding router table
These are typically spacious surfaces that can be utilized as standalone tables. They have detachable legs, thus versatile enough to be utilized as benchtop router tables, as well.
Benchtop router table
Usually, these tables are more lightweight and smaller, making them highly portable. Benchtop tables are explicitly built to place on top of other workbenches and tables. What's more, they feature brackets that make it easier to fix them on tabletops.
How to use a router table
Using a router table is rather straightforward. Typically, you can use it in these three ways:
With the use of a fence
It works as a securely fixed guide to the router table's surface. You can adjust the distance from the router blade. You can then steer the workpiece towards the router blade, along the fence, where the blade will mold a profile as the workpiece moves along.
The template that has to be copied is placed on top of the wood. Then, utilize a router bit and a ball bearing guide fixed on top of the router bit. Then you will drag the ball bearing guide along the template, allowing the router bit to drill into the wood, molding a shape similar to the templates.
With a pin router
You can either pin down or pin up the pin routers. Initially, woodworkers used a pin bulging from the router table's surface, and the router bit above it was positioned on a modifiable arm that motions down and up to the material.
All the same, this method was risky due to the exposed router bit, which is near where you might position your hands. Thus, in 1976, woodworkers created the upturned pin router with the pin at the top and the router blade bulging from the tabletop.
The template required to be copied is fixed on the material and positioned on the table. The pin or router bit is let down close to the material. Then use the pin as the guide to pass through the template areas that require cutting to develop a template copy.
Since the router blade has not begun cutting, you can remove the template, and it can be reused several times.
Uses of a router table
As mentioned above, a router table is essential in the workshop. It is used for different purposes, including:
Perhaps, profiling edges is the most common utilization of a routing table. You can see this on furniture, tables, and other wooden items' edges. Profiling edges requires the shrillness of a tabletop edge, which will ultimately change the appearance of the workpiece.
There is a wide range of router bits, and they can each develop different edge designs depending on your needs. Besides, using a routing table for profiling edges is more effortless than sanding.
The grooves on wood edges are known as rabbets or rebates. Typically, they're used to build furniture and come in handy in the tasks that call for 90-degree joints. Again, they're utilized to insert panes in the window frames put in place with putty.
Conventionally, rebates were manually cut utilizing a chisel, though a router is swifter, easier, and more precise and delivers a more professional-looking final product.
Duplicating a template with a bearing bit and a router table becomes more straightforward. You can use tape or screws to secure the template on the workpiece, then copy the template and remove it for reusing.
Box joinery and dovetail
To make high-quality boxes and cabinets, most woodworkers prefer dovetailing. It results in a beautiful workpiece. Nonetheless, making precise dovetails can be challenging if you're not using a router and template. So, for an easier time making beautiful furniture, use a router and template.
Stopped cuts and blind joints
Cabinets and other household furniture usually have stopped cuts and blind joints that don't reach the wood's edge, thus invisible once the cabinet is put together. These joint types are very difficult to develop by hand, though they are easy to achieve using a fence on a router table.
The fence requires fixing two stops, one where the cut will begin and the second where the cut ends.
A router table is more versatile than a hand-held one. The router on the table is ideal for attaining numerous woodworking tasks. It allows you to avoid any hassles usually exhibited by a hand-held router.
Again, the router table is useful when making finger joints, end-grain routing, and lock miter. Besides, as a woodworking machine, it has significantly evolved since its invention. Currently, you can purchase an all-around pack, which will come with all the accessories you require to start woodwork routing.
Lastly, if you're a beginner, it would help if you had a router table, among other essential woodworking tools.