Powered Hand Tools - Routers

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What should you do before start cutting with a router?

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  • Wear safety glasses or goggles, or a face shield (with safety glasses or goggles) and appropriate hearing protection.
  • Disconnect the power supply before making any adjustments or changing bits. Inspect bits carefully before installing
  • Ensure that the bit is securely mounted in the chuck and the base is tight.
  • Put the base of the router on the work, template or guide. Make sure that the bit can rotate freely before switching on the motor.
  • Secure stock. Never rely on yourself or a second person to support or hold the material. Sudden torque or kickback from the router can cause damage and injury.
  • Before using a router, check stock thoroughly for staples, nails, screws or other foreign objects.
  • Keep all cords clear of cutting area.

What should you do to work with a router safely?

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  • Hold both hands on router handles always, until a motor has stopped. Do not set the router down until exposed router bit has stopped turning.
  • Do not overreach. Keep proper footing and balance.
  • When inside routing, start the motor with the bit above the stock. When the router reaches full power, lower bit to required depth.
  • When routing outside edges, guide the router counter clockwise around the work.
  • When routing bevels, moldings and other edge work, make sure the router bit is in contact with the stock to the left of a starting point and is pointed in the correct cutting direction.

  • Feed the router bit into the material at a firm, controlled speed.
  • With softwood, you can sometimes move the router as fast as it can go.
  • With hardwood, knotty and twisted wood, or with larger bits, cutting may be very slow.
  • The sound of the motor can indicate safe cutting speeds. When the router is fed into the material too slowly, the motor makes a high-pitched whine. When the router is pushed too hard, the motor makes a low growling noise.
  • When the type of wood or size of the bit requires going slow, make two or more passes to prevent the router from burning out or kicking back.
  • To decide the depth of cut and how many passes to make, test the router on scrap lumber similar to the work.

If a router is connected to a router table, refer to Woodworking Machines - Shapers for more guidance.

Refer to Powered Hand Tools - Basic Safety for Electric Tools for general electrical safety tips.

  • Fact sheet confirmed current: 2019-08-15
  • Fact sheet last revised: 2013-12-20