Types of wood routers

Advantages of wood routers

Novice woodworkers work with the fixed base and plunge base routers. But as they become more experienced and production demand rises. They need to work on larger pieces and do more intricate jobs the above-mentioned routers are replaced by Computer Numerical Control (CNC) routers. These routers cut the wood intricately, accurately and speedily. 

No waste – These routers reduce wastage due to their accuracy. Your supplies are not wasted due to precision. You never waste a piece due to an error. Besides due to the stops, scales, base plates, and CNC features you can replicate with accuracy minus wastage.

Large cutting field – Cutting larger pieces like stair raisers can be challenging while using standard routers. The uniformity and accuracy are other challenges. The CNC routers can produce these pieces quickly and easily. If you are into cutting larger pieces and mass production with time constraints the CNC routers are for you.

Flawless replication – The fixed base and plunge base routers depend upon human expertise to replicate the pieces. But CNC machines can produce thousands of replicas. This uniformity of work on each piece brings quality assurance to your work. This benefit makes these machines priceless.

These routers have many advantages such as:

Ease of operation – The fixed and plunge based routers involve physical manipulation that bears an impact on the quality of production and worker safety. Thus, the worker should know the machinery, be experienced in operating it, and an expert in the trade. Conversely, using a CNC router requires computer training and the machine does the rest of the job. This ensures each piece is accurate, minus the waste and human error.

Worker safety – Being near the cutting mechanism of the routers can result in injury and loss of limb. The latest models of fixed and plunge based routers have safety features. While the CNC routers remove the operator from direct contact or the cutting mechanisms. This safer work process translates to lesser injuries, loss of production, worker disability, and compensation cases.

Higher productivity – As you can replicate top-notch pieces each time there is less wastage. If you are using mechanical routers, they have features that improve the quality of your work leading to higher production capacity. But CNC routers have revolutionized production. Simply hire trained technicians to operate industrial Computer Numerical Control (CNC) routers to make your operation cost-efficient.


Types of wood routers

Types of wood routers

There are three types of wood routers by design,

Plunge routers – are plunge-type machines that are held in the middle of the wood and plunged into it. This makes the process easier and the work neater with less wastage. The upper part of the router body holds the router bit that can be plunged downwards over 2 spring-loaded columns to guide the path of the bit. This bit then cuts into the material from above. Plunge cutting has a locking facility that controls the depth to with the cut is made for consistency. Besides, it can be controlled to shape the edge by using templates and jigs.

Routers with removable base – Usually plunge base routers have removable and interchangeable bases. The top half of the router i.e. the motor and collet assembly – can be separated from the base. This allows for the attachment of additional bases for different operations such as sharpening, carving, grinding, intricate shaping, etc.

You can even pick the machine and work overhead besides placing it on a stable surface…

Stationary or fixed routers – are not equipped with the plunging action. This is because the base and the body are fixed together. It can cut along the edge after the height and depth have been adjusted. There are handles on either side of the router. These lend better control to the operator while guiding the machine. The combined force of the weight of the machine and the operator’s hands are acting downwards. This lowers the center of gravity of the machine lending stability to the setup.

Computer Numeric Control (CNC) routers – are specialist routers used in industrial operations. Their movements are controlled by computers. Parameters such as cutting depth, feed rate are very precise. Thus, controlled cuts to produce replicas.

Types of wood routers

Features on wood routers

Router motors – These machines have vertically mounted motors with a collet. The collet is attached to a spindle that is encased in the tool housing. The type of motor determines the power of the router and its application. The voltage is usually between 230 – 240 V making it suitable for workshop and domestic use. The routers with 110 – 150V can be used on job sites and buildings. The output and input of the router are displayed in watts.

Router collets – are steel sleeves at the end of the spindle. It is enclosed in a retaining nut. When tightened it grips the shank-end of the cutter or the bit. It rotates when the router is switched on. It spins the cutter that removes material from the workpiece. These are sized according to the cutter’s shank diameter. The unit comes with specifications on what size bits they can accept.

Routers by different manufacturers have different parts for different applications…

Besides some parts may not be in the same place. But there are some basic essential parts and features that makeup and run the machine. 

Router bases – These are the bottom half of the machine with a hole. The routers cutter protrudes through this.

The two halves – the top and base are connected at the fixed base of the router. The base plate or the sub-base is a flat disc at the bottom of the machine.

Base plate – or the sub-base protects the surface of the workpiece. As it is made of metal it may scratch the piece marring or damaging it. It provides a stable base to stand on when you put it down. You can fix various types of bases to the base plate to increase the applications of the router machine. Offset base plates and combination plates can be fitted on to the base plate of the router.

There should be diagrams, instructions, and specifications

Router speed controls – Advanced routers have variable speed control that allows you to increase or reduce the speed of the cutter on the router. This feature comes in handy while applying various types of bits and cutters to a great variety of materials. Variable speed feature increases the number of applications this machine can be used for. There is a number dial that can be turned to manage the router speed. The chart on the side of the router indicates the speed at each of these numbers.

Speed of the router – is measured in Revolutions Per Minute (RPM). The number indicates the no-load speed before the cutter or the bit head is applied to the workpiece. Once the cutter is applied to the piece and it begins to cut the load on it reduces the speed of the router.The specifications on the model indicate the maximum and minimum speed of the router.


With the router to show you how to assemble and use it…

Router depth stops – are used to set the height of the cutter which in turn controls the depth of the cut. These stops can be locked into place to make a consistent cut each time. There is a depth scale that shows the depth of the cut in relation to the base of the machine. In plunging routers these stops work as guides to prevent the cutter from removing more material than required. Each router comes with instructions to guide you on how to set the cutting depths.

Dust extractor spout – help in the extraction of sawdust. As the router removes material from the workpiece a large amount of dust collects making it difficult to see the workpiece. The spout is usually designed to fit that individual model but can be attached to any dust extractor. They may come as a part of a kit with the model or as spare parts. They are also compatible with dust extractor vacuums that can be purchased separately.

Specialist vacuum – are intended and designed specifically for dust extraction. Household vacuums are not suitable for this use. These vacuums may come as a part of a kit or may have to be bought separately.

What are heavy-, middle, or medium- and light-duty routers?

Depending upon the size and power there are three types of routers. These two factors affect how long and on what materials these routers can be used.

Heavy-duty routers – are the heaviest, toughest, and most powerful routers. They have larger collet sizes that can hold larger cutter diameters of 38mm or 1.5 inches. They can be classified as professional tools that can withstand prolonged and regular use.

Medium duty routers – are suitable for delicate work on soft materials. But they are heavier and larger than light-duty models.

Light-duty routers – are semi-professional tools meant for DIYers, hobbyists, and light trade works. These routers are for occasional use for shorter periods. They are the smallest and lightest of routers. As they have smaller collets thus accommodate cutters of diameters less than 38mm or 1.5 inches.


Can a router that accepts 1/4-inch bits drive 1/2-inch bits?

If the router does not have a 1/2-inch collet then it will not accept 1/2-inch bits. To know if your router can tun 1/2-inch bits check its horsepower. If the horsepower rating is 2HP which is equal to 13 amperes then it will drive 1/2-inch bits.

Why are 1/4-inch and 1/2-inch routers so popular?

The industry standard is the 1/4 inch and 1/2 inch fixed and plunge base routers. This is because they work with a wide range of bit selection that comes in 1/4-inch and 1/2-inch size. The heavier bits may have a 1/2-inch shank size. And they require more horsepower on the motor. The higher horsepower generates enough torque to turn the bit and cut through the wood. Smaller routers tend to burn out while spinning larger bits while cutting wood.

Are these routers suitable to make….

delicate display boxes and ornamental jewelry?

A great variety of routers are there in the market for intricate work. They have Dremel-size motors and are supported by matching drill sizes, too. These look like an electric toothbrush or pencil. The tool is named after the gentleman who designed the tool. Officially it is called the Moto-Tool.

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