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Te c h n i q u e • C o l l e c t i o n

Router Techniques

A Publication of August Home Publishing


Routed Profiles
You don’t need a drawer full of router bits to create interesting profiles.
Make all of these and more with just three basic bits.
!/2"
roundover Over the years I’ve accumulated a lot of different router
Bearing can be bit bits. The “workhorse” bits that have standard profiles
removed for get used over and over, while the more exotic “big
deeper cut money” bits usually just gather dust. This led me to the
realization that you don’t need a drawer full of expen-
sive bits to rout complex profiles.
Just Three Bits. The photo above illustrates the point.
Each of the molded edges shown (all examples are
3⁄ "-thick stock) can be made using just three common
4
router bits. These are bits you’ll find in just about any
woodworker’s collection. And as you can clearly see,
!/4" roundover the possibilities for putting them to use are pretty var-
bit ied and impressive.
The three bits (shown at left) that I used to make
!/2"-dia. these examples are a 1⁄2" roundover bit, a 1⁄4" round-over
core box bit bit, and a 1⁄2"-dia. core box bit.

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One bit, several cuts. Here, and on the next two pages,
you’ll see how to make seventeen of my favorite
How-To: 17 Easy Profiles
One Setup
profiles. There’s really no great secret to the process.

1
First, I try to avoid getting stuck on the idea that a
single router bit can only make one type of cut. The
truth is that many types of bits can produce a vari-
ety of shapes depending on how you put them to
use. To make some of the profiles shown in the main
photo on the opposite page, I used different parts of
the bit or changed the depth or height of the cut. For
example, a core box bit (or cove bit) can be used to
create a wide, shallow cove or a deep hollow.
Multiple Bits. Some of the simple profiles you see

2
in the main photo were made using only a single
bit. But to create the more complex shapes, you’ll
need to use a combination of bits. For instance, a
1⁄ " roundover along with an accurately cut 1⁄ " cove
2 4
creates a large reverse ogee.
Accurate cuts. One of the keys to success is to make
the cuts carefully and accurately. Two or three (or
more) light cuts will often yield smoother results
than one deep cut. This is more important than
doing the job quickly. And finally, a little fine sand-

3
ing is often needed to “blend” multiple cuts into
one smooth, seamless profile.

Designing Profiles
As you can see, the layout tools I used to design
these profiles are pretty basic. A section of 1⁄2"-

4
dia. dowel is a great template for a 1⁄4" round-
over or a 1⁄4" cove (1⁄2"-dia. core box bit). And a
1"-dia. dowel is my 1⁄2" roundover bit. Chances
are, if you can draw it on paper, you can find a
way to make it with a few common router bits.

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Two Setups
6
7
8
9
10
11
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13
Three Setups
14
!/2"-dia. core
box bit
#/4

#/16 15
16
17
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Flush
Trimming Tips
Get more from your router by following these
simple tips and tricks to make perfect parts.
Shaping accurately sized parts make a big difference in the quality A third type of flush trim bit is
Regular sounds like a simple process. Just of cut. You can see three commonly a spiral flush trim bit. The flutes
Flush rough-cut the piece a little oversize available bits in the left margin wrap completely around the bit to
Trim Bit and trim it flush with a template, photo. provide the smoothest cutting.
router, and flush trim bit. A standard flush trim bit has cut- Router Table is Better. Besides
However, my first flush trim- ters that are straight. This results the bit, the method you use can
ming experience didn’t go so well. in a chopping cut that can leave improve the outcome. When pos-
Spiral The bit began to grab and take noticeable ripples. sible, I do my flush trimming tasks
Flush huge, ugly bites out of the wood. To soften the cutting action, you on the router table instead of using
Trim Bit The results weren’t pretty. Since can use a shear-cutting flush trim a hand-held router.
then, I’ve learned a few tips that bit. The cutting edges on this bit are Overall, I have better vis-
guarantee better results. skewed slightly. This creates more ibility using the router table and
Different Angle on Bits. Speak- of a slicing cut that leaves a much it’s more comfortable to stand
ing of bits, using the right one can smoother finish. upright. The large table also

TSmooth Template. LLess is


Spend a few extra minutes More. Stay
shaping the template as close as you
to get smoother can to the layout
finished parts. line to make the flush
Shear-Cutting trimming easier.
Flush Trim Bit

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a.
LThick Template. A thick template allows
WASHER
you to raise the bit so the cutting edge THIN TEMPLATE
trims the entire edge of the workpiece.
WASTE
WEB OF MATERIAL
CAN WEDGE BETWEEN
BEARING AND BIT

b. BEARING

DOUBLE-LAYER
TEMPLATE

{  Tape It Down. Attach the BIT CAN BE RAISED


template to the workpiece with WASTE HIGH ENOUGH
TO TRIM THE
strips of double-sided tape. ENTIRE EDGE

provides support for all but the extra care and make the template dealing with this situation. The first
largest workpieces. as smooth as possible, as you can is to take light, freehand passes.
Less is More. Before you start see in the lower left photo on the This reduces the chance of the bit
routing there’s another important opposite page. tearing out the material.
thing to keep in mind. It has to do One often overlooked consid- Pattern Bit. A better option is to
with the amount of waste material eration is the thickness of the switch to another type of trimming
you need to remove. template. I like to use 1⁄4" hard- bit. Instead of a flush trim bit, use
This was the main problem in board to make templates because a pattern bit. On a pattern bit, the
my first attempt. To avoid spoiling it’s easy to shape and has a fine bearing is on the shank of the bit
the part, I cut too far to the waste consistency. The key here is (right margin photo). To use this
side of my layout line. Then I tried to make sure it’s at least 1⁄4" thick. bit, you need to flip the workpiece
to remove all the remaining waste You can see the problem with a thin and template over (photo below).
in one pass. This puts a lot of stress template in the photo and draw- This means you’ll approach the cut
on the router and bit. And taking ings above. from the opposite direction and the
such a big bite can cause the wood There’s a small gap between the wood fibers will be supported dur-
to split and tear. bearing and cutting edges on a ing the cut. Pattern Bit
The solution is simple. When cut- bit. A thin template may not allow When you make these tips part
ting pieces to rough size, aim to leave you to raise the bit high enough of your woodworking routine, you
just 1⁄16" to 1⁄8" of waste, as shown in to make a full cut while still keep- can get smooth accurate results
the lower right inset photo on the ing the bearing in contact with the when flush trimming. The payoff
previous page. This amount is easily template. is better-fitting parts and better-
handled by the router and bit. And My solution is to glue two layers looking projects.
it actually saves time because cut- of thinner hardboard together. The
ting is quicker than routing in most result is a template that’s still easy
cases. to shape and provides a wider ref-
Sometimes, you’ll stray from erence edge for the bit.
the layout line and end up with Curves & Grain Direction. The
more material to remove. In these proper setup for flush trimming
situations, I like to take skim cuts to will take you a long way toward
knock down the high spots before getting a smooth result. Another
running the bearing along the tem- part of the equation is paying atten-
plate to complete the cut. tion to the grain direction of the
A Template for Success. The wood as you’re flush trimming it.
whole point of flush trimming a You can see what I mean in the
piece is to make a precisely shaped photo at right. On certain sections
workpiece using a template as a of a curved workpiece, you may
guide for the router bit. So it stands find yourself routing “uphill”
to reason that the result is only as against the grain. Because the
good as the template. wood fibers aren’t supported, the
Any irregularities in the tem- wood can tear away as the bit trims {  Change the Bit & Direction. In tight curves,
plate will be transferred to the edge away the waste. switching to a pattern bit and flipping the work-
of the workpiece. So it pays to take There are a couple options for piece can stop tearout in its tracks.

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flush-fitting joints
Without
the Fuss A router and this
simple jig can tackle all
kinds of trimming tasks.

ROUTER
One of the tricks I keep up my hardwood edging to a plywood
BASE STRAIGHT
sleeve to create seamless joints and panel is easier when the strips are BIT
tight-fitting assemblies is to start slightly wider than the thickness RISER STOP
with parts that are slightly oversize. of the plywood. The catch is you
WORKPIECE
Then, after assembly, I trim the parts need a method for trimming parts
LIP
smooth and flush. smooth and flush that’s quick and BIT TRIMS
EDGING
You can see a good example of reliable. For that, I often turn to my FLUSH WITH
EDGING
WORKPIECE
this in the photo above. Gluing router and a specialized jig.
Simple Jig. The reason for the jig
>  Flawless. In a is shown in the drawing at right. In the exploded view drawing
minute or two, you A standard baseplate will catch that is shown on the following
can trim hardwood on any protruding edging. The page, you can see the details for the
edging perfectly stepped design of this jig solves jig. But I want to point out a few
smooth and level. that problem. A portion of the base highlights. First, I used Plexiglas
is elevated to provide clearance to for the main part of the base. This
trim excess material. While I made increases the amount of light and
this jig to fit a compact router, you visibility around the bit during use.
could easily make one to accom- But you can also use 1⁄2" plywood
modate a standard-size model. as a less expensive alternative.

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The second thing is the base
is considerably larger than the
stock router baseplate. This extra
size gives the router a more stable
stance in use.
Finally, I included a reversible
stop on one end. When trimming
along an edge, the stop acts like an
edge guide to limit the travel of the End of bit
bit. For trimming tasks away from is flat, not
the edge, you simply flip the stop V-shaped
over and it provides support so the
router won’t tip.
Straight Bit. You can get good
results with almost any kind of
straight bit. But I’ve found that bits {  Set the Bit. A metal ruler makes a handy gauge to set the end 1⁄
2"-dia.
with flutes running straight across of the bit even with the bottom face of the riser. Make a test cut on straight bit
the end “plane” the surface and some scrap to double-check the setting.
leave it much flatter (right margin
photo). Some types of straight bits the edge of the plywood panel on the previous page. Finally, rout
have a V-shaped end that may leave (drawing on facing page). in the opposite direction (right to
swirl marks on the workpiece. The Technique. Once the bit left) to get a clean cut and prevent
The Setup. It only takes a little and baseplates are set up, you’re the edging from tearing out on the
work to get the bit and jig ready for ready to start routing. There are exposed front face.
use. First, you need to adjust the a few things to keep in mind. This setup can be used for
depth of the router bit. The main thing is to apply firm more than just trimming edging.
Ideally, you want the bit per- pressure on the handle. This pre- The lower left drawings show a
fectly flush with the surface of the vents the router from tipping and couple other examples. The small
bottom of the jig. A small straight- spoiling the cut. amount of effort spent in making
edge is a great tool for getting you Unless the edging is thin, I like the baseplate will pay off with
in the ballpark, as you can see in the to remove the waste in several smooth surfaces and perfect-
upper right photo. But it’s always a light passes, as in the main photo fitting assemblies. GLUE
good idea to do a quick test cut. !/4"-DIA. x #/4"
STEEL PIN
STOP
exploded view
Next, I set the stop at the end of (1!/4" x 4" - !/2" Ply.)
INTO
BASE
the baseplate. It’s positioned so the
inside edge of the bit is flush with HANDLE #/4
(6" x 4%/8" - #/4" Ply.)
1#/8
COUNTER- %/8"-
HANDLE CHEEK BORE FOR RAD.
4!/8
(1&/8" x 5!/4" - !/4" Hdbd.) CARRIAGE
BOLT ON
TOP FACE
OF STOP
PROUD NOTE: !/4"-20
SCREW FOR HANDLE THROUGH
PLUG PATTERN, TURN KNOB 2#/4"-
TO PAGE 9 DIA.
MATCH
HOLES TO
{  Trim Plugs. Use a sweep- ROUTER
BASE 45°
ing motion to nibble away screw !/4" RISER
ROUNDOVER
plugs flush to the surface. (5" x 7#/8" - !/2" Ply.)

BASE
(5" x 12" -
!/2" ACRYLIC) 4#/8
PROUD
DOVETAIL
PIN 5"-RADIUS

!/4"-WIDE
LIP SLOT,
(1!/4" x #/4" -
!/4" Hdbd.)
2!/2" LONG BOTTOM VIEW
{  Dovetails & More. The router
!/4"-20 x 1!/4"
makes quick work of leveling dove- CARRIAGE
tails, box joints, and rabbets. BOLT
#8 x 2" Fh
WOODSCREW

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router jig
Handle Pattern

NOTE: SAND
HANDLE FOR
COMFORT AFTER
ASSEMBLY

!/4" HARDBOARD
CHEEKS

#/4" PLYWOOD
HANDLE

SAND !/4" ROUNDOVER


ON CHEEKS BEFORE
GLUING TO HANDLE

{  Shop-Made Handle. The handle


for the router jig on page 8 is easy to
make. Use the pattern to cut the parts
to shape. Then, round over the edges
of the cheeks before attaching them.

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