Whether you are into DIY Projects or professional woodworking, you may have heard of a router table. It is a tool that can add accuracy to your woodworking while allowing you to accomplish tasks quicker and with better results.
A router table comprises a flat workbench with a router tool installed in a hole on the surface. It allows you to use the router at multiple angles, including sideways and upside down. The table can be used to make cuts with precision, which are nearly impossible to perform using other means.
Although using a router table requires skill, understanding the fundamentals goes a long way, especially for those who are seeking ways to take their DIYs to another level.
Before we dig into router tables, let us understand what a router is.
What is a Router?
Most woodworkers use a router whenever they need to shape and hollow out chunks of wood. A router is a spinning tool that can cut through wood and other hard materials like graphite, Kevlar, and fiberglass.
Most routers today are mounted on high-speed motors. They are simply spindles that can drill into or against the surface of the wood to make grooves. The size of the groove depends on the router bit being used.
When a woodworker uses a handheld router, they can move it around and use it to hollow out the piece they are working on without touching the edges. The router can also be used on the edges to smooth them down. This allows the woodworkers to make circular or curved patterns easily.
What is a Router Table?
When using a handheld router, the piece you are working on is often stationary, and you move the router along with it wherever you need to make the grooves. Sometimes, however, you need to keep the router fixed, and there is a way to do that. As you might have already guessed, it is called a router table.
When using a router table, the router gets fixed in place, and you can move the piece you are working on. A router table is a great tool to shape multiple identical pieces.
Initially, woodworkers improvised and found their own methods to secure a router to the table. However, seeing the demand for fixed routers, manufacturers started making tables with routers already built in them.
The router is usually installed on the underside of the table, and the bit sticks out through a hole on the surface. Even when upside down, the router continues to perform normally, although it might turn in an opposite direction compared to handheld routers.
Most router tables have the router mounted directly underneath. However, some tables have the router mounted sideways to allow the woodworkers to cut and groove their pieces from the sides for better shaping.
What is a Router Table Used For?
Router tables are used by all kinds of woodworkers, ranging from those who take on DIY projects as a hobby to furniture-makers and even interior designers. They are usually used to work on thin and long materials, which may prove to be tricky if worked on by handheld routers.
There are several uses for a router table. Let us look at a few of them.
Rounding down edges is probably the most common use of a router table. If you look around your house, you will find that many of your furniture items have rounded edges. Rounding or chamfering the sharp, square edges of furniture can greatly alter its appearance.
Router tables ensure that all edges on a piece of furniture get rounded or chamfered in an identical manner, which can be difficult to achieve when using traditional planers or other sanding methods.
Rabbets are special grooves on wood edges that appear like two or more steps. They are used in furniture manufacturing and applications where box shapes are required with 90-degree joints. They are often used to insert the glass into a window frame or to install the back panel on a cabinet.
A router table can be used to make identical copies of a certain template while using the required bit. The template can be secured onto the wood using screws or double-sided tape. Since your hands are free and do not have to hold and control a heavy handheld router, you can use them to hold the template in place and move the piece you are working on to get the desired shape.
Dovetail Joint Cutting
When building high-quality cabinets and boxes out of wood, the dovetail joint is probably the most preferred and secure way to join pieces together. The end product is robust and attractive. However, cutting perfect dovetails by hand can be time-consuming and quite challenging. Nevertheless, the whole process is performed much more quickly and with high precision with a template and router table.
Business signs and house numbers are simple to make by using a template or drawing on a piece of wood. Large plastic numerals and letter templates are available that may help you cut exact words into the wood by utilizing them as templates. Then, you can use a router table with a guide pin to carve out the numbers or letters in the wood.
Our Final Thoughts
While trying to understand what a router table is, we find that they are an excellent tool to produce precise results in woodworking. In contrast to handheld routers, they offer more control and accuracy to the woodworker.
A router table is made out of a flat surface with a hole for the router tool. It helps the user operate the router in various positions, including from the side or even upside down. The table is used to create precise cuts that would be practically difficult to do otherwise.
A router table may be used in a variety of ways. They are often used for working on objects that would be difficult to work on with handheld routers.