The router is perhaps the most versatile of all the portable shop tools, since it both cuts and shapes. It can do most of the jobs any power tool can do and it also can do the work of a lathe, a shaper, and other extremely sophisticated factory equipment.
The all-important parts of the router are much the same as for other portable tools—a motor (which here is generally more powerful than in other power tools), a chuck to hold the cutting tool, and a base.
In essence, the router is made to cut into the surface of the stock, routingout areas, creating all types of joints, shaping edges, cutting grooves, mortising, or making any cutting job that has to be done. The router can do 90 per cent of every woodworking jobs.
The router depends on a sharp, precision-shaped cutting bit and a high rotation speed—18,000 to 27,000 r.p.m., compared with 5,000 r.p.m. for a fast drill. In this manner, the router leaves a smooth edge that needs no sanding.
The router cuts into a piece of wood at the depth and in the shape needed. If you're going to make an inlay, trace the design on the wood, adjust the depth, and cut off the shape required. Whether you require a channel for a window, a guide for a drawer, grooves for weather stripping, grooves or dadoes for shelving, hinge cuts, or just decorative cutouts, the router does the job simply and with efficiency.
But the router can cut in several other ways. It is ideal for creating decorative edges and for trimming back veneers. Whether it's a rounded-over edge, abeaded edging for a table top or shelf, or a cove cut for a drop-leaf table, the job is done rapidly and easily. When its use has been learned, it is not much harder to operate than the more common tools and is considerably more rewarding in the things it can do.
Router bits are available in a great many shapes and sizes for particular woodworking or metal jobs. Unless you have a certain job for your router, a router bit kit containing the most popular bit sizes and shapes is the most practical bargain.
Essentially, the router comprises of an enclosed universal motor and a base having two handles. In some models, the handles are on either side of the base and the switch on the motor. The router bit is held in the chuck in the lower end of the motor unit and is tightened using a wrench. It is always important to use a wrench to tighten the chuck. Cutting depth is controlled by raising or lowering the motor unit in regard to the base. This is done by turning around a Collar on the base. The actual depth that will be cut is indicated on the side of the base. The collar is marked with fractions of an inch so that depth can be set with excellent precision. Identical cuts can be made by aligning the collar to the same mark. A clamping lever holds the base at the depth wanted.