Our Favorite Router Tips and Tricks

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Seldom a day goes by when we’re nott using a router for some aspects of a project. WeI built all kinds of masks and tried new ideas (and recently unearthed ideas from our archives). A router is truly one of the most versatile tools in the store and we just had to share these tips from the archives with you.


Jointer router

You can use a router to join two cards at the same time. This is a really useful trick if you don’t have a long bed jointer or you don’t have a jointer at all and are working with a very long stock.

The trick is to slam both boards at the same time, so that the edges mirror each other. Curved or not, they will always fit perfectly. To set up this trick, mill three spacer blocks a 11/16“thick. Secure the planks to a pair of trestles with the spacers between them.

Chuck a 3/4“Bit in the router. Lock the guide card so that the tip takes an equal amount from both cards, approx 1/32“. Place the router firmly against the guide, removing the spacers as needed. Any deviation or wandering from the router will be mirrored to the opposite card, providing a perfect fit.

Base router offset

By simply adding a custom, store-made base to the router, you can adjust the cutting distance from the fence. A turn (or two or three) of your router and youI have set a new distance.

This type of base, with different offsets, can be used to cut baseboards and stops, as well as stepped stops. You could also make one with 1/32”Graduations to sneak up on cuts and fine fit nut.

Router Scarf Jig

Boat builders often need to join boards from end to end to make longer boards. Instead of a butt joint, they form a long taper on each plank and overlap at the ends. This is called a scarf joint. One or two scarf joints can easily be planed by hand, but for any amount it is worth taking half an hour to make this simple jig.

The illustration shows 3/4“Stock being joined with a slope of 8 to 1, which gives an overlap of 6”. Position the board so that the end to be joined is flush with the end of the jig and secure it firmly. Make a pass with the router using a straight-fluted plunger drill to remove most of the material. Then reset the router for a second lighter cut, stopping just before the edge of a feather at the end of the board. You may want to clean the scarf with a few steps of a low angle block plane.

Mortise mask without problems

Want a simple and dirty mortise mask? This only takes a few minutes to assemble, not the entire weekend. You will need a plunge cutter equipped with an edge guide.

First, block a 3 “- a 4 ″ – square block to your bench. Attach a 5 “long stop block to one side, near one end. Throw the workpiece up to the stop block and secure the workpiece to the large block. (A large crank is ideal for this job because has a deep reach.)

Place your mortise on the workpiece and adjust the router edge guide so that the tip cuts into the layout marks. Finally, add two stop blocks above the large block to limit the back and forth movement of the router. These blocks define the length of the mortise. If yours mortises are centered, go ahead and cut them all. If they are offset, simply change the fence setting as needed.

Minimize router burns

The final grain burns easily on maple and cherry, and those burns are difficult to remove. Here’s a simple fix that removes those unsightly burns without requiring you to adjust the tip height or fidget with an edge guide.

Before routing, three layers of duct tape at the bottom of the board edge, where the tip pad runs. So take two steps. The first pass produces the rough profile, when burning is most likely to occur. After performing the initial step, remove the tape and route again. This second very fine step removes all but the worst burns. If this method still leaves burns, the forward speed is too slow or a new router tip is needed.

Product Recommendations

Here are some supplies and tools that we believe are essential in our daily shop work. We may receive a commission from the sales indicated by our links; however, we have carefully selected these products for their usefulness and quality.

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