Router basics needed

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Blog entry by mike85215 posted 11-03-2009 06:14 AM 1379 reads 0 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Hello to everyone!
I purchased a Dewalt dw618 router (2 1/4hp, both fixed and plunge bases) about three months ago….I have tried repeatedly to use them but to no great accomplishment.
I simply cannot get the end result that I am looking for. I have used the new incra positioning jig and am unable to get a dovetail that is actually a dovetail!
I have tried to do a miter joint and all that I end up with are splinters and tearouts.
For the most part I am attempting this using red oak.
The bits are new, so that cannot be the problem…at least I don’t think it is.
I am very much a beginner, but I can do magic on the table saw…just can’t seem to do squat on the router.
What I am looking for is direction…..any ideas where I can go to learn just the basics for the router.
The table saw I have learned to greatly respect, the router….well it sortof terrifies me at this stage.
Maybe I can continue to build things without ever using the router….but I like the challenge and would really like to add it to my arsenal, therfore any help that you can give really would be greatly appreciated.

15 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


115171 posts in 2996 days

#1 posted 11-03-2009 06:24 AM

How about a great DVD Router magic buy Charles Neil . Try using pine or poplar something a little easier to practice with. If you can take lite cuts and sneak up on it that helps. also to help avoid tear out use a back up board to help prevent tear out.

-- Custom furniture

View mike85215's profile


127 posts in 2563 days

#2 posted 11-03-2009 06:30 AM

Jim….Thanks for the suggestions. I will see if I can find the DVD and am wanting to try the softer woods before I finally give up. I don’t like the idea of a machine getting the best of me. How to you do lite cuts if it is a bit that is a “corner / miter” ?

View WayneC's profile


12642 posts in 3516 days

#3 posted 11-03-2009 06:32 AM

Any chance there is a Woodcraft near by? They have an introduction to router class that would be good intro.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View ChunkyC's profile


856 posts in 2673 days

#4 posted 11-03-2009 06:35 AM

You said the bits were new. Are they good quality bits or one of the big “kits” of bits. Using good quality sharp bits helps a lot.

When routing, always route counter clockwise on the outside of the board (round overs, champhers, flush trimming, etc.) and clockwise if cutting on the inside (think of making a cutout for a kitchen sink, go CW) This doesn’t really help with dovetails now but still …


-- Chunk's Workshop pictures:

View bigike's profile


4048 posts in 2707 days

#5 posted 11-03-2009 06:42 AM

try to put the router in a table its alot easier than handheld plus all the other sugestions too the best thing to do is read a book on how to use them try at the library they have some books that i see listed for sale in woodworking stores and bookclubs i just picked up on on finishing myself tring to get that asspect of woodworking down i hate finishing. but if u add the router to your arsenal of woodworking skillz u will see that there is no way to go without one in any project cuz u will want to use it more and more well keep us posted on your progress?

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop,

View mike85215's profile


127 posts in 2563 days

#6 posted 11-03-2009 06:44 AM

Wayne….Yes I have a woodcraft within about fifteen to twenty miles thanks for the tip.

Chunk…I have tried a Bosch bit as well as a Skill bit (questionable quality ?) , but I have also used the Rockler and a whiteside bit….........still don’t get it…..except the frustration that I definetly get !

View NBeener's profile


4808 posts in 2593 days

#7 posted 11-03-2009 07:45 AM

I get the impression that this guy is really knowledgeable about router usage.

I bought his Router Book, and find it QUITE helpful.

I also find using a router table to be significantly easier than free-hand routing—at least for now.

Best of luck!

-- -- Neil

View jlsmith5963's profile


297 posts in 2767 days

#8 posted 11-03-2009 07:52 AM

Always remember you tube is your friend. I think you might find some of the videos listed here useful

-- criticism: the art of analyzing and evaluating the quality of an artistic work...

View Jimi_C's profile


507 posts in 2654 days

#9 posted 11-03-2009 09:02 AM

thewoodwhisperer just posted a great video, in which he routes some sliding dovetail joints. The basic point of the video was to remove as much material with your table saw as you can in order to make the cuts easier on the router.

I’ve found that multiple passes are my friend. It takes 3-4x longer to do a simple router job, but it prevents a lot of problems – such as tearout and chipping. Also, I use painters tape or a sacrificial piece of wood (or both) whenever possible to avoid blowing out the exit side of the cut. Finally, I will use the router just a little bit in the “incorrect” direction in order to stop blowout on edges – especially on the end grain.

-- The difference between being defeated and admitting defeat is what makes all the difference in the world - Upton Sinclair, "The Jungle"

View doyoulikegumwood's profile


384 posts in 3411 days

#10 posted 11-03-2009 02:25 PM

hey mike well no one seems to have pointed this out but you did say you were using the incra jig. my question is this did you buy the extra templet book and are you following the directions to the letter. i have to admit it took me a little while before i was makeing dovetails like a pro with the jig but once you figure it out it is a great tool to have

-- I buy tools so i can make more money,so ican buy more tools so I can work more, to make more money, so I can buy more tool, so I can work more

View SKFrog16's profile


661 posts in 2619 days

#11 posted 11-03-2009 03:38 PM

I’m just asking, but didn’t the Incra jig come with a video CD? I’m almost certain that Incra sends a CD with all of their jigs. There are a few tricks to using Incra stuff and practicing with plywood scraps will help you raise your skill level. Also, remember BACKER BOARDS, BACKER BOARDS, BACKER BOARDS. Nothing will stop tearout from occurring, but you can reduce it to a minimum.
I concur with Jimi_C, the wood-whispers video is one you should watch. Also, you may wanto read this article, it may help you wrap your head around making dovetails.

-- Methods are many,Principles are few.Methods change often,Principles never do.

View SKFrog16's profile


661 posts in 2619 days

#12 posted 11-03-2009 03:45 PM

Mike, here is another site that also may help you.

-- Methods are many,Principles are few.Methods change often,Principles never do.

View olddutchman's profile


187 posts in 3354 days

#13 posted 11-03-2009 04:03 PM

Hello Mike, when i got my router in 1970, I felt the same as you do. I was told by my Father at that time to just start with edge cuts, and dado and just learn all i could. at the same i was gaining confidence. I got all the information i could, and i read something, and idid it over. and if i didn’t have it right, i wrked untill i did. I learned a lot. You might check out the router workshop. They go over the basics of different process. Also Router Forum is dedicated to helpin you when its not right. Check them out.

-- Saved, and so grateful, consider who Created it ALL!!!

View zlatanv's profile


691 posts in 2653 days

#14 posted 11-03-2009 10:47 PM

Start out with small cuts and lower the bit after each pass, multiple passes especially on hard wood, cut your end grain first and then the long grain that will reduce tear out on the ends. Watch your motor speed, larger bits need to go slower. Smooth action, if you hesitate you could end up with burn marks, if you do, lower the bit just a little and make one final pass to smooth out the cut and take out the burns. You tube has a lot of info on it.

-- Z, Rockwall, TX

View CoolDavion's profile


419 posts in 3243 days

#15 posted 11-14-2009 05:58 PM

Check out your local library, they might have a book or two that you could read to get some more info.

-- Do or do not, there is no try!

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