Safety week router right hand rule

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Blog entry by spaids posted 05-06-2009 03:26 PM 3678 reads 2 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I thought I would jump in with safety week and share my trick for remembering which direction I want my router going. This might be old news to many of you but I came up with this on my own and it works for me.

I use my right hand. I point my thumb to the edge that I’m going to be cutting and my index finger points in the direction the router needs to go. If I’m routing around the outside edge of a piece the I touch my thumb to the outside edge and I end up routing in a counter clockwise direction. If its the inside edge, say the inside of a circle, then my right thumb points to the edge I want to cut and I route in the direction my index finger points and I’m now going clockwise around the inside. OH VERY IMPORTANT your palm must face down but thats the natural position of your right hand anyway so its easy to remember.

On the router table its the same rule. Right thumb to the material and then move the wood in the direction of your index finger. I often use my router mounted in the table with a bearing and no fence so this rule does help in this situation.

Recap: Right hand, palm down, thumb to the edge of the material your cutting, move in the direction that your index finger is pointing. (whether your moving the router or the material its the same rule) If your holding the router then the router is right side up and you move the router in the direction of your finger. If your router is mounted in the table (obviously NOT moving and upside down) then you move the material in the direction of your finger.

-- Wipe the blood stains from your blade before coming in.--

13 comments so far

View lew's profile


12019 posts in 3722 days

#1 posted 05-06-2009 03:40 PM

This is COOL!!

Electronic/Electrical theories also have right hand rules. Yours will make it even easier for me to remember.


-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View spaids's profile


699 posts in 3660 days

#2 posted 05-06-2009 03:45 PM

Ha Thats funny you mention that lew… I’m an electrical engineer. Thats why I assume this must be old news for routers even though I’ve never heard it before.

-- Wipe the blood stains from your blade before coming in.--

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 3906 days

#3 posted 05-06-2009 03:58 PM

Pretty spiffy memory trick. Sort of a touch and go … touch with your thumb and go where your fingers point. Unless of course you’re left handed … but let’s not get into that. ;-)

-- Working at Woodworking

View spaids's profile


699 posts in 3660 days

#4 posted 05-06-2009 04:04 PM

Well just remember right is right and left is wrong. On a side note I had a left handed plumber when my house was built… it took some work to get the second floor straightened out. Although hot water in the toilet was interesting. Like a refreshing steam bath for your butt.

-- Wipe the blood stains from your blade before coming in.--

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 3275 days

#5 posted 05-06-2009 07:06 PM

What technique do you use when freehanding routing on a router table?

View spaids's profile


699 posts in 3660 days

#6 posted 05-06-2009 07:31 PM


the same rule applies. if you point your right thumb to the wood where the bit is going to cut it, then you move in the direction of your index finger. If your using a table then the router doesn’t move so you move the wood in the direction of your finger. Its still correct because the router is upside down.

-- Wipe the blood stains from your blade before coming in.--

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 3906 days

#7 posted 05-06-2009 07:32 PM

Hot water in the toilet, eh? At least you didn’t have to worry about a cold seat.

-- Working at Woodworking

View a1Jim's profile


117063 posts in 3544 days

#8 posted 05-06-2009 11:42 PM

I volunteer at a high wood shop were the teacher was showing students how to route but he was going the wrong way so the router bounced away from his fence. when we were away from the students I told him router from left to right unless you intend to do a climb cut(going left to right) sometimes done to control tear out for light cuts . except router tables are right to left.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Kindlingmaker's profile


2656 posts in 3493 days

#9 posted 05-06-2009 11:42 PM

Thank you!

-- Never board, always knotty, lots of growth rings

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4127 days

#10 posted 05-26-2009 08:51 PM

brilliant :)

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View Matthewrbl's profile


9 posts in 3287 days

#11 posted 06-09-2009 01:32 AM

As my shop teacher says, go the right way not the wrong way

View TemplateTom's profile


93 posts in 3248 days

#12 posted 06-09-2009 03:22 AM

Routing with the aid of template guides and using a female template rout in a ‘clockwise’ direction and uasing a ‘male’ template rout anti-clockwise.

-- Getting more from my router with the aid of Template Guides Selection of Projects listed on You -Tube "Routing with Tom O'Donnell"

View halhoyle's profile


3 posts in 3247 days

#13 posted 06-15-2009 02:53 AM

I fear I am about to get my chops busted here, but I am trying to understand the application of the formula to a Festool router. After destroying a guide rail going left to right (which I believe would be counterclockwise), I contacted Festool and was told to rout in the same direction as the arrow that appears on top of the base of the router—something not mentioned in Festool’s somewhat scant operator’s manual. That arrow turns in a clockwise direction (which I gather is the direction that the bit turns). Clockwise would be right to left—but then again I sometimes get the two confused! Given these facts, is Festool and exception to the formula?

-- Rick in Sunny AZ

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