Router terror

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Forum topic by Shop_Cat posted 06-30-2016 08:10 PM 1195 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4 posts in 840 days

06-30-2016 08:10 PM

Topic tags/keywords: humor question

HI folks,

I’m a fairly new woodworker who’s recently graduated from hammers n’ nails to large stationary power tools. I know the basics but there’s a few things I haven’t been able to find good advice about online…namely, routers. I’m not afraid of my table saw, my used rebuilt RAS, or even the sliding compound miter. BUT THE ROUTER IS TERRIFYING. It literally yanked the wood right out of my hands and shot it across the shop; this is how I learned i was feeding the stock the wrong direction. That’s my fault, not the tool’s…

What scares me is that I can’t seem to go around a corner on a piece of wood without the tool grabbing the piece and shooting it at me. I wear all the requisite safety gear, but like when I’m trying to get a smooth round edge on a piece of stock, when it comes to the corner the router grabs the stock and boomerangs it at me. I tried using a fence, but I can’t get a nice smooth edge as I go around the corner, the router leaves a divot like it digs in deeper as I slowly wind the stock around the bit.

How can I get smooth round edges on my projects without being attacked by the thing, or it leaving little divots in the corners? I use new bits, feed slowly, and have tried both conventional bits with a fence and the little bits with the ring-thingeys on them (collars? bearing? It’s metal and round and is mounted just under the cutterhead on the shaft of the bit)

Thanks for any advice, apologies if this has already been covered somewhere..

Shop Cat

14 replies so far

View firefighterontheside's profile (online now)


19060 posts in 2001 days

#1 posted 06-30-2016 08:32 PM

Well, I’ll address a few things. What direction are you feeding? Typically you want to be moving the router such that the router is not pulling itself along the cut. That is called climb cutting and can be dangerous. If your pieces are being thrown at you, you’re probably climb cutting. The little divots you speak of are probably from not keeping the router square to the piece. When possible try to use the router so that the base is sitting flat on the wider part of your piece. When you run the router on the edge there is not a large flat surface to keep the router flat on. You can clamp another piece flush with the edge and create a larger surface for the router to ride on. For handheld routing you have to either have bits with bearings or a collar on the router or some other guide that the router is following.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View bbasiaga's profile


1240 posts in 2140 days

#2 posted 06-30-2016 08:38 PM

The router is the most dangerous tool in the shop. I I’m moving towards really limiting what I have to use it for by getting a Dado stack, a router planer and potentially a.combo plane. Down to just patterning and my dovetail jig for the power router then.

If your router is variable speed, make sure you are using the right speed for the type of bits you have. Also, buy good bits, and make sure they stay sharp. The duller they are, the harder to operate. Some of the inexpensive bit kits dull in literally minutes of use.


-- Part of engineering is to know when to put your calculator down and pick up your tools.

View Plain's profile


157 posts in 843 days

#3 posted 06-30-2016 09:04 PM

You probably want to make the full depth cut at once. It is much safer and with a higher quality, albeit slower, to make a series of gradual cuts.

View DalyArcher's profile


115 posts in 1264 days

#4 posted 06-30-2016 09:20 PM

quality bits and if putting a profile on the edge and “freehand” routing as it were, use a good, solid table equipped with a starting pin. That little pin makes all the difference in the world as you approach the spinning bit with your material.

View Shop_Cat's profile


4 posts in 840 days

#5 posted 06-30-2016 09:53 PM

The router is new, has only one speed and is mounted upside down, bit side up, in a table. I made sure the table was level, that the little drop-in piece that covers the router is level and flush with the table. I tried using a fence and ensuring the ‘gap’ between the router bit and the fence was as small as possible. Bought new bits. Read the manual. Fed stock slowly in the correct direction.

Still grabs, still makes divots but only when rounding the corner on the piece.

Tried using those little safe-push doodads, made by Microjig. While those are safer, they are harder to use than just manually holding the piece. But you can’t replace your hands…so i continue to use them.

I use Freud bits, learned my lesson with the cheapies.

will post pics as soon as I can, thanks for the help!

View JoeinGa's profile


7739 posts in 2151 days

#6 posted 06-30-2016 10:21 PM

I think that when you turn the piece at the corner, you’re catching the corner and digging it deeper.

What about pushing one edge of the piece completely thru the router, THEN turn it and run the next edge thru. DONT try turning it when you reach the corner, just push it all the way past the cutter bit.

I believe the bit will round over each edge and give you the desired “rounded” corner.

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View firefighterontheside's profile (online now)


19060 posts in 2001 days

#7 posted 06-30-2016 10:44 PM

Ok, with straight edges on a router table use the fence as joeinga has said. If there is no bearing on the bit you have to use the fence as Joe said. Trying to turn the piece could be dangerous.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View MadMark's profile


979 posts in 1597 days

#8 posted 06-30-2016 11:21 PM

Get the fence out of the equation. Put in a small roundover bit for practice (with bearing.)

Hold the end to the right of the bit and draw it towards you as you start. Draw the piece toward you and as you get to the end slow feed the end past the cutter and around both corners. Once you are on the far side of the piece (piece between you & cutter) run the piece to the end and around.

If you have the fence near the bit and start to feed from the left or into the face of the fence you’ll get the bad results you are getting.


-- Madmark -

View sawdust703's profile


270 posts in 1565 days

#9 posted 07-01-2016 03:27 AM

My suggestion would be to get off your computer & go to your local library, find a couple books specifically about using & setting up a router, router bits, the different types of bits & their uses, & how to use a router table properly. My apologies for sounding sarcastic, but, instead of losing your fingers, an eye, or break something, & given all this fine advice you’re getting, it doesn’t mean a thing if you don’t understand the machine. Fear of the machine will make you learn to respect it, not use it properly. Hands on is the best teacher to a point. The main idea is learning & understanding your machine. If you don’t, all the advice in the world will not make a bit of difference. JMO.

-- Sawdust703

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

29875 posts in 2483 days

#10 posted 07-01-2016 03:45 AM

Welcome to Lumberjocks

Great description of your experience. Most of us have had a similar one. Routers are awesome, I have 7 and want a couple more. But like any of our standard tools, you must learn and follow the protocol. Usually if I am taking much off, I will make multiple passes till I reach the proper depth.

Good luck my friend, enjoy and ask questions when needed.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View WhoMe's profile


1564 posts in 3388 days

#11 posted 07-01-2016 05:03 AM

Cutting each long straight edge first then work on corners. This way a lot of the material is gone and won’t catch the bit if at all.
Also, books are ok but what you should really seek out are some hands on classes/seminars with an experienced instructor where you get the proper hands on experience with that instructor. Check out a local Rockler, Woodcraft or other specialty woodworking place that might conduct one day classes. Or the local college for some classes that may help but those may be a semester long.
Seek out local woodworking clubs, maybe a member can spend some time with you to teach you good techniques and setups that will help you get more comfortable with your router table.
Routers and router tables aren’t that scary. Just like any other woodworking tool, think and plan your work with good setups and safety in mind and NEVER NEVER be in a hurry.
You will be fine.

-- I'm not clumsy.. It's just the floor hates me, the tables and chairs are bullies, the wall gets in the way AAANNNDDD table saws BITE my fingers!!!.. - Mike -

View BlazerGator's profile


25 posts in 1334 days

#12 posted 07-01-2016 05:35 AM

I tried using a fence and ensuring the gap between the router bit and the fence was as small as possible.

To my understanding, this sounds problematic. If it means you’re passing the work-piece between the bit and the fence, that’s a dangerous practice. If you’re free-handing the piece against a bearing, then I’d suggest removing the fence completely. As has been previously mentioned, placing the starting pin in the table will prove helpful. There are probably numerous videos online to help illustrate that technique.

Also, when you post pictures, that will help people here troubleshoot the problem. For instance, if you’re profiling a 1”x3”x(some length), then I’d recommend against routing the ends of the board in the fashion it sounds like you’re using.

Good luck sorting it all out.

-- Blaze

View Shop_Cat's profile


4 posts in 840 days

#13 posted 07-01-2016 05:40 PM

Thanks for the help, folks! You’ve given me a lot of ideas. I dunno why the stock doesn’t just ride the bearing around the bit to make nice corners, but I’m definitely going to put your suggestions into practice. :)

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2835 days

#14 posted 07-02-2016 12:24 AM

Sanding those corners to a slightly rounded radius will help the “flow” around the corners. Also route the cross grain parts first and the next pass on the long grain will remove any cross grain tearout at the corners.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

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