router technique help from intermediate or expert craftsman

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Forum topic by fr8train posted 04-22-2012 09:52 PM 1059 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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19 posts in 3431 days

04-22-2012 09:52 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question cherry router shaping

Gentlemen (or ladies).

I am cutting out a handle for a slide out shelf I am placing in a Cherry cabinet. I have real bad past experience with trying to cut out similar shapes in wood with my router and router table. The last time that I tried, the workpiece flew across my shop…. I have been gun shy since. I get it that a start pin and a flush trim router bit are the way to go (seen folks do it for guitar bodies), but I don’t have a template cut out for the workpiece….. cutting the template would lead to me ask the same question (how do I cut the template? Catch 22….) Enclosed is a rough sketch of what I am trying to do….. the piece is about 18”x2” and is 3/4” thick. I know it is a basic technique, but one that I never learned. Any help is appreciated.

Similarly, I am looking to cut neat strips out of the back of the cabinet in 1/4” plywood. I tried to smooth out the edges on the router table in my last project, and the router grabbed the workpiece at the corner and flinged it around wildly, loosening my mount screws and leading me to tapping new holes in my mounts….. don’t want to do that again.

Would appreciate any help with my flawed techniques…..

3 replies so far

View oldnovice's profile


6833 posts in 3361 days

#1 posted 04-23-2012 12:23 AM


You can make a template out of hardboard (Masonite) with coping saw or saber saw and file it to the smoothness desired (you can test the smoothness by cutting some scrap pieces). Make sure that the template material is big enough so that the router base can remain flat and in contact with the template through your entire cut.

Cut the work piece with a coping saw, sabre saw, or band saw to remove all but about 1/8” inch of the material to make it easier to smooth it out with the template and router (less if you are using a 1/4” bit to reduce tear out).

Mount the template to the work piece with carpet tape … don’t use too much tape because you want to be able to remove the template after your cutting is done and not destroy the template.

Sorry I don’t have any graphics which would have made this description a lot easier!!!

If you have guide bushings then you can use a straight bit and with successive cuts remove the material. Remember, that there is an offset between a guide bushing and the bit which will effect the size of cut. To calculate the offset, subtract the diameter of the bit from the diameter of the bushing and divide by two; the router cut will be that distance from the template. You can mount the template as above.

By varying the combination of bushings and bits you can effectively change the size of the cut. I have some circle templates that, with varying the bushing and bit size, give me a quite a few different diameter circles.

I have used both of these methods and each work. The latter one takes more router cuts while the former one requires material removal before routing.

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View twiceisnice's profile


95 posts in 2820 days

#2 posted 04-23-2012 12:27 AM

If you dont have a bandsaw cut it out with a jig saw . If you dont have a spindle sander go get some drum sanders for your drill press. They are pretty inexpensive.

View fr8train's profile


19 posts in 3431 days

#3 posted 04-23-2012 03:35 AM


I appreciate your assistance…. thanks for all of the advice. This is a better way to learn, rather than a trip to the hospital and the old “I wish I would have…..” method.

And, I got it done…. I applied physics and lessons learned from the past….. I used the bandsaw for the rough cut and then set the fence up on the routher table to take out the excess material in the straight cut…. For the edges, I carefully fed the piece from the front of the table (closest to me and(against the blade spin) with the fence on one side acting as my guide….. it came out perfect. Will snap some pics…... can’t say I wasn’t nervous, but I stayed careful…. all digits are still there!

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