How to Use a Router

Routers are potentially dangerous but quite useful tools if handled with caution. A bit of handiness goes a long way when using a router, and without the proper knowledge of skill, the handling of a router should not be undertaken.

What you’ll need

  • Work gloves
  • Dust mask
  • Router bits
  • Router
  • Safety goggles
  • Sand paper


  1. Pick the bit you want to use and install it. Always use a sharp bit as dull edges create more work.
  2. Clamp the work securely. Place a rubber pad under your wood to prevent it from slipping.
  3. Fasten a piece of wood the same thickness as the work piece to your bench, using it to support the router and prevent wobbling, which can ruin work.
  4. Feed the router from left to right so the cutting edge of the bit meets the wood first.
  5. A deep pass can bind, burn the wood or twist the tool in your hands, so make a series of shallow passes, gradually extending the bit.
  6. Do not push the router as it causes the engine to slow. This in turn slows the blade creating chips and splinters. This can also possibly burn the wood as well.
  7. Use and edge guide whenever possible. Freehand cutting requires patience, steady hands and practice.
  8. Start the motor and lower the spinning blade into the work when routing somewhere other than on an edge.

Tips and warnings

  • Familiarise yourself with your router by reading the owner’s manual carefully and heeding all safety precautions.
  • Keep the receipt with the manual and other paperwork. Send in the warranty card soon after getting the router.
  • Wear goggles, gloves and dust mask while operating a router.
  • Never use a router on wet wood.
  • Watch for knots, warps and nails in the wood.
  • Always test your cuts on a similar scrap of wood to confirm proper cutting depth. If the wood burns, sneak up on the final cut depth by making three consecutively deeper cuts; removing a little wood at a time will prevent burns.
  • Sand wood edges smooth before routing with edge-trimming bits. Any flaw that the bearing meets in the edges will be transferred to the new profile.