What is a router used for in woodwork

What is a router used for in woodwork

A router is a versatile power tool that is commonly used in woodworking. It is a handheld device that has a spinning blade or bit that can be used to shape, cut, and hollow out areas in wood. The router is highly valued by woodworkers for its ability to create intricate designs and patterns, as well as its precision and efficiency.

One of the primary uses of a router in woodworking is to create decorative edges on wooden pieces. With the use of different router bits, woodworkers can create a wide variety of edge profiles, such as round, chamfered, cove, and ogee edges. These decorative edges can add elegance and visual interest to furniture pieces, cabinets, and other wooden objects.

In addition to creating decorative edges, a router can also be used for joinery purposes. It can be used to create strong and precise joints, such as dovetail joints, mortise and tenon joints, and box joints. These joints are essential in woodworking as they provide structural integrity to wooden pieces, ensuring that they are sturdy and durable.

Furthermore, a router can be used to carve out grooves and channels in wood. This can be useful for creating rabbets, which are commonly used in woodworking for joining two pieces of wood together, or for creating dadoes, which are used for shelving or housing joints. By using a router, woodworkers can achieve precise and clean-cut grooves, making it easier to fit pieces together accurately.

Overall, a router is an indispensable tool in woodworking. Whether it is used for creating decorative edges, making intricate joinery, or carving out grooves, the router provides woodworkers with the precision and versatility they need to bring their woodworking projects to life.

What is a Router?

A router is a versatile power tool used in woodworking to create different shapes, edges, and patterns on wood. It can be handheld or mounted on a table, and it uses a rotating bit to cut into the wood, similar to a drilling machine. The router is an essential tool for professional woodworkers and DIY enthusiasts due to its ability to perform a wide range of tasks.

There are two main types of routers: plunge routers and fixed-base routers. Plunge routers have a spring-loaded base that allows the bit to be plunged into the wood, making them suitable for creating intricate designs. Fixed-base routers are more stable and are often used for edge shaping and dado cutting.

Routers work by spinning a bit at high speeds, typically between 8,000 and 30,000 revolutions per minute (RPM). The bit is made up of a cutting edge that comes in various shapes, such as straight, roundover, chamfer, and cove. By changing the bit and adjusting the depth of cut, woodworkers can achieve different effects and create unique designs.

Woodworkers use routers for a variety of tasks, including:

  • Shaping edges: Routers can be used to create decorative edges on tabletops, cabinets, and other wooden pieces. This is done by using a specific bit, such as a roundover or ogee, to shape the edge of the wood.
  • Cutting grooves and slots: Routers can be used to cut grooves and slots in wood for joinery purposes. This makes it easier to connect two pieces of wood together, such as when making a dovetail joint or creating a sliding dovetail.
  • Creating dadoes and rabbets: Routers can be used to cut dadoes and rabbets, which are channels or recesses in the wood. These are commonly used in cabinetry to create shelves and slide-in pieces.
  • Making inlays and mortises: Routers can be used to create inlays by removing material from the wood surface and fitting a different material, such as metal or another type of wood, into the recess. They can also be used to create mortises, which are rectangular slots used for joinery.
  • Carving and engraving: Routers equipped with special bits can be used for carving intricate designs and engraving patterns on wood surfaces.

Overall, routers are highly versatile and precise tools that allow woodworkers to unleash their creativity and achieve professional-quality results in their woodworking projects.

The History of Routers

The history of routers in woodworking can be traced back to ancient times, where craftsmen used handheld tools to shape and carve wood. These early tools were simple in design and functioned much like a chisel or gouge.

As technology advanced, so did the tools used in woodworking. In the mid-19th century, the development of the steam engine enabled the creation of powered tools, including the first industrial routers. These early machines were large and cumbersome and were primarily used in commercial applications.

It wasn’t until the 20th century that routers became more accessible and practical for the average woodworker. In the early 1900s, the first handheld routers were introduced, allowing craftsmen to bring the tool to the workpiece, rather than the other way around.

Throughout the 20th century, advancements in technology and design led to the development of more versatile and efficient routers. Electric routers with motorized spindles and adjustable depth controls became popular, providing woodworkers with greater precision and control.

In the 1980s, computer numerical control (CNC) routers revolutionized the woodworking industry. CNC routers employ computerized controls to precisely and automatically move the router bit along pre-programmed paths. This automation greatly increased efficiency and accuracy in woodworking operations.

Today, routers are available in a variety of sizes, types, and power options, making them an essential tool for both professional woodworkers and hobbyists. From handheld and plunge routers to CNC machines, these versatile tools continue to evolve and shape the world of woodworking.

Uses of a Router

A router is a versatile power tool that is commonly used in woodworking. It can be used for a variety of tasks, making it an essential tool for any woodworker. Here are some of the main uses of a router:

  • Shaping and Trimming: One of the primary uses of a router is to shape and trim wood. With the appropriate router bit, it is possible to create intricate designs and decorative edges on wooden pieces. Routers are often used to create round-overs, chamfers, and other decorative profiles.
  • Joinery: Routers are commonly used for creating various kinds of joints in woodworking. The router can be used to cut dadoes, rabbets, and grooves for creating strong and precise joints. It is also commonly used for creating dovetail, box, and finger joints.
  • Routing Out Hinges: Routers are often used to create recesses for hinges and hardware installation. By using a jig or template, woodworkers can easily route out precise recesses for hinges, allowing them to be flush with the surface of the wood.
  • Routing Designs: Routers are excellent tools for creating intricate designs and patterns on wood. With the use of template guides and router bits, woodworkers can route out designs, letters, and patterns on wooden surfaces.
  • Cutting Mortises: Routers are commonly used for cutting mortises, which are square or rectangular holes in wood for joining purposes. With the use of a mortising attachment or a plunge router, woodworkers can easily and accurately cut mortises.
  • Flattening Surfaces: Routers can also be used for flattening and leveling uneven surfaces on wood. By using a surfacing bit and running the router across the surface, woodworkers can achieve a smooth and flat finish.

These are just some of the many uses of a router in woodworking. The versatility and precision of the tool make it an indispensable asset for any woodworker. Whether it’s shaping, joining, or creating intricate designs, a router is a valuable tool that can help bring any woodworking project to life.

Shaping Wood

One of the main functions of a router in woodworking is shaping wood. A router is a versatile tool that allows woodworkers to create a wide variety of decorative edges and profiles on wooden surfaces.

Here are some common techniques used for shaping wood with a router:

  1. Edge profiling: With the help of different router bits, woodworkers can shape the edges of a wooden piece. This can range from simple profiles like a round-over or chamfer to more complex profiles like ogee or cove.
  2. Router table: A router table is a stationary platform that holds the router upside down. This allows woodworkers to guide the wood over the router bit, resulting in precise and consistent cuts. Router tables are commonly used for edge profiling, joinery, and other shaping tasks.
  3. Template routing: By using a template and a flush trim router bit, woodworkers can replicate a shape or pattern onto multiple wooden pieces. This technique is often used for creating identical curved or intricate shapes.
  4. Carving and engraving: With the help of specialized router bits, woodworkers can carve intricate designs or create decorative engravings on wooden surfaces. These router bits can remove wood in a controlled manner, allowing for precise detailing.
  5. Decorative inlays: Routers can be used to create recesses or grooves on wooden surfaces to accommodate decorative inlay materials like metal, plastic, or wood strips. This technique adds visual interest and can be used to highlight specific areas of a wooden piece.

Overall, shaping wood with a router opens up a world of possibilities for woodworkers. It allows them to add decorative details, create unique profiles, and achieve precise cuts, ultimately enhancing the overall aesthetic and functionality of their woodworking projects.


In woodworking, joinery refers to the art of joining pieces of wood together to create a strong and durable structure. This is where a router plays a vital role.

A router is commonly used in joinery to create various types of joints. Joints are critical in woodworking, as they determine the overall strength and stability of a piece of furniture or other wooden structure.

Here are some common types of joints that can be created using a router:

  1. Dovetail joints: Dovetail joints are known for their strength and aesthetic appeal. They are often used in drawer construction and box making. A router with a dovetail bit can create perfectly shaped dovetails, ensuring a tight and secure fit between the pieces of wood.
  2. Finger joints: Finger joints, also known as box joints, are created by interlocking rectangular cuts in the ends of two pieces of wood. Routers with a straight bit and a jig can be used to create precise and tight-fitting finger joints.
  3. Mortise and tenon joints: Mortise and tenon joints are one of the oldest and strongest woodworking joints. They are commonly used in furniture making and frame construction. With a router and a mortising attachment, precise mortise cuts can be made, allowing for a tight-fitting tenon.
  4. Rabbet joints: Rabbet joints are created by cutting a groove along the edge of a piece of wood, allowing another piece of wood to fit into it. Routers fitted with a rabbeting bit can easily create accurate rabbet joints, often used in picture frames, cabinetry, and paneling.
  5. Edge joints: Edge joints are used to join two or more boards along their edges to create a wider panel. A router with a straight bit and a jointing fence attachment can be used to create clean and seamless edge joints. This joint is commonly used in tabletops, doors, and panels.

In addition to these joints, a router can also be used to create decorative edges, grooves, and inlays. This versatile tool allows woodworkers to unleash their creativity and add intricate details to their projects.

Overall, a router is an essential tool in woodworking joinery. Its ability to create precise and strong joints makes it invaluable for any woodworker looking to build sturdy and beautifully crafted wooden structures.

Creating Decorative Edges

A router is a versatile tool that can be used to create decorative edges on woodwork. Whether you’re making furniture, cabinets, or other woodworking projects, a router can add a professional touch to your work by adding decorative edges.

There are various router bits available that can be used to create different types of decorative edges. Some common router bits for creating decorative edges include:

  • Rounding over bit: This bit creates a rounded edge on the wood. It is often used to soften sharp edges and corners.
  • Cove bit: A cove bit is used to create a concave edge on the wood. It can give a classic look to your woodworking projects.
  • Chamfer bit: A chamfer bit creates a beveled edge on the wood. It can be used to add visual interest to the edges of your woodworking projects.
  • Ogee bit: An ogee bit creates an S-shaped edge on the wood. It is often used for decorative molding and trim.
  • Edge-forming bit: This type of bit can create various decorative edges, such as roman ogee, round nose, and cove.

When using a router to create decorative edges, it’s important to follow safety guidelines. Always wear appropriate safety gear, such as safety glasses and ear protection. Make sure to secure the wood properly and move the router in the right direction to achieve the desired edge.

Creating decorative edges with a router can enhance the appearance of your woodworking projects and give them a professional finish. Experiment with different router bits and techniques to create unique and interesting edges that will make your work stand out.

Types of Routers

Types of Routers

There are several types of routers available for woodworking, each designed for specific tasks and applications. Here are some of the common types:

  • Fixed-Base Router: This is the most basic type of router, where the cutting depth is set and locked in place. It is ideal for edge profiling, dado cutting, and other tasks that require a consistent depth of cut.
  • Plunge Router: A plunge router allows the user to plunge the bit into the material while it is running. This makes it suitable for tasks like making stopped cuts, mortising, and template routing.
  • Trim Router: As the name suggests, a trim router is used for trimming and shaping small edges and details. It is lightweight and compact, making it easy to handle and maneuver.
  • CNC Router: CNC (Computer Numerical Control) routers are automated routers that are controlled by a computer program. They are used for precision routing, carving, and engraving. They are commonly used in large-scale woodworking operations and industrial settings.
  • Router Table: A router table is not a type of router but rather a stationary work surface that holds a router. It provides stability and control when working with large pieces of wood. This setup is ideal for tasks such as edge routing and shaping.

It’s important to choose the right type of router for your woodworking projects based on the specific tasks you’ll be performing. Each type has its own advantages and limitations, so consider your needs and preferences before making a purchase.

Fixed Base Routers

Fixed base routers are a type of woodworking tool that is widely used in various woodworking projects. As the name suggests, the base of this router is fixed in place, providing stability and precision during operation.

One of the main advantages of a fixed base router is its ability to provide consistent and accurate cuts. The fixed base ensures that the router remains steady and does not move while cutting, resulting in clean and precise edges. This makes it ideal for tasks such as making grooves, dadoes, and rabbets.

Fixed base routers are also commonly used for shaping edges and creating decorative profiles. With the help of different router bits, woodworkers can achieve various profiles and designs on the edges of their workpieces. The fixed base allows for easy maneuverability and control, allowing woodworkers to create intricate and detailed designs.

Another benefit of fixed base routers is their versatility. They can be used with a wide range of router bits, allowing woodworkers to tackle different tasks and achieve various cuts and shapes. This versatility makes fixed base routers a valuable tool in any woodworking shop.

The operation of a fixed base router is relatively simple. The router bit is securely attached to the base, and the depth of cut is set by adjusting the position of the bit. The user then guides the router along the workpiece, allowing the bit to remove material and create the desired shape or cut.

Fixed base routers often come with additional features such as adjustable speed controls and dust collection systems. These features enhance the functionality and efficiency of the router, making woodworking tasks easier and more enjoyable.

In conclusion, fixed base routers are an essential tool in woodworking. They provide stability, accuracy, and versatility, allowing woodworkers to create precise cuts, shape edges, and achieve intricate designs. Whether you’re a professional woodworker or a hobbyist, a fixed base router is a valuable addition to your workshop.

Plunge Routers

A plunge router is a type of router that allows the cutting bit to be plunged into the material, rather than starting at the edge and working inwards. This feature makes plunge routers ideal for tasks such as creating grooves, mortises, and dadoes.

The main advantage of using a plunge router is the ability to make precise and controlled cuts. Unlike a fixed base router, where the cutting depth is set before starting the router, a plunge router allows you to adjust the cutting depth while the router is in operation. This makes it easier to make accurate cuts at specific depths.

Plunge routers are also equipped with a spring-loaded mechanism that allows the cutting bit to retract into the base when not in use. This feature not only protects the bit from damage but also prevents accidental cuts when the router is not being used.

Plunge routers are commonly used for various woodworking tasks, including:

  • Creating inlays and decorative designs
  • Routing channels for wires and cables
  • Making mortises for hinges and locksets
  • Cutting dadoes for joinery
  • Forming grooves for splines and dowels

When using a plunge router, it is important to secure the workpiece properly, as the plunging action can cause the router to move or slip if not held securely. It is also essential to use the appropriate safety equipment, such as safety glasses and ear protection, to protect against any potential hazards.

Overall, plunge routers offer versatility and precision, making them a valuable tool for a wide range of woodworking projects.

Combination Routers

A combination router is a versatile tool that combines the functions of a plunge router and a fixed-base router. It allows woodworkers to perform a variety of tasks with just one tool, making it a popular choice for both professional and hobbyist woodworkers.

Combination routers have a motor that can be detached from the base and used as a handheld plunge router. The base can also be used as a fixed-base router by attaching the motor to it. This flexibility allows woodworkers to switch between plunge routing and fixed-base routing without needing multiple tools.

With a combination router, woodworkers can create intricate designs, shapes, and joineries. It can be used to make mortises, dadoes, flutes, and other decorative patterns. It also enables woodworkers to create precise and clean cuts, edges, and profiles.

Combination routers typically come with a variety of accessories and attachments, such as edge guides, templates, and different size collets, which further expand their capabilities. These accessories allow woodworkers to achieve even more precise results and tackle a wider range of woodworking projects.

Whether you need to make delicate cuts or more robust joints, a combination router can handle it all. Its versatility and functionality make it an indispensable tool in any woodworker’s arsenal.


Why do woodworkers use routers?

Woodworkers use routers because they are versatile tools that can be used for a wide range of tasks, such as shaping edges, creating intricate designs, and cutting joinery.

What are some common uses for a router in woodworking?

A router can be used for many tasks in woodworking, including creating decorative profiles on edges, making dado cuts, routing mortises and tenons, and creating rabbets and grooves.

Can a router be used for making intricate designs?

Yes, a router is commonly used for making intricate designs in woodworking. By using different router bits and templates, woodworkers can create beautiful and detailed patterns on their projects.

Is a router suitable for cutting joinery?

Yes, a router is a great tool for cutting joinery in woodworking. It can be used to create dovetail joints, box joints, and even complex joinery like the mortise and tenon. The precise control and versatility of a router make it an ideal tool for joinery work.

What are the advantages of using a router in woodworking?

There are several advantages to using a router in woodworking. It allows for precise and controlled cutting, can create complex profiles and designs, and is versatile enough to be used for a variety of tasks.


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