Whether you’re a seasoned woodworker, or just starting out, these router safety tips will help you work safer in your shop. I’ve been a woodworker for 30 years, and trust me… I’ve made every mistake told here at least once. Fortunately, other than bruised pride and wasting some wood, I haven’t been hurt. Keep yourself as safe as you can in your shop. Judiciously use your machine guards and use hold-downs and hold-ins whenever possible. Here are some rules to follow, and some things to avoid when using your router.
1. Unplug the Tool. Make sure your router is unplugged before you insert bits, make height adjustments, or do any other setup type procedure. This is a good habit to get into with all your power tools and machinery.
2. Wear Hearing Protection. Routers are notorious “screamers.” Even so, I still see some friends using their routers but not wearing hearing protection. The cumulative effects of loud noise will eventually take its toll on your hearing. Purchase high decibel reduction hearing protection and use it always.
3. Push Pad for Better Gripping. Use a push pad when routing grooves using a router table. The push pad gives you a positive grip for pushing the work piece down and across the bit. It also helps keep your pushing hand further away from the area where the bit will exit the work piece at the end of the cut.
4. Big Bit, Slow Speed. The rule of thumb is: The larger the bit diameter, the slower the router speed. See the speed chart below. Make it a habit to adjust your router’s speed down before you insert the bit. That way it will not be going too fast by accident when you turn on the router.
5. Position the Fence Correctly. Never trap your material between the bit and fence on profile cuts. The set up shown is the correct method for routing an edge profile on a router table; with the bit inside the fence. The only time it’s OK to use the fence with a bit away from the fence is when you rout a groove of some sort. Even then, when the bit exits the work piece at the end of the cut, it will grab slightly and push the work piece forward.
6. Two Pass Grooves. When routing a groove with a setup like this where two passes are required to finish the groove width, the second pass is always made so that cut is further from the edge guide fence. That way, the edge guide will be pulled tight to the work piece edge by the forces of the routing, instead of pushed away.
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