Read the Grain

Just like the fur on the back of a cat, the grain along the edge of a board tends to run in one direction. If you feed the workpiece into the bit "against the grain," the odds of experiencing tearout greatly increase.

Whenever possible, I try to orient the workpiece so the grain runs "downhill" from the feed direction.

So whenever I have a choice on which edge of a board I'm routing, I take a look at the workpiece to "read" the grain before feeding it into the router bit. To minimize tearout, the grain should run off the edge of the board in the same direction as the rotation of the bit, as shown in the drawing below.

Whenever possible, I try to orient the workpiece so the grain runs "downhill" from the feed direction.

Bit rotation follows grain, reducing likelihood of tearout

Shallow Passes

You may have noticed that tearout seems to occur more often when you're taking a heavy cut. If you try to "hog off" too much material in one pass, the bit tends to pull out large chunks from the workpiece. A good way to avoid this problem is to rout the profile in multiple, shallow passes.

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