Laminate Trimmers

A laminate trimmer is an extra-small router designed especially for routing plastic laminates. I he small-diameter base has no handles. To hold the trimmer, you grip the motor barrel, which is about 3 inches in diameter.

The reduced size allows the trimmer to be used effectively in tight quarters. It can be balanced on a narrow edge more easily than a full-sized router. And because you can hold it in one hand, it's easy to maneuver.

Although it is ostensibly a tool for laminate work, it can be an extremely handy router for all sorts of woodworking. Any job requiring compactness and maneuverability is a job for a laminate trimmer.

Fred says that, were he to be tooling up his own home shop for the first time, a laminate trimmer is the router he'd buy second, after a 1 /2-horsc fixed-base router and before any son of plunge router.

One caveat: The trimmer is really just that. With a rating of Vi horsepower or less, the trimmer is not able to drive big bits. It's designed to cut through ^»-inch-thick layers of plastic laminate, not plowing deep or wide grooves or putting a Vs-inch roundoveron oak or maple in a single pass. I've used a trimmer with a slot cutter to make splined miter joints, but Fred believes a slot cutter is too big for a lam trimmer.

The danger is not to the bearings but to the motor itself. If it starts to bog down, the motor is under the kind of load that will pretty quickly overheat it. That'll burn the commutator and destroy the motor.

Light weight and one-handed maneuverability make the laminate trimmer an ideal general-purpose router.

The offset-base laminate trimmer (left) has a belt-driven collet mounted at a corner of the base, not directly on the motor. It's designed to allow a cabinet installer to trim backsplashes (including inside corners) and to scribe-rout a countertop to a wall. The design puts the machine's weight squarely on the workpiece. not directly above the edge Xn more tipping. The tilt-base model (right) allows you to set the motor—and thus the bit—at an angle to the work surface. While it's designed for trimming odd-angled edges and corners, the creative woodworker will find it has all sorts of other uses. And it functions fferfectly well when it's holt upright, too.

Not all collet designs facilitate this approach, however. Some collet nuts have only two flats, limiting wrench positions. You fumble with the wrenches, trying to find the arrangement that will give you the leverage you need. Just extra vexation.

A built-in arbor lock seems to be found mostly on plunge routers, though Sears has used it on some fixed-base models for a couple of decades. Press a button (and hold it, of course) to lock the arbor, then use a single wrench to loosen or tighten the collet nut. Try changing bits in a router with this feature before deciding whether or not you have to have it. It still takes two hands to loosen the collet. Because you don't have a second wrench to work against, you have to put more arm in the action. And if the nut cracks free rather than gently giv ing—that wrench can really ding a plunge rod.

The cord can convey something about the router. On a quality tool, the rnrd is heavier and hrtwr insulated. There's a reinforcement, as on Itoth of these machines, where the cord enters the motor housing, so the insulation won't crack and break at this hea\y wear point. The cord on a Milwaukee router (top) is distinctive in its girth, while that on Makita's D-handled model is distinctive in its length—17 feet.

The cord can convey something about the router. On a quality tool, the rnrd is heavier and hrtwr insulated. There's a reinforcement, as on Itoth of these machines, where the cord enters the motor housing, so the insulation won't crack and break at this hea\y wear point. The cord on a Milwaukee router (top) is distinctive in its girth, while that on Makita's D-handled model is distinctive in its length—17 feet.

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Woodworking Tools and Installation Tips

Woodworking Tools and Installation Tips

There are a lot of things that either needs to be repaired, or put together when youre a homeowner. If youre a new homeowner, and have just gotten out of apartment style living, you might want to take this list with you to the hardware store. From remolding jobs to putting together furniture you can use these 5 power tools to get your stuff together. Dont forget too that youll need a few extra tools for other jobs around the house.

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