Three general types of hearing protectors are available.

Canal caps flower left) are soft pads (usually foam) attached to a headband. The pads are supposed to cover lite ear canal opening and seal it off. The headband is intended to keep the pads in place. If you put them on just right, they work fine, but they're tricky to put on correctly, and they are dislodged relatively easily.

Muffs (top right) generally work better than any other protectors. Their large pads cover the entire outer ear, sealing against the surrounding bone. The obvious drawback is that they're bulky. With protracted use, they squash the ears, and they make you sweat. So you end up putting them on and taking them off, putting them on and taking them off.

Ear plugs (top left) arc designed for protracted use. You insert them in the ear canals and leave them there for the duration of your work session. There are many types—foam, wax. and rubber, air-cushioned plugs, and custom earmolds. Among the best ear pJugs are those made of foam flower right). Though labeled dis/wsable.foarn plugs are washable and can be reused.

Prominently displayed on the packaging is the Noise Reduction Rating, reflecting the number of decibels the protector will cut from a noise. The higher the number, the better the protection. As you make a selection, try to balance MRR with comfort and convenience. After all, the best NRR does you no good if you don't wear the protectors. If they aren't comfortable and convenient,you probably won't wear them.

For the best protection, insert foam ear plugs when you enter the shop, then put on muffs each timcyou use a power tool like the router.

A router is an intimidating tool. Oh, it's just a little package, but when you switch it on, it gives that startling jerk. And it runs roughly six times faster than your power saw or your drill. If you simply wobble it a little in the air as it runs, you can feel the dynamic power.

More than anything, it is the noise it makes that gets you. Not only is the usual router loud, but the shriek has a frantic urgency about it. The router just plain sounds dangerous. Nevertheless, the gruesome router injur)' is atypical. It's the long-term, debilitating injuries that are the router's primary threats.

The routers noise is a threat.

Most people know that extended exposure to loud noise not only can. but will, cause impaired hearing. Of two sounds of equal intensity, the higher-frequency sound is more likely to cause hearing damage. So a router cutting at high speed, emitting its characteristic high-pitched whine, produces exactly the sort of sound that damages hearing.

Be smart. Wear your hearing protection.

The dust and chips a router spews are threats. Because of the barrage of panicles the router produces, it's almost impossible to effectively use one without eye protection.

The dust that accompanies the chips is another ubiquitous hazard. The router can produce some pretty small panicles that hang in the air for a long time. The routing action works like a seed spreader to scatter the stuff, and this makes it really difficult to accomplish any kind of source dust collection.

The only real protection available to us is to wear some kind of dust mask.

Safety is more than simply wear-ing goggles. It's working thoughtfully and staying alen. It's keeping tools in good repair and using the conect tool for each job. It's routinely cleaning up after yourself. It's having a helper around when you need extra hands, and not having distractions when you need to concentrate.

Here are some general safety guidelines:

• Be ready mentally for the work. Don't drag yourself into the shop if you arc :ired, irritable, distracted, or preoccupied.

• Dress the part. Leave the loose, showy jewelry on the dresser. Wear fairly close-fitting clothes, and roll up your sleeves. Don't underestimate the value of wearing comfortable clothcs and shoes. Do wear goggles and ear mufls or plugs when appropriate. Use a dust mask when appropriate.

• Maintain a well-ordered workplace. Get yourself a big waste barrel, use it, and empty it regularly. Heavily engaged, the router generates mounds of chips. Sweep up as you work, picking jp and tossing scraps. Keep tools and materials stored neatly, accessibly, and out of the way. Give yourself enough room to work.

• Know your tools. Read tool manuals and books, or take a course to leam how to adjust, maintain, and operate power tools correctly and safely. Take time to set up for a task, using firm work supports and whatever clamps, jigs, guides, or guards are necessary and appropriate.

• Plan your work. Sketch the project and note its dimensions and parts. Beyond that, visualize the tasks so you can control each operation. Don't stretch so far, in making a cut. that you lose your grip on and control of the router.

• Focus on the job at hand. A helper isn't helping if he or she distracts you. You need to concentrate.

Finally, don't be a cheapskate about safety. If you're willing to spend $200 for a router and hundreds more for bits, invest in top-quality eye and hearing protection. It shouldn't cost you more than $50 for goggles and a face shield, for mufls and some ear plugs. and a supply of nuisance-dust masks.

Eye protection is available for everyone. People who wear prescription glasses will find as many options as those who don't.

Safety glasses have two forms these days: the traditional spectacles with side shields (lower left), which can be fitted with prescription lenses, and the wraparound glasses (lower right), which will fit over prescription glasses. Both forms are made of impact-resistant, shatterproof plastic and are light and comfortable.

Goggles (top right) have a soft, usually vented, body and an impact-resistant and shatterproof polycarbonate lens. Their advantage over safety glasses is that they seat tightly against the face, sealing off the area around the eyes. (A lot of safety glasses leave gaps, notably between the rims and eyebrows.) They can be worn over prescription glasses. Goggles tend to fog up. though most makers offer models that are not supposed to.

Face shields (top left) protect the entire face, not just the eyes. Most models feature a curved, clear-plastic barrier to shield the face from ear to eat and from eyebrows to chin. This shield is attached to an opaque shell that protects the forehead, and the unit is attached to a headband.

When shopping for eye protection, look for a marking "287.1, "the identifier for the eye protection requirements established by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). If the eye protection is marked ANSI Z87.1 or just 2187.1, it is the manufacturer's guarantee that the protector conforms to the government standard and is suitable for use in the commercial or industrial workplace. The differences between eye wear that meets the standard and eye wear that doesn't is not obxious. Price differences will be minimal. Lookfor the ANSI marking.

burning of the wood. To be sure you iced the proper direction, the cardinal rule of router feeding for edge work is:


Confused? Here's a translation. Think of the router bit as a tire. Imagine that as you touch the spinning bit/tire to the edge of the work-piece, it smokes like a dragster and takes off along the edge of the work, with you along for the ride. That's the direction the router would go if you let it. But don't let it. Feed it the opposite way.

The main reasons you feed the router the opposite way are safety and control. You're dealing with a lot of power and speed, and they don't automatically take a break every time your human concentration does. If you feed the contrary way we suggest, you'll notice that when you slip, lose concentration, or get a little off balance, the router will minutely back up into an area that has already been cut. This allows the cutter to spin freely while you regain your balance and poise.

If you feed in the direction the router wants to go, which is called climb cutting, you'll probably do okay for a while. But sooner or later you'll relax a bit, and then what happens? The bit will climb right out of the cut—See! A climb cut— assume the character of a tire, and take you for that dragster ride. Usually not life-threatening, but certainly not dignified.

Of course, this is effective only so long as you're doing edge work with a piloted bit or with a fence, cither of which prevents the cutter from "forging inland." With an un-
















All commercially available routers turn the same way, even in the South-em Hemisphere. If you hold the router with the bit down, in standard handheld operating orientation, the bit will turn clockwise. This allows bit manufacturers to make all of their wares to cut the same direction, but it also allows us to make some rules about how to use the router safely and effectively.

A fair percentage of the work done by routers is edge work with a piloted cutter. That means that the cutter has a small end projecting down past the cutting edges. This projection rubs the edge of the work-piece and guides the cutter. Most piloted cutters have a ball-bearing tip to prevent undue friction and







piloted cutter, you'll very quickly notice that as you push the router away from you, the rotation of the cutter will drag the router to your left. As you pull it toward you. it will claw its way to your right.

You can use that tendency to your advantage. Most router work, whether on edges or out in the middle of the stock, calls for straight lines or smooth curvcs rather than the jerk)', jagged edges you'd get freehand. That means that most router work is done with either piloted cutters or some type of fence or template. In any of those cases this rule will apply:


From this rule come all of the more specific ones that say things such as "When you push the router the fence must be on the left; when you pull, the fence must be on the right." or "When you rout around the outside of a frame, go counterclockwise; when you rout around the inside of a frame, go clockwise." It's a lot easier to remember only one.


Here's another dilemma: splinters. Anytime you rout across a board's end grain, you're going to get some degree of splintering as you exit at the comer. If you're routing all around a piece—say, something like a plaque —you can rout the ends first, letting the corncrs blow away. Then rout the long-grained sides, which will, in most cases, clean up the blown-out comers.

If you're not routing the long-grained sides—let's say you're cutting shelf dadoes in a cabinet side— you can't get away with the previous strategy. Here you need to clamp pieces of scrap stock to the edges where your cuts will exit. Cut right into the scrap, and let it support the good edges of the project to prevent blowout.

There's another splintering problem that's fairly common. It's one that takes a little more imagination to remedy. Sometimes, when you're routing along the edge of a board, the cutter will pull out a splinter from the area ahead of the cut. That's always annoying, but it becomes a real problem when the grain "runs in" so that the split extends into the area that isn't supposed to be cut.

Let's take a quick look at what's really making the splinters. As the cutler arcs through the wood, it starts to cut nearly parallel with the grain. As it nears the edge of the stock, it is cutting almost perpendicular to it. This is the most difficult direction for the cutting action, as well as the weakest situation for the wood to
















P^PBagi outward push of bit's




outward push of bit's

















resist splitting. 1 he cutter passes a point where it takes less force to split the wood than to cut through it.

So what can we change to prevent splitting? Either make the bit cut better or make the wood stronger! Don't laugh; we can do both. Obviously. a sharp bit will cut more easily than a dull one. In many cases a shearing or spiral bit will cut more easily than a straight one. And anything you can do to "back up" the wood will help it to stay together.

Many router experts suggest that you take a light pass in the wrong direction—make a climb cut—to eliminate some of the outside wood where the angle of attack is too abrupt.


In every chapter of this book, we try to answer that key woodworking question: "How do 1 get the job done with the router 1 have in my shop?"

And in every chapter, the answers involve jigs and fixtures that you caw make yourself. In a few cases, you can buy a jig that does much the same thing. But why would you buy a commercial jig when you can realize two satisfactions by making it yourself? First, there's the joy of having successfully built it. Then there's the joy of having saved a lot of money.

When the jig is completed, your payoff is that it helps you do better woodworking and thus improves your skill level and your—yes— satisfaction.

1 should point out that the difference between a jig and a fixture is purely technical. A fixture is something that "fixes" the work, holding it securely so die router can be moved over it. A vise is a fixture. A jig puts the work or the router through controlled movements (think of the dance known as the jig). It guides the cut, by guiding either the work or the router A trammel is a jig. (A jig can have fixtures on it: A sled for the router table is a jig. and the toggle clamp on it is a fixture.)

One of the things that make woodworking so interesting is that there are usually several ways to accomplish the same task. For example, if you p?gc through the chaptcr "Dadoing and Grooving," you'll find several different jigs and fixtures that'll enable you to cut accurate, consistent dadoes. There are several different fences (jigs) to use if you have a bit of the correct size for the dado you want to cut. There's one jig—the double-bar dadoing guide—to use if you want to cut. say, a Va-inch-widc dado with a Vi-inch bit. And there's another—the fractionating baseplate—to use in conjunction with a fence to cut that same dado with that same bit.

There arc some jigs and fixtures you'll build without a specific task in mind. Maybe you'll build a router table, knowing it will expand your router woodworking horizons, yet without knowing just how far in all directions those new horizons will stretch. If you are like me. you'll quickly take to wondering why you waited so long to get it built.

In making the jigs and fixtures in this book, keep in mind that jig making can be very creative and spontaneous. Solving problems is definitely an eclectic process. Most of the router jigs and fixtures in this book came into being because some-woodworker faced a problem and found a way to solve it. He shared his solution with others, some of whom adopted his solution, but more of whom adapted it.

That's the evolutionary part of woodworking! You confront problems and struggle to find solutions. The more you read—in magazines, in books like this one—the better prepared you arc to solve those woodworking problems. You've seen similar problems solved, you know the parameters of your particular problem. then one day. Pow!—it hits you. An adaptation is what you need.

In this book, you'll find detailed plans for making and specific instructions for using every router jig and fixture presented. If the jig suits your needs exactly, follow the directions exactly. However, if after reading about the jig or fixture you say to yourself. "This jig would work better for me if 1...," make it your own way! We've given you an idea and goaded you into creating your own design that'll solve your particular problem.


The most basic maintenance action you can take is to keep your router clean. It's a really simple thing, and we so often neglect to just dust the chips off. Use a dust brush or a dry cloth. That's all it takes.

Do you need to vacuum the motor? Or. as some experts suggest, blow compressed air through the vents in the motor housing?

I don't think cither is vital. If you have the equipment, go ahead. I merely clean off the dust at the end of a session so the vents aren't blocked at the beginning of the next session, and so the fan doesn't suck a great charge of dust in when it's first started up. Routing puts a lot of dirt in the air, unfortunately, and when the machine is shut down, the dust settles. I don't think it settles inside the motor housing; it needs the fan's active help to get in there. If the machinc can breathe dust and chips when it's operating, then it'll sur vive the little dust left inside when the fan stops.

Oh, compressed air is really great, don't get me wrong. But outside of commercial shops, how many of us have air compressors? I sure don't. I don't even have one on my wish list.

The router most at risk from dust is the one hanging under a table, especially in an enclosed cabinct. This is the router that doesn't get dusted oil after every use. It does get dumped on whenever you run a dust brush across the tabletop; dirt almost always drops through the bit opening, settling into the collet and onto the motor. Presumably, this dust gets blown into the air the instant the router is turned on. since air llow is always from the brush end of the motor to the collet end. But if the router's enclosed, the cabinct can literally fill with chips and dust and smother the motor. That's one of the reasons why Fred never encloses a table-mounted router. (See the chapter "Router Table Design.")

Dust Collection

Don't be passive about woodworking dust. You can attack it two ways—by trying to capture as much of it as possible before it gets into the air, and by filtering the air you breathe through an appropriate mask.

Dust collection is problematic at best. A number of router manufacturers (notably l:lu and Bosch) sell dust-collection accessories for their machines. Connected to a shop vac. these accessories do a pretty good job of capturing the chips and dust kicked up by the router during hand-held opera tions. The range of bits you can use in conjunction with them is somewhat limited, as is the range of operations. And not only do you have a power cord to deal with, you also have a vacuum hose to manage and a shop vac to keep at hand (but not underfoot).

If you are doing a protracted operation, it's prudent to combine the use of a collector with the wearing of a dust mask. Your nose is a pretty good dust collector, but if you overload it, which is easy to do. the dust will go straight to your lungs.

A router hanging under a table gets neglected more often than not. You can circumvent a lot of router and collet problems by lifting the router out of the table, dusting it, and vacuuming the dust out of the collet every time you clean off the table.

Dusting off the machine provides an opportunity to check it over. Is the cord okay? Anything loose that should be tight? Any cracks? Is pitch streaked on the baseplate? If you pull the bit after each session, it's an opportunity to clean and check the collet, and maybe pull at the arbor to check the router bearings as well. These things get overlooked when you're concentrating on the

Elu's dust collection sy stem has a clear plastic shroud around the bit, with a connection for a long, flexible hose. You connect the hose toyour shop vac, and that pro\ides the necessary suction and dust collection point. It works suqyrisingly well.


Rout a stack of pine boards, and you 7I have a baseplate streaked with pitch. Clean off the pitch, and wax the baseplate at the same time, by-applying paste wax with a plastic abrasive pad. The pad will looseit and carry away the grit and dirt. Then polish off the waxy residue with a dry cloth to keep the router sliding smoothly on subsequent jobs.

Rout a stack of pine boards, and you 7I have a baseplate streaked with pitch. Clean off the pitch, and wax the baseplate at the same time, by-applying paste wax with a plastic abrasive pad. The pad will looseit and carry away the grit and dirt. Then polish off the waxy residue with a dry cloth to keep the router sliding smoothly on subsequent jobs.

Particularly if it's used in a router table, a plunge router's plunging mechanism periodically needs to be disassembled, cleared of sawdust, cleaned, and lightly oiled. Blow out the bores in the motor housing, clean the springs, and burnish the rods with a Teflon-safe abrasive pad (if it won't scratch Teflon, the pad won't scratch the rods either). Lube the rods with a light machine oil, wiping it on with a soft cloth. Then reassemble the router.

bit and the setting you need lor the next cut. But at the end of the job, you need to make sure the tool will be ready to use the next time you need it.

Don't you just hate it when you're all fired up about some woodworking. and you pull out a tool and discover you've got to tinker with it for 10 or 20 minutes, just to get it ready to use?


We've probably all read articles by folks who seem to be bragging about how fast they wore out their router's bearings, as if that validates their seriousness as woodworkers. Don't let such stuff spook you. Unless you arc in a commercial situation, where the router is running constantly, day in and day out. or unless you abuse the router by running out-of-balancc bits persistently, its bearings are going to last a good long time.

This is true even though the router, spinning at 22.000 rpm, is harder on bearings than any other power tool.

Curiously, the bearings in a router wear most quickly when they are not under load. The device and its bearings arc designed to run tntc when under load, which is what the engineer designs for, figuring that 99 percent of the time that the router's running it's under load. And mostly that's a safe assumption. You switch on the motor, make your cut, then switch it off. You seldom stand around with the motor just running... unless you have the machine mounted under a table. Then, instead of killing the power between cuts, you let it run. You aren't unclamping and clamping workpicccs between cuts, you're merely setting one aside and reaching for the next. And the router is wailing away the whole time. This is called "run on." Hard on the bearings. Don't let your router run on. Use a foot switch with your table-mounted router.

Worn bearings generate heat. The router should never be too hot to handle. IT it is. failing bearings may be the cause. Worn bearings sometimes make popping or cracking noises. Slowly turn the arbor with your fingers. Hear anything? Or feel anything? A spot on every rotation where the arbor drags or slows down can be signaling a bad bearing. Try wiggling the arbor from side to side. Pull on it. See if it seems loose. Any play or looseness, any of what engineers call slop, tells you to have the bearings replaced.


The most troublesome part of the router—the collet—needs to be checked frequently. Remember that the collet is the connection between the power source and the cutter. If it Isn't in perfect condition, a number of bad things can happen.

The usual collet ills stem from dirt and pitch. You inadvertently get some chips in the collet. Maybe it rusts a little or gets pitted. These little things can lead to slippage. If the slippage is egregious, both the bit and the collet can suffer galling, which is the damage that results when two unlubricated metal parts rub against one another.

Keep the collet clean and polished. If it gets pitch on it. use the appropriate solvent to remove it (even oven cleaner will work). (One note of caution: If you use a solvent, like lacquer thinner, that removes oils from the metal, you should follow

Particularly if it's used in a router table, a plunge router's plunging mechanism periodically needs to be disassembled, cleared of sawdust, cleaned, and lightly oiled. Blow out the bores in the motor housing, clean the springs, and burnish the rods with a Teflon-safe abrasive pad (if it won't scratch Teflon, the pad won't scratch the rods either). Lube the rods with a light machine oil, wiping it on with a soft cloth. Then reassemble the router.

up with a little WD-40 to prevent rusting. Blow or wipe off" the excess.) Scour ihe outside regularly with fine steel wool or an abrasive kitchen pad. Brush the bore with a finc-bristlcd brass brush. What you want to do is prevent rust from attacking the collet. Rust is veiy hard to remove without affecting the size of the collet and without leaving a gritty residue that itself can contribute to bit slippage.

Even if you do give the collet this routine care, it can be damaged. It will wear out. Perhaps one of your bits has an undersized shank. It slips regardless of how you tighten the collet nut. Galling results. Maybe you've let a bit get too dull, and the clash between the router's power and the bit's resistance is too much for the collet. Slippage. Galling.

If ihe bit creeps out of the colict, regardless of how tight you jam the

While it's important fo clean the collet and sockct regularly,you don't want to use a cleaner that will ahradr the surfaces. Repeated cleanings could conceivably alter the dimensions of the collet—rememl>er that tolerances are measured in thousandths of an inch. Use a Teflon-safe abrasive kitchen pad to buniish the collet, its nut, and the arbor socket.

collet nut, oneway or another you've got a collet problem. When the bit creeps out, it's undoubtedly cutting deeper than you intended and is possibly ruining your work. Obviously, that's bad.

If the bit develops rings around the shank, you know the bit is slipping—meaning it's spinning more slowly than the motor. In the worst of cases, the bit stops completely when it contacts the work. You can be pretty sure that either you didn't tighten the collet—it's possible!—or the collet is worn. If the rings are deep enough and extensive enough, the bit can be unusable.

If the bit bends or breaks, it is not unlikely that a worn collet contributed to its demise. Maybe it let the bit wobble. Maybe it let the bit shank creep out. It probably did bodi: The more it wobbled, the more it crept; the more it crept, the more it wobbled. Pretty quickly the bit's leverage overcomes the shank's strength.

I've never wrestled with a router that's spinning a bent-shank bit. My colleague Jeff Day. who has, tells me its like wresting with a vicious animal. You know you arc barely in control. It's giving you the shaking of your life, and you know that if you relax for just a millisecond, its going to bite you. Severely. So you do a weird bob and weave around the shop, trying to kick the plug out of the outlet to kill the motor, knowing that if you relax your grip enough to get to the switch, you'll lose control completely.

And very probably, the villain in this act is that one-ounce bit of metal: the collet. (The scene, by the way. is a pretty convincing testimonial for trigger and foot switches.)

Ordinary wear produces a condition known to machine tool tech nicians as "bell-mouthing." The ends of the collet bore get larger than the center portion. It's the sort of thing that happens when you try to pull a partially driven nail with your fingers. You wiggle it back and forth, trying to work it loose, and at the surface of the wood, the nail hole gets distorted and enlarged. Well, centrifugal forcc does the same thing to the bit that you did to the nail. It tries to pull it away from the axis of the arbor. When the bell mouthing gets pronounced, the bit spins in an axis that's not concentric to the axis of the arbor. The measured difference between the two axes is known as runout.

A good way to monitor collet wear is to periodically check the runout. A machine tool technician will use a dial indicator to measure runout, but you can do it with a length of drill rod and a feeler gauge. (If you can't find a drill rod. you can buy a "Know Bit" from Woodhaven. listed in "Sources" on page 337. A feeler gauge you can buy at an auto-parts store.) Tighten the drill rod in the collet, and set the collet about 1 inch from the baseplate. Clamp a straight stick of wood or acrylic to the baseplate, tight against the side of the drill rod. Turn the router's arbor by hand; the red should turn without separating from the stick. If a gap docs open between the rod and the stick, measure the distance

While it's important fo clean the collet and sockct regularly,you don't want to use a cleaner that will ahradr the surfaces. Repeated cleanings could conceivably alter the dimensions of the collet—rememl>er that tolerances are measured in thousandths of an inch. Use a Teflon-safe abrasive kitchen pad to buniish the collet, its nut, and the arbor socket.


between them by gingerly fitting different feeler-gauge blades in the maximum gap. If you measure a gap of 0.005 inch or greater (technically, the runout is half this measurement), your router has too much runout.

Replacing the collet will probably correct the runout. But tug on the arbor a little to make sure the bearings aren't causing the problem. Then replace the collet and check the runout again. If the problem isn't solved, take the machine to a service technician for evaluation.

A usable runout measurement can be taken using inexpensive feeler gauges. We used a short piece of square aluminum tubing as the straightedge, clamping one end of it to the router with a spring clamp. You measure the runout by trial and error, fitting the gauges into any gap that opens between drill rod and straightedge when you rotate the rod very slowly.

A very accurate reading of runout can he obtained with a dial indicator. While the magnetic base won't stick to a plastic baseplate, it can he clamped. Note that the router motor is backed down enough that the collet is an inch or so below the mounting plate surface. The indicator's contact point is against the drill rod, though it ought to be closer to the plate for a practical reading.

Okay, it looks goofy. But the best way to assess the condition of the collet socket in the router's arbor is to feel it with your little finger. You'll be able to feel galls and the roughness of rust and tarnish more easily than you'll be able to see them.

Keeping Your Perspective

A critical clement of router maintenance is maintaining your perspective. In several places. I've emphasized the worst problems. You need to understand that bits do occasionally break, do occasionally bend. Bearings do wear out. But the chances that you arc going to have problems from the get-go are really slim.

Remember that a router is basically a pretty simple machine. There aren't a whole lot of things to go wrong. A quality router will last a long, long time.

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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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