Do I Need a Router for Woodworking?

There are so many tools out there for woodworking that it can seem daunting for a newbie.

Fortunately, those of us with experience are here to help point you in the right direction.

Take a router, for example.

Is this an essential tool for your woodworking craft or business?

For woodworking, anything more than carving and whittling will need a good router. Routers cut smooth edges for straight and curved pieces and can match those cuts perfectly for other pieces that need to be identical. Routers are good for edges, dadoes, rabbet cuts, dovetails, and miter joints. 

Truly, it can seem endless when you come upon a list of tools that will help take your woodworking practice to the next level.

However, using a router is going to be one of the top investment choices you decide on for your woodworking shop.

While there are many tools out there that are simply pushed onto the consumer, this is an essential one for larger projects- especially if you plan to make more than one piece.

Continue reading to hear the 5 types of woodworking tasks that need a router.

5 Types of Woodworking Tasks that Need a Router

Routers are small in comparison with other woodworking tools, but they are incredibly versatile.

Many people think of routers and consider them to be a very black and white type of tool, but do not be fooled so quickly. 

Routers, of course, do one heck of a job at cutting perfectly clean edges, whether they be straight or curved.

However, there are quite a few other tricks that routers have up their sleeve, making them a tool that you cannot live without if you plan to do any type of larger, more involved projects. 

The 5 types of woodworking cuts that need a router: 

  1. Edges 
  2. Dadoes
  3. Rabbet Cuts 
  4. Dovetails 
  5. Miter Joints 

These, among many other types of cuts that you might want to make while woodworking, will all go better with a router.

Let’s take a closer look.

Edges 

Ok, cutting an edge might seem a little too simplistic for an action that can actually be quite involved in the woodworking realm.

I wanted to go ahead and get this capability of a router out of the way, though, because it is the most common use of routers and certainly the most known use for those who are not quite as familiar with the tool. 

Routers are one of the most common woodworking tools known for creating flawless edges for any piece that your heart and hands have dreamt up.

If you are a woodworker, you are working with edges day in and day out.

This means that you will need a trusted and reliable tool to incorporate into your woodworking efforts.

If you are wanting a basic edge without a lot of frills, a router can do it.

If you want something more complicated and decorative, a router can do that as well.

This woodworking tool is able to go from basic to ornate without blinking an eye. 

The biggest key here, for the most flawless edges, is a sharp bit.

If you are using a dull bit, you may as well kiss those smooth edges goodbye.

So, be sure to take a closer look at the router that you are using, pre-plan your design, and select the right bit to master the perfect edge on your next woodworking project.

Dadoes 

If you are creating any type of shelf or cabinet, then you have heard of and likely seen dadoes.

The word is fun, but this little construct is all business when it comes to their job.

Dadoes are the most natural and the strongest way to support shelves and cabinets. 

The dado itself is a squared-walled, flat channel that is cut across the grain of the wood.

Once completely cut, it is then painted with the end of a mating board.

This connection (with help from a dovetail) is one that is powerful.

And, when you consider the structural purpose of a cabinet shelf, it makes sense why you would want something that is well-made and structurally sound.

Rather than gluing small cabinets together or nailing shelves into one another, dadoes are able to create a natural strength within your woodworking piece that will far outlast any other sort of method, especially if that piece is going to be subject to constant use or heavyweight. 

Dadoes would be impossible without a router because you must have a consistent cut, and this is why the router is essential.

So, if you plan to create any type of shelving or cabinetry pieces in your woodworking shop (among many other projects), be sure to choose a high-quality router.

Rabbet Cuts 

Rabbet cuts make woodworking look more like Jenga, but honestly, woodworking could probably qualify as such when you consider how much piecing together really takes place.

Rabbets are easy joints that are used by woodworkers over and over again.

This is not surprising, either, when you consider the size variation and reliability of a rabbet cut made by a router. 

Rabbet cuts are quick to create, come in many different sizes, and are a reliable joint in many different situations.

The beauty of this cut is its ease, familiarity, and versatility.

A rabbet cut is a chalet that is cut right at the end of a workpiece.

In many situations, woodworkers will then go on to create a rabbet joint in which a second piece is created and joined to the first. 

These types of joints are usually used in areas like cabinetry, but the cut itself can find its way into a variety of different projects.

Although the cut may be simple, having a router makes it even more so due to its quick and precise cutting abilities.

To maintain consistency in your woodworking shop, be sure to bring in a router.

Dovetails 

Dovetails are one of the most common, intricate, and beautiful types of joints when it comes to a woodworking project. 

As mentioned earlier, dovetails are needed in order to assist other cuts to make them strong, solid, and aligned.

Dovetails are what dadoes need to give them proper mechanical strength.

The angle that a dovetail cut provides gives the joint structural support while enhancing the aesthetic appeal.

Dovetails are a necessary cut to ensure that your work lasts longer than you will be walking this Earth, and there are a few different dovetail joints out there.

Specifically, there are three different types of dovetail joints which include half-bling dovetails, through dovetails, and sliding dovetails. 

We can talk about their purposes another time, but the most important takeaway from knowing this information is the fact that a router is the only tool that is capable of creating such a joint.

I know, it can be shocking really, but those are the cold hard facts.

If you want a dovetail joint, a router is going to have to be your woodworking tool of choice. 

Miter Joints 

Table saws are often used to create miter joints and they can certainly get the job done on smaller scale projects, but this does not mean they are getting the job done well.

Table saws tend to get a little iffy on miter joints when the blade is tipped over to 45 degrees. 

There is a shift in the blade that will give those edges a nasty look.

Because of this reason, a router is much more prepared to get the job done and get it done in a way that avoids burnt or out-of-square edges.

Plus, if you plan to make a miter cut with more than one cut (such as framework or trim work inside of your home, then you are going to want something that provides accuracy and consistency).

Routers are not the only tool that is capable of this type of joint, but it is certainly going to give you the best results without you having to go back and correct any issues at the end of your cut- especially if you are planning on using a table saw instead of a miter saw.

Miter joints are used in a slew of different projects from creating picture frames, making boxes, to creating windows.

They are used everywhere and because of this, you need a tool that is going to be reliable when such a cut is used so often.

So, consider using a router for this and your other woodworking tasks. 

Why Do You Need a Router for Woodworking? 

A router is one of those tools that every woodworker needs.

If you do not see an immediate need for a router right now, take some time in understanding its capabilities and I promise you will find more than enough uses for it around your shop. 

You need a router because it is an essential woodworking tool that is easy to use, is easy to hold, and has a versatility that many other woodworking tools do not possess (or their list of uses is simply not as diverse). 

Routers are one of those tools that can perform the most basic tasks but it is also capable of creating very intricate and complicated work.

The best part about a router though is not what it is able to do, but how well it is able to do it. 

This is a tool that is reliable, that will give you great results every time, and is one that is going to enhance and build on your craft rather than keep you stagnant in the place you currently are.

So, if you are ready to take your woodworking to the next level, then it is time to consider investing in a router.

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