How to Use a Router Table

Tips, Setup, Bits, Multiple Uses

Want to know how to use a Router Table? Here are tips to get the most from your router table.

You do not need a miter channel. Typically, you slide your work along the fence. If using a miter channel, then the fence must be square to the miter channel. Why go to that trouble?

You can create a jig to glide along the Fence. This automatically aligns the wood to get a square cut. You can make adjustment in profile and depth of cut. A Router Lift makes this easy.

A quality Router Table Fence eases dust collection. Use your Router Table and Fence for simplicity and ease!

Typically, you slide the wood from right to left (when looking at the fence from the front). That is an anti-climb cut. You make nearly all cuts this way.

If very careful, you can go a short distance in the opposite direction. But you must hold on tight to avoid kickback and/or injury. This climb cut gives cleaner edges, but you should only attempt it after a lot of experience. I will share an example in the Crib Spindle Tips Page.

Only do less than 20% of the work this way. You should only use shallow or light cuts. Do NOT take big cuts this way. Only do it when you hands are protected and away from the router bit.

You should never put your work between the fence and the router bit. That is just asking for trouble.

How to Use a Router Table to Center Edge-to-Edge Joints:
New Demo Video at Bottom of Page.

Have you ever wondered how to center it? You use this technique for making solid tabletops and wide panels.

Let's use an actual example of oak edging on a MDF Router Table Top. The top is 1 1/8" thick. The oak edging is 1 1/8" thick. How do we ensure a centered edge?

    How to use a Router Table for edge-to-edge joints:
  • Decide on the tongue dimension. I have a 1/4" slot cutter. I want the tongue thickness less than two times the cut. Therefore, the tongue thickness is slightly less than 1/2". I need specific finish dimensions of the top for a new fence. Therefore, I decide on a 3/8" depth. Normally, a 3/16" rabbet is adequate.

  • We want a tongue that is less than 1/2" in thickness. Therefore, we know that the depth of cut is slightly more than 1/4" on both sides of a 1 1/8" thick piece.

  • Rabbet the top with a rabbet bit with a bearing to produce a 3/8" rabbet. You don't want to take a lot during your first pass. Therefore, the depth of cut is set for 3/16" for your first pass.

  • Set the fence so it is even with the bearing of the rabbet bit.

  • Cut both top and bottom of the top. Take your time and go all the way around. Make sure the workpiece is flat on the Router Table Top. Or use the router on top of the workpiece.

  • Measure the thickness of the tongue. If it is larger than 1/2", then adjust the depth of cut. A router lift makes this easy.
    Note: you rout both sides; therefore use 1/2 the adjustment for each side.

  • Make your adjustment, rout the top and bottom again. The tongue's thickness is now slightly less than 1/2".

    Router Table Use

  • Replace your rabbeting bit with your 1/4" slot cutter. A Router Lift makes it easy to change router bits.
    I always disconnect the power source to the router before changing bits!
  • Sit the rabbeted piece on the router tabletop near the slot cutter. Raise the Router so the bottom of the slot cutter aligns with the bottom of the tongue. You may need support if the workpiece is large.

    Router Table Use

  • Set the depth of cut for the slot to around 1/4" initially. Now slot your Oak edging. Turn it over and slot again. Test the slot on the tongue. Is it too tight? If so, remember that you make two passes with the slotter. Only lower your slot bit by 1/2 of the dimension needed. By the way, the Porter Cable 7518 Router makes this a snap.

  • Since the slot cut is 1/4", the second pass is not using the entire cutter. You get an exactly center slot that fits on the tongue.

  • Once the slot (groove) fits on the tongue, you are ready to set your final depth of the groove. The final depth of cut is slightly more than 3/8" to allow for glue.

  • Set your fence for this final depth. Remember - make two passes with the slotter. This gives you an exact fit.

    Router Templates

You will be amazed of how to use a router table can increase your skills. This method of How to Use a Router Table to center edge-to-edge joints has many uses.

This is what the top looks like after glue-up. You can use a round-over router bit to soften the edges.
It looks nice, don't you think?

Router Templates

You can use "How to Use a Router Table" for any edge-to-edge joinery, such as tabletops, panels, large drawer fronts, and any time you want to join two-pieces. You get perfect alignment and a rock-solid joint.

New - A Video Clip to Demonstrate This Technique!

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