Whether you are working with wood, plastic, or fiberglass, learning to use the router will add much to your woodworking projects. With this basic tool you can make grooves or insets, shapes or engraving. Since the router uses the side of the blade or bit as its cutting surface, it can take a while to learn how to use it well.
Routers come with many different sizes and shapes of bits and in several speeds. These variations are so the router tool can be used on many types of materials. There are even diamond wheel accessories for use on glass and ceramics.
One of the most important things to learn is the proper speed for your particular material. Too slow and you can burn the wood. Too fast and you risk uneven cuts or actually breaking the bits. Lots of practice is suggested to develop your skill with the router. Eventually you can learn how to determine the right speed just by the sound of the tool as it works. Most people prefer the higher horsepower routers for their greater versatility, although lower powered, cordless routers are preferred by some for their lest cumbersome nature.
Regardless of the size or brand, a router has only three basic parts., the base, a motor, and the collet for holding the bits. The fun begins with the fact that routers have more accessories than any other woodworking tool. Besides hundreds of different bits and blades for different cuts, it also has several different styles of bases and can even be attached to special tables for safer use on some projects.
There are several safety concerns with routers beyond the obvious need to be careful of your fingers. Routers are loud so earplugs are needed. Also, routers cut the material you are working with into very fine dust particles so you need a mask or ventilator to prevent breathing the particles in. This also means you need goggles or other eye protection to prevent irritation of the eyes.