How to Choose and Use a Router | Ask This Old House

How to Choose and Use a Router | Ask This Old House

General contractor Tom Silva shares his insights on the shop’s most versatile portable power tool. (See steps below.)
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Steps for How to Choose and Use a Router:
1. Depending on the router bit used, routers can cut a wide variety of decorative edges, profiles, and woodworking joints.
2. Straight-cutting router bits can cut dadoes, grooves, and rabbets for joining together two boards.
3. A plunge router can cut precise holes like a drill press for shelf pegs or wooden dowels.
4. Rout tongue-and-groove joints into the ends and edges of boards to create tongue-and-groove flooring.
5. Light-duty trim routers are ideal for flush-trimming plastic laminate, veneer, and other thin materials.
6. Don’t use large bits in a trim router; you could burn out the motor.
7. Medium-duty fixed-based routers offer a good combination of power and speed.
8. Some routers have variable-speed motors. Use slower speeds when cutting with large-diameter bits.
9. A plunge router has a spring-loaded base that allows you to plunge the bit down into the board, and then release it to pop up out of the cut.
10. Plunge routers are useful for routing inlays, stopped grooves, and holes.
11. Router bits come in dozens of sizes and profiles.
12. Bits come with either a 1/4-inch-diameter shaft or a 1/2-inch-diameter shaft. Match the bit-shank diameter to the collet on the router.
13. Some routers come with both a 1/4-inch and a 1/2-inch collet.
14. The ball-bearing pilot found on some bits rolls along the edge of the board to control the depth of cut.
15. A piloted flush-cutting bit has a ball bearing that rides along a template for making very precise, custom cuts.
16. With the router unplugged, push the router bit all the way into the collet, then pull it out a little bit to provide an expansion space.
17. Tighten the collet with a wrench to securely lock the bit in place.
18. Adjust the depth of cut, then plug in the router.
19. Firmly clamp the board to a workbench.
20. Put on hearing protection and safety goggles.
21. Before switching on the router, be sure the router bit isn’t touching the board.
22. Turn on the router, then slowly rout from left to right in a counterclockwise direction.

About Ask This Old House TV:
Homeowners have a virtual truckload of questions for us on smaller projects, and we’re ready to answer. Ask This Old House solves the steady stream of home improvement problems faced by our viewers—and we make house calls! Ask This Old House features some familiar faces from This Old House, including Kevin O’Connor, general contractor Tom Silva, plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey, and landscape contractor Roger Cook.

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How to Choose and Use a Router | Ask This Old House
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50 Comments

  1. Mike G on September 22, 2022 at 12:35 am

    I was looking for a different type of router how did I get here

  2. Chandra Deo on September 22, 2022 at 12:36 am

    i salute you

  3. Abdul Rahman on September 22, 2022 at 12:38 am

    make sure to tighten the collet nut with a wrench because i almost cut the tip of my finger off when a bit flew out of the collet at me it left a really nasty cut and scar

  4. Hassan Al-Mosawi on September 22, 2022 at 12:40 am

    Thanks for sharing that, well explained

  5. Hossain Karbassi on September 22, 2022 at 12:40 am

    It is always useful ,and understandble

  6. x Ronin x on September 22, 2022 at 12:41 am

    I love this channel. It’s done professionally and really helps the end user to understand their concepts.

  7. James Lund on September 22, 2022 at 12:41 am

    Hoos power?

  8. Bruno Desrosiers on September 22, 2022 at 12:42 am

    Can someone explain why reduce the speed for bigger bits? Don’t we need the inertia that a higher rotation speed provides?

  9. Lt. Dan on September 22, 2022 at 12:42 am

    Don’t forget to use your hearing protection. Your HEARING protection! I said "DON"T FORGET YOUR TO USE HEARING PROTECTION!"

  10. gastarbieter on September 22, 2022 at 12:43 am

    hoss power.

  11. Brendan M on September 22, 2022 at 12:43 am

    Just pick one with wifi 6

  12. Ray White on September 22, 2022 at 12:45 am

    What kind of router bit would you use for those nails? Hard to look at those things.

  13. Ibrahim Albahrani on September 22, 2022 at 12:46 am

    Amazing👍 which size of wood router for beginner ? And if I use small trimmer can I use with 6-12 mm cutting bit

  14. Money Mills on September 22, 2022 at 12:46 am

    That first opening statement by Kevin seems pretty funny to me. “Paraphrase “ ppl think of router as a high end tool but you use one too don’t you Tommy? Lmao. As if Tommy is a high end carpenter

  15. greg randol on September 22, 2022 at 12:46 am

    Find out how to do it yourself with all the details. Just look for Woodglut 🙂

  16. Dean DeCoursey on September 22, 2022 at 12:47 am

    I need 600-700 feet of white oak base board cap. I can’t find any businesses on the internet or locally that sell it. How hard would it be to make them with a router?

  17. HIGHLAND DRAGON on September 22, 2022 at 12:48 am

    I was in 8th grade the first time I used a router for a project I made a sign for my big sister’s kitchen in her first house and to this day 24 years later she’s still has it hanging in her kitchen.

  18. R Kerby on September 22, 2022 at 12:48 am

    Thank you for this video. I am an up and coming Woodworker, and I need to purchase my first Router.

  19. Robert Bodle on September 22, 2022 at 12:53 am

    how lame there’s not a close up of the rounded edge at the end of the video.

  20. Dave Kava on September 22, 2022 at 12:54 am

    “Haws pahah” is to this guy what “diabeetis” is to that guy

  21. Mr. Mark on September 22, 2022 at 12:54 am

    Used a router today for the FIRST TIME..why? I was PROUD OF the fact I didn’t have one UNTIL….a lady came by to look at my adirondack style chairs I make…and she was FUSSY…she wanted QUALITY….uh oh!! I bought a box store one with a table..it was not assembled, (came with a table)..then found an older one on a cool extended table and bought that…took it over to a real woodworkers shop and he showed me HOW. Now it has opened the door to some other ideas I want to make..the router is a magical tool…so happy to have one. This was the best introduction I have seen. Thank you.

  22. Raw Bacon on September 22, 2022 at 12:57 am

    Great tool, I like to put a round over on even the simple projects to give it a nice feel.

  23. The Wiggly Wizard on September 22, 2022 at 12:59 am

    Both of them look fresh out of the tanning salon lol

  24. Mark Mitchell on September 22, 2022 at 12:59 am

    Great Video! Slow explanation of how to do. Camera work is excellent too! Thank you so much!

  25. Rejean Paquet on September 22, 2022 at 1:01 am

    And they are router tables.

  26. CanyonsWunder on September 22, 2022 at 1:02 am

    Here’s a list that helped me out.
    "whinyl.com/rtrs-guide/
    In the end, I went with #3.

    4:09

  27. Dianna A on September 22, 2022 at 1:04 am

    Tommy what is the name of the router that was perfect for 1st time homeowners? Fest…?

  28. Maurice Calis on September 22, 2022 at 1:04 am

    Of coarse you would use the Festool for the demo to get a smooth cut.

  29. harry clod on September 22, 2022 at 1:06 am

    Quick easy access to many projects with Woodglut plans.

  30. Backyardinstallers on September 22, 2022 at 1:07 am

    Keep up the great work guys… Been watching this program since the beginning… As a young man your show helped shape my future in the trades then into an engineer…
    Thank you for programming as yours…

  31. rabak omaba on September 22, 2022 at 1:07 am

    If you want to build it you can find nice instructions on the Woodglut website.

  32. John from Jersey on September 22, 2022 at 1:07 am

    Make sure to get more Huss-par

  33. Benjamin Cox on September 22, 2022 at 1:08 am

    So, there’s four different routers on the table, and after Tom picks one of the plunge routers up and shows how it might be used…

    Then Kevin concludes that "So this router, with this horsepower and the plunge feature is probably the first router a homeowner should get," and Tom agrees

    But the DONT TELL US THE HORSEPOWER ! Grrrr. Thanks for the advice .. I will just guess it is a 1.5 or 2 HP .. I guess, maybe?

  34. Em Pace on September 22, 2022 at 1:12 am

    Oh my gosh! This was so helpful! Perfect video length and really cut straight to the point. Thanks, guys! Best intro router video on YouTube.

  35. Galaxy Gamers on September 22, 2022 at 1:16 am

    Yes great for Wifi

  36. Richard Baldwin on September 22, 2022 at 1:17 am

    Need mentioned about wear a mask while working in a woodshop. A dentist mention to me that his cousin died of sinus cancer 15 years ago. He had a full time job. After work he spent many hours building furniture with no mask.

  37. Joe Votta on September 22, 2022 at 1:19 am

    Doesn’t have a lot of “Huhs Purr”

  38. Juan Pablo Rojas on September 22, 2022 at 1:20 am

    It’s "Levi-oh-sah" not "Hoss-parr"…

  39. Darren Roberts on September 22, 2022 at 1:21 am

    I was a little intimidated by routers after, in jr high shop, I saw a kid snap a bit off and it went flying through the air and broke a window! Now it is one of the most used tools in my shop. Don’t know what I’d do without it!

  40. Jack McGee on September 22, 2022 at 1:21 am

    Isn’t a ‘dado’ a cut across the grain?

  41. Dave Napier on September 22, 2022 at 1:25 am

    awesome video… this help a lot! thank you

  42. nino Rivero on September 22, 2022 at 1:25 am

    choose a router dont make me laugh you dont need to choose when you have a zyxel router that is the best selling in the market.
    #ZYXEL

  43. fireworxz on September 22, 2022 at 1:28 am

    Thanks

  44. charlesbonkley on September 22, 2022 at 1:28 am

    This video is fantastic! Been watching TOH since I was a kid during the Bob Villa days in the 80’s. I just love listening to them talk very casually and informatively about everything.

  45. joeh690 on September 22, 2022 at 1:29 am

    what i want to know is how do you determine your height of the routing
    depth? lets say if i have a 3/4 board and i want a round over do i set
    the depth at 3/4 exactly or a little before 3/4 or not even 3/4 and at
    1/2 with the bearing on the router table and hand routing.

  46. 404 Not Found on September 22, 2022 at 1:29 am

    Hosspar.

  47. Abner Schmidt on September 22, 2022 at 1:31 am

    It’s funny that the natives can’t understand when he says "horsepower". I could understand him perfectly and I’m not a native.

  48. jfarinacci0329 on September 22, 2022 at 1:32 am

    good vid. thank you.

  49. Tony Moceri on September 22, 2022 at 1:33 am

    I’ve yet to find out if I can use a 1/2 inch round over bit on an existing Formica countertop edge. Will the Formica shred, or crack, or will I get a smooth cut? Thoughts?

  50. Shantel Fullerton on September 22, 2022 at 1:33 am

    Check out the Woodglut plans if you want to make it better.

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