Handheld Router Introduction

From CoMakingSpace Wiki

This is the content required for an introduction to our handheld routers - reading this does NOT replace the mandatory session with a tutor! It will make it a lot quicker though ;-)

If you need this introduction, please reach out to the following tutors: Lukas, Martin, Luzian, Keno, Johannes, Patrick

Please be aware that the CNC router introduction and router table introduction (as of 2020-4-15) are separate but require this one as a background.

First off, make sure you have read the tool's manual, if available (it should be linked from its InfoBox).


Personal protection: Protection - goggles.svg Protection - hearing.svg Protection - no gloves.svg

a dust mask could be necessary depending on your material

Dangers Precautions
Danger - draw-in.svg
exposed & rapidly spinning router bit
  • will keep spinning for a few seconds after the tool is turned off
  • wear personal protection but not gloves, they could get caught!
  • stay clear of the bit when in operation (both hands on the handles!)
  • unplug the router when changing a bit or touching the collet for any other reason
the bit can bite into the workpiece and cause kickback if the wrong feed direction or pressure is applied
  • always keep at least one of the two columns over your workpiece, that way the base should be stable and won't tip over
  • do not let the bit touch the workpiece before it has reached its full speed
  • be prepared for sudden movements of the workpiece and make sure it is properly secured
    • small workpieces (smaller than half the tool's base in width OR length) are not suitable for handheld routing, but should be taken to the router table
  • always check whether the tool movement you are planning is possible before turning it on - adjust depth if necessary
flying splinters and dust
  • hook up a shop vac to extract (most of) the dust at the source
  • make sure there is nobody nearby who might be surprised by a piece of shrapnel flying their way!

the bit can get extremely hot

  • can potentially set the sawdust on fire
  • remains hot for a while after using
when you see smoke, immediately stop and re-think your tool settings - it might be spinning too fast or you could be feeding too slow! Are you sure your bit is sharp?
Danger - sudden start.svg
no prevention of turning on after loss & restoration of power (keine Anlaufsicherung)
if the power has been lost for whatever reason, make sure the router is turned off before restoring it!

Feed Direction

The standard direction is the "push" cut, i.e. against the direction the bit would pull the router if you let go. In short, you need to move the router counter-clockwise around the outside of a workpiece and clockwise for inside work (holes, recesses). It is probably more clear after watching this video tutorial!

As mentioned in the video as well, there are only a few situations where you might want to try a "climb" cut once you are sufficiently experienced with this tool. When you do attempt climb cuts, be aware that it can cause kickback to the router and the workpiece! Only take shallow passes to maintain control.

Caution: grooves in a workpiece are usually "outside" work (because the parallel fence will reference the outside of the workpiece), so you'll want to go anti-clockwise! There is no dangerous kickback in grooves, but choosing the wrong direction can easily cause your fence to become pushed out of line - resulting in a wavy cut. video demo

A clever trick to determine the push direction is to use your right hand with extended thumb and index finger as an indicator: when the back of your hand points where the top of the router is (usually up, but down in a router table), your index finger shows the correct feed direction to work on the edge that your thumb is touching. [1]


The proper combination of rotation speed and tool advancement is determined by your bit and material.

  • be cautions not to remove too much material at a time - several passes are usually necessary if you want to go deep
  • going too slow can cause the wood to burn, going to fast can cause the wood to splinter and even damage the bit


The tutor will show you these steps in detail:

  • inserting a bit
    • unplug the router
    • choose the proper collet that matches the bit's shaft diameter (usually 6 or 8 mm)
    • insert at least 20 mm of the bit's shaft
    • check proper fit and balance before turning the motor on
    • never tighten the collet without a bit inserted!

Suggested Reading

Please make yourself familiar with router bits!

For tips and tricks read the book "Woodworking with the Router" (available at the space). Tips for choosing the proper feed direction can be found on page 37ff.

Waiting List

This introduction takes longer than many others and usually can't be done spontaneously during regular opening times. If you would like to receive it, please add yourself to >> this list << and we will find a good time once a few members are on it!