Thanks for the welcome Bill. It's great that your getting into routing; personally, I think they are the handiest tools in the shed.
What routers have you got and what's been your experience with it?
I suspect you are well aware of many of the concepts tossed out in this reply. I went ahead and wrote it in full detail mode so that others who may take the time to read it can benefit more from their time spent.
I picked up three different used units to learn with. They were all less than $50 and sparse in the feature offerings that dominate the 'modern router marketplace'. A speed adjuster from Harbor Freight was well worth the $20 price tag and works with the MF7900 units. I haven't tried it with the Craftsman yet.
Though they have similar current consumption (9 amp) maximum ratings, the MF units make it pretty clear something has changed in the way Horsepower is measured or represented to the buying public.
- Millers Falls 7900 (Circa 1960)(1/2" Collet - 1.5HP?)
- Millers Falls 7900 (Circa 1960)(1/4" Collet - 1.5HP?)
- Craftsman 135-17508 (1/4" Collet - 1.5HP?)
Three different tables were rounded up to contribute to this experiment in crafting:
- Wolfcraft 6155
- Craftsman 320.28160
- Ryobi BTS-3100 Table Saw Extension
Since obtaining them, my 'project' experiences with them have been minimal. The 'real' experience has been in trying a wide variety of cuts, solely for the 'personal enrichment' purposes.
In my mind, learning what *I* can actually do (well) with them and increasing the scope of that ability set is a process better undertaken before putting steel to 'nicer woods'.
My need to give all due diligence to discovering the best way for *me* to make all these different kinds of cuts drives me to try every different way I can afford.
- Table Saw
- Radial Arm Saw
- Dado Stack for 10" Saws
- A growing collection of specialty planes
I generally put more value in the quality of cut than the 'hands on' time needed to make it. In contrast to that 'who cares how long it takes
' approach, extra time for set up annoys me, and clean up sends my mind looking for a 'better' way.
When I started the process of hands on with routers, I assumed they would become my 'preferred' method of cutting various types of joints. Actual results turned out to be quite different!.
While a router is certainly capable of removing the 18 cubic inches/300CC of wood that need to go away when half-lap jointing 2x4 boards. A dado stack on a TS or RAS tears through it in a lot less time.
Two specific tasks remain solidly in the realm of what I feel is best done with a router:
- Cutting slots (all the way through a board to add adjustability to a jig or object)
- Putting a pretty edge on a board. (especially one with curves in the profile)
I still need to try cutting shaker and horse nose profiles with a hand plane, but don't anticipate the cross grain portion will be as therapeutic as the edge that runs with the grain.
Two types of cuts cry out for the befits offered by a motorized cutter:
- The addition of curves into a profile
- Working across the grain
My viewpoint is that the machines we call routers, source their 'flexibility' in two different ways.
- Cutters (Literally Thousands of differently sized and shaped bits)
- Manner of Use (with or without Jigs & Guides as appropriate)
- Free Hand
- Table Mounting
- Ski Attachment
- Overhead Pin Mounting
- Computer Enhanced (CNC Type Setups)
Perhaps at the end of the day, the person
using the tool kit is the real router
and the objects within the tool kit simply enhances their effort to transform the shape of the workpiece into it's desired form.