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post #1 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-03-2015, 08:40 PM Thread Starter
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Default Router Books, Reviews and Suggestions

Hello All!

As a total newbie to the Magical World of Routing, I am trying to learn via the Web, and through books (you remember those, don't you?)

Some are better than others, some more specific or esoteric in focus.
These are the ones I have started with.

The Router Table Book by Ernie Conover - "...an introduction to the practice of using a router table," it is considered a good, albeit rudimentary book for beginners.

Router Magic by Bill Hylton - "From crafting flawless cope-and-stick joints to spinning out custom dowels, this guide demonstrates how to use a router for numerous projects. Using only standard bits, tricks and techniques for more than 50 new jigs and fixtures are presented." Everything crafted, no matter how simple or small, is considered a 'jig,' in this book, and a good number are extremely specialized, and that includes making the same jigs "vacuumized..." The Router Lathe, made with a bicycle chain is one of the cooler plans in the book. But in general, this book is of more value to someone with a lot of router experience and usage.

Fine Woodworking on Boxes, Carcases, and Drawers by Editors of Fine Woodworking -"41 Articles selected by the Editors of Fine Woodworking Magazine." This book does a decent job of explaining how different types of joints work, but is of "Magazine overview," quality at best. Only two jigs to use with a router, but some good information on how to best use plywood and particleboard, and some nice design ideas for cabinets and drawers.

The Official Incra Jig Handbook and Templates "A set of 17 Templates for the Incra Jig with over 100 photos and illustrations plus detailed instructions." - I have the Incra Universal Jig, and both it and this book come very highly recommended by many across the Web. That said, it is VERY informative, but so highly specialized that it is not for the beginner, although it will help you understand the joints much better for when you reach the stage to use the jig.

So many books focus on providing the plans or reasoning to build a router table. I bought one attached to my router...
I find I am learning more within these Forums that is of use to me, than the somewhat overly broad information I am finding in these books, regardless the high praise given to them by others...

Your milage may vary.
~M
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post #2 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-03-2015, 11:45 PM
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Most of the Fine Woodworking magazine style compilations of past articles are a waste of time and money Moz. Try to find a copy to look at first before you buy. The best book I have ever seen on making joints is the book called Tage Frid Teaches Woodworking, Book 1. It is available on amazon and ebay often very cheap as it has been out of print for a while now.

Someone I consider a master woodworker once told me that a master woodworker is not someone who never makes mistakes. He is someone who is able to cover them up so that no one can tell.
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post #3 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-03-2015, 11:54 PM Thread Starter
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Many years ago, I found many "Reader's Digest" books on topics to be similar to Fine Woodworking books. So generically written for mass audiences, as to be essentially worthless for anything more than "dentist office waiting room," perusal...
Thankfully, it was only $5, rather than the outrageous $15-$30 new.

Thank you for the tip about Tage Frid. I knew that those of you who have tread the path before me could help steer me to better educational tools.
EDIT:Oh Hooray! I found a copy at Barnes and Nobel for $1.99, total $6.29 shipped to the door. Thank you again!
~M
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Last edited by Moz; 12-04-2015 at 01:08 AM. Reason: Found the Tage Frid book!
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post #4 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-04-2015, 12:31 AM
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My first intro to the Wonderful World of Routers came from a tv series broadcast on many PBS stations, the Router Workshop. I have no idea whether they are still being broadcast anywhere; they are not shown on the PBS stations I get. All nine seasons can be viewed online, by subscription, at the following web site. Disclaimer: the associated store, Oak-Park Enterprises is going out of the router business and very little remains there. The web site below is still up. They still have the router tips page up, which does have many helpful tips, but many of the tips use jigs that were sold by Oak-Park http://www.routerworkshop.com/epage.html

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The RouterForums member formerly known as mftha or th-alton
"Teach your children what we have taught ours, that the earth is our mother. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. The earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth. Man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a strand in it. We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children."
-attributed to Chief Seattle of the Native American Suquamish Tribe
  • Wood working, especially router work is too much fun to let "disabilities" get in the way.
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Last edited by TWheels; 12-04-2015 at 12:37 AM. Reason: corrections
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post #5 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-04-2015, 03:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cherryville Chuck View Post
Most of the Fine Woodworking magazine style compilations of past articles are a waste of time and money Moz. Try to find a copy to look at first before you buy. The best book I have ever seen on making joints is the book called Tage Frid Teaches Woodworking, Book 1. It is available on amazon and ebay often very cheap as it has been out of print for a while now.
second that...

This would have been the week that I'd have finished chewing thru the restraints...
If only new layers hadn't been added....

Stick....
Forget the primal scream, just ROAR!!!
"SNORK Mountain Congressional Library and Taxidermy”
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post #6 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-04-2015, 03:15 AM
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It is no longer shown on any channel Tom and the only way I know of to see the episodes is to order the DVDs or online through a subscription. Oak Park ceased doing business a while back. Bob and Rick Rosendahl's son/grandson started this forum in 2004.
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Someone I consider a master woodworker once told me that a master woodworker is not someone who never makes mistakes. He is someone who is able to cover them up so that no one can tell.
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post #7 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-04-2015, 03:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moz View Post
Many years ago, I found many "Reader's Digest" books on topics to be similar to Fine Woodworking books. So generically written for mass audiences, as to be essentially worthless for anything more than "dentist office waiting room," perusal...
Thankfully, it was only $5, rather than the outrageous $15-$30 new.

Thank you for the tip about Tage Frid. I knew that those of you who have tread the path before me could help steer me to better educational tools.
EDIT:Oh Hooray! I found a copy at Barnes and Nobel for $1.99, total $6.29 shipped to the door. Thank you again!
~M
Have you searched e-books???

https://duckduckgo.com/?q=woodworking+e-books+&t=ffsb
Woodworking books
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This would have been the week that I'd have finished chewing thru the restraints...
If only new layers hadn't been added....

Stick....
Forget the primal scream, just ROAR!!!
"SNORK Mountain Congressional Library and Taxidermy”
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post #8 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-04-2015, 03:25 AM
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another...

http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/43604
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This would have been the week that I'd have finished chewing thru the restraints...
If only new layers hadn't been added....

Stick....
Forget the primal scream, just ROAR!!!
"SNORK Mountain Congressional Library and Taxidermy”
Stick486 is online now  
post #9 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-04-2015, 07:40 AM
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As newbie too i try to learn combining router forum, youtube videos and some available literature. I am quite aware that it will be a long curve of learning with much practice. It is a great hobby!!! Good learning!!!
Sid.
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post #10 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-04-2015, 11:48 AM
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I am a fan of Hylton's earlier book, Woodworking With the Router. I also like the very heavily illustrated "The Joint Book," which shows just about every joint out there and how they're made. Printed on plastic coated card stock, it is set up to be kept in the shop. I got it on Amazon. VERY helpful.

Since you are fairly new to this addiction, I'm reposting a piece that others here may just skip, on the 17 things that really helped me accelerate the learning curve. It is long and detailed, and also covers the book topic.

1) If you are using Firefox browser, get a free add on YouTube download helper app. Search for videos on all aspects of woodworking that interest you and collect them. I watch a video on the topic of whatever project, or phase of a project, on which I'm currently working. VERY helpful to see it done a few times before you try it yourself.

I use a YouTube downloader that’s free using the tools menu/add ons. It puts a download button under the video on YouTube. Click the button, name the file (I always label it according to the tool or job it works on. For example, anything to do with routing, I label as "Router", which clusters all the similar videos together in Windows Explorer. All my videos go into a single folder. I sometimes watch woodworking video while on planes, which triggers some interesting conversations.

2) There are hundreds of used books on woodworking on Amazon. Order some on basic tools and woodworking. You'll need to learn to tune up saws and other tools, and books are how I learned to do these things. It wasn't until I tuned up my saws that good results began to happen. My saws cut exactly 90 and 45, or any angle I need now. Two books I really love are Bill Hylton’s “Woodworking with the Router,” and “The Joint Book” by Terrie Noll. The Noll Book is a really concise and heavily illustrated reference with great hints for making every variety of joints. There are lots of good table saw guides.

3) Make some first projects with MDF before using more expensive wood. Make the same project several times with improved skill, material and workmanship each time. Great learning method.

4) Consider making cabinets or stands for each of your power tools as first projects. My first cabinet was of MDF and my sander and all my sanding gear still sit on and in it. I can't tell you how much confidence I got from building space efficient shop stands and now, all the tools in my smallish shop are on casters and easily moved around for use and cleanup. Put doors on every cabinet to reduce wandering dust. BTW, if you add casters, use two non swivels on the back and two locking casters on the front--make sure the lock secures both the wheel and the swivel so your carts don't skip around in use. My shop made stands also take up far less floor space than the spread-legged ones that came with the tools, which makes it far easier to move tools around in a compact shop--which is necessary to clean out the insidious sawdust.

5) Many of the woodworking supply stores in the US (and I imagine overseas) have demos on weekends. Attend and get to know the people you meet there. They can turn you on to sources of wood and you can get some nice help and begin a friendship or two. Don’t forget to talk with the employees as well. At our local Rockler, several of the employees are serious and experienced woodworkers and always eager to help. I’ve also found some of the big box stores employ a few very experienced wood workers, carpenters, electricians and plumbers. You just have to start a brief conversation, if they seem knowledgeable, ask them about what they did before they worked at the store.

6) Among your first purchases should be some form of dust control. Many woods are proven carcinogens and can quickly damage your lungs. Dust collection information is on this site. I have a 4-inch system installed to collect sawdust, but I also have and recommend a dust mask with a small fan that pulls in pressurized air that not only keeps dust out, but also keeps my glasses from fogging. Got mine at Rockler and keep a couple of sets of rechargable AA batteries ready to use. For cutting just a piece or two, I keep surgical style disposable masks handy. I also built a box with 20x20 filter inside and a fan that pulls air through to remove fine airborne dust over time. You can even tape a filter to the back of a fan in a pinch. Don't take your mask off right after cutting or cleaning up because there is always dust floating around for awhile. If you start coughing, it means you need to pay very close attention to dust control and wearing a mask. It takes months to recover from a bout of working unprotected with MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) without a mask.

7) Take your sweet time with projects, there's no rush and it is easy to have a project nearly complete, then make a careless, quick cut or other error that ruins all your good work. In most cases, it is best to fit pieces by putting them in place and marking rather than just measuring and cutting. Cut a bit over and shave it down (or use a good block plane) for an exact fit. A good block plane, nice and sharp, is a basic tool you'll use more often than you think.

8) Buy the very best table saw you can manage. It will quickly become the most used tool in your shop. A little debt could move you up a notch and help you produce better results and cut thicker wood. Get the best tools you can afford. Read the reviews and ask questions on the forum before you choose. To me, it is worth it to use credit if necessary to move up the quality scale.

There are models called hybrid saws that have the mechanical works attached to the cabinet rather than the top, which is good. I recently replaced my old contractor saw with a Laguna Fusion saw. My shop is not wired for 220, so I was happy with the 110volt, 1 3/4 hp motor. Many forum members have been very happy with less expensive models, Grizzly for example, but I prefer the Laguna for its amazingly flat table and extensions and its fit and finish (and reasonable price). Learn to set up and tune up your saws and tools (books and videos show you how) because you can’t make anything great if your tools are even slightly off.

The best safety device is paying very close attention to what you’re doing with a saw, but a close second is a MicroJig Gripper, which lets you control wood on the saw while keeping your fingers safely away from the blade. There is a fancy and a simpler model, either of which is good.

9) If you can, get an electrician to add a 220 outlet or two to your shop. If you set up in the garage, you may be able to use the electrical outlet for the dryer. There are many tools that require 220 volts to work best, and many used 220 v tools are available at good prices--if you feel comfortable buying used. Another tool source is to visit estate sales. Every once in awhile, you find tools no one else in the family desires or knows the value of, so you can get them cheap.

If you don't have a router yet, I have come to like the Triton TRA001, which is perfect for table use, particularly since you can adjust height quite precisely from the above the table with its built in lift. That feature really saves my knees. However, it is just too heavy for this old guy to control freehand. I really like the Bosch 1617 EVSPK for hand held use. There is a newer model that has a light and switch on the handle that costs more. Both come in a kit with fixed and plunge base. It has many accessories available that are very well made. Others like different brands, but Mike recently checked in on the topic and compared PorterCable and I thought the Bosch came out a bit ahead. I prefer the raising and lowering mechanism on the Bosch with its precise micro adjustment knob. The Bosch fixed base can be used as a lift in a table. The books on routers and other topics are really useful for understanding some of the arcane woodworking terms associated with this must have tool..

10) When it comes to router bits, try to stick to the half inch shafts with carbide cutting tips. These are astonishingly sharp. Bosch and Freud are easily available at HD and Lowes, but there are lots of other excellent brands including the well liked Whiteside and Sommerfield bits. Be careful of those ultra sharp tips, which are fragile. I'd suggest storing them in one of those foam lined cases you can get pretty cheap from Harbor Freight, loosely packed so they don't click together. A few of the cheap bits don’t have carbide tips. Spiral bits are sometimes used to cut grooves. Carbide spiral bits are both expensive and fragile and it takes very little abuse to ruin them. Many use high speed steel bits for that purpose.

I buy bits as I need them and don't much care for the kits. However, someone recently suggested getting a kit to start out with, then gradually replacing only the bits you actually use with top grade bits. This makes some sense to me, but stick to the half inch shafts if you can manage it--most kits I’ve seen have 1/4 inch shafts. I would avoid huge sets with odd bits you are unlikely ever to use. A few standard bits most of us have are the round over bits. You can get them in different sizes, but mostly you’re likely to use the quarter, half and ¾ sizes. Another bit that is very useful for cabinetry is the half inch rabbiting bit with a bearing. Some come with a changable bearing that allows you to change the size of the rabbit. Doing fancier stuff makes those cash register numbers spin because those door bit sets are pricey!

One more thing about using bits, don’t try to take off too much wood in one pass. Make several passes taking a little more wood with each pass. Pay attention to the grain of the wood (that is covered in most books on routing) with a final pass just shaving and making for a very smooth finish. My personal rule is to cut no more than 1/8 th of an inch per pass. The larger the bit, the slower you should set the speed control.

11) The most useful item I own for my saws is a Wixey digital angle gauge, which allows me to set up all my saws to exact angles (eg: 90 degrees to the table). It wasn't until I started being meticulous about this that my projects started working out right. These are about $30 on Amazon.

I have a Bosch 10 inch compound sliding miter saw that I also love, but use it mainly for cross cutting long pieces, but its ability to cut at precise angles is wonderful.

12) Pocket Hole jig and construction. Although there are many ways to make cabinets and face frames, I have found that pocket hole screws have really made making them easier. Just remember, coarse threads for soft woods, fine thread for hard woods, and I find the square head easier to drive correctly than the Phillips type. My jig is mounted on a chunk of plywood that I can clamp down. The thing makes a lot of sawdust so dust collection is a good idea. I also find that with careful, exact 90 degree end cuts to the wood, the pocket hole approach produces absolutely square cabinets and face frames. You’ll need a couple of face clamps and a Kreg right angle clamp if you use pocket hole joinery. There are many helpful videos on this jig.

13) Make a table saw sled (lots of YouTube videos on how to) for perfect 90 degree cuts on your table saw. I had a little more money than time, so I bought the sled Rockler makes that has a swinging fence and a very precise angle scale. I love that thing and set up a special shelf right next to my table saw to store it and keep it flat. Cross cuts on the sled are wonderfully exact and it prevents most tear out, the ragged or splintered area at the end of a cut. The sled is also a much safer way to cut short pieces as well. You set the sled to a precise 90 or 45 angle using a drafting square.

Most saws come with a miter gauge, but I prefer one of the precision gauges. I have an Osborne gauge I really like, but many here like Incra’s gauge. Precision is important with gauges.

You will read a LOT about jigs here and in your books and videos. Jigs, accurate T squares, a good straightedge are all incredibly useful for producing good work. The more I venture into really good hard wood construction, the more I appreciate how jigs produce accurate results without wasting expensive wood through mis-cuts.

14) I had a lot of problems with tear out at first, but most of that stopped when I started using a sacrificial backup block to push the last bit of a piece through the router. I often use square pieces of MDF (medium density fiberboard) because it is cheap and stays flat. When it gets torn up, I just cut off a chunk and use what’s left. Really helps! You can do the same with any piece by putting a backer board behind where the cut goes--you cut through the piece first, the backer last. You may also want to use feather boards to hold boards in correct alignment to the fence and blade or bit.

Zero Clearance Inserts for the table saw: On the table saw, buy or make blank inserts to make zero clearance inserts (see YouTube for how to do it), this really helps make great, tear-out free cuts. I also found that I wanted to push that last quarter inch through the bit too fast, now I feed at a steady pace all through the cut.

15) Clamps: The joke is you can never have too many clamps. The ones I use most are about $3 each at Harbor Freight, about 9 inch F clamps (they look like an F). I have 18 of them at a couple of bucks each. The same source has longer versions up to 24 inches and I keep 4 to 6 of the 18 and 24 inch models. I have four sets of two of 24 to 60 inch (Jet) parallel clamps for making really square cabinets and other items where holding things square for glue up is important. The better the quality of bar clamps, the thicker and stronger the bar will be. I’ve all but given up on plastic clamps, but have a few that look like scissors for lightly holding things together or down. Depending on what you’re making, a few wooden hand screw clamps could be useful, including holding small parts for safer routing. I recently added a couple of special steel C clamps that have a 12 inch open throat. Very handy item!

16) Hand planes and hand tools: Learning to use these is something of an art, as is proper sharpening and setting of their blades. There are lots of woodworkers who really love working with hand tools, most will suggest you buy used and clean and tune them up--which is actually quite fun. Chisels are important particularly if you are making furniture. Sharpening chisels is a basic skill involving many ultra fine grits of sandpaper, ultra flat surfaces, maybe diamond grit sharpening stones—arcane stuff, but anything less than a razor sharp chisel is pretty useless. Don’t scrimp on chisels, cheap ones get dull fast. Look up sharpening methods on YouTube, it takes patience but not much money to work sharp. I recently bought a diamond sharpening device with diamond dust imbedded in a nickel steel plate. It has small cut out ovals so the metal grit doesn't clog the diamond surface. Use these sparingly and use one of the specialty diamond sharpening lubricants with it. I use this for quick sharpening touch ups, just 4-5 strokes will do. It’s a little easier to use than the sand paper method, which I save for major sharpening tasks.

17) If you have a dedicated shop space, take the time and trouble to insulate it. You will enjoy working in it much more if you're not roasting or freezing. I recently installed a middle sized window AC unit through a shop shed wall for relief from our desert summer and it is now even more of a pleasure to be out there. Insulation also holds in heat during winter. A couple of heaters bring the temp up, but just one keeps it comfortable after that. Cold fingers are clumsy, not good around spinning blades!

Finally, Stick suggests that you use the Forum’s archives when you have questions. There is a wealth of answers to any questions you might have. He also cautions about using one word search terms, which can return massive amounts of information. Here’s the link: https://archive.org/

Woodworking is not necessarily a cheap hobby. Wood can be costly, so are decent tools, And there's hardware, stuff for jigs, dust collection and on and on as you get going. My good wood supplier is 60 miles away, so I often work in decent local pine and plywood with as many layers as I can find. I found some decent Maple faced plywood at HD. Before long you will hear how superior Baltic Birch is to the best of HD, but you have to ferret out a decent source. Chinese made birch ply is generally no match for the real stuff, which, when you cut it shows no voids inside.

This has run pretty long, but I think the information is helpful for someone new to the hobby. The suggestions represent a LOT of trial and error. And yes, you can spend a lot getting set up.
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