It is a little known fact that the wood router and wood router table has brought decorative wooden furniture and doors to the masses.
Before the wood router
Before the wood router was invented most decorative wooden furniture and door/window were crafted by hand to produce the curved and patterned wood that many so people desired for there homes.
This would massively drive up the cost and time it took to carve the wood to the specified pattern and limited who could afford it.
It takes a very long time to shape wood by hand sanding or carving it.
Not long after the wood router was invented the router table was born which made it even easier to produce quality decorative wooden products in larger numbers and made the woodworker’s job much simpler.
You may have wondered how do they get the pattern on the front of the doors or on the side of tables? The answer is the wood router.
How a wood router works and its development
The wood router works by rotating the sharp router bit at a high rpm which cuts through the wood and creates the pattern on the side or in the inlays of wooden doors and tables.
It can also be used for cuts and curved cuts making it a very versatile and popular tool for woodworking professionals.
The wood router has improved over the years with more powerful electric motors which help produce better and cleaner cuts.
They are also being sold with dust extraction systems and attachments so you can add a dust extractor to which is a great improvement especially for the user as wood dust can be very bad for your health and can cause breathing issues and long term lung damage.
Most manufacturers already ready had to have dust extraction systems set up for keeping the operator safe as it was set in law so this improvement mainly benefited hobbyists and small workshops.
You can now even buy cordless wood routers with respectable performance. The cordless router is more expensive than the corded model owing to the lithium batteries that power the cordless model.
There is a massive array of wood routers now to choose from and they come in all budgets and built for a selection of work types because an industrial manufactorer will need a higher grade wood router than a part time user.
Wood router bits
The pattern you will produce is dependant on the router bit you use and there is a large selection of shapes and sizes.
Router bits lose their sharpness over time and have to be resharpened once they become dull using a technique called honing.
A wood router is only as good as the router bits you use, just like a drill is only as good as the drill bits you use with it.
This is why woodworking professionals will purchase the better router bits at a much higher price over trying to save money with cheaper router bits that won’t do as good as job and won’t have as long of a life.
Wood routers helped open up many small and medium companies who could now afford to purchase and create a wide manner of wood and furniture products which is good for the economy and for creating jobs,
The router table
The router table is a very sturdy platform to work from so you can work with large wooden boards, you used to only really see router tables in workshops and manufacturing factories but they have become much more accessible these days with many hobbyists and DIY’ers purchasing them for a couple of hundred dollars.
The router table was firstly a home made affair custom made by woodworkers so they could operate their wood routers more easily.
After a while manufacturers started selling accessories for these homemade custom router tables.
They started by selling fences, table tops, legs, and inserts.
Then the big tool companies started selling the whole set up and even router and table combos that were already fixed together.
They come in all types and sizes and are available with a wood and metal or metal frame with the tabletop always being wood.
Now the market is large and competitive with a massive choice of router tables and routers to choose from.
This has helped drive the entry-level price down making them much more likely to be purchased by self-learners.
Router table designs
There are 2 main design types or router tables one where the router is mounted on the top and one where it is mounted underneath.
The difference is with the top-mounted router table you will move the router over the wood and the underneath router table you move the wood over the fixed wood router.
Some of the biggest brands that manufacture wood routers and router tables are Bosch, Kreg, Makita, Dewalt.
Now with CNC routers becoming cheaper to purchase and easier to operate the router and router table is likely to be replaced in many workshops and manufacturing plants but will still be a good choice for many small businesses and hobbyists.
The wood router and router table will always be a very useful set of woodworking tools so I think it is safe to say they will be around for a while yet.
If you want to learn how to use a wood router you can find many professional books or videos on the subject and you can pick up a good quality budget router for as cheap as $80, you will also need a router table or a good solid workbench to work on.
Always follow the safety instructions that come with your wood router or router table and always set up a dust extractor before you start to do any work with them.
If you are setting up your router in a place where you don’t have power outlets close then pay an electrician to set up the wiring and design so you know it is safe.