Canadian Woodworking
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Are nine routers enough?

Blog by Rob Brown
First Step

The short answer is no, but that’s no fun.

A router is one of the most multifunctional power tools in the workshop. A router makes it easy to add different edge profiles to tops, doors and other workpieces with a profile bit that has a bearing. Straight bits are handy for cutting joints like grooves, dadoes and mortises, and they can also level slabs. Straight bits with bearings can work wonders for trimming workpieces to the same shape as a pattern or template. Joinery bits can take care of countless woodworking joints that are otherwise relatively hard to machine, at least with any kind of accuracy. And a wide range of specialty router bits can accomplish dozens and dozens of miscellaneous tasks around the shop.

The thing is, all of these bits can fit into one router, so why the need for nine or more of them?

The need for speed

Speed and efficiency are important in a workshop. This is true for the hobby woodworker, but even more so for the professional who is juggling multiple jobs, dealing with customers and keeping employees busy. While hobby woodworkers aren’t worried about monetary efficiency, they surely want the job to move along as anticipated so an enjoyable project doesn’t turn into a slog. The professional woodworker is obviously trying to avoid losing money, but actually hoping to end up with a profit at the end of the day.

Having just one router may slow down a hobby woodworker, but not that much. A pro may require more than one router at a time to complete an operation. For example, I detailed the process I undertook to make some integral drawer and door pulls in our Oct/Nov 2023 issue (“Make integrated cabinet pulls“), and even made a video of the process. I can’t recall exactly how many routers I was using at one time, but I think it was either four or five. It would have been painfully slow and frustrating to have only one router, and need to juggle each setup and operation without the right number of routers.

I also keep a few routers set up with dedicated bits. For example, one of my larger routers has a template routing bit, so I can rout to a template quickly and easily, which is something I do fairly often. One of my small trim routers is set up with a 1/4″ radius roundover bit. Another trim router has a chamfer bit, while another one has a 1/4″ straight bit.

Thankfully, many routers aren’t overly expensive. Sure, it’s possible to pay upwards of $1,000 on a single router, though about 15 years ago I paid about $40 for a small King trim router that’s still in operation. It’s the one with a roundover bit in it.

Many different types of routers

There are also different types of routers. They’re sort of like shoes. You could go for a hike in your dress shoes, but it’s much easier to have a different pair of shoes for marching through the dirt. A large plunge router is great to have, as is a trim router. Those are at the two ends of the router spectrum, in terms of size. In the middle, I have a few combo kits that take care of the majority of my routing needs. A few cordless trim routers, two of which are small plunge versions, are very handy.

Routers on my mind

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my router collection, as I’ve been putting together a series of four webinars. Doing that sort of thing makes you see a tool like a router in a new light. I didn’t realize I had nine routers kicking around the shop until a few days ago. It’s funny, as I now think I could use more of them. Then again, maybe I should just stop and try to enjoy what I already have.

First Step

This was the first routing operation I used while adding integral pulls to a kitchen project a while ago. This operation created the outer shape of the handle.

First Step

Third Step

After using a cove bit to produce the recessed area on the rear face of the pull to enable the user’s fingers to grasp the door or drawer front, I used this setup to make a large, shallow recess in the rear face of the door or drawer front to accept a thin piece of solid wood.

Published:
Last modified: May 24, 2024

Rob Brown - [email protected]

Rob is a studio furniture maker and the editor at Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement. Instagram at @RobBrownTeaches

2 Comments

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  2. You maniac! Nine routers!? Or so I thought until I gave a rough count of my own. Oops! Four different routers, two trimmers,one router table,one CNC and an ancient one permanently affixed in a jig for making bowl shapes. A little quick math and…sort of like clamps, you can never have too many.

  3. I’m a complete underachiever in comparison Rob.

    I have an E.C.Emmerich wood router plane which I use the most, a Porter Cable laminate trimmer that hasn’t seen the outside of a drawer in 10 years, and a Porter Cable fixed base a friend gave me 6 or 7 years ago.

    Only the wood router plane is used.

    My shaper however is used frequently, this seeking its grooving rails and stiles and cutting tenons on red oak Shaker style kitchen cabinet doors.

    I wouldn’t have space to store 9 routers, although I can see how having routers with different bits would be a time saver.

    That’s what I love about woodworking, so many different approaches to getting the work done

    Regards, Rod

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