Are you feeling inspired to learn some new DIY know-how and have you ever considered having a go at routing? This is the process of creating a groove or ‘hollowing out’ materials.
Take a look at this handy beginner’s guide introduces you to the routing trade and the tools you’ll need so you can get creative with decorative edges or try your hand at joinery. From choosing the right router bit to working with Dremel’s Plunge Router, you’ll be routing in no time.
Top tips on how to get started with routing
Tip 1: Gather your materials
Before you embark on a new DIY adventure, let’s look at the basics. First, exactly what is a rout? A rout is a groove or hollow created with a power tool, and routing is the process of ‘hollowing out’ materials. When you’re starting, it’s best to choose materials that are easy to rout. Softwoods are great, as is carbon, chipboard, fibreboard, laminates, plastic, plexiglass, plywood and rubber. You can also use your handheld router on hardwoods – just move the tool a bit more slowly. Here you’ll need to be careful of burning the wood and/or bit (see tip 7 for more on this).
Tip 2: Get to know the different rout types
The type of rout you want depends on the job at hand. If you’re starting out, you’ll be using your router quite often to make grooves. Grooves, which are long cuts in surfaces, can be flat, v-shaped or rounded. You can create functional inlays with them in wooden tables, cutting boards or your kitchen countertop, for example. Another type of rout is a cove; also known as a rounded groove. This is a simple way to add an interesting edge to a plain surface. For a decorative rout, the chamfer is the best option as it straight but doesn’t extend across the material’s entire profile; think of it as a ‘flattened corner’. Specific types of routs require specific bits, which brings us to our next point.
Tip 3: Choose the right router bit
A piloted bit is a guide that keeps the bit in place and is suitable for routs such as cove and chamfer. There are two main types: the first (612) is a piloted beading bit, and is used most often for decorative work. The second is a piloted rounding-over bit (615) which is used for smoothing edges.
Tip 4: Equip yourself with the plunge router attachment
The most essential attachment, when it comes to routing, is the Plunge Router attachment. When woodworking or doing other DIY projects involving routing, this attachment converts your Dremel Multi-Tool into a plunge router. In other words, it negates the need for a separate plunge router tool. With just this one attachment, you can use your tool to rout circles, cut letters and signs, as well as inlay work. Want to rout in a straight line? Use the edge guide that comes with the Plunge Router attachment.
Tip 5: Tick off the safety precautions
Before you start your new DIY project, let’s do a quick safety recap. Protect your hands with gloves to avoid any accidental cuts. Goggles and a dust mask are also essential when it comes to routing; you don’t want to be breathing in sawdust or plastic particles or getting them anywhere near your eyes. Complete your router safety preparations with a pair of insulating earmuffs, and then you’re good to go.
Tip 6: Hold the router slightly slanted
Now that you’ve got the right router bits and ticked off all the safety precautions, it’s time to get routing. When you turn on the tool, hold it slightly slanted. Why? The tip of most router bits doesn’t actually cut: the working part is on the side of the bit. Holding the router at an angle creates a ‘slide’ in the wood. Once you start routing in the wood (or whatever material you’re working with), you can then hold the router upright.
Tip 7: Set the RPM and move slowly
Ensure that your material or router bit doesn’t burn by letting the tool do the work and pausing when you see the material getting hot. Move slowly, especially with hardwoods like oak. If you’re routing in plexiglass, keep the Rotations Per Minute (RPM) low. The packaging of each router bit has information on the advised RPM. Finally, always rout in stages – don’t remove more than 3mm of material at once. Want your groove to be 1cm deep? Set your router’s depth to 3mm, and complete it in 3 phases. And finally, always test it on some scrap material, and you’ll be routing in no time.
If you’re looking for more inspiration to get your creative juices flowing, then take a look at Dremel’s webpage full of projects and inspiration or follow it on Facebook for regular hints, tips and competitions.