The Ins and Outs of Routing
Looking to try your hand at improving or decorating your home and creating handy gadgets? Well, you’re certainly in the right place. Follow our step-by-step beginner’s guide and learn everything you need to know to get started routing. Whether you’re looking for your next project inspiration or searching for the right router bits; you’ll find everything you need right here! Stay awhile, and be guided through the routing process.
How to Get Started Routing
Whether you want to get creative with decorative edges or try your hand at woodworking, a good router tool is what you need. In our handy beginner’s guide to routing, we introduce you to the skill and the tools. From choosing the right router bit to working with a Dremel Plunge Router, you’ll get your DIY on in no time.
Step 1: What to rout, gathering your materials
Before you embark on your new DIY adventure, let’s take a look at the basics. First, what is a rout, exactly? A rout is a groove or hollow created with a power tool, so naturally routing is the process of ‘hollowing out’ your material. When you’re starting out, it’s best to choose materials that are easy to rout. We recommend soft woods: carbon, chipboard, fiberboard, laminates, plastic, plexiglass, plywood and rubber. You can also use your handheld router on hardwoods – just move more slowly.
Helpful Hint: When using a handheld router on hardwood be conscious of burning your wood and/or bit (see tip #7 for more on this).
Step 2: Which rout should you take?
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 are long cuts in surfaces that can be flat-bottomed, v-shaped or rounded. You can create functional inlays with them in wooden tables, cutting boards or even your kitchen countertop if you want to get fancy. For a simple way to add an interesting edge to a plain surface, you will want to use another type of rout called a cove; also known as a rounded groove. If you want to add a little jazz, use the chamfer as a decorative rout. Think of it as a ‘flattened corner’; the chamfer is straight, but doesn’t extend across the material’s entire profile. Depending on the rout you choose, you’ll want to use the right bits, which brings us to our next point.
Step 3: Set yourself up for success, find the right router bit
Let’s take a look at router bits. A straight bit (650, 652, 654) cuts straight, square-bottomed grooves, such as rebates and trench grooves. 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 kinds of piloted bits. The first (612) is a piloted beading bit, and is used most often for decorative work. A piloted rounding-over bit (615) is used for smoothing edges. A V-groove bit (640) cuts decorative V-shaped grooves. It routs grooves into picture frames or anything else that needs to be hung.
Looking for more info?
Check out all our routing accessories here
Step 4: Convert your Dremel into a plunge router!
The most essential attachment, when it comes to routing, is the 335-01 Plunge Router attachment. When woodworking or doing other DIY routing projects, this attachment converts your Dremel rotary tool into a plunge router. In other words, it eliminates the need for a separate plunge router tool. With just this one attachment, you can use your rotary tool to rout circles, cut letters and signs, as well as inlay work. Want to rout in a straight line? Easy! Use the edge guide that comes with the Plunge Router attachment.
Step 5: Think smart, be safe!
Before you start your new DIY project, let’s do a quick safety recap. Protect your hands with gloves; they will prevent any accidental cuts or scraps. 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 with a pair of insulating earmuffs, and then you’re good to go!
Step 6: Grab hold of 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 down to business. 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 make your way into the wood (or whatever material you’re working with), you can then hold the router upright.
Step 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 do it in 3 phases. And finally, always test it on some scrap material, and you’ll be routing in no time!
Ready to rout!
Now you’re ready to route your way into your next DIY project. Be sure to share your project in the Community Cafe or tag us on your social media feeds.
Check out this quick demo with the Dremel 200 series tool