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Learning to use a router?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by tekhna, Dec 17, 2004.

  1. tekhna


    Nov 7, 2004
    Do you guys have any tricks to learning to use a router? I have my dads that I can use, and a ton of 2x4s sitting around. Should I just set a goal and have at it, or do you guys have any tips for getting the finesse down?

  2. Josh Curry

    Josh Curry

    May 29, 2003
    Frisco, TX
    Get some template and flush trim bits if you don't have any and learn to use those. They are probably the most important. You may also want to learn how to use bushings. Some router templates require them.
  3. tjclem

    tjclem Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 6, 2004
    Central Florida
    Owner and builder Clementbass
    Go slow don't try to remove too much in a single pass.t
  4. Bass Kahuna

    Bass Kahuna

    Dec 3, 2002
    West Lafayette, Indiana
    Luthier, Custom Builder
    Another tip is to NEVER, EVER pickup up a router when it is still spinning.

    I learned this the hard way a long time ago. They gyroscopic effect turned the router bit right into the piece I was working on and took a BIG ugly hunk out of it.... sheesh.

    Yeup, plenty of good books and guides out there on router safety and usage.

  5. tekhna


    Nov 7, 2004

    Thanks, that was very useful. I have a lot of time over christmas break, so this is part of my goal to teach myself some woodworking skills.

    So when you guys do something like route out pickups, do you set the depth you are routing on the router, and then use a guide, or do you use a template and guide bushes to get the job done?
  6. Josh Curry

    Josh Curry

    May 29, 2003
    Frisco, TX
    I use a template and bushings for mine. You pretty much have to for pickup cavities because you will need to use a 1/4" bit for the corners and you can't get a 1/4" template bit with a bearing, so you have to use bushings.
  7. Actually, you can do like I do and just use a ¼" bit for most all of the inlet jobs. Mine has a ¾" cut depth so I just let the smooth shoulder ride against my template. I use hardened MDF templates so it works perfectly. No need for a bearing and no need to switch bits. I plunge to hog out and then cleanup around the perimeter.
  8. Josh Curry

    Josh Curry

    May 29, 2003
    Frisco, TX
    That would work too. I am guessing that you make your own templates? The one I am using is made of some hard plastic or acrylic. I bought it online. Bad things......
  9. luknfur


    Jan 14, 2004

    Sharp bit, thin cut, hi speed.

    I'm not a luthier and I wasn't doing precision cutting but the mistake I made was taking too big a bite. Hadn't used a router in years and I assumed that a bit 3/4" wide would take a 5/8 cut anyway - which it will but it's not bit friendly in the process and is prone to dragging rpms down. I torched a bit before I was through the first bass. Bit's can be expensive and can be trashed quickly.

    Out of curiosity, do you guys have any tricks on basses with hard finishes, something to get through the finish coat first?
  10. Bits that specifically have "mill ends" are good for this. That means they have a honed cutting surfaces all the way across the face (end) of the bit. Most wood bits, even those sometimes used for plunge cutting, don't have a complete set of cutters on the face. You can get these from places like MSC or Grainger or directly from CNC router bit manufacturers like Onsrud.
  11. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    And after the 2x4's go find some hardwood scraps (some local lumberyards carry 'em) and try routing those. Very different from a 2x4 (doug fir is a fairly soft wood that gives easily, cherry feels a lot different under a router)
  12. Bassmanbob

    Bassmanbob Supporting Member

    They can be very useful and dangerous tools.. I would suggest a router book or two first. Read and reread the safety chapter. After you understand the chapter, read it again. I'm not being funny. The chunk of wood Bass Kahuna took out of his bass could have been his arm or chest. Be careful and have fun.
  13. schuyler


    Aug 5, 2003
    Atlanta, GA
    every species of wood machines a little differently, so when your first working with a new species it's important to go slowly and cautiously. some woods like mahogany machine beautifully... others like wenge can splinter badly.

    also, always always always brace the router firmly with a ready stance. if it does catch and jump, (and sooner or later it will) being alert and ready to absorb the kickback with your arms can save you from serious injury. accidents in the woodworking are 99.999% user error, so take care. when your bass is finished, you'll enjoy it more if you still have all ten fingers.
  14. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    Lucky guy, just made a cut in the workpiece - still got his ten fingers, and all his guts...

    Yeah, there are stories about guys who took the router up with the bit spinning - and got it into the guts. Nasty...
  15. Josh Curry

    Josh Curry

    May 29, 2003
    Frisco, TX
    Another VERY important issue concerning the gyroscopic effect of a router is the start up. These things go from 0 to 20,000+ in less than a second so there's a lot of torque the instant you hit trigger. Make sure the router is braced against something or you at least have a really good grip on it. It could potentialy jump out of your hands if your not holding onto it fairly tightly.