January 20, 2023
Profiles made in wood by several common router bits (Source: Wikipedia/Fred the Oyster)
A surprising number of professional carpenters and woodworking hobbyists consider the router—with or without a router sled—their most useful and versatile electric tool. And with good reason! Best described as a hybrid combination of a planer, a power drill, and a collection of wood-carving gouges and chisels, routers are able to shape wood in an astonishing variety of ways. Depending on the type of router (plunge router, fixed-base, combo, variable-speed, laminate trimmer, CNC, etc.), they are capable of…
- carving grooves and rabbets
- chamfering and beveling
- incising shallow reliefs
- drilling clean holes
- creating decorative flutings
- recessing hinges
- profiling edges
- making screw threads
- hollowing out adzed bowls
- trimming wood flat
- cutting dovetail, mortise-&-tenon, and other types of joints
…and generally shaping wood in ways that would often be difficult if not nearly impossible using just hand tools.
As with all power tools, the health and well-being of the user should be the first concern. That means familiarizing yourself with the features of your router, and making sure to clean and maintain it on a regular basis to ensure it is always functioning properly. When using a router, it is a good idea to wear long pants and closed-toe shoes, along with gloves and, above all, safety glasses or goggles. You might also consider a dust mask to protect your lungs and ear plugs to preserve your hearing!
A precessing gyroscope in motion (Source: Wikipedia/Lucas Vieira)
And when it comes to routers, as with every other tool, practice makes perfect. The router is not the easiest tool to master right out of the gate. For one thing, there is the principle of conservation of angular momentum. Without getting too deep into the physics of it, think about spinning tops and rotating gyroscopes. When in operation, they seem to defy the law of gravity; and if you try to change the angle of the spin, they will tend to resist.
Thus, with a wide enough router bit and a motor spinning at 20,000 RPM, the same basic principle applies: the router may yaw and pitch unexpectedly as you make your cuts.
This may be less of a problem if you are making freehand cuts to the wood where absolute precision is not the goal. But if you are aiming for perfectly straight lines or working on exceptionally large pieces, the optimum solution is to use a router sled to tame the wild bucking router.
Choose a Router Sled Kit to Match Your Needs
Another primary use of a wood router sled is to allow you to flatten lumber and boards that are too big for a jointer or a planer. (For this reason a router sled is sometimes also called a “slab-flattening jig.”) The video below illustrates this task.
A dedicated machine to accomplish this job would take up an exceptionally large amount of space in a woodworking shop (especially in the home), would not be easily portable, and might cost in the neighborhood of $20,000. At a fraction of that cost, clearly Framing Tech’s router sled kits are a much more economical solution.
Our router sled kits consist primarily of a pair of extruded aluminum profiles, to be attached in parallel to the workspace, so that the router sled itself, set on cross-bars, will move very smoothly back and forth along these linear rails.
The kits come in two standard sizes:
- 72″ × 36″
- 96″ × 48″
Router sled kits may also be ordered with custom length × width specifications.
Be aware that the router sled itself is not included in the kit, and must be purchased separately from TOT! (TakeOneToo.com). Their website has numerous instructional videos illustrating how the router can be attached to the rails and effectively operated.