Using a router in woodworking to shape edges of stock or mortises for door hinges may seem straightforward and simple. However, using power tools takes proper care and nothing should be taken for granted. Safety using a router in woodworking should always be at the forefront of any carpenter’s mind whether he or she is a novice or a pro.
Basic Safety Rules
Properly preparing your material and work area before using a router in woodworking is an important preventative safety measure. Make sure the material you’ll be cutting is tightly secured in a vice or clamp.
Check for any nails, screws, or other foreign objects embedded in or upon the material. Keep electrical cords out of the cutting area.
The obvious danger when using a router in woodworking is the sharp exposed bit. When you complete a cut, keep the router on your work until the bit stops rotating. Lay the tool on its side when it is not being used to prevent the bit from being damaged or dulled.
Also, always unplug the tool when making depth adjustments or when changing or inserting a new router bit. This may seem like common sense, but there are enough power tool-related injuries due to negligence that even this bears repeating.
Safety Using a Router
Wear appropriate eye and hearing protection when operating the router. You can never predict when or if a piece of material may be launched into the air by the spinning bit.
Be certain that the bit is locked securely in the router. Also make sure the base is tight when using a router in woodworking. Both hands should remain on the router at all times until the motor has stopped, otherwise you may lose control.
Keep stance balanced with your feet squarely beneath you, and try not to overreach. Instead, move to a new position if you’re overreaching. Generally, if you find one or both of your feet on the tip of your toes, you’re not balanced and you increase your chance of injury. Never weaken your hold on the tool, which could result in it slipping out of your grip.
Listen to your Tools
When using a router in woodworking, the sound of the motor is a good telltale sign if you’re routing at a safe speed. If the motor makes a high-pitched sound, the material is being fed too slowly. A lower pitched sound means the router is being pushed too hard or too fast.
Pull back and find a happy medium between the two sounds. You’ll be able to determine this point as you get used to your router. Also, if you need to do a deep cut, take the time to make at least two passes to avoid any kickback. The router lets you know how fast you can push it as you will guide it along the path it should take.
Safety and common sense are the buzzwords when using a router in woodworking. The more care you take, the less likely you’ll find yourself at the bit end of the router.