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Woodworking Router

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Ron Laden11/08/2019 10:26:37
1938 forum posts
383 photos

I have never owned or used a router but for the class 22 loco body I can see that having one would make life a lot easier. The body will be a mix of MDF, ply and aluminium. The main body sides will be MDF and there is a lot of vented panels which need to be recessed plus some panels with radiused edges.

I see on Ebay palm routers for around £25 to £30 obviously cheap brands but I dont need anything heavy duty plus it wont be used very often and unless anyone tells me otherwise I was thinking one of those could be ok..?

Is there anything to be aware of before getting one, for instance will a palm type be ok or would a full size one be easier or better to use, as I mentioned I have no experience with them at all.


p.s. just seen the other thread, must be a day for

Edited By Ron Laden on 11/08/2019 10:30:40

Phil S11/08/2019 11:07:29
14 forum posts
1 photos

I would avoid the fixed speed types. My 1/4" typically runs at around one third to half of full speed. Any faster and the cut edge is burnt.

Ron Laden11/08/2019 11:31:32
1938 forum posts
383 photos

Thanks Phil, the one I have my eye on has soft start and variable speed. I am assuming of course that routers with a suitable bit cut MDF ok and dont leave a bad edge..?

Bazyle11/08/2019 11:55:23
5234 forum posts
201 photos

If the wood burns it is because your feed rate is too low. Wood has to be cut very fast by a sharp cutter so that the soft fibres don't have time to bend out of the way and the bit is actually cooled by heat transfer into the wood chips. So practice not being timid and make sure your position and stance allows you to sweep through the cut without hesitating.
For composite materials it may be worth getting a carbide cutter as the glue and resin in them is not kind to cutters.

not done it yet11/08/2019 11:57:14
4662 forum posts
16 photos

Think ahead. Imperial or metric shank cutters? 6, 8 or even 12mm shanks?

If cheap, it may not last too long (if used), but one of decent quality could be around for a long time.

My first - a second hand non-plunge Stanley is still going after well over 30 years. My latest is a fair quality, large, powerful plunge machine - bought as ‘dead’ at a car boot sale (for not a lot) and just cost me the (expected) replacement motor armature.

Can run at full speed, but the feed rate needs to be maintained at a good rate to avoid burning (and blunting cutters) - like cutting metal, the feed rate is important to avoid ‘rubbing’; especially with HSS router bits which are soon dulled - particularly when used on particle boards of any description

Keith Long11/08/2019 12:20:11
833 forum posts
11 photos

Ron the other thing to be aware of especially cutting MDF is DUST - it gets everywhere and routing produces a lot. Make sure that you get an appropriate mask for the mdf.

JasonB11/08/2019 13:12:06
18147 forum posts
1997 photos
1 articles

The Palm routers are OK for small stuff, I use my laminate trimmer a lot of the tine for this type of work but the main thing they mostly lack is a plunge facility though you can get ones with both type of base. If it is going to be a single router then definately go for one with a plunge base. 1/4 or 8mm will do for most hobby use and don't take so much effort to handle. 1/2" shank is more for heavy use and 12mm not worth bothering with due to lack of available cutters in that size range, same applies to 6mm as most cutters are still imperial shank.

All mine are vari speed but I seldom slow them down, only time I tend to do it is when using large 2" plus diameter cutters, if you are burning wood then you are feeding too slow or your cutter is blunt.

I would not entertain HSS router cutters particularly on abrasive materials like MDF and MFC, infact my two mostly used cutters are both ones that take carbide inserts as they work out cheaper than to keep replacing whole cutters when you use them for a living.

Extract the dust at the source rather than take secondary measures with masks once it is in the air.

Edited By JasonB on 11/08/2019 13:12:57

Mike Poole11/08/2019 15:26:42
2578 forum posts
60 photos

I think the trick with routing is to have positive guiding of the cutter so that you can keep it moving, trying to follow a line by eye will be very difficult to keep the feed rate high to avoid burning. Some people are brilliant at freehand routing but jigs and templates give the basic machine fantastic possibilities. Jigs can be quick and dirty for a one off job but if the job is likely to be repeated or you have many copies to make then making a better jig will save a lot of time in the end.


Ron Laden11/08/2019 16:13:49
1938 forum posts
383 photos

Thanks guys for all the advice, much appreciated

A couple of questions: How clean is the cut edge when using the router on MDF, also how small do the bits go, is it possible to get a 2mm straight bit for instance.

JasonB11/08/2019 17:04:54
18147 forum posts
1997 photos
1 articles

A lot will depend on the grade and quality of the MDF. Contract grade and what you get in the sheds is at the low end of the medium density so quite loosly compressed fibres. Even a good quality standard MDF such as Medite "Premier" can still leave a bit of a fluffy edge and I only use that where weight is an issue as it comes it at around 65% the weight of MR MDF (moisture resisting) which is what I use for just about everything and it gives quite a good edge, I usually only need to give it a light rub down after the first coat of primer.

Yes 2mm bits are available, usually solid carbide at that size rather than carbide tipped.

Edited By JasonB on 11/08/2019 17:05:20

Ron Laden11/08/2019 17:39:30
1938 forum posts
383 photos

Thanks Jason thats helpful.


Derek Lane11/08/2019 18:50:45
325 forum posts
73 photos

i run two old Bosch POF500A routers the small ones both of them are a fixed speed I don't have any problems with burning except on occasions on Oak.

If you have a deep cut to do try doing it in stages as well as if you are removing a large amount of of the sides.

You can get router bits as small as 1.6mm.

Look fir a router with a 1/4" collet unless you will need to do large cut with larger router bits. 1/4" is pretty standard here in the UK

Neil Wyatt11/08/2019 20:29:36
17908 forum posts
706 photos
77 articles

The main thing with routers, which may be obvious, is that you always need a guide or template. For rounding or putting on an ogee with a bit that has a ball race on the end the guide can be the side of the work, but for most stuff expect to spend more time setting up than routing!


Ron Laden13/08/2019 10:16:05
1938 forum posts
383 photos

I think I will go with a twin handle plunge type rather than a palm type, just thinking it would be more controllable.

Yet another question: Would a router with a straight 2mm solid carbide bit cope with 1050 aluminium - 3mm deep slots..? I had thought of using the mill with a 2 flute carbide end mill but the mill doesnt have the speed.

p.s. or better to go with a HSS 2 flute cutter on the mill..?

Edited By Ron Laden on 13/08/2019 10:18:21

Derek Lane13/08/2019 10:37:37
325 forum posts
73 photos

There are proper aluminium cutters available for wood routers the smallest I have seen so far is 3mm from Trend.

Edited By Derek Lane 2 on 13/08/2019 10:38:28

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