5 Things to Do with a Router

A DIYer using a router on a piece of lumber in a workshop.

A router is a tool used to hollow out an area in a piece of wood, metal, or plastic. It can be used to cut fancy edges, patterns, and grooves, and is most often used for cabinetry and decorative moldings.

The power tool form of a router consists of an electric motor-driven spindle. The use of a router bit transforms the router into a tool that can be used for a variety of projects. Given that there are literally hundreds of router bits available, many woodworkers consider the router to be the single most versatile woodworking tool available.

There are two types of routers available: a fixed base router and a plunge base router. A fixed base router allows you to set a cut depth that will extend the router bit past the router base. A plunge base router also allows you to set a cut depth. However, you plunge the bit into your cut while the router base lays flat on the material surface.

Owning both types of routers will certainly give you a lot more variety in your projects. However, if you are looking to do simple home projects, a plunge base router may be the way to go. You'll have more options and you can always lock a plunge base router to use like a fixed base router.

Following are 5 things you can do with a router.

1. Create a Rounded Edge

A close-up of a table with a rounded edge.

If you are making a table, nightstand, or bench that starts out with a square edge, you can round it out by using a router. Rounded edges are often more aesthetically pleasing than straight edges. This might also be useful if you have small children and want to eliminate sharp edges on furniture for their safety.

Wondering how to create a rounded edge? First, you'll want to attach your router bit to the collet of your router and lock it in place. Next, you'll want to set the depth of your bit. Finally, you'll want to run the router along the edge of the wood. It's as simple as that.

2. Bevel a Frame

You can create a picture frame with a beveled edge out of pieces of wood and a router. Do an internet search for “making picture frames” to start.

Use your router to shape the outside and inside edges of the frame. Then, put the pieces together using the instructions you found.

3. Make a Sign

You can make beautiful signs using a router. Whether a house number or business sign, a piece of wood and a router are all you need.

Start by drawing your design onto your piece of wood. You can use a round nose, v-groove, or square end router bit for hollowing out the lettering. Other bits can be used for carving intricate designs. You can also round the edges of your sign or use a more decorative edging bit.

4. Make a Cutting Board

You can quickly make a cutting board with a rectangular piece of wood. Start by rounding the edges of the board. Finish the piece by hollowing out a groove one or two inches from the edge of the board, all the way around.

The best type of wood for cutting boards are maple, walnut, cherry, and teak. They are all close grained woods and will last the longest. Once you're finished, you'll be left with a great gift.

5. Make Raised Panel Doors

A close-up of cabinet doors.

Raised panel doors are a great addition to bookshelves. You can also replace old cabinet doors with raised panel doors. This project is a bit more advanced, but doable with time and some prior router experience.

You'll need several router bits, jigs, and door templates. Do an internet search for “making raised panel doors with a router” for more detailed instructions.

What Else Can a Router Do?

  • Cut grooves and rabbets
  • Create decorative flutings
  • Profile edges
  • Cut inlays
  • Trim wood
  • Shape wood
  • Drill clean holes
  • Recess hinges
  • Cut screw threads
  • Cut traditional joints