6 Handy Ways to Use Your Wood Router For Woodworking Projects

Last Updated on August 28, 2022 by Barry Gray

Have you ever wondered how does a wood router work? Woodworkers use a router for a wide variety of tasks. This versatile power tool is ideal for decorative projects.

Whether it’s trimming, cutting, or shaping materials, the wood router does it all.

Quick Overview

wood router

Here is a simple overview of the handy ways you can use your wood router for woodworking projects:

  • Cutting Dadoes
  • Shaping Decorative Molds
  • Creating Perfect Edges
  • Recreating Patterns
  • Carving Rabbets
  • Attaching Door Hinges

If you are a beginner, you might need more information on how to perform these tasks. In this guide, I’ll provide a breakdown of how you can use your wood router.

Like other woodworking tools, this power tool is a great product to own because it is portable, and you can move with it from one job site to another. Among its key functions, the wood router creates precise holes, finished edges, and cutaways on different types of materials such as wood, metal, or plastic.

A well-functioning wood router comes with a collet, a motor, and router bits. Once you’re ready to purchase your first router, you’ll have many questions, such as the features you should look for. But the most important question might be, how does a wood router work?

I recommend you read this guide as I’ll share in detail the common applications of a wood router to act as a guide for your next project.

Handy Ways to Use Your Wood Router for Woodworking Projects

1. Cutting Dadoes

A dado, also known as a groove, is a slot commonly used to support shelves on the sides of a cabinet or a bookcase. These flat-bottomed recesses strengthen connecting panels. Woodworkers cut these slots using two common methods.

The first one, known as the through dado, runs through both edges of a surface, which leaves the ends open. The second type is the stopped or blind dado, which is distinct because it ends before one or both cuts meet the surface.

When using a router to create this cut, the dado does not have to be too deep to create a strong joint. If you are using solid wood, 1/8″ will work and 1/4″ if your material is plywood, MDF, or particleboard. This shallow cut is good enough to support the weight of the shelf during assembly.

Unlike a table saw, a wood router has more advantages that compensate for its reduced cutting speed. This tool cuts precise and accurate dadoes which align with the cutter’s diameter. The cut will also be clean without any roughness. In addition, this tool can cut stopped dadoes.

The router will comfortably handle all the dadoing you’ll need to do. It can handle both small and larger workpieces. On the other hand, whether you have a fixed router or a plunge router, the tool is versatile enough to execute the tasks.

2. Shaping Decorative Molds

There are different types of moldings that you can use to decorate your home. Moldings are designed during remodeling projects or to create parts such as door casings, crowns, chair railings, coves, picture rails, and baseboards which provide a visual transition, especially at the junction of walls and floors.

Wood routers create interesting decorative molds. By adding different router bits, you can craft complex or straightforward moldings in different patterns for your home.

Whether you need to curve contours or add some interesting finished edges, the wood router comes in handy in decorative molding. Compared to other tools, routers have a depth adjustment ring and high motor speeds that make the molding process much quicker and efficient.

For homeowners and DIYers, wood routers are essential in creating unique and stylish molds for the house. With just one tool, you can quickly work and produce several projects without limitations.  

With these home improvement applications, the wood router maintains its status as a versatile power tool that you need for most tasks.

3. Creating Perfect Edges

Routers are used in tasks such as creating table edges. This process requires clean and smooth cuts. However, creating these perfect edges on tiny pieces of wood can be quite a challenge. 

A router comes in handy by producing well-finished edges which are even and leveled. Furthermore, this versatile tool can replicate the same on other pieces of wood.

A pro tip for achieving perfect edges is to use a sharp router bit and run the router in an anticlockwise direction around the workpiece. This technique makes it safer and easier to control because the bit pushes the router toward you rather than pulling it away.

If this technique doesn’t work, the wood will chip out at the corners. Before making final cuts on your DIY project, test out the cuts on a scrap of wood to determine the maximum cutting depth. In case the wood burns, you can remove tiny pieces of wood with each cut.

To create perfect edges, users also need to pay attention to router bits. These parts of the tool determine how precise the cuts will be. For example, only with the proper router bit can you cut the desired edge on a wooden board.

Many routers come with an edge guide. These edge guides are essential for beginners and could help users make straight grooves and cuts in the wood.

4. Recreating Patterns

The benefit of using a router for your woodwork projects is that you can perform tasks in less time compared to other tools. If you want to get the most of your router, you can make perfect duplicate parts for a project which involves working with a template.

With a design in mind and the proper router bits, you can easily make a template that you can replicate for other projects. This tool can cut designs, patterns, and grooves across several pieces of wood.

For instance, you can use a router to trace the original design outline and make the same piece as many times as you like if you need to recreate a table. This technique is essential for professional woodworkers and contractors who need to create the same design for several clients.

If you are passionate about creating your own designs, this skill is not difficult to master. Apart from re-creating your own unique designs, the template also saves money and time that could have been used to draft the design afresh. You’ll also maintain consistency by producing the same design over and over.

The router makes straight cuts, perfect edges, arches, and curves to keep the original design throughout your project.

Woodworkers can make templates from any material from plywood, OSB, to MDF.

5. Carving Rabbets

Most cabinets are built using rabbet joinery. A rabbet is a rectangular slot created at the edge of the wood, usually on the sides of a bookcase, to insert plywood backs. They are designed to be used together with a dado to form a strong joint.

If you want to create perfect-looking rabbets, use a router with special rabbet bits that cut the perfect width. However, most routers can accommodate a variety of rabbet bits. You can quickly get the bits at woodworking stores in your home area. You can also adjust the rabbet width to the desired size.

Rabbet bits can either be purchased alone or bought together with a set of replaceable bearings that alter the cutting width. An important point to note is that the wider the bearing, the narrower the rabbet will be.

For a perfect fitting, the rabbet or groove should be of the same thickness as the plywood back. The router should cut in an anticlockwise direction to about 1/2 in. deep. This will leave enough space for gluing and fastening the cabinet and shelves.

Apart from connecting cabinets, a rabbet can also be added as a design feature in molding. It can also act as a recess for holding artwork in a picture frame.

6. Attaching Door Hinges

Cutting out slots for door hinges seems like a daunting task. However, with a wood router, this should be a simple and straightforward job. Most wood routers in the market can precisely cut space for recessed door hinges or lock faceplates.

This tool can create hinges within the desired depth and come with a depth adjustment and quick motor release feature. You can additionally make a hinge template with your router to create identical or similar hinges for your doors. This makes your job much easier.

To create perfect door hinges using your router, you’ll need to get the right size of router bits. These bits come in different sizes and shapes and are made for specific purposes. 

Depending on your woodwork project, you can use them to either create complex or simple profiles. Without the correct router, you won’t achieve your desired results for your door hinges.

You can either use a fixed base or plunge type of router for door hinges to make the slots. Both options will work perfectly for your project.

Using a router to recess your door hinges will give a more finished appearance and smoother operation. Before investing in a router brand for your door hinges, consider the speed, router bits, ease of use, templates available, and base style.

My Recommendation

I would recommend the DEWALT DW616 Router, Fixed Base, 1-3/4-HP for your projects. This product comes with a 1-3/4 horsepower and 11-amp motor that powers it through all types of wood. In addition, the adjustable, tool-free steel motor cam lock makes it easy to use the depth adjustment feature.

During cutting, the micro-fine depth adjustment ring offers adjustments in 1/64-inch increments. Its motor latches fast enough, making it easy to remove the motor pack. Like every DeWalt product, this power tool has a three-year limited warranty covering defects due to faulty workmanship and materials.  

Furthermore, it’s covered by DEWALT’s one-year free service contract, which guarantees that the company will replace worn parts and maintain the tool for free.


From this guide, I hope I have provided detailed information on how you can use a wood router on your next woodworking project.

I’ve covered the six handy ways you can apply this versatile power tool and the essential features that come with it.

Before you invest in a wood router for your woodwork tasks, make sure you understand how it works and what projects it can handle in your home or workshop.

This comprehensive article will save you time as you shop for a power tool. Are there any other ways you can use this tool? Leave a comment below with your pro tip.

I’d love to hear your feedback.

Related Questions

  • Which Is The Right Way To Use Your Wood Router?

The most significant mistake newbie woodworkers make is turning the router in the wrong direction. Doing this will reduce your router’s efficiency. 

Instead, always move your router against the rotation of the bit. This technique gives you control over the tool and gives room for the bit to cut into the wood.

If the tool and bit move in the same direction, you’ll run along the edge of the workpiece and lose control. Since the bit moves in a clockwise direction, the tool should rotate anticlockwise for the cuts to be precise.

  • What Is the Best Router For A Beginner?

If you are a beginner in the woodwork business, choosing a suitable router model can be challenging. One of the best models in the market that you can use is the Makita RT0701CX7 1-1/4 HP Compact Router Kit.

This power tool has a speed control of 10,000 to 30,000 RPM, which is efficiently fast. It caters to precision and accuracy with a depth adjustment system that ensures you create perfect cuts and edges. In addition, the device is well designed for easier control and has an efficient cam lock system.

As a tool for newbies, it comes with industry-standard template guides, which are convenient.

  • How Do You Choose A Wood Router?

A wood router can be used for a wide array of woodworking projects. Before investing in one, consider the motor power, speed, router bits, ease of use, and template guides. The router you choose will also depend on your project and budget. You’ll achieve your project goals with whichever brand you choose.

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Barry Gray

Hi, I’m Barry. I’ve loved woodworking and bringing things back to life for more years than I care to remember. I hope my passion for tools comes across loud and clear in everything you read here on The Tool Square.

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