What Is A Router? What Is A Router Used For?

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A router is a woodworking tool used for cutting, cleaning and smoothing grooves / depressed surfaces parallel with the surface of the work.

The scope of this router article covers hand routers.

old wooden router

History Of The Router

Traditionally in the days of past when routers were an unknown tool, woodworkers would place a chisel through a block of wood and secure the chisel at the required depth. This method was later improved upon and advanced into a wooden router often referred to as a 'granny tooth router' or 'old woman's tooth router'.

These old methods of routering were capable of carrying out their job role however they weren't a very refined tool to router with, in particular they didn't have a fine mechanism for adjusting the depth at which the cutter was set.

The next evolution step in the router was the development of the metal router. With a few exceptions, the main, most popular metal routers sold to market were very similar in design consisting of two knobs for handles, cutters of almost identical design and a sensitive means of adjusting the depth of cut; this type of router is today sometimes referred to as a router plane.

stanley iron router

The inventors of these metal routers had also mastered the effectiveness of the cut; the wooden routers of the past were prone to tearing the wood whereas the metal routers cut very efficiently.

The metal router is still made today and still holds a very similar form to the early metal routers.

The router has also been developed as a power tool.

What Is The Difference Between A Closed Throat Router And An Open Throat Router?

A closed throat router has a router body with a flat closed face, where as an open throat / mouth router has a raised hollow arch (bridge) at the front of the router.

open router, closed router

What Is The Advantage Of An Open Throat Router? Why Use An Open Throat Router?

An open throat router allows you a better view of where you are routering.

What Is The Advantage Of A Closed Throat Router? Why Use A Closed Throat Router?

A closed throat router is better suited for very narrow work e.g. working on the edge of a board. The closed throat offers more stability.

What Is A Router Fence? What Is A Router Fence Used For?

router fence

A router fence usually fixes to the bottom of a router set at the required distance from the cutter.

The idea is the edge of the router fence will be placed against an edge of the piece of wood being worked and the user will run the router along the wood making sure the router fence stays in contact with the edge of the wood the whole time.

This basically allows the user to guide the router cutter along a piece of wood at a set distance from an edge; keeping the cutter at an equal distance from the fence provides a constant straight cut or groove.

Router Parts

A typical hand router consists of the following parts (or some of the following parts):

router parts

  • A - Router Body
  • B - Handles / Knobs
  • C - Cutter(s)
  • D - Cutter Clamping Collar
  • E - Cutter Adjusting Nut
  • F - Depth Gauge
  • G - Fence
  • H - Shoe
  • I - Knob Bolt and Nut

There have been a number of router makers in the past, with just a few present makers. Below are a list of a few well known hand router makers:

Old Router Makers:

New Router Makers:


(i) This review/article may give warning(s) / advisory notes / cautions / guidelines given in good faith, any such information should not be solely relied upon and seen as the exhaustive list of warnings / advisory notes / cautions / guidelines. Refer to good safety practices for the safety of you and others. Refer to good practices for the good health of your tool and property.
(ii) The details here are given in good faith, the details are constantly growing and evolving, there is scope for error and shouldn't be fully relied upon, please confirm any details for yourself by performing additional research from reliable sources.

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