A router is probably the most versatile tool in your workshop. At its simplest, this power tool cuts grooves in wood and other materials such as plastic.

What routers can do:

  • Cut smooth edges
  • Cut decorative or moulded edges (for shelves, rails and picture frames)
  • Cut dadoes and rabbets (the slots or grooves you use in drawer bottoms, the backs of bookcases or cabinets, or for joints)
  • Make joints (including rabbet, mortise, dovetail and tongue-and-groove joints)
  • Recess door hinges (so they’re flush with the surface)
  • Trim laminates or veneers
  • Plunge in holes for shelf pegs or dowels
  • Carve out inlays
  • Carve raised panels and reliefs

Six bits you’ll want to own

A router is as versatile as the functions of the bits you attach to it, and with hundreds of these available, the possibilities are far-reaching.

Here are six worth having:

1. Straight-cutting bit

For square-bottomed grooves used to make joints like rabbets and dadoes.

2. Rounding-over bit

For shaping edges on shelves, tabletops and the arms of chairs, for example.

3. Chamfer bit

Similar, but cuts a 45-degree bevel (or other angle) rather than a rounded edge

4. Roman ogee bit

A little like a rounding-over bit, but with a fancier pattern. Also good for picture frames and rails.

5. Rabbet bit

For cutting a notch or shoulder along the edge of a board so that it can slot into a groove and make a rabbet joint.

6. Flush-trim bit

For cutting the veneer or laminate flush with the edge of the board underneath.

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