Can you recommend a router?

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3 Oct 2019
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Leigh on Sea
Hiya - this is my first post - hopefully I'm not asking something that has been asked too many times before.

I want to use a (plunge?) router to carve inch-deep patterns into hardwoods - big pieces of wood that are maybe 5 feet tall, a foot wide, two inches thick. I think I want to rout my patterns to a depth of about one inch, maybe a tiny bit more.

I just don't know which model of router I should go for - something expensive and heavy duty, or would a £70 Bosch suffice? Is there a particular style of router that would be appropriate?

I'm planning on kneeling on my planks of wood while I do it, and trying not to sever any arteries in the process.

Any advice gratefully received.
something 1/2" for starters. Is it a task that you plan to do once in a while, or is it all day every day?
With any hand held router you would be hard pushed to route a freehand pattern to a depth of 5mm or so without losing control (as in following a line) so an inch deep will take many passes. Rote pattern once to 5mm, drop bit by another 5mm go over same pattern again and repeat. replicating the same pattern freehand will be very very difficult.
Personally I don't think its a job for a handheld router, more a job for cnc where the same cut can be replicated again and again to the required depth.
a picture of a typical pattern would help, or at least an idea. Are you routing in a line drawing, or is it more like removing 50% or more of the timber inside a set of lines?

design of templates and choice of cutter is probably more important than the router itself.
marcros - It wouldn't be all day every day, but when I do it I envisage removing quite a lot of wood. I plan to experiment with some ash, beech and cherry that I bought from Stiles & Bates but when I do it properly I'm planning to use oak because it's going outside.

Nev - you're reminding me of the brief experience I had using a router to make some shelves a few years ago - when the router decided it was in control it became quite uncontrolled and frightening.

I suppose I thought I would make the initial shapes using the router, and then use wood chisels to create the final shape.
I think that you could do it with multiple passes, but would need to think through the templates so that you could do several passes at increasing depth before moving the position. Some form of sled may also help, or a custom base to span the cut. all depends on what you are trying to achieve.

I would suggest something like a triton. reasonable quality, and reasonably priced. Make sure it will take 1/2" cutters. I am not sure that there is a great deal of difference between them all around that price- if something else was on offer I would check the reviews and decide accordingly.
marcros":1e8xx1dr said:
a picture of a typical pattern would help...

I saw a wood carving in the gardens at Michelham Priory and thought I could make something a bit like it - I don't have permission to post links to photos yet. It was like a 5 foot tall leaf emerging from the ground, with slots cut into the front and back face, so the wood kept its structural integrity, but you could see through it where the slots crossed paths. As they say, a picture paints a thousand words...
So does a bit of roundabout thinking. :) and posting a link of some elses photo. :wink: ... 5573239808
My pc is Kaput or I'd have done it properly.

I have two routers and am No Expert. Handheld I would prefer to pick up the 1/4" any given day if it is up to the task. Search the forums on here using advanced search for the makita model or its cheaper but much commended clone the Katsu. While there is a good argument that a half inch has far more capacity if you can do 70 percent of what you actually do with a quarter inch but it doesnt scare you half to death the point starts looking a bit tenuous. If you are not going to have a router set up in a table then maybe the 1/4 " is more suitable for carving and forms for the moment.
Wealden tools have a good section of tips by Ron Fox. They also sell well recommended bits at a fair price with great service.
A book is a good start. Complete Routing is the one I have but router bookrecommendations come up on here regularly so have a search.
Good luck.
Bm101":3oqpnxxt said:
So does a bit of roundabout thinking. :) and posting a link of some elses photo. :wink:

:D I just posted a reply to his Tweet with a photo of the thing I saw.
Look into the Hitachi 1/2" routers good value for money, considering what you are trying to do I would also look into guide bush's and making up a template to follow repeatedly.
routing a freehand pattern while kneeling on the board.......
have you made a will and are you well insured?
thats the most dangerous suggestion I've heard in a very long time.

sunnybob":23fp732e said:
routing a freehand pattern while kneeling on the board.......
have you made a will and are you well insured?
thats the most dangerous suggestion I've heard in a very long time.


Why? the use of non slip matting for routing is commonplace and is safe- the router isn't going to fling a piece of 5ft X 1ft X 2" timber around. There is an argument for not kneeling on it because of the comfortable working height and ease of holding the router, rather than for safety. Obviously there is a direction for safe routing and light passes.

Having seen the picture, don't underestimate the amount of work involved in producing something similar. There is a lot of marking out before routing.

There is also a flexible curve that one company was selling a while back. You could use of if these to form your template and rout against it.
phil.p":3cxgvkwg said:
I think you're out of your mind thinking of using a router for this sort of use. Look for another tool meant for the purpose, an Arbortech type thing, a chainsaw, something safer. :D
I was thinking the same. Maybe not the angle grinder disc type but I think they do a couple of variations. A router would do the job but for the depth of cut and variation wiggley lines type stuff a proper arbortec type carving tool might be better suited.

Sent from my SM-G960F using Tapatalk
when KNEELING on a board and using a PLUNGE router, the chances of the router digging in as it crosses the woodgrain and slipping sideways are quite high.
there is a very large vein just below the skin on the inside of the leg. IF that vein got chewed by a router bit, you would bleed out before you finish dialling for help.
This will not work.

I have done a shed load of work in green oak making buildings for myself with traditional joints and that includes cutting a LOT of mortice and tenon joints. I have experimented with everything to do this including 1/2" routers (Hitachi and Trend), drilling out the waste and chiselling, and the uber scary chain morticer (Makita) which is the best solution for through slots.

Router takes forever. Doing deep cuts in the way you suggest either requires multiple passes at shallow depth or a lot of deep adjacent plunge cuts and then route out the waste. A router does not clear the waste efficiently in these circumstances.

The second issue you will face is that you will be spending a lot on cutters / sharpening. You will be amazed how quickly even a high quality tungsten carbide cutter blunts and tars up when doing this kind of work in oak if you are trying to get rid of a lot of material. Heat build up is rapid both in the tool and the machine.

Thirdly, Bob is right. It is most unwise to do this kneeling down on the floor. A big machine with a fast spinning router bit poking out an inch or more is scary if you lose control or are fatigued, and kneeling will inevitably tend to position your head directly over the tool. Don't do it. Get some trestles and put the oak on that. You can easily lift even big beams as you only need to lift up one end at a time.

Sculptural carving is a job for small chain saws made for the purpose.