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Question about routers (wood, not computer)
Old 03-08-2007, 08:08 AM   #1
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Question about routers (wood, not computer)

FinanceDude's question about kitchen cabinets got me thinking about our cabinets again. I've been wanting to put new cabinet doors up since just about forever. They don't have to be fancy, but I would like them to look a little nicer than square chunks of wood.

I'm fairly handy - framing, siding, roofing, trim, drywall, plumbing... been there, done that. I've got a table saw, compound sliding miter saw, etc.

However... I know this project requires a router to shape the edges of the cabinet doors, and I don't know much at all about routers. I've never even seen one being used. I've looked around a little but I still can't tell the difference between the cheap routers and expensive routers.

I see that my favorite cheap Chinese crap inexpensive tool store has one on sale for $19.99:

http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/cta...emnumber=44914

Would this work? Or if not, what features would I need for a project like this?

Many thanks!
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Re: Question about routers (wood, not computer)
Old 03-08-2007, 08:26 AM   #2
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Re: Question about routers (wood, not computer)

You really want a bench/table router of decent size for doing something like this. Or have one HELL of a steady hand.
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Re: Question about routers (wood, not computer)
Old 03-08-2007, 08:30 AM   #3
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Re: Question about routers (wood, not computer)

Plunge feature, removable base, depth guage, dust collection (they generate humongous amounts of sawdust)...

Most important is high-quality, carbide bits!!
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Re: Question about routers (wood, not computer)
Old 03-08-2007, 10:19 AM   #4
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Re: Question about routers (wood, not computer)

I'd do that job with my hand router (Milwaukee). You can clamp on guides, or depending on the bit type, the little roller will keep you steady.

I can never remember:

Router -- rhymes with "outer" or "booter" ?

Same with the computer type?
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Re: Question about routers (wood, not computer)
Old 03-08-2007, 11:53 AM   #5
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Re: Question about routers (wood, not computer)

If it's a one time project -- I know Craftsman has small tables to which you can bolt your router upside-down and have a "router table."

From the picture of that router it sure looks like it would be tough to do by hand even with a clamped workpiece since it appears there are no handles.
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Re: Question about routers (wood, not computer)
Old 03-08-2007, 12:23 PM   #6
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Re: Question about routers (wood, not computer)

Something that may work for you is to take a course at a nearby Community College. Often you can take a course which consists of using their tools to do your projects. It's fun, and the instructor can guide you if you ever need it.

Ha
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Re: Question about routers (wood, not computer)
Old 03-08-2007, 01:27 PM   #7
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Re: Question about routers (wood, not computer)

Thanks for the answers, everyone. I'll take a closer look at the Craftsman tables. Taking a class is a good idea too. A friend of ours is doing that for upholstery. She pays the lab fee just to use their equipment and be able to ask questions.

Houses - it's always something.

Al, I've always heard it as rhyming with "outer."
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Re: Question about routers (wood, not computer)
Old 03-08-2007, 03:37 PM   #8
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Re: Question about routers (wood, not computer)

Having a table is great... but the most important thing is a good quality bit - TC(tungston carbide) with a "wheel" not just a smooth shaft.

I have had several routers (outer) over the years and have had good results with the cheap and expensive ones...that had good bits and smooth, even movement over the project.
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Re: Question about routers (wood, not computer)
Old 03-09-2007, 08:03 AM   #9
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Re: Question about routers (wood, not computer)

Harbor Freight tools are OK if you only plan on using them just a few times. When they break, you have a pretty good idea about what features you need on the tool you replace them with.
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Re: Question about routers (wood, not computer)
Old 03-09-2007, 11:07 AM   #10
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Re: Question about routers (wood, not computer)

Not a bad idea...the Tractor Supply Company near me sells some very inexpensive, not particularly super duty power tools and I've bought a couple when I wanted to try something out to see what I liked or for something I was just going to use now and then.

Got a nice hammer drill I use a couple of times a year to drill out a few holes in concrete. Judging by the occasional funny burning smell it makes, it'll last me a couple of years. For $21, it beats getting a dewalt for $150 and having it last 10 years vs 2-3.
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Re: Question about routers (wood, not computer)
Old 03-09-2007, 02:38 PM   #11
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Re: Question about routers (wood, not computer)

SC, if you're just going to round over over a few edges, then the cheapo router (Al...rhymes with shouter...or was that shooter?) may do the trick using only the straight guide. If, on the other hand, you plan on doing some real shaping that involves removing quite a bit of wood, then you will want to use 1/2" bits rather than the 1/4" bits that this router accepts. And you'll want to at least get a router table for your router. You'll find that it is a lot easier to control a 1/2 lb stick of wood while passing it over the router table, rather than pushing around a 10 lb router with a lethally sharp carbide bit spinning around at 10,000 rpm over a board that you somehow fixed down on your bench. The weight, motor torque, and bit resistance make a handheld router surprisingly difficult to do precision work with.

I built almost all my own bedroom furniture about 15 years ago. I tried to do it using a handheld router, but just couldn't control it precisely enough. So I built a router table of plywood, masonite board, and aluminum angle, and the work became much easier. A warning, though....vibration at 10,000 rpm can quickly loosen a router bit. If you're lucky, when the bit comes loose it just works its way back into the collet and doesn't cut as deeply as you want it to. If you're unlucky the bit works its way out of the collet and drills its way all the way through the piece you're working on. Either way the piece is likely ruined. If you're really unlucky the bit works itself all the way free from the router. Then you've got a piece of shrapnel loose in your shop! Don't ask me how I know.
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Re: Question about routers (wood, not computer)
Old 03-09-2007, 07:09 PM   #12
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Re: Question about routers (wood, not computer)

You must not watch Norm:
http://www.newyankee.com/index.shtml

A cheap router is no good for furniture grade stuff you will look at everyday. For finishing the edges of cabinet doors on a project like you are contemplating I wouldn't even use a router ... a good moulding head on your table saw, assuming it's not a flimsy Harbor freight item, will give a much better finish
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Re: Question about routers (wood, not computer)
Old 03-10-2007, 08:58 AM   #13
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Re: Question about routers (wood, not computer)

Quote:
Originally Posted by riskaverse
Harbor Freight tools are OK if you only plan on using them just a few times. When they break, you have a pretty good idea about what features you need on the tool you replace them with.
It's funny you should say that. I decided it was worth $19.99 to experiment with the cheap router. After rounding two edges on some scrap wood, the switch broke. I returned it and got a refund. It was a good learning experience though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RP
For finishing the edges of cabinet doors on a project like you are contemplating I wouldn't even use a router ... a good moulding head on your table saw, assuming it's not a flimsy Harbor freight item, will give a much better finish
Now that's neat, I didn't even know those existed. I'll see if my Craftsman table saw can accept one of those, or get a "real" router with a table like so many have suggested.

Thanks so much for the advice, everyone. I learn so many things here!
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Re: Question about routers (wood, not computer)
Old 03-10-2007, 07:08 PM   #14
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Re: Question about routers (wood, not computer)

Your Craftsman saw will certainly accept a moulding head if you shop at real tool stores ... or from the Sears Tool catalog, one of the last things Sears is still doing right.

When the head is mounted on the saw arbor and the wood is resting on the saw table (rigidly held in proper relationship by the frame of the saw) you avoid all the problems with vibration and unwanted tool movement that have to be 'worked around" or jury rigged when using a hand-held router. A hand-held router is best for doing jobs where the work piece can't be moved to a rigid work device. I wouldn't buy a table saw just to round corners, a router certainly _can_ do it, but since you already own a better tool ... go for it.
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Re: Question about routers (wood, not computer)
Old 03-10-2007, 09:07 PM   #15
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Re: Question about routers (wood, not computer)

Quote:
Originally Posted by RP
one of the last things Sears is still doing right.
Dang straight.

On the other hand, k-mart now accepts the sears credit card!

Best of both worlds, if you ask me...
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Re: Question about routers (wood, not computer)
Old 03-11-2007, 06:19 AM   #16
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Re: Question about routers (wood, not computer)

You may want to consider just purchasing the doors from a company like scherrs, waltzcraft, conestoga or another that specializes in cabinet components. Very few custom cabinet shops actually build their own. Almost 90% are outsourced. Rather they outsource them. They actually are quite reasonably priced and come in a tremendous variety of styles and finishes. Also the turnaround time is pretty short. I'm into remodeling, have all of the necessary tool and wouldn't consider building my own. Cabinet boxes and face frames are one thing, doors and drawers are another. It's just too economical to outsource them.

Good luck.
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Re: Question about routers (wood, not computer)
Old 03-11-2007, 10:20 AM   #17
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Re: Question about routers (wood, not computer)

Last suggestion is to get one with MIMO, and detachable antennas.
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