Some of the tools at the Hackspace are potentially hazardous to use, for these tools members are required to have an induction before they can use them. Inductions provide the most basic information on how to safely and effectively use the simpler functions of the tools, we appreciate that some members may have professional experience on some of these tools and in this case please tell your induction provider and the induction may be very reduced and just cover any risks or procedures specific to rLab. Some tools have multiple levels of induction in order to cover more advanced uses of that tool without making the basic induction take too long, higher induction levels will introduce some of the more advanced features of the tools but as with all inductions are only intended to provide basic information on the capabilities of the tools and how to use them safely. Some members of rLab may be willing to offer more detailed tuition beyond basic induction level or offer guided practice sessions in exchange for beer money or assistance on their own projects.
For all tools you are only required to take level-1 induction before use, after that you may perform any task that you feel confident you can do safely, higher levels of induction may be useful to you in performing more advanced operations but are not required before doing tasks covered in them so long as you're confident of your ability to handle those tasks without risk to yourself, others, or the tool.
PLEASE NOTE : All induction providers are volunteers who are providing inductions to the best of their ability but are NOT qualified instructors. Inductions are provided on a best-effort basis but you and you alone are responsible for your safety while using the tools and for satisfying yourself that you can operate the tools safely. There are professional training courses available from various providers in Reading and the surrounding area if you feel they are appropriate for the level of work you intend to undertake. Reading these notes is NOT a substitute for an in-person induction.
Note for wiki editors : Please do not edit induction pages unless you are one of of the people that gives that induction
The router table is used to shape edges, create grooves and cutouts, it can be used with most woods and some plastics but not with metals.
It has a variety of accessories to aid you in positioning work and making more complex features
It is not intended to remove large amounts of material but with care it can be used to cut material to complex shapes
It can be used with templates/jigs to produce complex cut-outs including ones where a central entry point is needed so other tools are not suitable
For large cuts in heavy materials then consider the Bandsaw or Table Saw instead
What's this tool intended to do so people know when to choose this tool and when to pick something else.
The router is basically just a motor mounted under the table
It spins a cutting bit at 8,000-20,000rpm
It can accept a variety of bits with a wide range of functions
The work is moved slowly against the bit, cutting a linear shape into the edge of the work.
The depth of cut can be accurately set and using the fence a straight line can be accurately followed
Using "follower" bits (ones with bearings) a template/jig can be followed to make complex shapes
Basics of how the router works
Eye protection is always required as the bit is moving very fast and can fling material
Hearing protection is needed, the router is VERY loud in use
Most softwoods and hardwoods, beware of plywood as it cuts inconsistently and can get snagged
Plywood and MDF will dull cutters faster regular timber, they can be used, but check cutters afterwards
Some plastics, but do tests, and be prepared to chip a melted mess off of the cutter if it goes wrong.
No Metals at all, not even thin aluminium or diebond, they can become lethal projectiles.
What stuff can be used on this machine
Unplug before making any adjustments
Handle router bits with care, they can be extremely sharp
Examine your work piece before routing it, defects and knots in the wood are likely to result in more difficult cutting and increased risk of material breakage when they meet the cutter. It will be necessary to either avoid them or cut much more slowly and carefully when going through them.
Move the work piece in the direction against the rotation of the cutter only; move it so it's pushed into the cutting edge of the bit. Moving the work against the cutter in the other direction (sometimes known as "Climb" cutting) is likely to get your work piece thrown across the room and you falling into the cutter!
Keep hands away from the rotating bit! Pay attention to where your hands are in relation to the bit when feeding material, use push-sticks and the combs if needed. Remember that the router has been known to fling work away from the cutter or cause it to break so consider how you're pushing on the work and where your hands will wind up if the work suddenly moves or breaks.
Never start the router while the cutter is touching the work piece
The cutter must always approach from the side of the work piece, never the center as it's likely to catch and get flung around. If you need to start in the center then consider if you can drill a hole for the bit to start in. If not then it may be possible to approach the job by using the hand-held router in plunge mode instead.
Do not handle cutters immediately after use - they become very hot
Only use router cutters designed for woodwork, suitable for use between 8,000 and 20,000rpm
Extreme care must be taken when using cutters with a diameter greater than 2" (50mm). Use very slow feed rates and/or multiple shallow cuts to avoid overloading the motor
General safety precautions to avoid the more obvious hazards
Setting Up the machine
There are 3 places that the electrical supply to the router can be switched from
The wall socket - This is your main safety method, unplug when adjusting!
The push switch on the front of the table - This is the main way to control the router in normal use
The red switch on the router it's self - This is only for changing bits
Types of cutting bit
Edge Cutters - are for creating decorative profiles or join rebates, they often have ball bearings at the end so there may not be a need for a fence guide.
Groove Cutters - create channels starting at edges and don't generally use guide bearings so the fence will be needed
Ensure the power switch is OFF and the router is disconnected from the mains
Ensure the retracting shutter is fully closed (3), it will cause the router to jam during this procedure if it isn't and it quite difficult to release once jammed. The cover can only be closed when the switch is in the off position.
Check the depth stop lock knob (11) is fully retracted and release the Plunge Lock Lever (7)
Plunge the router to its maximum depth (raise the spindle all the way) using the micro winder (8) and engage the plunge lock lever (7)
Rotate the spindle (careful not to cut yourself on the bit) to engage the spindle lock
Remove the green circle
Use the spanner to loosen and remove the router head and collet (5) you have to untighten twice to undo
Check that the collet in the router head is suitably sized for the new bit and change if needed. Be especially careful not to confuse 1/4"(6.35mm) with 6mm collets, or 1/2"(12.7mm) with 12mm collets.
Insert the new router bit into the collet (5) with a small gap from the painted section make sure it's not too far out as this will make it unstable, then use the spanner to tighten the collet (5) so that it holds the bit firmly
Disengage the plunge lock lever (7). and lower the spindle a bit, this will release the collet lock and the retracting switch cover (3)
Check once again that power is off and turn on switch(3) which is on the router
Choosing a speed
Use the highest speed which does not result in burn marks
Generally, higher speeds are used for timber and MDF, lower speeds for synthetic materials
Operating at reduced speed increases the risk of damage to the router as a result of overload. At low speeds use very slow feed rates and/or multiple shallow cuts
Up to 25mm (1")
25 – 50mm (1" – 2")
50 – 65mm (2" – 2-1⁄2")
Over 65mm (2-1⁄2")
Use only if burning
Setting up for your cut
Use the micro-winder to set up the depth of cut you're after
If you can't get to the proper depth within the adjustment range of the winder, then you may have to re-position the bit in the collet
Tighten the locking lever once you have your desired height
If you're going to be using the fence
Set it to the correct distance, remember it doesn't have to be parallel to the table, only at the correct perpendicular distance
Lock it in place
Consider if you want to use the combs to hold work against the fence for your cut, they can be especially helpful for small or thin work, or if you're expecting to have to perform the same operation on a lot of work pieces. If you do decide they'll be useful then then now is the time to fit them.
If you're using a template to guide the cut
Ensure the template is securely fixed to the work
Check that the guide bearing of the bit will engage with the template
Plan out how you're going to move the work against the cutter to ensure it's always moving in the proper direction.
Check the area around you. You're going to have to move the work into and out of the cutting zone, plan how you're going to do this. Make sure the areas to both sides of the router table and clear and nothing is going to get in the way of your work.
Plan how you're going to handle your workpiece. Think about how you'll position your self and what moves you're going to have to make. If the work is large consider if asking another person to help you handle it will make things safer.
How to get the results you want
Making your cut
Plug in, switch on at Plug Socket
Open router retractable switch cover and turn on if it isn't already
Check your PPE is properly fitted
Turn on the dust extraction
Workpiece should not be near the cutter when starting
Turn on Table Switch and the router will start
Bring your work up to the cutter
Move your work against the cutter smoothly
Very little force will be needed if you're doing this properly
Listen to the sound of the machine, you'll be able to tell if you're overloading it as you'll hear it slow down
Be especially careful with plywood, or wood with knots or defects
Move your work away from the cutter
Turn off the table switch
Turn off the dust extraction
Wait for the spindle to come to a complete stop before moving your work near it or removing your PPE
Executing a cut safely and getting a good finish
Cleaning Up Afterwards
Remove all material from the table area and router
Check the extractor to make sure it's not full and empty it if it is
Examine the router bit and check if it's still sharp, if it's blunt then buy a new one and submit the receipt or let the maintainers know so it can be re-sharpened
Use a portable vacuum to clean the router table and the area around the cutting bit
Sweep up the area around the router table. The dust extractor should have caught most of it but some will escape
Leave the saw cleaner than you found it, cleanliness is a safety issue when working around others.