Thursday, October 9, 2008

Router Bit and Router Table Tune Up Tips

The temps are dropping and us woodworkers begin our yearly migration from the back yard to the basement. Now is the time to get prepared. Below are a few hopefully useful tips on tuning up your router bits and router table:

Router Bits:

1) Remove any pitch build up. There are a lot of products available to clean bits and blades. Follow the directions. Some products may want you to remove the bearings others may not. A stiff bristle toothbrush is always useful in this process.

2) Keep your cutting edge sharp. Once the carbide is clean you can use a diamond hone to sharpen your bits. It is easy because you are only honing the front flat face of the carbide using a fine grit hone. You could do this once or more per year depending on how often you use the bits. If a router bit is getting too dull it may be beyond just touching it up with a diamond hone. You could get it re-sharpened at your local shop (if it still exists) or ***Warning – Bias Opinion*** it will usually cost less to buy a new bit.

3) Inspect the cutting edges for any chips in the carbide. Any large chips can cause the router bit to spin out of balance and also cause a poor cut. Any bit with significant chipping should be replaced.

4) Clean and lubricate the ball bearings. Clean off all dust and pitch build up and put a drop of router bit bearing lubricant. If the bearing still feels rough when spinning it may be time to replace it. ***Warning – Bias Opinion*** It is much cheaper for a new bearing, then to have one break and ruin some good lumber or a project. This is really where you want to be proactive.

Router Table:

1) Again the first thing to do is clean the table. Make sure any build up of sawdust or pitch is removed, especially on the fence face, tabletop, and micro adjusting screws and knobs. If you have a removable router plate, remove it and make sure there is no build up where the plate sits, or anywhere that would make the plate out of level.

2) Check your router plate for flat using a square or ruler. Place a straight edge across the plate extending all the way across the plate side to side. Look for any gap under the straight edge. Do this again in the front to back direction on the plate. If you have a plate made out of a thinner plastic or acrylic that has been holding up a heavy router in the heat all summer it may sag in the center. It may need to be replaced.

3) Depending on the material your router table is made of you may want to apply a surface lubricant and sealer.

4) Check all that screws are tight mounting your router base to the insert plate. The vibration of a season of running your router may have caused some screws to come loose. It is always a safe practice to check all screws and bolts before each use.