Router Safety

A router almost nailed me the other day. The little devil. It clamped down on the board and flung the wood like it was a Chinese star. Thankfully, it didn’t chuck the board at me, making me sing soprano (or worse!). I decided right then and there I better learn more about router safety.

The router is a mini beast that should be respected. They are one of the fastest moving machines in the shop, with the bits often twirling at speeds higher than 20,000 RPM. With speeds like that, it is easy to see how accidents can occur.

It would be interesting to learn what the most common router accidents are. There is ample information on table saw accidents, but the data is sparse for routers. Any ideas? Eyes? Fingers? Torso from flying wood? I’d guess ear damage is probably one of the most common, and perhaps the most overlooked, since every router just screams.

The router is one of the most versatile tools. It profiles, cuts, trims, rips (sort of), details, grooves, and more. And they are usually affordable when compared to the other heavy weights in the shop, so most woodworkers have at least one of them lying around. If it weren’t for the fact that setup is sometimes tedious, I’d probably use a router exclusively. Even so, I still end up grabbing the router for almost all projects. Thankfully, I have not had any accidents using one. I don’t intend to either.

<knock on wood>

While shopping for router bits on Ebay, I stumbled across some great safety tips for using the router. They’re practical and insightful. (Certainly better than the poorly-written, often confusing owner’s manuals I’ve read!)

These will be posted in my shop for everyone to read.

Here’s what the company said:

  • Always wear ear and eye protection
  • Follow your Router manufacturer’s safety and use instructions
  • Think before you cut-The most powerful tool in your workshop is your brain. Thinking your cuts and movements through will help avoid injury and also save you from having a lot of scrap wood
  • Always use properly sharpened bits. Never use bits that are dull or damaged
  • Shank must be completely inserted into collet and then backed-off approximately 1/16″. Don’t “bottom-out” bit in collet. Never partially insert bit into collet. Tighten securely and recheck periodically for possible slippage or “run-out” due to wear
  • Keep collet clean and replace if worn
  • Never start the router with the bit in contact with wood. Always feed your work in the proper direction against the bit rotation
  • Don’t force feed the bit or overload your router, Feed at a constant moving speed to avoid burning the wood
  • Do not face tool’s discharge when operating
  • Always unplug router when changing bits or making adjustments
  • Use a router table & fence whenever possible. Make sure your work piece is properly secured and use push blocks, sticks and feather boards whenever possible
  • Keep all your bits, bearings & assemblies clean, lubricated, and securely fastened. To avoid damage, store them properly in a pouch, box or tray
  • The bigger the bit, the lower RPM recommended

Bit Diameter Max.Speed
1″ 24000 RPM
1 1/16 to 2″ 18000 RPM
2-1/16 to 2-1/2″ 16000 RPM
2-9/16 to 3″ 14500 RPM
Over 3″ 12000 RPM


~ by Clearwater Hackle on May 11, 2007.

One Response to “Router Safety”

  1. Hi Lars,
    I am glad you weren’t made a soprano. Take care of yourself.
    For those of you who enjoyed the First Router Bits Profile Quiz, Toolstoday has prepared a new challenge to test your router bits IQ for your enjoyment.
    Test your knowledge of router bit profiles by correctly naming the router bits.
    The Router Bits Quiz 2 can be found at: .
    The Quiz automatically awards a badge according to the grade you receive. The badge can be copied and pasted in you blog or website.
    Share the Quiz with your friends.
    Good luck on the Quiz!
    John Forest

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