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Q & A: Router Speed Limits


Q & A: Router Speed Limits



I love my new variable-speed router but I haven’t a clue about selecting the right speed for the job. Any tips?


Four factors determine how fast your router should go:

■ The diameter of the bit.

■The rate at which you move the router or the workpiece.

■ The depth of cut.

■ The type of wood.

For safety’s sake, bit diameter is the most important. Large-diameter bits must be slowed down because their tips turn dangerously fast at a router’s normal speed. Select your router’s speed using the chart at right. The chart shows the maximum speed for your router,but to get the best results, the right speed could be much slower.

Take mortising with a plunge router, for example. You’re using a small-diameter bit, but your feed rate is usually quite slow. Slowing the router often makes a mortise with smoother walls.

Experiment on scrap wood to find the best speed for a particular operation. If the bit is burning the wood or leaving a poor finish, it’s turning too fast. If the bit is chattering and leaving scallop marks, it’s going too slow.With a little trial and error you’ll find an ideal speed that leaves a perfectly smooth finish.

This story originally appeared in American Woodworker February 2002, issue #92.

February 2002, issue #92

Purchase this back issue.