How to Plane Wood with a Router?
A router is a fairly new power tool to the woodworking market, but is invaluable thanks to its many uses.
Sometimes a planer and jointer won’t be enough, especially if you are working with a piece of wood that is very thick or wide. Using a router with a jig may be just what you need to get the job done.
If you have a beautiful, thick piece of timber that is too wide to use your planer, you can get the face of the wood parallel and smooth using a router and a jig. A router is a simple and accurate way to plane wood while saving time and energy.
Where to Begin
Before you start planing your piece of wood, there are two components you need to make: the fixture and the jig. The fixture holds your wood in place and has two rails for the jig to move on. The wood router attaches to the jig which slides along the fixture, giving you smooth and even planing control.
Almost always, you should match the wood used for the fixture to the wood that you are going to surface. The router surfacing fixture must consist of a base and two rails. The base should be around ½ inch thick and the rails should each be two ½ inch pieces of wood glued together to become a 1-inch thick rail.
The rails should be fixed to the base leaving 1.5 inches of space on each side of the wood that you want to surface. The rails must be taller than the wood’s thickness, but not by too much. Around ¼ inch taller than the lumber’s surface is enough.
Make sure that you accommodate any irregularities in the wood when you make your rails. Secure your rails properly to the base by using glue and screws.
The jig is simply a stiff piece of plywood. The plywood must be wide enough that you can mount the base of your router. It must also be long enough to position the router to one side of your fixture while still having an overhang beyond the opposite rail. The general rule of thumb is to have the jig too long rather than too short.
Drill a large hole out of the center of the plywood. When you rout your wood, you will find a lot of dust and wood chips, so a good amount of clearance is necessary for the router bit.
Use a combo-square to mark lines at the edges of the hole. Use the lines to position and predrill holes for four small screws around the hole in a box pattern. Mount the screws with the heads raised slightly. These screws will prevent the jig from moving side to side before the router bit cuts into the rails.
Mount your router base to the jig and install a mortising bit or a wide straight bit in your router. The wider your bit, the faster you can get the job done.
Using the Jig and Fixture
Start by securing your stock into the fixture. This can be done with hot-melt glue, carpet tape, or by clamping blocks of wood against the stock’s edge. Set up the wood you want to surface so that you will cut across the grain. This placement means there is less of a chance that the wood will tear out strings of the wood fiber.
Set your router to such a height that it will cut around 1/8 inch deep. Once the bit is clear of the stock, you can begin routing by holding the jig outside the rails and moving in a straight pass across the wood. If you hold the router rather than the jig, you may find that the router can wander a bit as you go.
While you can push and pull the router, you will find that the pushing action will yield the best results. At each bit depth, run the bit over the whole surface, even if it doesn’t touch each point for the first few depth settings.
Keep adjusting the bit depth until the wood’s surface is flat. Once this is done, turn the wood over and repeat the process so you have two flat surfaces.
This technique is not ideal for everyday use, but if the need arises to use the best router to plane wood, this method is hard to beat. It is great for wide or thick pieces of wood or cross-sections from a tree trunk that are tricky to surface with other machinery.