The name wood router denotes a power tool that is used on wood. However, this may be misleading since a wood router can be used in cutting some other materials such as granite, aluminium, plastic and other materials. Read along to find out how to use a wood router in cutting materials other than wood.
Types of Router Cutters
There are basically two types of cutters, namely: Plain cutters and Self guiding cutters. These two are basically guided by using either a self guiding router cutter or a fence/template. These guides are used to direct the body of the router.
- Plain cutter: This type is made with a plain shank that is linked to the cutter.
- Self guiding cutter: This type will either have a bearing race or a solid guide that is normally attached to the cutting edge. Those that have a solid guide are quite expensive and usually cause heat marks in the area where it comes into contact with the surface of the wood. With the bear guides there is no friction against the surface of the wood and therefore they give a better finish.
Router Cutter Material
The type of material used in making the router bit will hugely affect the quality of the bit. This will ultimately affect the material which the router bit can effectively cut. There are basically two types of materials used: High Speed Steel and Carbide.
High Speed Steel (HSS): Router bits made of this material are ideal for cutting and finishing soft materials such as soft timber. They cannot be used on harder materials such as hardwood and man-made board since they are susceptible to damage. They get easily damaged since they tend to overheat when used heavily.
Tungsten Carbide Tipped (TCT): Bits made with this material have their cutting edges made of tungsten. They are the best for all timber materials as well as man-made board. Their cutting edges last longer than HSS. One of the main problems with these bits is that it is a challenge to sharpen them.
Solid Tungsten Carbide: They are similar to TCT though they have a small diameter.
How to Use Cutters
In order to achieve maximum efficiency and lengthen the lifespan of your cutter, follow the following guidelines;
- Always make sure at least ¾ of the shank of the cutter is inserted into the router collet. Once this is done tighten well the collet.
- Ensure the cutting edges are sharp at all times and if not re-sharpen or discard.
- If you use HSS cutters examine for any signs of overheating. If the cutting edges have turned blue it shows it has been overheated.
- Make sure the cutters are clean at all times.
Metal Cutting with Bits
With the right router bits in place you can efficiently cut metallic materials. It is recommended that the woodworker uses a faster speed when using metal cutting bits. This is preferred mainly because it delivers more cuts per inch unlike a slower speed. It also delivers a smoother cut. The bits should be well sharpened and stored properly.
Asides router bit sharpness and ideal bit speed, use the right feed rate as well for metal cutting router bits to work efficiently. This will help achieve a clean cut. You should practice regularly with the metal cutting router bits until you are able to produce smooth and clean cuts. With enough practice you will know how to balance speed and avoid using a speed that is either too high or too low.
Any normal woodworking equipment can be used to cut aluminium. However, it is advisable to use lubricants since the speed of the woodworking equipment is high. A carbide tipped router bit is capable of withstanding the rapid speed required when cutting through aluminium. Router bits made of High Speed Steel will not withstand this kind of speed and material.
When cutting aluminium material using your wood router it is advisable that you use carbide tipped bits and a variable speed router since you can regulate the cutting speed. Some woodworking experts use old candles wax on the cutting bit when cutting aluminium and they have found it to be effective as a lubricant.
Instead of buying expensive plasma cutters or shears band saws to use in cutting aluminium, make use of a woodworking router. Always ensure you wear a face shield and protective clothing that will prevent the hot chips produced when you cut aluminium.
Cutting Granite and Marble with a router
A wood router can be used to cut granite and marble material. It is always wise to know which type of router bit to use in order to do this efficiently.
Since router bits for woodworking are mainly designed for cutting wood, they tend to burn up excessively when used to cut stone. There are literally thousands of router bits and each one of them has been designed for cutting specific material. However, it is important to note that most of the woodworking router bits are made particularly for cutting relatively soft material.
When selecting the ideal router bits for cutting stone, select router bits that have the capability of cutting very hard stone material. Furthermore, it should also be designed in such a way that it can throw away dust from the cut. This is due to the fact that stone cutting generates lots of dust when cut and hence you may end up cutting fine sand made from initial cuts.
If you want to cut granite or marble with your wood router, it is advised you go for router bits made of advanced carbide grade material. For instance, cermet grade of carbide or diamond tipped router bits.
Once you understand how much you can do with a wood router, you will never go a day without one in your workshop. You can use your wood router to cut some materials such as granite or marble, metal, plastic, and many others. This helps you save a lot since there is no more need to buy some other equipment for cutting these materials.