The portable router is a tool that is used to cut various edges on stock as well as grooves in the stock.  The router can also be entered into the stock like a drill and then be moved around to cut a recess in the surfaces.   Various router uses include: Dado cuts, Cove moldings, Rabbet cuts, Dovetail joints, Free hand lettering, and Decorative cuts.

The following is a procedure for the safe use of the portable router when doing edge and dado cuts.  Also included are the controls, potential hazards as well as safety practices.s available.

The following are the controls that are used to operate the portable router: 

  • An On/Off switch
  • Bit depth adjustment
  • Bit depth lock
  • Handles for manually controlling bit height
  • Removable edge guides for specialized cutting such as dadoes
  • Router wrenches for removing and installing bits

The following are instructions on how to perform the cuts associated with the router.

Performing Edge Cuts:

  1. Choose correct bit according to the type of edge cut that will be performed.
  2. Using two router wrenches of appropriate size loosen the bit holder by holding one wrench steady and turning the other in the appropriate direction.  Note: Make sure router is unplugged before making any adjustments.
  3.  Install correct bit.
  4.  Tighten bit holder by holding one wrench steady and turning the other in the appropriate direction.  Note: be sure not to over tighten bit holder on bit.  Over tightening will cause eventual bit holder damage. 
  5.  Clamp a piece of stock to a table or other holding device in order to keep stock fixed during the routing.
  6.  Make sure the edge being routed is free of any obstructions.
  7.  With the router on the stock and plugged in, set the correct bit depth using the bit depth adjustment and bit depth lock.
  8.  Turn router on and begin edge cut.

Performing Dado Cuts:

  1. Follow steps 1- 4 in edge cuts to install correct cutting bit for the desired cut.
  2. Install a straight edge guide on the router.
  3. Clamp the stock at a point where no obstructions will interfere with router operation.
  4. Adjust the guide to the correct horizontal distance (from the edge of the stock to where the dado will be cut). 
  5. Place the router on the stock, turn it on, and make the cut for the desired length.

The edge of the stock is being routed.  Notice the vice and table tabs keeping the stock in place.  Precautions were taken to ensure edge being routed is free of obstructions.

With the straight edge guide installed at the correct side depth, the dado can be cut.  Notice the firm grip on the router. 

Potential Hazards
The following are the potential hazards that are associated with the use of the portable router:

  • Entanglement of long hair and loose clothing in the router bit.
  • Flying wood chips.
  • Kickback of router or stock.
  • Bit damage from foreign objects.

Safety Practices
The following are safety practices that should always be acknowledged and obeyed when using the portable router: 

  •  Remove all dangling jewelry or articles.
  •  Roll up long sleeves and secure other loose clothing.
  •  Secure long hair.
  •  Wear safety glasses at all times.
  •  Ensure that you know the correct procedure for performing every router operation.
  •  Unplug the router when installing or adjusting the bit.
  •  Ensure that the bit is properly installed before turning on the power. 
  •  Make sure the router venting holes are not plugged or obstructed.
  •  Be sure that stock is free of all paint, nails, grit, loose knots, or other foreign materials.
  • Securely clamp stock in a vice or onto a working surface.
  • Ensure there are no obstructions in the path of the router.
  • Do not turn on the power until you are in a working position and have a firm grip on the router.
  • Turn the router off when it is not in use.


Feirer, John L. (1988). Cabinetmaking and Millwork. Glencoe/McGraw-Hill. Peoria, IL.

Zaner, John. (2002).  Router Safety sheet. University of Southern Maine

ITT 252 - Materials Processing 
Department of Technology 
University of Southern Maine 
Prepared by Andrew McDowell, 10/22/2002