Tips to avoid router tearout

Routers can be a woodworker’s best friend. This tool can help you perfect edge profiling with less effort and help you make joinery. On the other hand, router tearout can turn your project from flawless to marred in a matter of minutes.

The good news is that there are a few ways that you can avoid router tearout. With the tips discussed here, you can complete future pieces without the fear of router tearout damaging them.

Look at the Grain of Your Wood

The grain of the wood you are working with is more than just aesthetic; any woodworker knows that. As such, make sure you pay attention to the grain of your wood when you are getting ready to run a router.

Make sure that you run your wood on your router in the direction of the grain. If you run the wood on the router against the grain, you are likely to see your wood start to break apart. This is because the router and the wood are catching against one another.

Slow Down

It’s tempting to choose speed and convenience when working on a project. However, that speed comes with a price. In this case, speed can cost you a case of router tearout. Instead, try a technique of taking your time working with the router to avoid any mistakes like tearout.
To help you out, most routers today have a variable speed controller. The more likely your wood is to splinter – cedar and oak tend to splinter a lot – the lower you should set your variable speed at. It’s better to take your time than to rush a job and end up with a result you aren’t happy with.

Utilize Climb Cuts

It’s very easy to come across bad luck when routing an exit corner. This is because the fibers here are much weaker than the main mass of your wood. When you are handling these areas, a climb cut might be your best choice.

When you are climb cutting, you will want to feed your wood so that the blade moves counter-clockwise against the wood.

This might seem wrong at first. After all, typical cutting involves feeding the bit clockwise. However, when climb cutting, the counter-clockwise motion pulls the grain down rather than lifting it up.

This technique doesn’t come naturally to most people because it is the opposite of what most people learned. As such, it’s best to practice the technique on wood that isn’t involved with an important project first.

Make Smaller Cuts at a Time

When you have a big cut to make, it’s tempting to do it all in one pass. After all, why not? It’s quick and efficient, isn’t it?

Actually, trying to take these bigger jobs in smaller portions. Try to do too much at once and you’ll get the results of a rushed job – router tearout. Alternatively, take the time to slowly carve off the area you are working on. This careful approach will definitely take more time but it will also pay off in the long run.

One of the ways you can do this is to do one heavy pass and then go back in for a lighter pass to finish the piece off. This way, the rough edge that the heavier pass leaves isn’t what you are done with but you did use this first pass to roughly shape your piece.

Then, come through with a light pass that is done to smooth the surface down. For this pass, you’ll want to be very gentle to ensure you get the most even finish possible.

Use Quality Kit

Finally, you can try to avoid unnecessary problems by using the right equipment. Here, the equipment you are using is, of course, your router. If you want to come up with quality projects, you’re going to want a quality router that matches what you need. The good news is that there are plenty of routers out there that balance quality and costs.

You will also want to make sure you take proper care of your tools. Even the best routers can cause problems if you aren’t using the appropriate bit or ignore maintenance issues that interfere with the router’s performance.

About the author

Annabelle Carter Short is a DIY lover, seamstress and chief-crafter at Wunderlabel. When not working, she’s spending time with her family or putting pen to paper for her own personal pursuits. Annabelle is a mother and she loves making crafting and woodworking projects with her two children, Leo (age 9) and Michelle (age 7).

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