I am new to using a router (first time). Did as much research as I could and I am wondering if my layout for cutting my first project is proper.enter image description here

  • How wide of an opening are you cutting, and are you cutting all teh way through the workpiece? A router may not be the best tool for the job...
    – mmathis
    Apr 5, 2017 at 19:16
  • 3
    Double fences pose the risk of binding and kickback by the tool. A single fences with steady pressure is the preferred method.
    – bib
    Apr 5, 2017 at 19:23
  • @mmathis The opening is 18" x 13", and yes, cutting all the way through. I am cutting it out to fit a small metal router table inside. The bottom edge around the table will fit in the opening but the top part of the table is slightly larger, so I can just take a some off the top of the opening after to allow the table to drop in onto a lip.
    – user64635
    Apr 6, 2017 at 0:21
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    Your opening picture at the right shows square cut corners. Be aware that a router will not make square cut corners but instead corners that are the same radius as the cutter bit in question. To get the square inside corners you will still need to use a chisel, saw or other tool to remove the final material.
    – Michael Karas
    Apr 6, 2017 at 0:33
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    Ditto on the single fence to a side comment. When I cut an opening like that I typically make a rectangular frame from sacrificial wood that is larger enough on the inside to allow cutting the full opening in one setup. Such frame is clamped to the work piece. Using a frame allows for careful checking of the dimensions and squareness before any cuts are made. The frame also has great use when there is a need to make multiple of the same cutout.
    – Michael Karas
    Apr 6, 2017 at 0:38

1 Answer 1


If you are willing to invest into expand your routers capacity, I suggest getting a set of router guide bushings. Sometimes they are specific to the make of the router There are videos on YouTube on how to use them. The bushings will allow you to make a template of the cutout you need whether it be out of one large scrap piece or several small pieces fasteng to make a 4 sided guide. Its size is determined by the off set of the guide bushing to the router bit. If the OD of the guide is 3/4" and the bit is 1/4", the template is made larger than the top you wish to drop in by 1/4". You can start out with a guide to do the smaller hole first, (larger difference in the offset) for example the 3/4" guide and the 1/4" bit, and make the cut all the way through. Swap it out to a smaller guide (1/2" guide) and make the stepped cut to rest the table in its' place.

Planning all this out is done with the finish in mind. Make a test cut using the smallest offset on a scrap piece of flat stock using another 4 pieces of smaller scrap to use as the guides. These pieces should be at least half the width of the router base. When assembled together it will more or less be a smaller example of the larger version you wish to do. This will let you get the feel of the router doing its' job and let you see in real time the offset the guide provides, enabling you to determine the placement of the templates for the cuts that matter.

Remember the test cuts are for the finish size to allow your top to drop in, the stepped cut. Before you start cutting on the actual piece after you determine the proper placement of the template, swap out the bushing to the larger offset, make the cut all the way through, then swap the guide back out to the smaller offset to make the final cut that allows the inset top to set flush.

  • Thanks Jack. I just have to cut this once to make a decent surface to get started with the new "toy". I have looked at all the accessories you can get and they are very interesting. I will have to play with it a bit to see how capable I am b4 spending too much ( not cheap, just on a tight budget). The router I have is an old Skil plunger model and want to make sure it can do the job decently. I'm hoping it works out because I love building things the size I want, not having to buy pre-sized things and try to make them fit in. Thanks again for the info.
    – user64635
    Apr 6, 2017 at 17:29

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