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I bought the Craftsman fixed-based router + table for DIY home projects. I am in the process of getting familiar with the router/table operation + safety rules. I have the following questions.

  1. Generally, how high does the router bit need to be positioned with respect to the stock? For example, in the picture below I have a 3/4'' block and am using a 1/2'' cove bit. Where should I set the bit? Are there any rules/tips guide?

enter image description here

  1. The user manual advises multi-pass routing with cut depth being 1/8'' max/pass. Does this mean that when I align the router fence it should only expose 1/8'' of the bit? The depth is in the X (lateral) instead of the Y (vertical) direction?

  2. There is a guard on my router table. During operation, do I flip the guard up or leave it on (for safety) and slide the stock through it using push pad/stick? For example, in table saws the guard should always be present for safety. I have been looking at a bunch of Youtube videos, and all of the router tables don't seem to have a guard.

enter image description here

  • You know that when you are going to use the table, the fence opens up to make a gap and the bit sits exposed in that gap, right? – JPhi1618 Sep 22 '17 at 13:49
  • Yes, that part is clear. – user4979733 Sep 22 '17 at 16:54
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Number 1 and 2 are one in the same, adjust the fence to achieve the final product look. Example: total round over is 1/2" then move your fence to 1/2" from the bit. You start with the bit setup to cut 1/8" and pass your stock through. Raise it another 1/8" and repeat, continue until you achieve the desired end look. If you are doing a dado in a piece of stock, then you adjust your fence to accommodate the spacing for the dado slot, again adjusting the bit up 1/8" each pass and running the stock through until desired depth.

Number 3, well that is a safety guard, some people remove it if it interferes with the thickness of stock being routed. Others remove it just to have it out of the way. However, it is designed to pop up as you push your stock through the table and over the bit. This will keep most of the dust and debris in that part of the table instead of all over you, in your face, eyes, nose, etc....

Now that that is said. Most people don't bother with the 1/8" cut per pass, rather they set it to the depth of the final pass and just go for it, especially when you are doing multiple pieces of stock and want them to match. Imagine just being a 1/16" off from one to another, may not be noticeable at first glance, but up close...you will notice.

  • This is a good answer, except I disagree with the final point. I always take several smaller passes instead of doing it all at one. It’s safer and you’ll get a better finish if the final pass is very light. If you have multiple pieces, do as the other answer suggests and run them all through at the first setting, then adjust the bit and run them all through, etc. They’ll all be identical. – Mark Sep 24 '17 at 13:35
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As a rule, I always take a trial cut with the bit exposed very little, cutting maybe 1/3 of the final cut. Then you can see if you need to raise the bit up or down or move the fence in or out to achieve the desired shape. Using a bit like in your photo, I'd make two or three passes. For best finish the last pass should be very light. On pine two passes might be enough. On hardwood three or more. If you're routing multiple pieces, all of them pass one after another through same setting so that in the end they all have the same shape! The depth of cut you take also depends on the power of the router motor. You don't won't to slow it down too much as it cuts. It shouldn't labor too much. Last...guiding your stock against the fence will always give you way better finish that using the ball bearing. The bearing is mainly for routing irregular shapes. Fence for straight stock.

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