How to Get Perfect Routed Edges

Tips and techniques for pro-quality profiles

Modern router bits with carbide cutters and guide bearings make forming wood edges almost foolproof. But there are a few tips and tricks that'll simplify the job and give you the best results.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

Don't rout the sides before the ends

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Rout the ends first

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Move the router in the right direction

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Hold narrow strips with stops

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Secure small work with hot-melt glue

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Make moldings with your router

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Router tips

  • Insert the router bit fully into the collet. Then pull it back out 1/8 in. before tightening the collet nuts.
  • Sand the edge of boards before routing them so the guide bearing will ride on a smooth surface. If you don’t, irregularities in the edge on the board will be transferred to the routed shape.
  • Press the base of the router tight to the wood surface to prevent the router from tipping. A tipped router will cut an irregular profile.
  • Make deep-profile cuts in two or three shallow passes to avoid burns and chatter marks. Set the router depth for a shallow cut and rout all sides. Then adjust the router for a deeper cut and repeat the process.
  • Replace your old steel bits with modern carbide bits. Carbide lasts longer and makes cleaner cuts with less effort.
  • Clean your router bits with a special blade-and-bit cleaning solution to remove wood pitch. You’ll find blade-and-bit cleaner at woodworking stores.

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Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

  • Clamps
  • Dust mask
  • Hot melt glue gun
  • Hearing protection
  • Orbital sander
  • Router
  • Safety glasses
  • Sanding block

Edge-forming router bits range from simple round-overs or bevel bits to intricate cove, ogee and classical bits. Common profiles are sold at home centers and hardware stores; for a wider selection, check online.

You can rout almost all woods and many composite materials.