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

Rout the ends first

Move the router in the right direction

Hold narrow strips with stops

Secure small work with hot-melt glue

Make moldings with your router

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.

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
  • Hearing protection
  • Hot melt glue gun
  • 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.

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