Our Ultimate List Of Router Projects For Beginners

As a beginner woodworker, one of the best ways to get used to a tool, or a router in this case is by practising with it on some beginner woodworking projects. 

Routers can be a little overwhelming to operate as a first-time user since it operates at a fairly high-speed machine, so avoiding challenging projects lets you focus on how to handle the router. 

To give you some basic woodworking projects and ideas you take on with your router, we’ve put together a guide below which will discuss what you can use a router for in woodworking, how to set up a router for the first time, beginner cuts to make with your router then a list of some best beginner router projects to try out.

What Do You Use a Router For In Woodworking? 

Before we get into how to set up your router for beginner projects, let’s discuss what these important routers are actually for in woodworking. 

Wood routers are one of the most important multi-function tools for making an elegant woodworking project, they can be used for making plunge cuts and hollowing out wood on a plunge table, cutting smooth edges in wood, cutting dadoes and rabbets for interesting wood patterns. 

Some of the main uses of a router in woodworking are as below – 

  • To build boxes – Routers are excellent for making boxes, cabinetry and draws due to them being able to cut accurate corners in different design style choices. 
  • Cutting rabbets – Cutting rabbets is also done with a router as long as you have a rabbet bit installed on your device, you should be careful with the RPM of your router when cutting rabbets.
  • Cutting dadoes – Dadoes are important to cut with routers since they reinforce wood and make it stronger, this is like a bottom channel cut against the wooden grain. A dado cut needs to be matched with the width of the drill bit you are using.
  • Routing edges – Routing the edges of woodwork gives an elegant design to a piece of wood and is easily done with a router moving clockwise over the material.
  • Making dovetails – Dovetail sockets are easy to make with a router and allow you to align joints in woodwork. This is typically used when making drawers. 

You can also use a router to make the following items – 

  • Wood frames. 
  • TV stands. 
  • Cribs. 
  • A toolbox. 
  • Room signs. 
  • Shoe racks. 
  • Organisers. 
  • Cabinet.

What Are The Main Parts Of a Router?

So as we can understand more about how to use a router as a beginner, it’s a good idea to learn the routers main parts and terminology so you can follow DIY templates with ease. 

  • Router motor – The electric motor of your router is the part responsible for cutting and has a collet attached to the end of the spindle, the power of your motor depends on the electric wattage.
  • Router collet – A router collet is found at the end of the motor spindle and rotates when the router is cutting to spin the cutter.
  • Router bases – This is the bottom half of your router where you will find the cutter, depending on whether you have a plunge router or a fixed base router there will be either a plunging movement or no plunging movement.
  • Dust extractor – Your dust extractor port on your router helps to clear dust from your working area and increase safety while working.
  • Router speed controls – Most routers should have variable speed control allowing you to work different bits and materials. This can often be adjusted via a dial on the side of the router you are using.
  • Router depth stops – This allows you to set the height of your cutter with a depth scale, most of the time your desired depth can be locked when cutting, it can also act as a guide to stop your router from being lowered too high.

How To Use a Router As a Beginner 

It’s essential to know how to use a router properly before you make your piece of craft, simple items such as the bit you use can make a huge difference as to how your router performs, we’ve listed out the most important steps for beginners below. 

  • Install the bits – To use your router properly it is essential to ensure that the bits are installed properly inside of the device. Make sure your drill bit is installed in the routers collet otherwise it can affect it when smoothing edges. 
  • Check the bit speed – The bit speed of your router is just as important as the installation, most routers can rotate up to 25000 rpm in speed, the speed should be adjustable too for different DIY wood projects.
  • Shank router bits – Routers bits come in two different shank sizes; 1/4-inch and 1/2-inch, select the right one according to your router and work.
  • Go left to right – Always move your router in the opposite direction to the rotation, this helps you to control the router even when it’s at high speeds. 

Beginner Cuts To Make With a Router 

As we mentioned above, routers can be used for all sorts of cutting in woodwork, as a beginner, it can be easier to start with certain cuts in a learning project till you get used to the feel of the router. 

We’ve listed a few beginner cuts to try out below before you get started with your fun project.

  • Smoothing edges – Learning how to smooth and cut straight edges is easy to lean and will help you in your beginner project if you make something like a frame with straight edges for example.
  • Shaping & moulding – Doing and shaping moulding with your router for doors or windows will get you used to make cool router woodworking projects with decorative designs.
  • Carving rabbets – Try learning how to cut clean rabbets in your wood to help reinforce it, this is useful when making the side of the bookcase.
  • Re-doing patterns – Routers can help your retrace and remake patterns, try this on a few pieces of broken doors or windows.

The Best Router Projects For Beginners 

Now we know how to use, set and make some basic cuts with our router, let’s get into discussing the different kinds of router projects you can try as a beginner to become an expert in woodworking projects. 

Making Terracotta Clay Pots Hangers 

One of the best beginner router projects to try making with your router are terracotta clay pot hangers! Clay pot hangers can simply be made with your router by choosing a long piece of wood and cutting desirable designs and patterns to hang each pot on.

This piece of craft can be harder or easier depending on the type of hanger designs you want to create.

Different Wooden Frames

Wooden frames are an excellent project to make with your router as a learning woodworker, they can help to join pieces of moulding together, always ensure that your router is locked tightly in place and supported when working with longer frame lengths.  

Wooden Toy Boat 

Using a router to create toy items is easy thanks to the ability to make patterns in wood, you might need some advanced tools such as special router bits for strange designs but this is still beginner-friendly. 

A Baby Crib 

Making a baby crib with a router is easier than you think with a router due to the straight edges, you might need a mitre saw too so you can make angled designs. We also suggest picking a durable type of wood such as mahogany. 

Wine Rack 

For making a wine rack with your router you might need to follow some project diagrams, the wine rack can be used for smoothing the edges of the rack as well as making the box joints. 

This is a superb woodworking project if you’re just starting since it gets you to make a variety of different cuts with your router.

Kitchen Cabinet 

A router table cabinet uses a simple design, you will likely need to make groove joints and tongue joints with your router, use a standard saw for cutting down the plywood in your cabinets first to size. 

If you are struggling to make a kitchen cabinet wood piece you can always follow router templates online.

Book Stand 

Making a book stand is one of the simplest and most functional items you can put together with a router, you will also need a mitre saw, circular saw and power drill plus other standard items like wood glue. 

Your router will be of use when cutting the wooden boards to length and smoothing the edges. 

Durable Cutting Board 

One of the best kitchen items you can make with a router are cutting boards! This is a nice and simple wood piece to make with your router. 

To make a strong cutting board with your router you will need a cove bit and a round-over bit your router, a table saw is also helpful for cutting the wood. You can make cove bit handles easily on your chopping board with your router. 

Window Shutters 

Window shutters are a simple design to make with your router and are excellent for privacy. You will need to learn how to make jigs for the router in this traditional design and learn how to make louvres from jigs.

Desk Organiser 

A satisfying modern design to make with your router is a little desk organiser to hold your pens, rulers and phone. Ensure that you have a mitre saw, power drill, bar clamp, and router for the job. 

When making the organiser you will need to drill holes through the wooden boards first to make stands for the pens, your router will be used for making the channel in one end of the organiser.

TV Stand 

Why not try taking your TV stand to a new level by making a distinctive design pattern in your stand with a router, having your router table allows you to make joints in the panel of the TV stand and smooth down the edges whether you want a straight or curved TV stand.

Wooden Stool

Making a stool with your router is a fun project, all you’ll need is a router plus a jigsaw for the job, best of all, your wooden stool can be made from a single piece of plywood! 

Simply rip the plywood into pieces use your jigsaw to cut the legs and router to soften the tops of your stool, you’ll need a round-over bit for this part. Screw your stool together and voila!

Signs & Wooden Names 

Signs and wooden names are one of the easiest beginner pieces to try out of our list of woodworking projects depending on the design that you choose. You’ll likely need a trim router for this job since they are smaller, it should be handheld too.

Drawers 

Drawers are some simple router projects to make at home, you will need to make sure you have a router table for the job plus a mitre saw to get the angles right. To make your drawers you will need to cut the grooves in your wood with a router then use wood glue to attach the panels. 

Attach your front and back sides with pocket hole screws and you have your drawer.

Wooden Workbench 

If you are into your DIY why not try making your workbench with a router and a table saw? 

This allows you to handle massive projects thanks to the extra support you can even make a slide-out workbench if you are short on space. 

Tips For Using a Router As a Beginner

Using a router for your first DIY router beginner project can be overwhelming, so to help you out with making your first simple design we’ve put some of our best tips for using your router below. 

  • Consider the type of router that you need – You can find both plunge routers and fixed base routers, plunge routers can have their depth altered when cutting which is great for cutting deep materials, this allows you to adjust without having to turn the machine off. 
  • Wear safety gear – Safety gear is very important when operating your router for projects, you should have safety goggles and ear gear, also avoid loose-fitting clothes when operating the machine in case they get caught.
  • Move against the direction of rotation – Check the motion of your router tool before you start cutting then move in a motion against the rotation, this will give you better control of the tool. 
  • Use sharp bits – Sharp bits on your router help lead it to a clean-cut, using a sharp carbide tip when cutting will give you the best results possible. 
  • Do not overfeed – Always start slow when cutting deep then increase the depth as you move along with your router, never try and overfeed your router as it can damage the workpiece project as well as cause friction burns.
  • Try templates – Templates are an excellent starting point for beginner router users, it allows you to create accurately and repeat parts of your project with ease.
  • Know your bits – Different cutting bits produce different results with your router, you can some pretty complex router bits, knowing what you need for certain DIY projects can make a huge difference to your router’s performance.
  • Clockwise or anti-clockwise – If your router cutter moves in a clockwise direction when seen from the top you should be moving your router tool from the left to the right. If your router is moving anti-clockwise then move it from right to left.
  • Use ball-bearing pilots – This will stay on the edge of your wood and help to maintain a distance to the cutting, when you use ball-bearing pilots you can avoid using a fence as a straight edge guide. 
  • Make use of sacrificial blocks – A sacrificial block before and after your workpiece allows you to have a place to start when working and follow through.

Last Words

Overall, routers can be a high-speed woodworking tool to master but are beginner-friendly according to the project you choose and can be used for multiple purposes. We always suggest getting to know your router before undertaking any projects so as you can ensure your get the most out of its performance, for example, by using the right router bit.

Always make sure you are wearing the right safety equipment before undertaking any of our beginner wood projects above, routers operate with a high-speed blade and can cause debris from workpieces to fly off without warning, goggles are essential.

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Scott Buckley

I'm Scott, a Woodworker by day and book geek by night. I love making things out of wood. While I have and still, on occassion do, work with metal and plastics, I find them to be cold and somewhat boring. Wood is warm and I feel close to nature with it. I started TeachMeDIY.co.uk as a means to help like minded creative folk to answer burning questions. I hope you enjoy reading and learning, and always feel free to reach out to me should you have any questions!

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