Turning at speeds of up to 20,000 rpm, a router can be an intimidating tool—and a dangerous one, if it is used carelessly. This section will show you how to build and use several devices that can make your router table work safer.
Spinning router bits look deceptively harmless. Because their outside edges are almost invisible when the router is turning, bits can seem to be smaller than they actually are. To shield your hands from being nicked by a spinning bit, always use a bit guard that extends over the cutter. Two types—a fence-mounted guard and a freestanding version— are shown on page 51. Although you can make bit guards entirely from wood, using clear acrylic plastic or polycarbonate will allow you to view the cutting action.
The dangers of wood dust and chips are less immediate than those associated with bits, but prolonged exposure can contribute to respiratory ailments and irritate the skin and eyes. Refer to page 50 for two methods for hooking up your router table to a dust collection system in your shop.
Two of the simplest—but most important—safety devices available are shown in the photo at left. Whenever you are making a fence-guided cut on the router table, use featherboards to keep your stock pressed against the fence and table. The boards’ mitered ends and flexible fingers ensure stock can only move forward, helping to prevent kick – back. And to keep your hands from coming too close to a spinning bit, use a push stick to feed stock whenever possible.
3UILD IT YOURSELF
A dust collection hood attached to your router table fence will do an efficient job of removing most of the wood dust and chips generated by the router. Two designs are illustrated on this page; both hoods surround the opening in the fence upright and are branched to a dust collection hose. The hoods are also designed so there are no gaps around the fence for air leaks that would reduce the efficiency of the dust extraction system.
The hood shown at right is made of Уг-inch plywood. It has two side pieces that hug the fence supports adjoining the bit, a top flange that fits on the top edge of the fence, and a back flange that rests flush on
the table. Before assembling the hood, cut a hole through the back piece for the hose. To secure the
collection hose to the hood, screw an angle iron to the back piece on each side of the hole, insert the end of the hose in the hole, and use a hose clamp to fix the hose to the angle irons. Then screw the sides of the hood to the fence bracket.
You can also attach a commercial furnace duct made of sheet metal to the fence to extract dust and chips, as shown at left. In this case, space the fence supports adjoining the bit to accommodate the duct when you are building the fence (page 44)-, the sides of the duct should fit snugly between the supports. To attach the device to the fence, cut a bracket from l^-inch plywood about 3 inches wide, including a semicircular extension that will serve as a bit guard. Use two sheet-metal screws to fasten the bracket to the duct and two wood screws to fix it to the top edge of the fence; the straight portion of the bracket’s front edge should be flush with the laminated face of the fence. Secure the dust collection hose to the duct using a hose clamp.
Making and using a fence-mounted bit guard
To protect your fingers during fence-guided cuts on the router table, use a fence – mounted guard. Saw a block about 4 inches long and 3 inches wide from %-inch-thick stock. Then cut a semicircle of clear acrylic to the same size and screw it to the bottom edge of the block. Clamp the jig to the fence, centering it over the bit at the desired height (right).
Freestanding bit guard
Use a freestanding bit guard like the one shown at left when you are performing freehand shaping operations. Cut a piece of clear acrylic 10 inches long and 3Zz inches wide, with a semicircle at one end. Saw a support board for the guard from І/г-inch-thick stock, making it the same width, but 3 inches shorter. Screw the acrylic to the board so the ends of the pieces are flush at one end. Next, cut a fence to span from the bit to the infeed end of the table and fasten it to the front end of the support board with an angle iron, forming an L-shaped jig To use the guard, clamp the support board and fence to the table so the bit is completely cov ered by the guard.