Routers are essential tools when it comes to woodwork and carpentry. Almost every woodworker uses routers to make complex wood pattern and smoothen edges of the workpiece as it brings perfection to it. These instruments are a must-have for people who are serious about their job.
Trim routers or laminate trimmers are relatively smaller and lighter than regular routers. Originally designed to trim laminate countertop material, they weren’t the most versatile of tools when they came out around two decades ago. But now, these small and compact instruments offer a lot of versatility and is used in various tasks.
It is undoubtedly an indispensable power tool in the workshop. And knowing how to use the tool effectively and efficiently is as important as having it laying around your workspace.
In this article, we will show you the ropes around operating a trim router safely and flawlessly, and also discuss some advantages this handy tool has to offer.
What is a Trim Router?
A router is a handheld power tool used that is used to route or hollow-out an area on hard surfaces, like wood or plastic. They are specially used for carpentry, in addition to other woodworks. Most routers are handheld or fastened at the end of the router table.
Every router is different, and their parts aren’t identical. They have a vertically mounted electric motor with a collet attached to the end of its spindle that is encased in the tool’s housing. Routers having 230V/240V motors are suited for domestic or workshop uses, whereas 110V/115V motors can be used on building or work sites.
It also comes with a steel sleeve, called collet, that is located at the end of the motor’s spindle. The bottom half of the router is called the base. There is also another flat disc-like structure that fits at the bottom of the base, which is called sub-base or base plate. Some routers have speed controls that add up to the versatility of the instrument.
The trimming router or laminate trimmer is, essentially, a smaller version of its big brother. It is used for smaller general routing works. Their small form factor and weight are what makes them easier to use.
How to Use a Trim Router?
The trim router is a surprisingly versatile tool. Knowing how to use it can be very helpful and rewarding. You can carry out various tasks like smoothening out edges of wood or plastic, cut dadoes, cut rabbets, trimming laminate or Formica countertops, cleaning veneer, trimming shelf lipping, sign-making, hole drilling and so on.
We will now teach you step-by-step on how you can make use of your trimmer effectively.
Preparing the Router
Just like any other power tool, you should adjust and prepare your router before use. In most cases, all you need to do is adjust the height, and you should be all set. You can do that by fiddling around with the thumbscrew. Some versions of trim routers need the bit depth to be adjusted too. To adjust the depth, you will find a lever with a quick-release function.
You would be wise to take the ease of changing router bits into consideration while buying the router. Some routers make changing bits easy, while others require the base to be removed to change the bits. Thus, considering that while buying can save you from a lot of hassle.
Changing Router Bits
All you need to change the router bits is a set of wrenches. Even if you have a single one that comes with a locking spindle, you do not need to worry about much else. The following steps should give you a clear idea of how to change the trim router bits.
Be sure that the router is turned off and unplugged before you change the bits.
- For the steps, you need two wrenches: one for the shaft and the other for the locking nut. However, if your router comes with a locking mechanism built-in, you might be able to get by with only one wrench.
- Place the first wrench on the shaft and the second on the locking nut. You need to pull out the bit after you release it from the nut. For that, you need to twist it in a counter-clockwise motion.
- Remove the bit from the shaft. In addition to the locking nut, you will find a cone-shaped piece that comes with splits, called a collet. It is responsible for keeping the router bit secured to the trim router. Carefully remove both the locking nut and the collet and clean the shaft.
- Then slide the collet back in and install the locking nut.
- Take your new router bit and push it in through the shaft
- Tighten the locking nut to secure the bit to the router.
That’s it. You are done with changing the bits of your trim router.
Using the Router
The main purpose of a trim router, depending on the bit, is to polish edges and to make smooth curves on wooden workpieces. Furthermore, it works well when you are working on V-grooves or beaded edges. If you have the proper bits, you can even make small moldings fast and efficiently.
Additionally, when using the trim router, you do not need to worry about any tear-outs. If you have the straight edge bit at hand, you can even trim the ends of a plywood edge with a trim router.
Advantages of Using a Trim Router
A trim router has many noteworthy advantages when compared to its counterparts. A trim router is an all-rounded tool in the router family. Due to its small form factor, it can be used to do many works that would rather seem impossible to do using a conventional router. Its advantages have appealed to its audiences. Some of them are discussed below-
- A trim router has many noteworthy advantages when compared to its counterparts. A trim router is an all-rounded tool in the router family. Due to its small form factor, it can be used to do many works that would rather seem impossible to do using a conventional router. Its advantages have appealed to its audiences. Some of them are discussed below-
- A trim router is a small tool. That means it can be hand-used. Routers are generally table-mounted and bulky, making them hard to work around delicate pieces. Since the trim router is small and light, it can be used to carve the smallest detail. This gives them an edge over the other routers.
- The versatility that a trim router offers to its user is unparalleled. Many intricate detailing can be done using the trim router owing to its small size and weight.
- The bits can be swapped for different works, offering you more freedom.
- The trim router cuts at a much higher speed, meaning it can make more precise cuts. The bits rotate quicker, making the instrument cut more sharply.
- A trim router truly shines when it comes to edging laminates. The small trimmer can provide clean, rounded-off edges to the laminates thanks to its size and precision.
- One of the most notable factors that make a trim router superior to its counterparts is portability. Its size and weight allow it to be moved anywhere without any hassle, making it much hassle-free to store. Its portability also makes it ideal for workers who work outside of their workshops.
- The factor that gives trim routers a big edge is its low cost. It offers you great value for how much it costs as it is quite a versatile device.
Safety Tips for Using a Trim Router
- Using any power tools requires safety precautions; the same goes for the trim router. Careless handling of power tools has proven to be dangerous or even deadly. No matter the intensity of the work, you should always take safety measures. The following measures must be taken when handling a trim router-
- Always wear protective equipment like safety glasses, gloves, etc. Avoiding this step can result in accidents and may impair eyesight or hearing in extreme cases.
- Don’t take heavy cuts as it causes kickback, which can be dangerous. Instead, take more light cuts.
- Make sure your instrument is in proper working condition.
- Be sure not to overload or strain the bit or the router.
- Ensure that the motor is securely locked in place.
- Maintain proper body posture and stand firmly while handling the tool.
- Always make sure that you unplug the device after usage and store it in a safe place away from children’s reach.
Trim routers add a lot of flexibility to a carpenters’ kit. It opens up possibilities that would otherwise be difficult or downright impossible with any other tool. Because of the versatility of the unit, you can handle many different tasks with it without facing too much hassle, and our article should greatly help you out in that regard.
That being said, we hope you found our guideline on how to use a trim router helpful. Whether you are a DIY-enthusiast or a professional woodworker, you should now be able to work your way through the workshop with this device.