If you’re an experienced carpenter and you own a router table, you have what it takes to create a perfect edge on any piece of wood. Also, a good router table can joint rough edges of abrasive materials such as MDF, which is something that can’t be done with most regular jointers without damaging the cutters, in particular with the ones with steel knives.
Most of the woodworkers quickly realize that a standard table saw isn’t able to process an edge well and prepare it for gluing. One of the most common problems is the fact that saws leave marks and irregularities on the edge which isn’t an optimal way for preparing a surface for gluing. That’s the moment when most woodworkers opt for a jointer. However, what happens if you don’t own a jointer?
Well, don’t despair, not everything is lost. There is a way to modify your router table and use it as a jointer. Also, it’s not that hard to do it; you shouldn’t have any major issues with the modifications. The only thing you’ll need if you want to modify your router desk is a fence with an offset in it and a carbide straight bit.
What kind of straight bit do I need to use?
There are many different options for choosing a suitable straight bit. However, your best bet would be using the shortest bit possible. The tall bits are usually prone to chatter. Bits with large diameters work better because they weigh more thus delivering higher speeds and smoother edges. The important thing here is to use a ½-inch shank for stocks that are over 3/8-inch in diameter.
If you’re looking to invest less money, you can always opt for a 1-inch diameter straight cutter which will also do the job without much hassle. In fact, even a standard straight bit should do the job.
Want to learn more about different types of timber joints used in woodworking?
Read our article.
The Router Fence
If you don’t have a barrier on your router table, you can easily construct one or buy a simple shop-made barrier; it’s up to you. You can make a barrier for your table by double-sided taping a piece of thin wood (such as plywood). To set is up on the desk, C-clamp the outer side of the fence to the desk only. During the process, make sure your bit is lined up with the center of the fence. After that, isolate the bearing of the bit with the outer side of your barrier (only). C-clamp the inner side of the barrier, and that’s it.
Setting up the fence
You need to bring the fence as close as possible to a correct position. Don’t sweat too much about the initial setup because once you start jointing, it will be easy to fine-tune the fence accordingly. The barrier is set correctly when both the inner and outer side of it stay in contact with the board throughout the cut.
After setting up the fence, make a test cut and adjust it to your personal preference. Also, make sure that the bit stays perfectly lined up with the barrier.
The preparation for jointing
Take a piece of wood and mark the joint with a pen. This step will help you to keep track of the sides and know which one is the face side. Once you mark the wood, you are ready to joint mating edges. Remember, it’s always better to process one side with the marked face pointing up, and the other side with the wood facing down. This move helps compensate for less perfect cuts by producing edges that are a perfect mirror match to each other.
Finishing the jointing
The most important thing for the optimal gluing surface is the smoothness of the edges. Good edges offer a better surface for adhesive materials. Well-glued edges create a joint that’s almost invisible to the naked eye. Once you joint two pieces of wood without seeing the composition string, you know you’ve made it!
TIPS AND WARNINGS
Before modifying your router table, make sure to unplug the machine from the outlet socket. Furthermore, don’t forget to wear safety glasses and ear protection. One of the best tips we can give you is to follow the instructions from this guide, and you can’t go wrong. Although it might not be cheap, it’s cheaper than buying a separate jointer, by far.
When adjusting the tip with the fence, use tools such as rulers, combination squares, and so on. Using precise tools will greatly reduce the amount of effort you need to put in. Also, precisely aligning the barrier with the bit will result in smoother edges.