How To Use A Router Table As A Jointer: Our Top Tips For Success

Last Updated: by Peter Lynn

A router table is one of the most useful woodworking equipment because of its variety of purposes. But one of its biggest advantages is its ability to allow cuts using various angles. Whether you need to turn your material upside down or cut it sideways, a router table should become your ally when it comes to seamlessly cutting your materials.

Man doing wood work

A standard router table can accomplish a variety of tasks including trimming. It can also do molding shaping and cutting as well as cut patterns. But one of the things many people don’t know a router can do is act as a jointer. This only works in router tables though and not the hand-held ones. The set-up is fairly simple and straightforward.

It can handle most of the work of a typical jointer. In fact, it might even be more effective as a jointer as it is capable of jointing materials like MDF where the edges tend to be rougher and the surface is even more abrasive.

Materials You Need

Aside from your router table you only need two things: a carbide straight bit and a fence. Make sure you get a fence that has an offset. There are different types of straight bit that you can choose from though. But when it comes to converting your router table as a jointer, the best thing you should choose is the one with the shortest length. That is because the taller the bit, the more likely it is to loosen or chatter. Also choose those bits that have larger diameters. They are heavier, so they can be used even at high speed settings. This will, in turn, create edges that are smoother.

It is highly recommended to get a spiral cutter bit with half an inch of diameter. This works best with stock material with less than an inch of thickness. They are a bit more expensive, but they get the job done even when you are working with more difficult types of wood such as those that have heavy grains. A cheaper alternative is the one-inch straight cutters. It will still get the job done, albeit not as great as the half an inch one.

How to Modify Your Router Table

Working table with fence and lift

It is advisable to create a barrier first, if your router table does not come with it. There are ready-made ones you can buy, or you can make this yourself. Piece together thin plywood using a double-sided tape. Use a C-clamp to attach the outer portion of your makeshift fence to the table. It is important to line up the bits on the center of the fence. Once that is done, get the bit bearing and have it isolated. Now attach the C-clamp to the fence’s inner side.

How to Set Up Your Fence

Make sure the fence is set in a right position. Try to avoid fussing over the first setup because once you start the process, it should be easy to make adjustments to the position as you see fit. Just make sure the inner and the outer portion of the fence stays in the correct position. You can try using a spare stock and test it out first, so you can adjust the fence to the right setting you prefer. Whatever you do, make sure the bits are still lined up to your fence. They could go askew while setting up the fence, so you should re-adjust them as needed.

Tips in Preparing for the Jointing Process

Person using pencil in marking piece of wood

Get the stock you are working on and then use a pen to make a mark on the joint. This will be your guide to determine which ones are the edges and which one is the face. Start with the marked side and point it upwards. The other material should be facing down. This is a technique that helps you make clean results all the time, even though there are minor imperfections. The mirroring effect can help in masking imperfections.

Make the Finishing Touches

Glue will adhere better to the surface if the edges are smooth. The smoother your output is, the less visible the glue is. Keep on practicing until you have achieved joints that no longer have a composition string.

Some Additional Safety Tips to keep in Mind

Do not work with a router table that is still plugged in. Remember to unplug your router table first before doing anything. Be sure to practice safety steps as well. Always wear your glasses. Remember to wear your ear protective gear as well.

It is also a good idea to use measuring tools such as combination squares in order to get the most accurate tip adjustment. Precision is key if you want smoother results.

Find a Good Router Table

Of course, you can’t have a good jointer if you don’t have a good router table, to begin with. You need to look for one with the flatter top. The surface of the table has to be rigid in order to create the most precise joints and to get the smoothest results. Even just small irregularities with the surface can lead to uneven surfaces, which can affect the jointing process.

Also make sure that the base plate is flat. It is the one that supports most of the weight of the router, so it has to be flat and made from solid material in order to achieve the best results. Make sure you get a router table with a base that is compatible with the router you already have. It is also important to have a stable base that do not wobble and can accommodate heavier loads.

Get the right accessories as well. You need a miter slot in order to keep those featherboards properly secured. T-slots will also come in handy, especially in turning this into a jointer because it is capable of accommodating clamps.

Conclusion

Turning your router table into a jointer is really not rocket science. If you follow the steps above, you should be able to achieve this easily.