Up until not terribly long ago, I had no idea what a Router did. Well, to be specific, I know what a computer router does. I have no idea what a wood router did or why you’d want one. Then we took a trip out to Burton, OH. Burton is about an hour and a half southeast of Cleveland in Amish country. We went out there specifically to find a place that makes butcherblock countertops. We were directed to some saw mill called Molding One. Here’s their website, it’s pretty nice. As it turns out, Molding One is one of their new business imprints. They’re seriously just a saw mill with a few Amish crafts men making stuff. Their countertops are pretty amazing. A butcher block counter is a series of boards set on end. They’re usually fastened and glued together like a big sandwich. Then the whole package is cut to size and passed through a sheet sander (a neat machine that runs wood against a piece of sand paper the size of a blanket). What you end up with is a very sturdy wooden countertop. Butchers preferred these to cut on as you can fabricate them to basically any size and they wouldn’t harm your knife as you hacked apart an entire animal on one. I’ll post more about it when our order shows up.
Anyways, we opted for an unfinished counter. Specifically, the counter shows up untreated. You have to finish sanding and cutting it yourself (i.e. cut outs for the sink and stove). You can pay extra to have them put a decorative edging on it if you’d like. We figured, since we have to cut it ourselves anyways, we might as well do the edging too. Here’s where the router comes in. A router, is a motor that spins a bit with some number of cutting blades in various positions depending on the purpose of the bit. If you’ve ever used a drumel tool or a spiral saw, that’s the idea. It’s used in wood working for a ton of different effects and chores, all of which would fall roughly under the heading of making precise cuts in wood. For example, if you wanted to cut a groove or round a corner, you’d use a router. All of your furniture that has nice decorative edges or curvy legs probably had a router involved in their production.
To be fair, I actually have a few chores I need to do that require a router’s help. The old fashion way of doing things is to use a combination of planers and chisels to painstakingly carve wood. Nuts to that. I’m going to use two and half horses and some carbide bits as sharp as the devil himself. One of the best parts of this project is that I’ve been amassing tools and knowledge and subjects I’ve never thought about before. I’m looking forward to the day I can set up a nice little wood shop in the garage and do some fine wood working. I have a few projects in mind already and more keep cropping up. All my life I’ve always been frustrated with buying furniture. It’s hard for me to find things that I both like and fit my proportions. Similarly, the stock items in a big box store are always so terribly made. Those particle board book shelves don’t really last more than a few years. I love the idea of being able to make my own bookshelves for the cost of the wood.
For those who are curious, we ordered this router kit. I don’t have a use for a plunge router just yet, but this kit was rated really highly and I figure the versatility will be helpful down the line. I’ve always found fine woodworking to be befuddling. I think it’s because there’s a vocabularly that I don’t know and a way of thinking about things that I don’t comprehend yet. It also feels antiquated. I can remember trying to read books that would have these terrible line drawings of how things are supposed to work together. It never made sense to me. Thankfully, in the age of youtube, pretty much any project or question I might need answered will have a video of someone showing me how to do that thing. I’m really looking forward to this particular tool.