Last Updated on April 23, 2021 by James
Jointing is always one of the first steps when it comes to preparing material for joining. Before using a planer, it is recommended that the wood is properly jointed. If you are not in possession of a jointer table, then a quality job can still be completed by using your routing table. The idea is that the router table will be used in the same way you would with a jointer.
Q&A: Is it possible to use a router table as a jointer? Here’s the answer, courtesy of the Woodworker’s Journal.
John Brock: Yes, a very narrow jointer, good for edge joining but too narrow for face jointing. Make sure your infeed and outfeed guides are long enough and rigid enough, then you can set it up like a jointer layed on its side.
John Swanson: It is very easy to joint a board on a router table. It requires a straight bit and an offset fence. Make multiple passes, cutting on the left side of the bit until the edge is jointed.
Richard Jones: Yes. You can use an inverted table-mounted router to straighten narrow edges. Offset the outfeed table by the depth of cut set by the infeed table.
From the Woodworker’s Journal eZine 2005 archives
It is a very simple process to setup your router for jointing edges, follow the steps below to have your router jointing edges quickly and easily.
The first thing which should be done before changing any tools, is to unplug the router table. This prevents any accidental movement when working with the tool bit, preventing any harm coming to you or those helping you.
2. Tool Bit Selection
The second step is to choose the router bit you will be using to create the jointed edges, there is a huge range of bits available to purchase, however it is better to use a flush-trim bit as these have been known to give the best results.
There are 3 main choices for that perfect jointed edge, we recommend using either a 4-degree sheer angle, a straight bit with no angle or a three quarter inch flush-trim bit. The idea behind using these sheer angle bits is that it can carve the wood from stock rather than shaving it off like a jointer blade would.
Note: Larger diameter bits will deflect less, helping to give a smoother and steadier cut.
3. Adding the Bit to the Router
Once you have selected the type of bit you think best suits your needs, it is time to place the router bit in the router. Once you have placed in the bit, raise it so that it is just above the thickness of the wood you are attempting to joint.
4. Offset the Fence
In order to use the router table as a jointer, it is important that you offset the router’s fences so that they are uneven. In most cases, it is best to offset the infeed fence, as this will give a cleaner edge when running the wood passed the router bit.
Setting the router to a small offset will help give you better accuracy when passing the wood through, although this may take more passes, it is better to have more control over the amount shaved off each time.
If your router table is flat and doesn’t contain fences, then it is super simple to set up fences. You will need a piece of plastic laminate and a straight edge. When looking at a jointer, you can see that it has an out feed which is set to the height of the cutter and has an adjustable infeed table. The out feed being used to support the cutting piece and the infeed to set the amount of material the blade cuts.
This offset created between the infeed and out feed tables can be created by attaching a piece of plastic laminate to the out feed of the router table. Creating a slight bevel on one end of the laminate will simply allow the material to pass over the plastic without catching. We suggest using carpet tape to hold the laminate to the fence, this will prevent there being any inaccuracy between the bevelled end and the cutting edge.
5. Bring the Fences Closer To the Cutting Bit
For a better quality cut, it is best to bring the fences closer to the cutting blade, this will help produce a more smooth edge with each pass. The important thing to note is that the fences shouldn’t touch the blade, but should be as close as possible.
6. Testing the Cut
The next step is to get a piece of scrap wood and test the overall cut of the router table. This testing phase will help you to figure out whether you need to move the fences more or change the height of the cutting bit.
Place the rough side of the wood against the infeed fence and with the router turned on, pass it through the cutting bit, this should now create a smooth edge. The outfeed fence, will help to support the cut piece, which means that the entire piece of wood will be stable. Allowing for a nice and clean, square jointed edge.
Take a look at the test board which you have just passed through the router table, is it a clean, straight and square cut? If not then a few adjustments need to be made to both the fences and the cutting blade to ensure that you get the best cut possible. Once you have done this retest using the method in Step 6, repeat until you have the best cut possible from your equipment.
8. Actual Use
When it comes down to using the router to smooth the edge of the wood, it can be used in the same way you would use the router to perform any other operation. Keeping the base of the wood flat upon the table, moving the wood with a slow and unforced feed rate, this will help to reduce splintering or denting the wood.
Using a router table as a jointer is great for those people who are working in a tight space, meaning that there is no room for any additional equipment, or those who are on a tight budget. The only disadvantage to using a router table in this way is the time it takes to ensure that the fences are setup with the correct offset. Depending on the type of router table you have, for example if you are in possession of a Rockler router table, this whole setup will be quick and stress free.
When it comes to using a router as a jointer in the long run, it is not a sustainable method. This is due the bits used and how the jointing of wood can cause blunting of the bit’s blades. However, this method will still allow you to produce edges which are ready to be glued but, it is still recommended that you purchase a dedicated jointer table if you are looking to joint wood on a regular basis.