View Full Version : Climb cuts w/the router.

Rich Engelhardt
11-02-2008, 10:30 AM
Is there any reasonably safe way to make climb cuts w/the router mounted in a table?

Alan Schwabacher
11-02-2008, 10:55 AM
The router table is usually less safe for climb cuts than is a hand-held router. You would want to be taking off a very small amount, to control the stock very well, to be sure you have taken into account where the stock will go, where your hands will go, and where any fixturing will go if the stock gets grabbed by the bit. Some kind of sled with a robust stop at the front might help, but the key is the light cut. I would definitely NOT want to use anything riding in a track, since pulling away from the fence to stop cutting could be important for maintaining control.

Mark Singer
11-02-2008, 10:57 AM
Use a guide pin and make small cuts each pass

Doug Shepard
11-02-2008, 11:28 AM
Use the fence to make sure you can only take off a tiny bit at a time and keep moving it until you're at the final profile.

Dick Neri
11-02-2008, 11:34 AM
When I make climb cuts, I take smaller cuts and try to always use a fence or guide pin. I also try to use push blocks to keep my hands/fingers out of the way.


Richard M. Wolfe
11-02-2008, 12:04 PM
Unless you're worried about deep chipout cut the "regular" way until you get to about the depth you want and then finish with climb cuts. And I would stand out of the way of the workpiece if it should get yanked out of your hands.

Cliff Rohrabacher
11-02-2008, 12:38 PM
I have seen unfortunate moments using both climb and conventional cutting on both free hand as well as table mount router passes.
I say it's all a matter of thinking ahead about what you are doing, where the forces will go, how great they will be, and whether the resistance (fence, hand, pin - whatever) is going to be adequate to cope with those forces.

Sooner or later you are going to launch a piece of stock from your router table across the shop or have your hand held router wander off in a direction you hadn't anticipated. Accidents happen and humans err. The deal as I see it, is controlling the degree of horribleness of the ones that will occur.

David DeCristoforo
11-02-2008, 2:01 PM
Freehand climb cutting with a table mounted router (or on a shaper) is "unsafe at any speed". That does not mean that it cannot be done. It simply means that you need to be aware of the dangers and take every precaution to protect yourself.

I really fail to see why you would have to do this. Is it because you don't want to bother taking the router out of the table? Or with pulling the bit and mounting it in another router? Because if this is the case, you would be sacrificing safety for a few moments of time. Not the best trade-off in my book. Climb cutting is much safer when the router is handheld and the stock is secured.

It might be better for you to acquire a second router. Or to get a second base for the one you have so you can swap the motor easily.

The whole issue of safety has an element of subjectiveness to it. If you were going to insist on being "completely safe" you would probably not get any woodworking done at all. But when you are involved in an operation that has known risks, it becomes, as Chris R said, a matter of "sooner or later", of "when" not "if". Whether or not it would be better to use an alternative technique rather than take the risk is a judgement you have to make for yourself. But I can tell you this. There is no worse feeling than the one you get in that split second after you have had an injury accident, knowing that you could have prevented it if only you had.....

Roger Everett
11-02-2008, 2:59 PM
Climb cutting is a hairy thing on a router table, very light cuts, and being aware.
Allow me to relate a short on on an incident that happened in 1993. I was working on a very large millwork install . Went down to it's very large garage where we had a shop set-up, to pick out a couple pcs. of material for some trim pcs. I needed to make. This know-it-all guy on the crew was routing something on one of the router tables about 20 ft. away. Just as I bent over to pick up a pc. of Mahogany, the small board a-hole was routing wizzed by where my head was a second ago. He was climb cut routing and lost it. Less than a week later he was doing the same thing, this time it sucked his hand into the router bit, off to the emergency room. 5 weeks later the boss comes up to me and says jerk --f will be back off workmans comp. tomorrow and I'm putting with you-- No, no you won't. Says he's already asked all the other project leads and nobody wants him -- understandable. Says, he has to take him back, it's a state workmans comp. thing, I'll just tell him at the end of the day, works slowing down and I'm laying him off, -- sounds like a plan.


Peter Quinn
11-02-2008, 8:17 PM
I have done it, never my first choice, NEVER WITH SMALL WORK PIECES EXCEPT WITH A JIG WITH SECURE HOLD DOWNS, always with a jig longer than the work riding on a bearing and or a starting pin or curved starting surface, and for god's sake NEVER ON A SHAPER.

The best way to insure shallow cuts is with a bearing kit that limits the depth of cut, using decreasing size of bearings in 1/16" increments.

As I said first, climbing is never my first choice, but on some curved work on a router it may be the only choice short of tear out on at least part of the work piece. And for some narrow work pieces a freehand router has not enough bearing surface to work. Building a jig takes less time than reattaching a finger.

Oh, safe? No, I never really feel safe climb cutting. Its a game of minimizing risk and exposure.

ernie riley
11-02-2008, 9:57 PM
Is there any reasonably safe way to make climb cuts w/the router mounted in a table?
First of all, IMHO...no. But realize that if you are on the left side of the bit on a standard router table, the piece will try to kick to your right on a climb cut. The direction of the cut is also to the right on a climb cut. Therefore the most common injury is to the left hand. So keep your left hand behind (or to the right of the bit). In the very worse case, don't let your left hand get much ahead (or to the left of the bit).

I often have to free hand small curved pieces on the router table and always use a pin guide. I always think of my left hand as being in jeopardy when I climb cut. If I don't feel right about the cut, I just don't do it...I'm always amazed at how good things work out even if I leave out the dangerous stuff.