Router Sled for Fine Woodworking: Introduction
Woodworking is an art form that requires precision and skill. One of the tools that can help a woodworker achieve clean cuts, accurate shapes, and smooth surfaces is the router sled. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore what a router sled is, how it’s used in fine woodworking, and the benefits of using it. If you’re a beginner in the woodworking world, then read on to learn more about this valuable tool.
What is a Router Sled?
A router sled is a simple device that helps woodworkers achieve flat and smooth surfaces on their projects. It consists of a sled, a platform that holds the router, and two parallel rails that guide the sled along the length of the workpiece. The sled moves back and forth, allowing the router bit to remove material from the workpiece, creating a flat and smooth surface.
Benefits of Using a Router Sled
- Accuracy: A router sled is an excellent tool for achieving accurate and precise cuts.
- Efficiency: With a router sled, you can make multiple passes on a workpiece without having to stop or adjust the router.
- Versatility: A router sled can be used for a variety of tasks, including flattening large workpieces, leveling glued-up panels, and creating joint surfaces.
- Consistency: The parallel rails on a router sled ensure that the surface of the workpiece is consistent and flat across its entire length.
How to Use a Router Sled
Using a router sled may seem intimidating at first, but with practice, it can be a valuable tool in your woodworking arsenal. Here are the steps to use a router sled:
Step 1: Prepare Your Workpiece
Before using a router sled, you need to ensure that your workpiece is level and flat. You can do this by removing any high spots or bumps on the surface of the workpiece with a hand plane or a jointer.
Step 2: Set Up the Router Sled
After preparing your workpiece, you need to set up your router sled. Install your router onto the sled, adjust the depth of the router bit, and lock it in place. Then, place the sled on the rails and adjust them to the desired width.
Step 3: Make Your First Pass
With your router sled set up, it’s time to make your first pass. Move the sled back and forth along the length of the workpiece, making sure to apply even pressure. Keep the router moving in a consistent motion, overlapping each pass slightly to ensure that you’re removing material evenly.
Step 4: Repeat Until the Surface is Flat
After making your first pass, check the surface of the workpiece with a straightedge or a level. If there are still high spots or bumps, repeat the process, making sure to remove a little material with each pass until the surface is completely flat.
What Router Sled Should You Choose?
When it comes to choosing a router sled, there are several options on the market. Some factors to consider include the size of your workspace, the type and size of workpieces you’ll be working with, and your budget. Here are a few popular router sled options to consider:
1. Woodpeckers Slab Flattening Mill
The Woodpeckers Slab Flattening Mill is a solid option for those who want a reliable and durable router sled. It’s available in both metric and imperial measurements and can accommodate workpieces up to 36 inches wide and 6 inches thick.
2. Rockler Router Sled
The Rockler Router Sled is a budget-friendly option that’s great for beginners. It can accommodate workpieces up to 23 inches wide and 6 inches thick and is easy to set up and use.
3. Bench Dog Tools Router Table
The Bench Dog Tools Router Table is an excellent option for those who want a versatile tool that can be used for a variety of tasks, including flattening workpieces. It’s a more expensive option but comes with several features, including an adjustable fence and a dust port.
A router sled is a valuable tool that can help woodworkers achieve flat and smooth surfaces on their projects. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can use a router sled to create consistent and accurate cuts on your workpieces. And, by choosing the right router sled for your needs, you can ensure that you’re getting the most out of this versatile tool.