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Hand in hand

I like using just about any hand-held power tool, except one: a trim router. Actually, routers scare the bejabbers out of me in general, and while I give utmost respect to every power tool in my shop, routers top my respect list.

I prefer router tables which, I feel, offer the highest safety and control, and use one whenever possible. But when I have to go hand-held, I hang onto the handles with a death grip, my senses and attention ratcheted up to eleven. I’m good at hand-held routing and appreciate the many things they can do, but boy am I glad when I’m done.

But trim routers are a whole ’nother thing. There’s no real point in putting one in a table since I have bigger routers geared for that, and with few exceptions trim routers don’t have handles. You grab the body of the tool and hang on. Even with a proper grip, the heel of your hand is really close to the business end with no large plate or handles between you and thousands of RPMs of spinning steel.

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On top of that, I don’t think any tool that vibrates as fiercely as a trim router; to my mind, even larger routers are smoother, although that may be due to their handles. With a trim router, I find my hand starts to feel numb from the vibration after only a few minutes use.

For safety, no matter how large the job is I won’t use a trim router for more than a minute or two at a time. Then, I’ll take a break, walk around, and rub my hands together briskly before taking a deep breath and starting again.

Fortunately, due to the popularity of the next-higher category – compact routers, many of which also don’t have handles – some third-party suppliers are introducing handled bases that accept not only the compacts, but smaller trimmers as well. A quick Internet search also turns up a number of DIY approaches to adding a handled base.

I don’t foresee a need to use any of my trim routers in the immediate future but when the need does arise, I can promise you I’ll be taking advantage of one of these ways to get a handle on this useful – if scary – tool.

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