Hand in hand

Publish date:

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.

AJ Image 991

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.

Related Articles

This has always bothered me

I love routers, but I’m no fan of the way most of them turn on and off.

Tool tryout

It doesn’t happen often, but every once in a while I try a tool I’ve never used before. This time, it was a pneumatic sander.

Plastic fantastic

My wife calls it “your new toy,” but I know it’s a serious tool. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

Getting a lift

I finally bought something I’ve been wanted for years: a router lift for my router table.

Is bigger better?

I have more than three times the amount of room in my new shop as my old one. Generally, that’s wonderful, but not for everything.

Don't do this

There’s an old saying, “Do as I say, not as I do.” That goes double when giving safety advice that you don’t follow yourself.

(Not) feeling the heat – Part one

I gotta do something about the temperature of my shop.

Doing without

Power woodworking vs. hand tools, while a hot debate for some, is just a matter of practicality for me.

(Not) feeling the heat – Part two

I got extremely lucky with my shop heating issue, and hopefully what I ended up doing will be helpful to some of you, too.