From cutting shapes in wood (or along its edges) with a router to the versatility of a grinder's cutting, grinding and polishing actions, these are two tools you can't afford to be without. Our helpful guide will walk you through everything you need to know.
A router is used for accurate cutting in wood, such as shaping, edging, rebating, making grooves and decorative mouldings. This is a specialist tool, used by advanced home improvers, woodworkers, joiners and cabinet makers. The router uses bits (much like a drill) to bore into the wood's surface and is fully height adjustable, allowing you complete control over the cuts you make. There's a wide variety of router bits available, from those that help you perform basic joinery functions to specialist tools for decorative finishes.
A wide range of router bits or cutters are available to fit most machines. Used for cutting details such as chamfers and beading in wood as well as joints and rebates.
Used to guide the router when making cuts, especially when cutting corners. Commonly used for joinery tasks such as stair making, cutting and rebating worktops.
This accessory is used to help a router follow a template or jig without damaging the surrounding material.
A range of router dust extractors are available - some at entry level, making them very low cost and extremely portable. More expensive extractors have features like automatic switch on when the router starts, and switch off several seconds after the router switches off. This allows any dust or waste to be cleared from the extractor's hose.
Inverting router tables
A number of special tables are available for mounting routers in an inverted position. The router table greatly increases the routing possibilities, and improves overall operator safety. It's especially useful when you're using large cutters. The table usually has some form of guard, adjustable fences, cross-grain moulding guide and safety clamps and fences.
Router jargon explained
• Power input - The amount of watts a router's motor needs from your electricity supply. Usually, the larger the collet capacity (see below), the greater number of watts needed.
• Collet capacity - The collet is a form of chuck which holds the special straight-shanked router cutters. The diameter of the cutter shank has to exactly correspond with the diameter of the collet - so, a quarter-inch shank cutter would only be used with a quarter-inch collet.
• Plunge capacity - The maximum distance the router will push down into the wood with a cutter fitted. This capacity can only be achieved if the individual cutter is long enough.
• No load speed (RPM) - The revolutions per minute (RPM) that a router collet and cutter makes. This speed is recorded when the router is not cutting - or 'under load'. The motor's speed is usually reduced when the router is cutting (loaded).
You've probably heard these referred to more commonly as angle grinders, and perhaps seen them used to cut, grind or polish metal, stone or concrete. A motor inside the grinder powers a rotating head which is mounted at a right angle. Onto this head fits a disc, which you replace when it's worn.
Depending on which disc you fit, you can tackle all kinds of jobs from polishing to cutting.
Grinding disc (6mm)
Thick, abrasive disc used for grinding metals. Its depressed centre disc is reinforced, so you can apply side grinding pressure.
Flat metal cutting disc
Abrasive disc used for cutting metals. As the disc wears down, its overall diameter decreases.
Diamond cutting blade
Industrial diamonds coat the edge of a metal disc, meaning it lasts longer than abrasive discs - and with no loss of diameter when used. Take care to match the correct diamond blade with the materials to be cut.
Flap grinding disc
Has a fibre base for fast material removal, as well as low vibration and noise. Excellent for cleaning metals.
Cutting disc (3mm)
Thinner depressed-centre abrasive disc used for cutting metals. Definitely not to be used for grinding.
Flat stone-cutting disc
The ideal abrasive disc when you need to cut stone or brick.
Flexible backing pad
A flexible plastic pad that accepts sanding discs. It's a low-cost way to sand wood and metal, but its aggressive sanding action can easily produces ridges - so take care.
Steel wire brush
Great for removing rust from metal surfaces.
Grinding jargon explained
• Grinding wheel - Usually refers to the diameter of discs you should use with the grinder.
• Bore size - The diameter of the hole in the middle of the grinding or cutting disc.
• Spindle thread - The thread size (and pitch) of the spindle that accepts the flanges and grinding/cutting discs.
• No load speed (RPM) - The revolutions per minute (RPM) that a grinder's wheel makes. This speed is recorded when the grinder is not cutting, sanding or polishing - or 'under load'. The motor's speed is usually reduced when the grinder is being use for a job (loaded).
• Power input - The amount of watts a grinder's motor needs from your electricity supply. Usually, the greater the watts, the more powerful the grinder's motor is.