How to Use a Palm Router

How to Use a Palm Router

The meaning of the word rout is to dig out and remove material from an object. A router by the name is a machine that is used to remove material from workpieces and is mostly used in the woodworking industry to produce required shapes and patterns.

What is a palm router?

A palm router is somewhat a miniature wood router with slightly different characteristics. It houses a powerful electrical motor that spins a spindle at high revolutions per minute, which is attached to a cutting bit that is used in material reduction. The palm router can work on light wood but is mostly used in shaving off plastic laminate.

10 tips on using a palm router

Safety first.

Before you get to engage in any woodwork practice, with hand wood carving tools or using a power tool, the first thing you should do is protect yourself from any potential hazard. This means wearing protective gloves, safety goggles, and even earmuffs to protect against noise from when running power tools.

Use a sharp router bit.

Using a sharp router bit means that it will constantly produce a clean cut with reduced risk of tear-out. A sharp bit also ensures the machine runs at its full potential without wasting any energy. Using blunt bits may make you expend more energy in moving the router across the workpiece and may produce a compromised cut. Always secure the bits in the collet properly so that it runs smoothly without vibration. This is also a safety precaution as you wouldn’t want a rotating bit to come loose.

Use pilots.

As humans, it could be problematic to cut straight edges on a workpiece. Especially if you are new to the trade. Use straight edge guides and ball bearing guides as it ensures a constant distance is met between the cutter and the workpiece. Use different pilots for different set distances.

Secure it on a bench.

Instead of moving the router against the workpiece, you could secure it on a router table and rather push the workpiece through the stationary router. This allows for greater versatility and designs of work that you wouldn’t do freehand.

Handle with both hands.

For added control, make sure you hold the trim router with both hands while using it. Since you’re moving a rotating drill bit expect resistance. To manage this kickback ensure you hold it with both hands.

Use templates.

A template is basically a guide to follow when you want to make multiple identical workpieces. It makes work very easy and saves on time all while making precise workpieces every time.

The direction of motion.

You should know which direction the router bit rotates and move against this direction. For example, if it rotates clockwise when viewed from the top position, move the router from left to right. The cutter should dig into the material and not pull the workpiece through it. If mounted upside down on a router table, then move the workpiece from the right to left presumably if the router spins in the clockwise direction in normal handheld condition.

Use sacrificial blocks.

Using sacrificial blocks and ramps give you a place to start and finish cutting the material. It is always advisable not to stop right at the mark but follow-through slightly for better results. This is the work of the ramp and sacrificial blocks. Put them before and after your workpiece and always remember not to start the router when in contact with the workpiece.

Know how to cut deep.

Inevitably you will need to cut deep on the material when you work. How you do this will govern if it will be successful or not. Start small and do not overfeed the router into the material. Forcing the router into the material when facing resistance could cause tell outs or friction burns. Gradually develop the hole into the desired size.

Protect the workpiece.

You should always lock and secure the workpiece first before you start working on it. This prevents it from moving about when you are engaged. You should also apply a lubricant like soap wax or commercial about options to prevent burn and defacing the project.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I do with a palm router?

A palm router is very versatile as it can:

  • trim
  • drill
  • shape light wood

You get to sculpt the workpiece into a design of your liking.

What is the difference between a trim router and a plunge router?

A trim router is somewhat a smaller version of a wood router or plunge router. It may have a smaller motor and there is an absence of the big handles at the sides. It is generally made to handle lighter material than the plunge router.

How do you use a router trimmer?

You first set the distance from the base the cutting bit extends from with the adjuster at the side. Start the router before bringing it into contact with the material. Move the router through the material you’d want to shave off. Be sure not to overfeed the router as it could cause marring.

How do you hold a router?

Hold a trim router with both hands at the top. Though if you are an experienced user, you could hold the trim router on one hand as you use it. Though this is not advisable as it may disfigure the workpiece.

Can you use a router bit in a drill?

Every machine is designed to work in a specific way. You wouldn’t change a specific bit of machine and expected to work the same. This also is a safety hazard as it would malfunction and harm the user. If you’d like to perform drilling operations, use the router as it is with its cutting bit. If you’d like to drill but not using a router, then use the traditional drill with its drill bit.

Can you trim a door with a router?

Yes, but it depends on the type of router and what material the door is made out of. Heavy-duty wood should only be trimmed using a wood router as it has more power compared to a palm router. Use a trim router only if the door is made out of light-duty wood.


A palm router is such a versatile machine that has aided in the production of so many household appliances. Its nature to fit into tight spots has made it a favorite in many woodworking stations. Its wide array of uses makes it one of the most sought-after tools in the market.

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