Taunton's Complete Illustrated Guide to Routers Paperback – Oct 3 2006
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About the Author
Lonnie Bird, a professional woodworker specializing in period furniture, runs a woodworking school in Dandridge, Tennessee.
Jeff Jewitt is a professional finisher and refinisher in Cleveland, Ohio and a contributing editor to "Fine Woodworking,"
Thomas Lie-Nielsen is the founder and owner of Lie-Nielsen Toolworks which manufactures high quality handtools. He lives in Warren, Maine.
Andy Rae, from Asheville, North Carolina, is a professional woodworker who writes frequently for woodworking magazines and teaches woodworking.
Gary Rogowski, a contributing to "Fine Woodworking," operates his own school, the Northwest Furniture Studio, in Portland Oregon.
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He provides great insight that only an accomplished router user and woodworker can: Variations in bit shank diameters, horizontal versus vertical panel-raising bits, using woodworking double-sided tape instead of carpet tape and safety. I truly like how he routinely brings safety to the forefront and doesn't just have it set off in a chapter by itself where it is presented and then forgotten. He also shows how to make easy safety devices and jigs without much effort.
A couple of caveats about the book so that you won't have any surprises if you decide to pick this up: The author expects you to have some basic knowledge about woodworking. There are sentences such as this one in the first chapter, "The plunge router is the best choice for routing mortises..." He doesn't explain what a mortise is as he expects you to know. So, if you know what mortises, beading, rabbets, bird's-mouth joints, drawer lock joints, finger joints, coreboxes, stiles and rails are, or if you don't mind looking them up as you read, then you won't be put off as you read. I hasten to add that this terminology is pretty much thrown at you in Section 2, when he introduces different types of bits and what they do. For some of these joints, he provides page references to sections further into the book where he explains how to accomplish these joints/items so, you can glance ahead to see what he's writing about. After this chapter 2, the term-slinging disappears and he wholly explains each topic and provides descriptions and diagrams for new terms right then and there. The only term that is not explained anywhere in the book that needs to be is, "climb cut." The extent of this discussion was "Don't do this!" but it is left to the reader to interpret what a climb cut is. A more through presentation of this is a must in any introductory router book. I should hope that in the next edition, a more obvious description and the requisite cautionary notes are discussed.
There is also some contradictory information. For example, Bird mentions a couple of times that bit with a skewed flute will cut more cleanly. He states this on one page and on the same page has a photo of a non-skewed rabbet bit with the caption, "This large rabbet bit can make smooth rabbets..."
The photography was all professionally done and is equal to that of other Taunton publications. There are numerous photos and captions for each topic. Diagrams were nice and clear. I will probably be taken to task on this, but I didn't always understand what I was supposed to be seeing in each photo. Some photos, I thought, were taken from too far away and others were zoomed in too close to understand what the author was trying to convey. I wish the pencil had made an appearance in more photos, pointing out what I was supposed to be seeing. After reading a confusing section, I just went through the photos and captions again, which aided in digesting it.
So, this review may seem a tad harsh but I did enjoy the book. I definitely got a lot out of it and I truly enjoyed how Bird really explained things well and made all the jumbled pieces I had floating around in my head fit together and solidified my knowledge base. It's a very good read and an excellent intro book. Even if you know a bit about routers, I bet you can breeze through this and glean a little of Lonnie's knowledge. I'm glad to have it on my shelf.
What sets this book apart is the quality of illustrations and that it has some information that none of the others cover. The issue covered here and in none of my other books is how to use the router as a prelude to hand woodworking.
For dovetails, no router jig can match the versatility a skilled woodworker can obtain by hand with a Japanese saw and a good set of chisels, but even a person making hand dovetails can save time and do some prep work with a router for some, but not all, dovetails.
I took a class on woodworking essentials, including hand dovetailing, at Lonnie's woodworking school in Dandridge, TN. Many of the time saving techniques he taught in his class are in this book. In his class a router was not used to make dovetails, but but was used to remove excess wood where convenient so that time was not wasted in getting down to the hand work. I might add that I had a week to read and look at the book at his school before buying it. I added it to my collection of router books because of the quality of the book. I have no other relationship to the author or publisher of this book.
I strongly recommend this book and also Lonnie's school. He makes museum quality work by hand but knows how to use machines where they make sense. Although I was not one of the best students in his one week class of seven students, the dovetails I made were better than some I have seen as illustrations in books on how to hand cut dovetails. That he could teach me is a testament to both his patience and skill as a teacher. He is an equally good author.
Machines can take over and make pieces for you. Every book on routers seems to teach that approach to woodworking. This one goes beyond and teaches things useful to those of us who want to learn fine hand woodworking also.
When I buy a book on woodworking I want to learn skills that will last and not information that will be outdated in a short time. It bothered another reviewer that this book did not cover routers from other countries. The features offered by manufacturers of woodworking machines change so frequently that no book could be up to date for long about such matters. Reviews of the relative merits of one router over another can best be obtained from magazines. Even then by the publication date the information will likely have changed.
In summary this book is complete and well illustrated. If you will own but one book on routers this one is as good as they get.
=== The Good Stuff ===
* The photographs are first rate. They are well lit, and taken from an angle that you can see what is actually going on.
* Somewhere in a set of instructions, I came across a direction to make a "climb cut". I had no idea what one was, and found a definition in this book. Turns out it is a cut made in the same direction as the router rotation (opposite of what you normally do).
* The book is a marvelous guide for seeing what is possible with a router. Sometimes that is half the battle- if I know something is possible, I can often work out how to do it. Since woodworking is a hobby, designed to fill up leisure time, I don't mind experimenting.
=== The Not-So-Good Stuff===
* It is just about impossible to "read" this book. The text is made up of short sentences, with constant references to illustrations.
* There is no way to learn how to specifically do anything from this book. For example, the section on mortise and tenon joints gives the following instructions (somewhat paraphrased, but not much). "Use a spiral bit. measure and mark the mortise location, then secure the work and jig with clamps. Set the depth. Position the router guide against the jig, and plunge the router and feed.." That's it. No details on what the jig might look like, how to set the depth, how to place the joint. If you can make a mortise joint from those instructions, you don't need a router book.
An excellent overview of router use, types of routers, and common accessories. Good photographs to show you wort of how things looks and work. Impossible to actually find any step-by-step instructions in the book. For what I wanted, a different book would have better served my needs.
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