You can push or pull a router as long as the bit is being fed the opposite direction of the way it’s spinning. Pushing the router might feel a little more natural when you’re just getting started in routing, but pulling can help you achieve rounded cuts both on the router and inner edge of your wood.
Pulling the router towards your body is not advised as it can be dangerous. Much like you shouldn’t use a power saw facing your body, it’s always safer to push the router away from your body to avoid accidents. However, as you get more used to routing you will find your own preference of how to do things.
Also, as you get more comfortable with the router, you will pick up bad habits such as pulling it towards you and by the time that you notice it’s a bad habit, you won’t be able to stop yourself as it’s what you find easiest.
As long as the bit is moving in the opposite direction of how you’re moving the router, it will work well. For example, if the bit is moving from left to right, otherwise known as clockwise, it doesn’t matter whether you’re pushing or pulling the router as long as it is in the right to left direction.
To summarize, beginners are always told to only push the router to keep them safe when they’re just learning how to use their new tool. However, as you get used to the feel of the router you might choose to start pulling it as well.
The most important thing to remember is that the bit should never be moving in the same direction as you’re moving the router – no matter whether you’re pushing or pulling it!
Which direction does a router cut?
When using a palm router, the bit will face downwards and spin clockwise. You should feed against the bit’s rotation to get the cleanest cuts, meaning that you should move the router from right to left. Feeding right to the left creates a counterclockwise rotation which is best to give you the cleanest cuts or engravings.
Sometimes when freehand routing you’ll want to route along the inside area of a cutaway piece. This meanest that your bit will change direction halfway through the task. So, instead of feeding the tool counterclockwise, you’ll need to do it clockwise. Inside cuts require you to use the router from the left.
When using a router table, the router is flipped upside down and therefore the bit’s rotation is flipped as well. The bit will spin counterclockwise, so for outside edges, you’ll need to cut the wood from right to left. For inside edges, you’ll need to move the router from right to left.
Essentially, you need to cut your material against the bit’s rotation. So, if the bit is spinning from left to right (clockwise), your router will cut from right to left. Alternatively, a right to left spinning bit (counterclockwise) will cut from left to right.
This is a little tricky to get the hang of when you’re just starting out with routers, but you’ll pick the skill up quickly.
Why does my router jump?
There could be a number of reasons why your router is jumping. It could be due to the fact that you’re moving it across the material in the wrong direction, or you might be cutting the material too deep.
Moving your router in the same direction as the bit through the material can allow the router to move too quickly and become unstable during the cutting process. Here the bit can get caught in the wood’s grain, causing the router to jump and leaving you with unclean cuts.
Another reason why your router might be jumping is that you’re trying to cut materials too deep. Trying to force the bit into the wood further than it should be can cause it to get stuck and unable to turn.
Energy is still being sent to the bit from the router, but as it cannot turn, the energy must find somewhere else to go. This is how your router starts to jump.
Another potential cause of your router jumping might be the grain of your wood tearing rather than being cleanly cut due to its properties. Always make sure that your bit is cleaned and free of dust to keep it spinning to the best of its ability while cutting your wood.
It is also possible that your wood already has other materials within it. For example, a repurposed piece of wood might have screws and bolts within from its previous purpose. Once the bit finds these materials, it won’t be able to turn and cause the router to jump.
Routers jumping at 18,000 RPM can be scary, so make sure to do everything you can to avoid it!