How deep your router will cut into your wood will depend on the depth of the router. The depth is the change in height in which the router’s body will lower towards the base plate. Fixed base routers will not allow the bit to be lower than the base plate.
Each router will have a different fixed depth base, with the majority of them ranging from 0.5 to 3.5 inches.
The majority of modern routers will come with an adjustable depth that you can use to adjust how far your router is allowed to cut into the wood. This can be helpful when keeping your designs and carvings streamline and professional-looking.
Bear in mind that not every router will have an adjustable depth, or one that is not that impressive in range, and therefore will be much less versatile and usable. However, these will be slightly cheaper and therefore more appealing to beginners.
Some routers also come with different attachments that can alter how deep the router can cut. Take some time to read up on all of the attachments that come with your router to see how they alter the performance. This will prevent you from accidentally cutting into the wood too much.
How deep can a CNC router cut?
A Computer Numerical Control (CNC) router is a cutting tool that can be controlled through a computer rather than being used manually. It can be used for cutting many different materials such as wood, various metals, plastics, and foams.
They are much quicker and more convenient than using a handheld router for larger jobs, although they can take away from the handcrafted feel of a piece. You will be able to use a CNC router to complete many more jobs in a time period than if you were to do it all by hand.
CNC routers have a limited cutting length which is not as commonly seen in handheld routers. CNC routers will work best when cutting grooves with a depth of up to 2 to 3 times their diameter.
For example, if the CNC was using a ø12 milling attachment, it would be able to cut grooves up to 25mm deep.
It is possible to cut deeper grooves with your CNC router, even up to 4 times as deep as the tool, but you’ll need more tools to complete this and therefore will cost you more on equipment. To increase the depth that your CNC router can cut you’ll need a multi-axis system compatible with your router.
How deep can a plunge router cut?
A plunge router is similar to a fixed base router that we looked at earlier. However, instead of having a fixed base in which the desired depth will not surpass, a plunge router allows the tool to cut deeper into the wood through the base.
A plunge router allows the bit to descend through the base plate so that it can cut deeper than fixed depth routers. These routers will have the same amount of depth as a fixed depth router, as well as the additional plunge depth.
The average plunge depth on a plunge router will fall between 2 and 3.5 inches, meaning that you can achieve much more impressive cuts than another router.
It’s worth noting that the plunge depth on a router will not be a realistic working depth below the base plate. For example, if the bottom of the bit is ½-inch above the bottom of the baseplate when the router’s body is in the upright position, this will reduce the plunge depth by ½ an inch.
So, while a router might have an impressive plunge depth, it is not always an accurate representation of what you’ll actually be using.
How thick can a router cut?
How thick a router can cut is different for each model, along with the bit that you’re using, and what type of router you’re using. A fixed base router will be able to cut thinner materials without an issue while plunge routers will be able to cut thicker materials.
CNC routers can cut thinner materials rather than thicker materials. For example, a CNC router can cut thin materials, such as plexiglass, at 120 inches every minute with a depth of 0.003 inches. However, a CNC router can cut plywood at 80 inches every minute with a depth of 0.4 inches.
You can see with these numbers that CNC routers work best with thinner materials.
There is a rough equation that you can use to determine the maximum thickness of your material to use with your router.
Material thickness + length of bit used = clearance of your router
Use this information to find out the maximum thickness of material that your router can cut. When engraving materials, your material can be around 10mm less than the clearance of your router. When cutting the material; however, it shouldn’t be more than half the amount of clearance of your router.