How to use a guided router cutter

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  Three Pilot Bits with labelled guide bearing and Gude Pins  

A pilot router cutter is a bit with a guide pin or bearing located either above or below the body. They're usually known as guided router cutters.

  A Round over bit with guide bearing with labelled Work piece, Edge shaped by router bit and Non-cutting guide rides along edge  

The guide works by riding along the edge of your material, keeping the cutting edges at a consistent depth throughout the cut.


Check your edge

  Work piece and round over bit  

The guide can either rest against the edge of your workpiece, or against a template attached to your workpiece.


Before you begin, check the edge on which the guide is going to ride. Make sure it is smooth and free of any chips or dents, as these will be transferred to your workpiece as the guide moves over them.


Back it up

  Work piece with template underneath next to router bit  

If the edge of your workpiece is not thick enough for the guide to move along, you can secure a second piece of material below it.


You can check by manually moving the router bit along the workpiece by hand. 


Look for a smooth spin

  Re-inserted Guide Bearing  

You should also ensure, if you're using a guide bearing instead of a guide pin, that it can spin smoothly on its axis (guide pins don't rotate).


If the bearing is stiff or clogged, it can cause problems once you begin cutting.


Don't press too hard

  Friction caused by a Guide Pin at High Speed  

When using a pilot bit, especially those with a guide pin, try not to press the guide too hard against the side of your material as this could prevent it from moving along freely, and may even mark your material.


Getting a feel for the right speed and amount of pressure takes time and practice.


If you're not an experienced user, practise on some scrap material first.

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