How to Turn a Cylinder with a Router

Routers are little but great assets for any woodworker. They come in various designs and sizes and their versatility makes them extremely useful to woodworkers. This may explain why you will get several routers in most professional wood shops. Various models are normally available and it is not unlikely to get latest models that work faster and better than earlier models. The various wood routers have different power capabilities and each one of them performs exceptionally at a particular job than others. This unique ability enables wood workers to determine the ideal use of the router as well as the router bit type to use as well. Routers perform many functions and woodworkers can even turn a cylinder with a router.

There are various varieties of routers available for woodworkers: plunge, double knob-handled fixed base, D-handled, and many others. They also have different speed controls. You even get others that have a soft start feature. This means that their speed build-up is gradual. This type is ideally the best for toggle type on/off switches. They can be best suited for beginners since holding a router and turning it on at the same time is dangerous. Toggle type routers may be dangerous since to turn them off, one has to let go of the handle and use the other hand to turn it off. At times you may even plug it in before ascertaining whether they are switched off or not. This is extremely dangerous.

Uses of Routers

There are many uses of the router but some major uses include;

  • Making dovetails
  • Making frames
  • Producing mortises
  • Making moldings
  • Making panel doors
  • Making wooden cylinders
  • Making wood chains
  • Making dados

There are main factors to take into account when buying your first router. Assuming that the one bought will serve you for any length of time, it should be able to provide ample power, and yet not be too powerful.  Too powerful routers are not ideal for small round over bits. On the other hand, a 1 horsepower router may be too low for heavy responsibilities. Nonetheless, it would be wise to consider a mid range power router preferably about 2-1/2 H.P since this will perform diverse functions.

How to Turn a Cylinder with a Router

Turning a cylinder with a router is a skill that must be practised by any beginner. It is fun and exciting and there is nothing as intriguing as when you create your own masterpiece. You can use a router to make any piece of wood into a cylinder.

Basic requirements:

  • The wood router
  • Skew chisel
  • Pencil
  • Square woodturning blank at least 1 foot long and 3 inches wide


  1. In a sweeping motion and against the tool rest, move the roughing gouge back and forth. Then adjust the handle upward so as to drive the blade into the piece of work as the wood blank becomes more rounded. Stop the machine from time to time as you check the work piece.
  2. Put the roughing gouge on the tool rest pointing at a 45-degree angle then push it into the spinning blank. You can do this by simply lifting the handle drastically until smooth cuts are produced by the cutting edges. This is the required position of the roughing blank.
  3. Turn the router on at the lowest speed possible and check out any imbalances in the piece of work. If satisfied further increase the speed to say may be 500 to 700rpms.
  4. Check out the tool rest and adjust it until it is aligned with the centre as the centre of the wood blank. Furthermore, rotate the work piece just to make sure it clears the tool-rest.
  5. Make “x” markings on each end of the wood blank. You can do this by drawing a straight line from one corner of the wood blank to the other while rotating and then draw another line from one corner to the other. Do this on both sides of the work piece. The centre is where the lines intersect.
  6. Mount the blank into the centre of the router. Use the lines you drew as a guide to place the router bit at the centre of the blank. The live centre should be well fitted in the tailstock and the drive spur in the headstock. Keep the tailstock locked properly and manually try to rotate the work piece just to ensure it is perfectly secured.
  7. Continue with the roughing procedure until all rough surfaces are eliminated from the flat surfaces. Stop the machine and use the skew chisel. Make some adjustments to the tool rest until it lies at the centre of the wood blank.
  8. Turn on the router and add more speed to get the finishing cuts. Then place the skew chisel opposite the spinning work piece, slowly by slowly until the handle’s tip blade start shearing the wood fibres.
  9. Move the cutting blade back and forth across the work piece until you get your desired shape of the smooth cylinder. You can further add in some features that you desire to achieve a better masterpiece.


  • Every woodworker should learn how to turn a cylinder with a router since in almost all woodworking projects this procedure will be repeated.
  • As you gain experience in wood turning learn to increase the router speed so as to shorten the project time and even produce finer shavings from the tools.
  • Always adhere to the manufacturer’s guidelines when performing any woodturning activity. You should wear protective gear at all times and ensure your work piece is well secured when doing the job. In case you have difficulties understanding any procedure contact any professional woodworker. Alternatively, you can enrol for local woodturning clubs to even hone your woodworking skills. Online woodworking forums may serve you well also.
  • With routers there are plenty of things that can be learned. A woodworker’s handbook can offer invaluable guidelines and illustrations of using the router. It even has plenty of designs which any woodworker, whether an amateur or professional, can easily comprehend.
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