Gazette Archive 12/24/01
A Book Review by John Chandler
Title: The Router Book
Possibly most people who read woodworking magazines or visit woodworking sites on the Internet are familiar with Pat Warner's name, because he is often cited in association with virtually every aspect of routing. Warner's reputation as a routing expert stems from many years of developing router techniques and sharing his knowledge with other woodworkers through a prolific body of publications. Both his website, http://www.patwarner.com, and the biography of this book indicate that Warner has written four books, some 70 articles, and produced three videos on routers and router techniques. Warner also teaches routing in his shop and markets his own line of extremely tasty-looking router accessories.
The Router Book: A Complete Guide to the Router and Its Accessories is aptly titled, because Warner takes a comprehensive look at routers and the many ways they can be effectively employed by woodworkers. Beginning with an overview of how routers are used and various methods of guiding router cuts, Warner moves to a discussion of various types and brands of routers and strengths and weaknesses of each, and then covers router tables, accessories, cutters, fixtures, safety, and other topics specifically related to setting up cuts and safely removing material with a router.
I suppose my only criticism of the book really depends upon the audience. While Warner covers a wide range of topics, he does not go into a lot of depth in many of his discussions - but then, his expressed aim is to provide a basic understanding of the fundamentals of routing. As a woodworker with a growing collection of various types of routers and who uses them frequently, I am primarily interested in learning more advanced techniques. However, in the days when my woodworking arsenal consisted of a circular saw and a motley collection of common hand tools, this book would have been an invaluable resource for getting started in routing, instead of the trial-and-error (many, many errors) path I followed. This is not to say I didn't learn from reading the book (the chapter on router bits and sharpening was very informative), but I think the content of this book is most appropriate for those with beginning-to-intermediate skill levels. For example, if I were teaching a Routing 101 course at the local community college, this would be the textbook I would select for the students to read.
There were a lot of things I liked about the book. The photography was professional quality and clearly illustrated the concepts discussed in the text (which is not always the case in woodworking books). Warner's discussion is well reasoned and objective. For example, in discussing the virtues of various brands of routers, Warner justified his recommendations on the basis of specific design attributes. For a guy whom I'm sure must have router manufacturers lining up to get his endorsement, I never got the impression Warner was going after a paycheck, but was genuinely intent on conveying his knowledge and his extensive experience to the reader (which also is not always the case in woodworking books).
I recommend the book as an excellent overview on routers and routing techniques. In fact it was good enough that I'm thinking about springing for Warner's book on jigs and fixtures - and if I wasn't so tight, I'd jump all over the edge guide he manufactures and markets.
Editor's Note: The Taunton Press has graciously donated several books for review which are passed on to our members free of charge in exchange for thoughtful, honest reviews. Thank You! And you can usually find their titles at a discount from Barnes And Noble or at Fine Woodworking's website.