When I was a lad working as an apprentice, many woodworkers didn’t have hand routers and machine router salesmen were often laughed out of the shop because a skilled craftsman could set hinges much faster than a router back then. We made any router we needed from a scrap of pine like this one here in a matter of two minutes and we were on the job.



Use any wood scrap 1” x 2” x 5-6” long. Here I am using pine, which works fine.





Pencil a centreline along the length and about 1/3 from either long edge. This marks the position of the start hole.





Bore a hole at an angle as shown. Any angle 40-55-degrees will work. The hole diameter should be about 1/16” smaller than the width of the chisel you want to use so, as in this case where I amusing a 3/8” chisel, my hole size is 5/16”.




Scallop a relief on the underside fore part of the block as an escapement for shavings.





Insert the chisel to be used in the router, centred in the hole and ease it into the passage trying to centre it as it passes through.





Set the required depth by trying it against the depth gauge line. This is simply a question of forcing the chisel into the block or easing it backwards for a shallower setting. Because of the leverage against the chisel as the cutter, the depth remains accurately set and does not generally withdraw or deepen as you might expect.









You can also refine the shape for greater comfort by chiselling the shape and creating thumb scallops either side of the cutter.




Make sure the chisel sides bit into the wall of the hole to create a good friction fit.


This is how the hole looks when the chisel is withdrawn.


The router is now ready to use.


  1. somebody on 12 March 2012 at 9:21 pm


    I love how in the past, ingenuity always seemed to overcome problems, instead of just throwing money at them.

    Sir, can this be used with a gouge?

    thanks for all you do, Mr. Sellers. I’m saving for your complete DVD-book course.

    • Paul Sellers on 12 March 2012 at 9:35 pm

      You can use it with out-cannel (bevel on the outside) gouges. Start with a shallow cut and tap lightly for successively deeper cuts.
      The Real Woodworking Campaign is abiut sharing knowledge. Pass it on!

  2. Jeremy on 13 March 2012 at 3:11 pm

    This is great Paul. Until I get a router plane, this will definitely suffice!! I love it.

  3. dickster2112 on 13 March 2012 at 10:33 pm

    As always with these things, an elegantly simple workaround from the old guys that had no choice but to improvise.


  4. Collin on 1 November 2017 at 5:12 pm

    Any suggestions for how to start the chisel so that it is inserted into the hole square?

    If it is twisted to one side or the other it is going to leave a bevel in the cut wood.

    • Paul Sellers on 1 November 2017 at 5:44 pm

      Never had the problem. If you see it twisting pul out and restart at a countering angle. Bore a fresh hole or start over too as options??? Not really a big deal. Choose straight grained wood too.

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