May 6, 2021

Routing Plywood | The Careful Worker’s Guide

Routing Plywood can be a testing trial. It is no secret that many wood crafters get a very satisfying thrill when they use a router to trim their wooden projects. It allows them to effectively deal with these minor grooves around the outer edges of the wood. However, plywood is a slightly different ball game since it is a much thinner wood than the majority you find on the market. To successfully use a router to cut through plywood, you must match certain conditions before you begin.

Edge Banding

The first is that you must be aware of what is called edge banding. This is the process whereby plywood sheets are structured and organized so that they reinforce each other. This is done using another piece of wood that is often more durable than the thin plywood sheets you apply. Such types of wood are manufactured, and different kinds of these come in MDF and Particle Boards.

Detecting Voids in Plywood

Plywood has become very popular across the world because you are unlikely to find any voids within the plywood. If you are confused about what a void is, it is a sizable hole that often pops up on the surface of a plywood sheet.

It is sporadic to find this on plywood, although if there is a void present, you may not use a router to trim the wooden project you are working on. This is because a plywood sheet is fragile, and therefore a big hole on the sheet will undoubtedly affect the wood’s structural integrity.

To detect whether plywood has any voids, then the first thing you will have to look for is sizable bubbles. Plywood that comes with holes often has sizable bubbles that find themselves along the right and left sides of the wood.

Gaps that present themselves in this location are usually 100% voids. If you have inspected the sheet of plywood thoroughly and do not find any voids on the breadth side of the wood, then you may begin working on it with the router.

Now that that is out of the way in this article today, we will be looking at some of the top things you need to keep in mind when you begin using a router on plywood.

Plywood is skinny and, therefore, relatively easy to break if not handled correctly. It is, therefore, essential that you are as careful and well knowledgeable as possible when working on the wood to ensure that the product of your project is high-quality.

Use of Routers

Routers are excellent options to consider for people that want to hollow out a section of wood. Although they specialize in wood, they would also be effective on materials such as plastic and metal sheets.

The primary specialty of this machine is to perform fine cuts that go a long way in terms of developing the edges and grooves on the wooden project you are working on. The more creative side of this product is that it allows you to create decorative patterns. These patterns go very far in terms of adding uniqueness.

When attempting to round off the work you have been doing on plywood, you must adhere to the three options available. See our wood router buying guide.

Paint over the Edges

Painting over the edges will allow you to finish off the wooden project quickly and easily. However, this will not be easy if you have an exposed wood layer that is difficult to fill. When I say exposed, I am referring to a piece of wood with multiple cracks on it, making it very difficult to paint over.

An exposed wood layer would mean that the paint will begin to slip in through the cracks down to the core of the wood. This is a waste of color and can leave the wooden project’s interior quite flimsy. Painting over the edges is only a good option to consider if the wood is perfectly symmetrical and has very few voids or cracks.

Edge Band the wood

This is not one of the most advisable options that you can consider because although it is the fastest and most straightforward, it is also the least aesthetically pleasing. Remember what we discussed earlier, whereby this method is used to strengthen the plywood’s structural integrity.

We do this by adding a more durable type of wood to the ends of the plywood. This affects locking in the plywood, therefore, preventing any unnecessary cracks on the edges. Unless you are a total professional, this method is quite difficult to achieve symmetry with.

Add Putty

adding putty is one of the best options that you can get on the list because it provides you with an excellent finish of choice. Adding putty to all the cracked areas or having voids in them will allow you to smooth out all the available edges thoroughly. After this point, you will be able to paint over this putty easily.

Plywood Edges

To get the best experience working with plywood, you will need to take great care of the edges. This is because the edges of the wood are what create the aesthetic appeal of any wood project.

Even if you are working on a straightforward project, you will get an amazing finish because of your attention to all these small details.

Plywood Grain

The plywood has a grain running through it. That is what makes it look so great. The only way you could damage this type of wood is by skimming across the top or bottom of these curved surfaces.

When you attempt to make sizeable cuts on the edges of the plywood, you must take extra caution to ensure that when you place your router down on the wood, it does not scratch or scuff up your plywood’s surface.

Preparing Joints

When you are working with plywood, you must ensure that the joints are as tight as possible. Before you do any work on the wood, it would be wise to ensure that all the joints are put together very snugly.

You can use glue instead of screws to do this. How glue works on plywood is very simple and straightforward since it will flow into the gaps between two pieces of wood and make sure they stay in place forever.

Using blue tape

It is wise to place the tape on each surface of the joint before gluing it. This will allow the glue to penetrate through the tape and hold it very firmly in place for as long as you need.

Planning Your Design

Working with plywood requires a lot of planning and designing of your project. Most people think that this process is complicated. However, in actuality, it is not.

Video Tutorial


The main thing to consider when attempting to use a router for plywood is that you ensure all preparation has been done on the section of plywood you intend to work on. Issues such as filling in the voids beforehand should be taken seriously and performed urgently.

This is because it will allow you to work on the piece of wood efficiently without experiencing a wide range of problems.

Keep in mind that this is a very lightweight type of wood; therefore, if you have the idea to perform a large amount of work on this wood, then it is pretty expected that your router bits will begin to lose their sharpness much faster than you had projected.

This is a common occurrence because the adhesive glue used on the wooden project will start to coat the blade that is around the router. Over time this ends up dulling the blades; therefore, they may end up requiring a replacement.

What is essential with using a router on wood is the maintenance regime that you follow. If you are committed to regular cleaning and sharpening the router, you should not face this problem.

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