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Video: What the heck is a climb cut?

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Climb cutting when routing can be confusing. In this video we try to clear up the confusion and show some tips for identifying a climb cut and avoiding it.

Author Headshot By Ben Strano Oct 06, 2022

There are some concepts in woodworking that are incredibly difficult to understand. Right at the top of that list is what happens as a router bit interacts with the wood you’re cutting. This doesn’t seem like a big deal, but this interaction informs so many aspects of routing—most importantly, which direction to push the router. If you get it wrong, you might wander into a dangerous climb cut.

There are tricks to figuring out which direction to cut. And sure, some may get away with doing it by feel. I haven’t struggled with direction in quite some time, but that doesn’t mean I fully understood what was happening. Considering how much time I spend wielding a router, it’s probably best for me to fully understand what is happening. I know I’m not alone. I’ve had the discussion with some of the biggest names in woodworking, and I’m not sure many of them really understood what is really happening when bit hits wood. The problem is that a router bit is tiny, and it’s spinning faster than we can fully comprehend. So for this video I created a model of a 5-inch router bit (you read that right) and using this unbelievably scaled up router bit, the interactions between bit and wood become pretty apparent. You’ll see!

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