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I was putting a roundover on some pieces and used my router table. The table has a fence, and the 1/8" roundover bit I used had a bearing on the bottom (top with the router installed in the table). I didn't bother setting my fence very accurately, just got it within 1/4" or so. My father-in-law asked a couple times if I was sure I didn't want to set my fence properly. I figured the bearing would keep the bit from cutting too deep, and went ahead with the cut with the fence not flush.

Was I making a dangerous cut or otherwise operating the router in an unsafe manner? Is it preferred to use a fence instead of the bit's bearing?

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    I don't believe it's preferable to use both, but I can't see any harm in using a bearing bit in this setup if the results are as good as if you ran the wood along the fence/fences. One of the key advantages of using fences for this sort of thing is you can change the standoff from the cutting edges and not rely on the standard one fixed by the diameter of the bearing, but if that's exactly what you want and the router is already in the table I don't see a downside. – Graphus supports Monica Oct 24 '16 at 23:06
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It's preferable to use both. The fence, lined up with the bearing, protects against the workpiece slipping up and over the bearing, and provides a place to mount featherboards to help keep the workpiece flat against the table.

  • Fence is also likely to be where the dust collection is too – Steven Oct 25 '16 at 0:01
  • @Steven it is, which is why I had the fence very close. Dust collection was adequate – mmathis Oct 25 '16 at 1:50
  • I never use the fence with a bearing bit. I can see the dust collection argument, but at home at least, I don't usually have dust collection hooked to my little router table. If I am using the bearing bit for roundovers, I want to be able to move the work piece freely around the bit. Often it may even be a radius, or otherwise large and unwieldy piece, so fence is out of the question. – Jacob Edmond Oct 25 '16 at 10:44
  • In fact, using a fence can actually be more dangerous in certain scenarios, as small pieces or corners of parts can get sucked into the gap between the fence and the bit. With a bearing, you will not be able to effectively have a zero clearance fence. I have had guys in the shop with little experience do this and the piece of wood can literally explode into fragments. – Jacob Edmond Oct 25 '16 at 10:47

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