Review of Router Magic by Bill Hylton

The following is a review of Router Magic, which I recently purchased. The subtitle on the front cover reads “Jigs, Fixtures, and Tricks to Unleash Your Router’s Full Potential.” So, if you are looking to fabricate jigs and fixtures to increase what you can do with your router, this book is definitely worth considering.

For the record, this is an unsolicited review and no compensation took place; however, I have not objections to being compensated for reviews.

My 1996 copy of Router Magic is 314 pages (including the appendix & index), softcover (also available in hardcover), and measures 3/4” x 8-3/8” x 10-13/16”. I bought my copy used from Amazon for $5.20 ($1.21 for the book plus $3.99 for shipping and handling) back in May 2014. For the record, Amazon used book prices do fluctuate.

Topics Covered:
1. List of Topics Covered by Book
2. Some General Comments Regarding This Book
3. In Closing
4. Request

List of Topics Covered by Book
If you’re wondering what this book covers exactly, here’s the breakdown (as covered on page iii):


Crosshair Baseplate
Slotted Pilot Template
Boring Template
Shelf Support Template


Router Duplicator

Circle Cutting
Trammel Baseplate
Vacuum Trammel

Clamping Systems
Vacuum Clamping

Dadoing and Grooving
Routing Straightedge
Fractionating Baseplate
Center-Finding Baseplate

Dowel Joinery
Doweling Jig

Dowel Making
Dowel-Making Fixture
Dowel-Turning Jig

Drawer Making
Slot-Cutter Drawer Joinery
Edge Forming
Offset Baseplate

Flush Trimming
Flush-trimming Baseplate

Mortising Jig
Shop-Built Slot Mortiser

Router Tables
Custom Router Table Top
Universal Router Mounting Plate
Bit Opening Inserts
Router Crank
Table Saw Extension Router Table
Horizontal Router Table
Floor-Standing Router Table
Split Fence

Surfacing Baseplate

Router Lathe

Jig-Making Materials and Hardware


If my count is correct (hopefully, I counted twice), this book covers a total of 33 jigs and fixtures. Two hundred and ninety-seven pages cover the jigs and fixtures, and so that in turn equates to nine pages on average for each jig/fixture.

Coverage for each jig/fixture generally consists of the following:
• purpose/reason for the jig/fixture
• drawing/s (including dimensions and notes)
• photos (including explanatory text)
• cutting list (including dimensions)

Some General Comments Regarding This Book
What follows is a collection of notes on some of the topics covered by this book.

1. Type materials to use for jigs/fixtures are covered.

2. The following materials for making jigs/fixtures are discussed:
a. Solid woods
b. Plywood
c. Plastic laminates
d. Acrylic plastics
e. Polycarbonate plastics

3. Use of shellac and polycarbonate are discussed regarding the sealing of your jigs/fixtures constructed out of wood.

4. The Custom Baseplate section (or chapter) covers (among other things) making a baseplate for template work, a baseplate with a zero-clearance opening for a piloted bit, and general information on making baseplates.

5. The section on dowels covers dowel making. Now you can buy store bought dowels, but making your own dowels means you can make dowels out of whatever wood you want; that is a nice option to have in your arsenal.

6. Another topic covered in the dowel making section is a dowel-turning jig. Now if you do not have a lathe, then this jig could be used for turning say a tapered table leg. And, it appears to be a relatively simple jig to build.

7. The selection and use of guide bushings is covered in the “Template-Mortising” section.

8. If you are looking to build a router tabletop, then the “Custom Router Table Top” section is definitely worth reading. This section covers material options and construction options. Plus, Bill covers building what he considers an ideal tabletop.

9. After you build your customized router tabletop, you’ll next need to build a router mounting plate. The section titled “Universal Router Mounting Plate” will walk you thru this process. Covered in this section are mounting plate material options, screws to use, sizing & cutting the mounting plate, and cutting an opening in your router tabletop.

10. We just got thru discussing the building of a router tabletop and a router mounting plate. Now, you are going to want a crank for your table mounted router. The section titled “Router Crank” covers this topic.

11. If space is at a premium in your shop, then using your table saw table to mount your router is worth considering. And, the section titled “Table Saw Extension Router Table” details how to go about mounting your router to your table saw top. Also covered is making a router box-section fence which is then fastened to your table saw rip fence.

12. If you do not have a jointer, you will want to consider building a split fence (covered in section titled “Split Fence”). This section details how to make your own split fence. As usual, the details include drawings and a cutting list.

13. For moving your wood to be shape thru your router bit, you will want to use a sled. And, the section titled “Sleds” covers (with drawings and cutting lists) the making of four sleds. The four sleds covered are the pusher, push-block sled, miter sled, and tenoning sled.

14. The section on “Featherboards” covers the making of three types of Featherboards. Drawings, photos, and cutting lists are provided for the following: basic Featherboards, Featherboards with thumbs, and tandem Featherboards. Also, there is some good general information on Featherboards. This section (Featherboards) is a good read.

15. The surfacing baseplate is a jig that will probably see limited use in your shop, but you will be ever so grateful that you have it when you do need it. This jig is covered in the section titled “Surfacing Baseplate.” For example, if you have a panel to wide for your thickness planer or the grain is running in every direction under the sun, this jig is one possible option. As with the other sections, making and using the jig is covered.

16. The book ends with a ten-page appendix titled “Jig-Making Materials and Hardware.” Topics covered include sheet goods (plywood, MDF, hardboard, particleboard, and plastics), how to work plastics, cutting threads (including a “Tap Drill Sizes” chart), and hardware (plastic knobs and toggle clamps).

In Closing
In doing this review, I read thru Router Magic for a second time. And, I found myself saying on more than one occasion, “You know … this is a good book.”

However, whether it’s a good book or not for you, the final say is yours. But, the list of topics covered (by Router Magic) and the collection of notes (sixteen total) on some of the topics covered will hopefully prove helpful to you in rendering your verdict.

In any event, if you buy it used (as I did), it will most likely be cheaper than most magazines you can buy at your local newsstand.

If you enjoyed this post, I would be very grateful if you would share it by email with a friend, on Google+, and/or Facebook. While I am being needy, would you give me a “Like” on my Facebook page (Woodworking with AJO)? My Facebook page “Like” button is on the right side of this page, or you can click on the link shown below for my Facebook page. Thanks a bunch.

Woodworking with AJO | Facebook

Until next time, Take care