Profile milling with router and milling table

Profile milling makes it possible to give workpieces a shape or contour on the edge or surface. Profile milling plays a central role in woodworking. Therefore, it is important to know what is needed and how it is done. In this guide, we delve into the variety of machines and tools that are essential for profile milling with a router table .

Table of contents
The most important facts at a glance

Here is a summary of the most important things for you:

  • Selection: Determine the right machine and suitable tool
  • Safety: Correct handling and protective measures
  • Optimization: Uniform feed, correct speed, sharp tool

Definition: What is profile milling?

Professional milling is a milling process in which the contour (profile) of the milling cutter is transferred to the workpiece. This is done for optical, haptic or even constructive reasons.

Profile milling for optical / haptic reasons
Wooden toys – edges are rounded to reduce the risk of injury
Handrail / stair banister – easy to grip / ergonomic profile
Workpiece gets an individual look through decorative profile milling
Profile milling for structural reasons
Tongue and groove profile for floor coverings
Glue cutter to increase the gluing surface
Counter profile on a frame door
T-slot profile for fully extendable wooden drawers

Procedure: Step-by-step guide to profile milling

Step 1: Choose the right machine

Hand router : A characteristic feature of this machine is that it is guided over the workpiece with the milling tool. This offers flexibility in application.

Milling table: Provides a stationary platform in which a milling motor is installed. The workpiece is moved over the fixed machine, which ensures high stability and precision, especially due to the clear view of the tool. Suitable for workpieces of various sizes, from delicate wooden toys to long parquet floorboards. For large parts, it is recommended to enlarge the support surface by using table extensions.

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Step 2: Tool selection and machine equipment

When selecting the right milling tool, always consider the requirements of your project. Make sure that the profile cutter is compatible with your machine. These include aspects such as collet size, tool diameter and the maximum permissible speed. For curved parts, a tool with a starting ball bearing is recommended. For linear milling or when the profile is to be milled into the surface, this can be done on the milling table using the stop ruler or with the hand router and guide rail.

Mount the tool securely, making sure it sits in the collet up to the mark. Check that settings such as milling depth, speed, direction of rotation, etc. are correct before starting milling.

Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for machines and tools!

Step 3: Work safety

Safety when profile milling is essential. In addition to the potential dangers posed by the machine and the milling tool itself, there are other aspects that should be considered to prevent accidents.

Workpiece fastening: An unsecured workpiece can get caught in the tool and cause injuries. Make sure your workpiece is clamped tightly and securely.

Hearing protection: The noise level of routers can quickly lead to hearing damage. Hearing protection is not only for your safety but also for your comfort.

Eye protection: Always wear safety glasses to protect your eyes from wood chips and dust.

Dust mask: Prevent inhalation of wood dust, which can be harmful to your health, by always wearing a dust mask.

Clothing and jewelry: To minimize the risk of injury, avoid wearing loose clothing and jewelry.

Further information: For detailed information, we recommend visiting the website of the Trade Association for Wood and Metal: Working with the hand router .

Step 4: Milling

Make sure that the workpiece is firmly fixed and the milling table is stable. It is preferable to connect a dust extractor to the router so that the dust can be extracted directly at the source. Always hold the router firmly with both hands. Regardless of whether you are working with a hand router or on a router table, you should always mill in the opposite direction if possible to achieve the best results and avoid injuries. You can find out more about climb milling and up-cut milling in this encyclopedia article about milling processes. A consistent feed is also important. It ensures a consistent milling pattern.

If the engine speed drops, it is advisable to pre-mill with less chip removal first. Only a few milling motors have control electronics that compensate for speed fluctuations under load

Step 5: Check and readjust

Recommendation: Perform a test milling first to check the settings.

Step 6: Maintenance and care of the milling tool

Clean and check the milling tool after completing the work process. Dull tools should be sharpened or replaced to ensure optimal results in the future.

Tips for improving the milling result

A perfect milling result is not only the goal of every woodworker, it also saves time because less re-sanding is required. Therefore, here are some tips for optimization:

Optimize the speed: Depending on your material and the cutter diameter, the right speed is crucial. Hard woods often require a lower speed than soft woods. But be careful: burns can occur if the speed is too high and the feed rate is too low.

Important: The speed set on the machine must not exceed the max. Never exceed the speed of the milling cutter!

Test in advance: A test run on a leftover piece is advisable before milling the actual workpiece. This way you can ensure that the speed and milling depth are correct.

Keep your tool sharp: A blunt cutter can not only cause burns, but also tear the wood. Regular sharpening or replacement is therefore essential.

What machines are available for profile milling?

There are different ways to profile edges. Depending on the material, size of the workpiece or whether it is a single piece or series production, different machines are used.

  • Hand router – Mobile small machine for many profile applications Application: DIY, woodworker, crafts
  • Milling table – enables flexible and precise profile milling, short set-up times. Place of employment: Ambitious woodworkers, crafts / industry
  • Stationary table router – Powerful profiling of an edge with manual or mechanical feed. Place of employment: Ambitious woodworker / craftsman
  • CNC machine – Enables flexible profile milling, often with a diamond profile cutter on the surface and on the edge. Place of use: Crafts / Industry

What tools are available for profile milling?

  • Rounding cutters in different sizes and radii
  • Chamfer cutters in various designs
  • Counter profile milling tools (usually a set of 2 matching tools)
  • Milling tools for tongue and groove
  • Glue cutter / dovetail cutter
  • Cornice cutter
  • Quarter round cutter
  • Cove cutter

Profile milling cutter sets are often cheaper than profile milling tools purchased individually. Compare the offers of different manufacturers

Which materials, besides wood, are suitable for profile milling with a router

Although routers and profile milling tools are primarily designed for wood, they can also work with other materials such as plastic or certain easily machinable metals. However, it is important to choose the right profile cutter and the right speed.

Learn more in the lexicon of woodworking: Profile milling


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Milling wood – Basics of milling wood
Milling a groove in wood – 6-step instructions for the router
Milling curves in wood – rounding wooden edges perfectly in 5 steps
Planing with a router: instructions, tools and techniques
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