Plunge router speed?

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I was trying to cut a 3/4 inch T-channel into my work bench starting with a 1/2 inch straight bit. The bench has a 1/4 inch layer of the same material as pegboards are made of with 3/4 ply underneath as the bench top.

I'm going to buy a good 3/4 inch bit but don't know what speed to use on my plunge router (Dewalt) so as not to cause it to smoke while cutting it. I think I should make several passes at various depths until I get to the 3/8 ths depth. Thoughts?


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I think the depth would be more important than the speed. Just go with the preset increments on your plunge router. Especially if you are going to use a quality bit. 

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A 3/4 inch bit can probably run at what ever you max speed is on the router.  The bigger the diameter of the cutter the slower speed you should set you router at. It never hurts to make multiple passes going deeper as you go.  For something 3/8 deep doing it in two passes should be enough.  Smoking can sometimes be caused by moving too slow of a pass.  The bit sits there and turns against a surface that has already been cut.  Also ply can smoke easier then some hardwoods because of the gain of the laminates running 90° of each other and the glue.

I would suggest an up spiral bit from a good company like Whiteside or Amana.

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I would probably run a 3/4" bit about 1/8" deep per pass unless the material was particularly nasty.  Full speed should be fine and the sound, smell or visual effect will help you adjust.  I will add that I make liberal use of variable speed on my routers to match the operation with the material.  A simple method on an "unknown" operation is to start small (1/16") and work up.  Feed rate, material, profile, etc. all contribute to the "right" thing to do.

My rule of thumb that runs in my mind when I am setting up a cut is to remove no more than a square 3/8" of material.  Just picture the area in your head regardless of shape.  I am regularly conservative and do things like 1/4" x 1/4", 1/8" x 3/8", 3/8" radius roundover in 1 pass, 3/4" radius roundover in 2 (or 3 if you use a shallow clean-up pass) passes, and similar.

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