A “wireless routerWikipedia: A wireless router is a device that performs the functions of a router and also includes the functions of a wireless access point. It is used to provide access to the Internet or a private computer net...” is actually quite a complex device. It comprises of a routerWikipedia: A router[a] is a networking device that forwards data packets between computer networks. Routers perform the traffic directing functions on the Internet. Data sent through the internet, such as a web..., a network switchWikipedia: A network switch (also called switching hub, bridging hub, officially MAC bridge) is a computer networking device that connects devices on a computer network by using packet switching to receive, p... and a Wireless Access PointWikipedia: In computer networking, a wireless access point (WAP), or more generally just access point (AP), is a networking hardware device that allows other Wi-Fi devices to connect to a wired network. The AP u.... A router is a bridge between two networks – typically the Internet and a Local Area NetworkWikipedia: A local area network (LAN) is a computer network that interconnects computers within a limited area such as a residence, school, laboratory, university campus or office building. By contrast, a wid.... A switch (in its simplest form) connects many devices on the same network – typically a Local Area Network. A Wireless Access Point (WAP) provides a point of connectivity for wireless devices onto a network – typically a Local Area Network. A WAP can be thought of a little bit like a wireless switch in such that it connects many wireless devices on the same network.
I have a tonne of wireless routers knocking around. Most of these are Netgear WGR614 (v9) routers which I acquired whilst I was a student, forced to suffer the pain of being a Virgin MediaWikipedia: Virgin Media Limited is a British company which provides telephone,television and internet services in the United Kingdom. Its headquarters are in Hook, Hampshire. Since 2013, Virgin Media has been... customer. There’s 2 ways to use a wireless router as an access point. The right way and the easy way. I shall cover each of these below.
Edit: For both methods you will likely want to disable DHCP on the router via its web control panel – Thanks to @Duffy177 for pointing this out.
The Easy Way
A typical wireless router is constructed in such that the routing happens between its “WANWikipedia: A wide area network (WAN) is a telecommunications network that extends over a large geographical area for the primary purpose of computer networking. Wide area networks are often established with leas...” port and its switch. As such, if you just plug all of your devices into the switch ports and don’t use the “WAN” port, you have a switch and wireless access point rolled into one. It’s normally pretty easy to identify which is the “WAN” port and which are the switch ports as most routers group the ports together and some even colour the WAN port differently. The below image of the Netgear WGR614 shows this:
The Right Way
The right way is sadly not always possible as it depends if the router supports it. When you log into the web interface, look for a setting relating to using the router as an access point or assigning the WAN port to the switch. If you can enable this option, you can use all of the ports on the router as it has now stopped routing. The below image of the DD-WRT firmware config shows an example of this:
That’s about it. Hopefully you can recycle some old routers and give them a new lease of life.