If you are a DIY hobbyist or a professional plank designer, you might notice that any other multi-tools are just not fit to do the jobs done by a router. The wood routers have distinct functions for professional woodworkers, while most other power tools have failed. But it is a pre-condition to have a quality, stalwart, and overall the best wood router to produce intricate designs on wood pieces without causing any frictions.
These machine tools can cut, shape, and trim over the uneven edges of large workpieces and hollow out the hardwoods. Among many other options, dados, dovetails, biscuit joints, V-grooves, chamfering, and the fancy ogee edges are some crafts ideas to live the router bits can do.
Maybe a router is not for you! Does that sound pretty good? As a kitchen decorator or decorative craftsmanship, you should read more about routers and their diverse functions.
However, to pick the quality wood router, educate yourself about the features and their functions. In most cases, adjustable speed is welcoming for smooth operation. The RPM range is a vital factor to consider; otherwise, it might not meet your needs. Among two categories, some users like to have a fixed base router that works better for smooth edging. The plunge base routers are popular, and craftspeople like them for mortises.
Quality matters while fancy boxes might fool a purchaser. This buying guide is a good resource that has lined up with quality products from different categories. Before you jump for our top picks, let’s see the types of routers, their function, and quality features and functions to consider.
Wood Router Types
If you are not well experienced in routing, you should spend some time learning about wood routers, their types, and their function. There is a kind of router out there that is not perfect for trimming since it generates higher RPMs and heavy torque. On the other hand, a lightweight, palm gripped compact router can’t provide sufficient torque for turning hardwoods or heavy jobs. Moreover, carpenters sometimes need to curve wood for beautiful decoration. All these wood curving necessities demand different types of wood routers.
Based on the nature of jobs, we found four types of routers carpenter uses.
Fixed Base Routers
The fixed-base router comes with the body and base fixed together. It doesn’t allow plunge cut from above on the surface. Once the height is adjusted, it cuts through the fixed depth and allows no depth adjustment while it is running.
People like it for repeat jobs. In a fixed depth, repeated cuts are faster. Moreover, it allows users to handle the router keeping workpieces and base near to their hands. Users found it’s more stable and has better control over it.
Plunge routers come with two spring-loaded columns and allow the router to plunge through the columns to guide the bits. Users can cut the surface of the wood pieces from above, and at the same time, can use them for shaping edges. They are possibly the most popular and versatile routers now a day.
Since it allows bit depth adjustment during running, it can cut a variety of cuts possible. Also, it is compatible with different jigs and templates for a faster cutting experience.
Wood Router Combo Kit
When carpenters use a fixed base router, they miss the experience of plunge action. Considering users’ expectations, producers have invented innovative routers combining both plunge-base and fixed-base systems in the same router kit. Most combo kits can easily switch from the fixed to plunge mode. Sorry to say, these combo kits are expensive and slow down the workflow while switching the mode of operations.
CNC Wood Router
You can also find a kind of router run by a computer numeric control system. The CNC router is operated by CAD/CAM software on the computer. In that case, the preinstalled software rotates the motor spindle over a table fixed.
The CNC machine is used for craftwork on the surface of wood pieces. It can produce beautiful art effects and decorative pictures on the wood surface.
Consideration for Choosing the Best Wood Router
Out of so many models, it is pretty hard to pick the right tool for your needs. Some key factors will help you make the right decision to find the right tool. So, relax and read alone the points that are dealt with right here.
Size may be a matter of selecting the right project. The professional woodworking projects may require you an industrial-grade router with enormous length, while the same router may be the reason for destroying your small projects.
So, don’t be curious only about the power of a router. Think about which one is the right bet for your projects. If a palm router can do polish cuts, why do you go for a plunge router then?
The Motor and Speed
The motor is a significant part of a router. Cutting the hardwoods or thinner mostly depends on how fast the router cuts. A larger router tends to produce more vibrations, but it gets hot after a certain time. It may take a while to cool down the machine again.
When you select a larger motor, keep in mind that it will be more powerful but louder and noisy. Without hearing protection, it might be hazardous. A smaller size motor is perfect for a quiet environment.
The router with a higher range of RPMs is better for precision cuts. Good routers have variable speed and a soft start to control the speed level while running.
However, keep an eye on if the router has adjustable speed.
The horsepower of a router tool determines how accurate it is to handle large bits and thick workpieces. Using a router that can make multiple passes across an edge saves time. When you work with a fixed-base router, you need to drag your router across the straight edge. But for plunge action, may create friction. So, horsepower is a vital part of determining your job.
Most woodworking routers have horsepower ranging from 1.25 to 1.75, but some larger wood routers come with 2 to 3.25 horsepower. It is better to have a lower range of hp for more solid performance.
Variable Speed Control
The variable speed lets you decide at the speed range you want to operate your router. Sometimes, you need to control the speed of the router for larger bits. This parameter gives you more control over the tool. You might have feedback circuitry along with a full-size router, which controls the speed during heavy load.
One of the most popular router features is the soft start. Soft start works to gear up the speed slowly so that the router doesn’t go to its full speed immediately. Otherwise, it may cause the break of the projects resulting in injury.
Users most commonly use a standard 1/4 inch bit size for small projects. The 1/2 inch size is also fit to use for different projects. The 1/4 inch collet size is perfect for light jobs like hinge mortises. But it fails to operate to make hardwoods cut. So, it is a good thing to consider when you choose one for your project.
Bit Changing Option
Advanced technological engineering focuses mostly on user satisfaction. Bit changing is a troublesome job since it requires reinstalling the base system going beneath the router table. The technology makes it toolless. You’ll notice a spindle locking system that allows single-hand bit change. It makes easy bit change that reduces time. See how it works here.
Bit Depth Adjustment
Depth adjustment is a vital point for a plunge router. It will define how hollow the cutting depth would be. If it is not in the right depth, the wood joint will not be accurate. To make sure the precise cuts of workpieces, it is important to adjust the bit depth accurately. If you are not sure, you can check how Wonkee Donkee Trend has done it. You can also watch a video.
Safety & Comfort
Safety first while you are using power tools. Look at carefully the safety guard of the bits. Is it securing enough when the bit is revolving? How far or near to your fingers, the bit is moving? All these things are a matter of the safety of your hands.
Also, be careful about the fingers that might get in touch with the motor that got heated. It may cause a serious injury to your hands during operation.
On the other hand, comfort grip, variable speed, soft start, and overall ease of use of the router are the added value to consider.
Dust Collection Port
Router bit produces a lot of sawdust, cutting deep into the hardwoods and workpieces. This mess flies through the air inside the workshop, causing health-hazardous injury. Using masks and maintaining regular clean-up is an indirect solution, and it is good to keep up.
Routers have a dust collection port near the bit to collect the debris during cutting woods. The vacuum hose collects almost all the dust the bit produces, meaning no sawdust spreads on the floor. Here’s that working the right way.
So choose a router where a dust port is a must.
As a conscious buyer, it is wise to consider the price range before you attempt to buy something. In terms of a router, your budget will directly impact the types and the features it offers. Innovative routers with interchangeable bases, advanced features, and adjustability are the common factors that increase the price range.
Should you spend more pennies on your router? It depends. If you are a professional, it is wise to spend a handsome budget on a quality router. Otherwise, a low-cost, moderate wood router will be a perfect choice for you.
The Top Picks
Dropping bucks into the wrong bucket may be misplaced. We have chosen the best wood router for your woodworking projects and budget.
1. DEWALT Fixed Base Router
A budget-friendly, compatible, and quality router means DEWALT fixed-base router. It is available at a standard price but spares no quality. It is compatible and provides sufficient power to cut through the intricate hardwoods no other fixed-base router can do.
The quick-release motor latches, cam lock, and micro-adjuster make this router a quick pick model. If an in a hurry passerby buys it wrongly, he’ll be a lucky man to have it.
Let’s see why so praised for it and in the number one position on our list.
The secret of this wood tool is that it comes with an 11 amp, 1-3/4 horsepower motor to generate 24,500 RPMs, which is pretty good for small to moderate projects. You can chop even hardwoods using standard bit size, and the cam lock provides bit adjustment with ease and fast. Also, the micro-fine adjustment provides precise bit depth adjustment at 1/64 inch. The flat top of the motor can sit upside down so that the depth adjustments become easy and accurate.
Two motor latches help to release the base quickly for easy bit changes. The Lexan baseplate is clear and transparent, meaning that the workpiece and the bit are viewable.
The low squat position of the router is for the best control and balance. The over-molded rubberized handles give you comfort and ease of use.
The nickel-plated motor housing is its added value for long-lasting adjustability. A dust-sealed switch helps the dust being clogged off. Moreover, an additional detachable cord set will be handy when the motor pack is short.
Another handy feature is that it comes with a switch and cord set located near both your hands in right and left. It means the switch is accessible both by your left and right hands when needed. However, users still can’t set the speed in their deserving range accurately as they expect. But it outperforms any other fixed-base tool since it does other things better.
Overall, the easy, smooth, and fast handling, precision cuts, easy adjustability, and superior grade cutting experience make this Dewalt model one of the pro-level fixed-base routers.
Consider all the things it comes with and compare a few models online to determine your decision. Most of the useful features it comes with may be missing in similar models. The micro-adjuster, cam locking system, and motor latches are beneficiary features to bring into consideration.
Though it lacks the combo plunger action, it is one of the best in class fixed-base routers.
If you can overlook the insignificant shortcoming, it is then the top model on the market.
2. Makita Compact Router Kit
Makita is second to none when people talk about palm router models. The powerful motor and the quality features always benefit users in their workshop.
The electronic speed control, soft start, and variable speed ensure easy and smooth operation. The micro-adjuster makes sure precision cuts, and the motor provides constant speed under load.
It has a slim and ergonomic body to allow smooth gripping and absolute control over it.
It may be an ideal choice for beginners and professional who does the light job.
The slim and compact size of Makita RT0701CX7 is one of the main attractions to woodworkers. It is a powerful tool for clean cuts on light workpieces. The potential features and smooth performance are the reasons for its being customers’ ultimate choice.
With a narrow and ergonomic design, along with a powerful motor, this router tool has won its winning goal. The slim body affords users control over it, while a bulky body is hard to maneuver.
It comes with a 6.5 amp, 1-1/4 hp motor to go for a max of 30,000 RPM. Don’t worry! With its variable speed control, you can easily control the speed at your range. Moreover, the electric speed control allows constant speed under loads.
The quick-release base helps to replace fast and ensures easy bit depth adjustment. The rack-and-pinion system provides a more accurate and precise cutting experience. Depth adjustment is easy and fast for quick release cam lock when it is arduous for a fixed-base system.
The vital feature of a router is its power supply capacity. This powerful kit always provides constant speed under load and never ceases from being run.
Users find excellent start-ups for its soft start feature. So, don’t worry about its heavy torque and speed.
It is a heavy-duty and durable router kit that comes with the sturdy motor housing. The solid aluminum housing is rust-resistant and never bends.
It has depth scales engraved on the motor housing, which most traditional routers ignore. Though it is not a specialty feature, it is a good characteristic of renowned brands.
Additionally, you’ll have a plunge base system if any possibility arises to use for plunge cuts. This versatile kit accepts universal template guides for additional support. It’s not more than 3.9 lbs, so it’s easy to maneuver.
All good things we have dealt here. But never depend on that merely. When you’ll receive the box, carefully unbox it and check if everything is okay.
Sometimes, a warranty is provided. Be sure if that is available right now. We always suggest double-checking the features and confirming if anything is missing or not.
We hope most of the purchasers will agree with what we have experienced ourselves.
3. Ridgid Laminate Trimmer
We’ve enlisted this trimmer, counting two key points for the purchasers. Mainly, we have focused on its quality trimming experience and the price. DIY novices most often do the same wrong investing more than they expect.
This model is worth most novices and regular woodworkers since it can provide low velocity but constant speed. The electronic feedback circuitry maintains consistency for smooth trimming. It comes with a round and square base and a quick release system so that you can easily remove the motor from its housing.
However, the overall performance is excellent for trimming, and it has almost all the standard features most routers have. We highly appreciate this trimmer that’s offering most of the quality features.
Did you know it can cut complex joints for you? The modest outfit of this Ridgid model depicts that you can use it for only trimming purposes on plain woods. But practically, it does more than that. You can use it to chop any light jobs on wood. You can even cut biscuit joints using the right size bits and shanks.
You’ll like this little workhorse because it will give you consistent speed. It is convenient to use its square base.
Like other handy router kits, it also has a micro-adjust dial and spindle lock. They are advantageous for precise depth control. The spindle lock will provide an easy bit-changing opportunity.
The bit changes have become quicker and easier because it sits upside down. You can easily remove the base and change the bits when needed. It takes no long time, as seen on a fixed base router.
Sometimes, it becomes arduous to release the motor from the base. A quick-release lever comes with this tool to allow easy motor release. An electronic feedback circuitry provides constant speed for smooth performance.
The variable speed is a highlight of this little kit, and it works great for smooth control.
It also comes with an LED light to illuminate the work area. Good power tools always have such a lighting facility. Moreover, this router tool has a soft grip, so users find it comfortable for handling.
At a glance, you’ll like this router tool, but keep in mind that it’s not for regular routing. Mainly, it is designed to give you a quick trimming solution. However, careful handling may give you diversified results.
This laminate trimmer is for wood. If you use it for aluminum, it might not be a wise decision.
This trimmer is excellent for constant speed but may not provide higher power. During depth adjustment, carefully do this since it does slip while running.
4. Bosch Palm Router Kit
Did you know Bosch introduces a palm router kit to bring a solution to the woodworking arena? When you are struggling with cutting mortises, rounding edges, or creating a plywood countertop, this kit matches the perfect timing for you.
This time we have a variable-speed palm router kit from Bosch. With a powerful motor, it passes ample power to rout and trim. This combination kit allows precise depth adjustment in a fixed-base system. It also provides plunge control for smooth plunge action.
The rubber molded palm grip of this router is welcoming to most users for smooth performance. If you expect a router for light jobs, this palm router kit is an absolute pick for you.
As it is a palm router, be sure that it is not for general-purpose woodworking. The 1.25 horsepower, 7.0 amp motor is its power source. The type of motor it comes with is heavy-duty for this class. It can produce a maximum of 35,000 RPMs with dialing up.
The rubber grip over-mold of this router always provides comfortable gripping for the users. And the compact and slim size of the motor housing allows users one-handed operation.
In terms of palm routers, the speed level is higher though the power is lower. For the higher speed, the router may abruptly jump when just switched on. In that case, slow-start engineering works better. This router kit features a variable speed technology and a soft-start option, as seen in various advanced models. These technologies allow the users to control the speed and torque level.
The adjustable base with a fine-tuner allows a quick adjustment. Also, it comes with a plunge base system for instant application for plunge action.
Not only does it, but it also has a straight edge guide to support a smooth cutting experience.
This tool kit comes with a complete package, including a router, edge guide, and an additional plunge-action base system. A carrying case has been provided for added convenience.
The router is a heavy-duty palm kit and provides ample speed for precision cuts. But it doesn’t give you the high-end performance of the plunge router. So, you are advised to choose it for light-duty edging or mortising.
Unlike the robust router tools, it can supply ample speed for light jobs. And as it gives you a palm grip option, you can select it for hand-held operation.
Overall performance is nice to go!
5. Triton TRA001 Plunge Router
Though most professional craftspeople use the Triton wood router, it was first designed for newbies. Its quality features, sturdy construction, superior performance, and plunge action push it to the highest pick.
Its simplicity and dual-mode handling allow switching quickly from the plunge mode to the fixed-base option. This router is an automatic and technologically sound kit to give you the super horsepower and precise cutting experience.
The easy and quick adjustment is its prior deal, and it is designed to let you do that with a simple wrench.
Today, novices to craftspeople like and use this tool for their everyday woodworking needs.
You can find some robust plunge routers from different brands like Makita, Porter-cable, or Bosch. They are high-end workhorses, but Triton has simplicity and is a single-button machine. As you can use it for fixed-base solutions, it also allows you for plunge action. You can switch the button to change the mode of operation instantly.
As a professional, you can compare its performance with other high-end tools already mentioned, and as a beginner, you can test its juice applying to your woods. In both cases, it will go no less than those woodworking tools.
The significant features most wood routers possess, Triton also doesn’t miss them. The 3-1/4 HP motor it comes with can revolve 8,000 to 21,000 RPMs, a moderate RPM level that can provide constant cutting speed.
The automatic spindle lock provides the facility to change bits with a single wrench. The micro winder makes it smooth for depth adjustment even in full plunge mode. And the slow speed mechanism and soft start technology control the speed for the perfect cutting experience.
The clear base is an added value providing visibility on the workpieces.
I like this tool, especially its soft-start feature, variable speed, micro winder, rack & pinion adjustment, and electronic speed control.
The side air vents work as an enclosed guard not to allow dust inside the motor cases, keeping the motor moving constantly. It ensures a dust-free environment inside for longevity.
The criticism is that it comes with fewer features for that price. But the versatility or the overall control is a guarantee.
Did you know higher RPMs may be worse for your router bits? Learn here about the safe speed for router bits.
If you are a beginner woodworker keeping the longtime journey in mind, this tool is for you. It’ll be a one-time purchase in your workshop since its sturdy construction will let you run it for a long time. On the other hand, the professionals can use it from day one.
However, it may be a worse thing for some users, depending on the nature of the jobs. You will find difficulties using it for trimming purposes.
But I suggest not believing in unconfirmed rumors people sometimes talk about its return. Many users commented using the Triton tool for years and had no issues.
FAQs for Wood Routers
Probably, you are now ready to shop after visiting different websites for the best wood routers. However, people still have something to know about how it works and how to find the best router. Following FAQs may help you find the best one.
What kind of wood router do I need? Which wood router should I buy?
Most of the projects require a fixed-base router. However, a plunge router will be a perfect choice for complex joinery. For trimming purposes, it is wise to pick a trimmer.
Is it better to have more torque or horsepower?
The higher the torque is, the faster the router cuts – is a misconception. The combination of both speed and torque is essential for better performance.
RPM means revolution per minute while horsepower is the amount of power divided by RPMs. Torque is the force the router motor produces to spin the bits.
What is a router used for in woodworking?
A router is used to cut grooves, and mortises, join patterns and create designs on woods. You can also use it for creating box joints, chamfering, or jointing two separated workpieces together. A small size trimmer can help you with laminate trimming. Beautiful joineries like dovetails, biscuit joints, and dados can also be possible with a router tool.
What size wood router is ideal for a project?
It depends on which project you are doing right now. For light jobs, it’s better to have one that is compatible with 1/4 inch collet size. The 1/2 inch collet affords heavy-duty projects. However, it’s important to know the performance before you buy a router.
You are now well aware of the nitty-gritty of the router tool so far. It’s time to add to your cart the best one.
If you want the best wood router combining dual modes of operation, here you can go for the Triton TRA001 plunge router kit. It is robust, sturdy, and durable, and you’ll never lose your penny investing in it. But we’ll highly recommend for Dewalt fixed-base model if you want it for repeat jobs. It is an inexpensive and feature-enriched tool.
However, you have enough information to select the right tool for your projects right now.