In today’s article, we are covering a good amount of stuff about wood routers, including a comprehensive buying guide. Both amateur and pro woodworkers should know more about routing. Routing is all about using a machine to rout or hollow out wood surfaces to turn it to decorative or functional purposes. Those who are into furniture and staircase designs often use routers to shape and create intricate patterns on wood surfaces.
What is a wood router?
A wood router is a tool for woodworkers used to make intricate cuts or hollow out as patterns in lengths of wood. Some of this example might be seen in cabinets and staircases. A typical wood router will feature a blade with a plane protruding beyond it that enables cutting the routes desired. The first generations of wood routers are hand powered, but nowadays wood routers are powered by electricity. Many woodworking professionals now use electric routers for bulky jobs, while some still prefer the manual router.
The Different Types of Routers
Back in the day’s routers are ordinary hand tools, but now electric routers are popular. The original tool, called “Old Woman’s Tooth,” consisted of a broad wooden base with a slim blade attached to it. This tool is so useful that some woodworkers still use it even after the development of spindle routers and electric routers. Today’s woodworking routers may be classified according to their base and handling types.
Routers may be plunge-based or fixed-based. The main difference between these two types becomes apparent when you set them up for routing. With a plunge-base router, you place the unit’s base plate onto the wooden surface, with the router bit raised slightly above it. It’s only when you turn the motor on that it lowers onto the surface. A fixed-base router works almost the same way; only the bit is in contact with the surface even before the cutting starts. Plunge-base routers are better for more refined, intricate work.
Routers are also classified as table-mounted or handheld routers. Table-mounted routers offer more stability than handheld ones, which rely heavily on the users’ ability to maneuver them and keep them steady. Table-mounted routers are ideal for more intricate projects involving smaller pieces of wood. They’re also safer for the beginner or amateur woodworkers to use.
Wood Router Bits
You should familiarize yourself with router drill bits regardless of what kind of router you intend to use for your DIY project. These are the components that do the actual trimming or shaping. These make use of blades made from carbide or high-speed steel, which you can attach, remove, and replace.
Router bits are usually classified according to the diameter of their shank. Common diameters include 6mm, ¼ in, 8 mm, 3/8 in, 10mm, 12mm, and ½ in. Half-inch bits are usually more expensive but are less prone to vibration or breaking. This makes them more durable and smoother to handle than other bit types.
Not all routers can handle every bit size. You need to look for routers with removable collets if you know you need to use multiple bit types.
Choosing the Best Wood Router
If you have never used wood routers, then it may be harder for you to shop for a quality router. If you do not have access to people with experience in buying these power tools, one of the best ways to get information is to read this article to the end.
Routers have evolved over the years from its big cousin the shaper. Many factors come into play when choosing the correct router for your woodworking projects. With these tips, you will gain a better understanding of what each router has to offer and which will be best suited for the wood projects you have in mind.
The first consideration is the location of the on/off switch. It should be placed so that you can reach it without letting go of the handles. Other standard features to look for are a base with a clear view of the bit so you can see where you are routing, a speed control so you can use various sizes of bits and, finally, a dust collection port. These items aren’t mandatory, but they will make your woodworking projects easier. If you have already purchased a router, don’t worry. You may not have to buy a new one because you can add these features to most routers with some accessories. You can purchase a clear universal base that you can attach to most routers with some simple layouts to align them to your router.
Speed controls are essential if you would like to use large bits such as raised panel bits. These bits require slower rpms because of their size. You can add an external speed control to your router to adjust the speeds as needed allowing you to use these more significant bits on your wood projects.
One last feature that you should look at before considering a specific router is the collet that holds the bit to the router motor. The most versatile routers can accept a 1/4″ and 1/2″ collet so you can use a wide variety of bits. The collet should also have multiple segments. If the collet only has two or three segments there is the possibility the bit will slip, however, if there are numerous segments there will be many contact points on the bit and the bit won’t slip. Be careful when loading the bits because many people make the error of over tightening the bits and this can cause unnecessary wear on the collet.
Along with the variety of features to choose from, there are also various styles of routers to choose from: fixed base, plunge router, laminate trimmer, and miniature router. For most of the standard woodworking functions, you will do well with a fixed base or a plunge router. There are even routers available with interchangeable bases, so you don’t have to choose, you can just switch between fixed base and plunge base
With a router, you can do some amazing things! You can make your desire router handier by gaining more knowledge about how it works. Routers are available with or without a cord. Go for the router with a high amount of horsepower for the best results.
So, to help identify the features available and how they compare to one another, we have compiled our top picks for 5 best wood routers for the money below.
Best Wood Router Reviews – 5 Top Picks
In-Depth Reviews of Top 5 Wood Router Machines
1. PORTER-CABLE 7518 Speedmatic 15 Amp 3-1/4 HP Fixed Base 5-Speed Router
If you’re in the market for a powerful, yet affordable router, then you should consider the Porter Cable 7518 Speedmatic 15 Amp 3-1/4-Horsepower Fixed Base 5-Speed Router. This is a high-powered production router with a sleek design that makes it every bit as elegant as it is robust. It also comes with some handy features to set it apart from the 3-41/4-horsepower pack as well as make it the standard for all fixed base routers in its class.
- Has a 5-speed control ranging from 10,000-21,000 RPM
- Size: 11 by 7 by 11 inches (L x W x H)
- Operating system: manual
- Power Source: corded-electric
- Weight: 14-1/2 pounds
Electronic 5-speed motor
The motor is capable of running at five speeds: 10,000, 13,000, 16,000, 19,000, and 21,000 RPM. You will enjoy this for when you’re working on harder or softer woods, and you need to fine tune your router speed for the best cut available.
Soft start feature
This is a safety feature for your router, giving you the ability to take notice of any maladjustment at the startup before it gets to going full speed. This function stops the router from accidentally torquing out of your hands, something that can be an issue when working with a router this powerful when doing freehand work.
Auto-release collet system
This is of prime importance, especially when you’re doing finesse work that requires a high degree of precision. The other is not to make you bang your knuckles up while trying to remove your bit. With the auto-release collet system, the Porter Cable 7518 does a fantastic job at both.
High motor power
One of the useful features of this device is the motor. It is a heavy-duty machine that will go through material smoothly with great ease at 15 Amp and 3.25 HP.
- Ease of use
- A very powerful 15 Amp 3.25 HP motor
- Easy collet change
- Low noise and vibration
- A bit costly
- Lacks a plunge base
2. Hitachi KM12VC 2-1/4 Peak HP Variable Speed Fixed/Plunge Base Router Kit
The Hitachi KM12VC Plunge and Fixed Base Router Kit are made explicitly for trimming, shaping, window cutting, camphering, pattern cutting, and groove cutting. This is a right tool for many workshops. Located inside the nickel casing is the powerful motor of the router.
To be able to give perfection to different types of application the speed of the motor can be adjusted to 8000 and 24000. The most fantastic feature of the product is the electronic speed control device that helps it maintain constant rpm. Quick changes of the base can be accomplished with the specially designed clamp for motor release.
The router can be easily handled because of its ergonomic design and lightweight handle.
- Packed with case, fixed bases, plunge, motor, three wrenches, collets, centering gauge and guide adapter
- Product manual is well-organized
- Dimensions: 4 x 22.2 x 16 inches
- Weight: 9.9 pounds
- Power Source: corded-electric
The motor is powerful enough to cut and design wood smoothly because 11 AMP powers it. Additionally, it helps to get controlled and precise cuts from the wood. The hardwoods are designed almost silently and without any setbacks.
Electronic Speed Control
The electronic speed control feature on the Hitachi KM12VC is a tool for carpenters and other people with woodworking to get the desired RPM.
Nickel Plated Motor Housing
The Hitachi KM12VC woodworking tools are stored in a nickel plated place; which secures the motor from any external disturbances. However, users can also adjust the depth during the cut with the nickel plated housing.
2 Stage Motor Release Clamps
2-Stage-motor-release-clampsMotor release clamps help to remove the motor from the base and place that on any other suitable place. The motor release clamp is easy to use and helps to remove the engine from the base very quickly.
- Low noise and vibration
- Fine variable-speed motor
- Affordable price
- Portable for less weight
- Difficult for table use because of Collet position
- Fixed and plunge base seems a bit unstable
3. Bosch 1617EVS 2-1/4 HP Variable-Speed Router
One of the most popular routers on the market is the Bosch router. The 1617 EVS has been around for a long time and is still favored by woodworkers and shop owners alike. This is a great router if you need an all-purpose router that has both a fixed and plunge base.
The router boasts about the great cutting, speed, power, and durability this router provides to its users. Many have been into admiration on its speed, its capacity and the massive amount of security it effectively provides on their actual use of the router. With the ability to use both ¼ and ½ collect sizes, its Aluminum housing, motor, along with a well-designed mount that will fit different router tables.
- Features 12-amps, 2.25-horsepower, and 8000-25000 RPM
- Dimensions: 12.3 x 10.2 x 7.7 inches
- Weight: 11.2 pounds
- Dust-proof switch
- Aluminum motor housing
Soft Start Feature
This mainly plays the crucial role of preventing electrical surges and reduce power load during startup. This helps avoid sudden slowdowns, unexpected increase in speed during usage and also achieve consistent performance.
The Bosch 1617EVS is designed with a variable speed that can go up to the ranges of 8000 to 25000, which makes it easy for the tool to handle diverse operations. It also comes with a Constant Response Circuitry that is capable of monitoring and adjusting power to achieve consistency in performance and maintain the desired RPM.
The RPM ranges between 8,000 and 25,000 and six different speed settings. You can get an RPM range of 8,000 to 16,500 with the setting from 1 to 3, which allows you to use with significant diameter bits, cutters, and nonferrous metals. If you set the dial in the range from 4 and to 6, this gives an RPM range of 20,000 to 25000 allowing the router to works with small diameter cutters and bits on softwoods, plastics, and laminates.
- Has a comfortable wood handle
- Rugged design to the router
- Precise depth adjustment
- Huge and powerful motor
- Requires two different wrenches for changing the bits
- Some user complain about loose C-ring that keeps falling
- Poor dust collection
4. DEWALT DWP611PK 1.25 HP Max Torque Variable Speed Compact Router
This new version of Dewalt’s two-base router kit is both durable and powerful to offer the features you’d expect from a high-performance router without any of the bulk. It features a few ergonomic adjustments rendering the tool more balanced and, as a fortunate consequence, the thing is ideal for one-handed use, too. Its 1.25HP motor has gumption enough to tackle the hardest materials and with variable speed control.
The router motor easily transitions between the fixed and plunge bases and with dual LED lights and a clear sub-base the tool offers maximum visibility throughout each operation. The tool’s aluminum motor housing and base construction ensure total durability and, for greater versatility, it’s sub-base is also compatible with universal template guides.
- Dimensions: 7 x 10.2 x 19.2 inches
- Weight: 8 pounds
- Speed: 16,000-27,000 rpm
- Dual LED’s
- The machine has a soft start for better handling at the initial time of usage
- It comes with a variable speed controller push button so that a user can be able to choose the speed at which to work with
- It has a very powerful motor which produces 2000 watts of power
- The clear sub-base and dual LED’s makes sure there is visibility during use
- The bit depth changes to within 1/64″ is controlled by adjustment ring
- The router can handle both soft and hard kinds of wood
- Has Dual LED lights that illuminate the workspace
- Optional accessories that extend performance and flexibility
- There is also a plunge base available in combo kit
- Comes with no edge guide
- Do not have side handles
5. Festool 574342 OF 1400 EQ Router
Festool is known throughout the woodworking industry for manufacturing some of the finest, most evolved woodworking equipment. Creating a router that performs quite like a portable hand-held shaper, Festool has taken routing, and that reputation of theirs, to an entirely new level.
Among other design improvements, the Festool 574342is built for superior maneuverability, and despite the immense power of the router, it is simple to use and offers almost unbelievably smooth operation.
The router additionally offers a huge plunge depth capacity allowing 80mm of travel. To achieve this staggering capacity, the router collet plunges 10mm below the router base; of course, this increases versatility while also allowing users another avenue to change bits. In addition to this unparalleled plunge depth, the router also offers superfine depth adjustments to ensure optimal precision.
- Weight: 18 pounds
- Dimensions: 15.5 x 12.5 x 12.5 inches
- Motor: 1,400 Watts
- Collet Size: ½ inch, ¼ inch and 8 mm
- Power Source: corded-electric
Most woodworkers would know that routers produce a lot of dust and chips. Cleaning has always been a hassle. This is where Festool is different from other routers in the market. With great and excellent dust extraction capabilities on the routers. The dust extraction hood is adaptable and removable with the 36 mm or 27mm hose.
Removable chip catcher
This feature would be loved by any woodworker because it helps eliminate the need to clean up the mess after usage.
Powerful Motor and Great Comfort
The power rating (1400 watts) at first glance will make you a little apprehensive. But it performed far better than we anticipated. It can handle the most difficult of plunge cuts with ease. The variable speed helps you to take extra care while working with larger bits.
It reduces the pressure on the hand. The power cord tube also serves as the handle which gives extra grip on it.
Best in Class Adjustment
You can work with extreme precision with this router. You can control the depth to a factor of 1/256”, which is insane in our books. Deep cuts with this level of precision can help in fittings. There is also a three position depth turret that can create incremental steps.
- 120 Volts and 1400 watts of power
- Includes a carry case
- Collects all dust and debris
- The design gives the user entire control
- Somewhat louder
- Visibility is limited, during use
- Unfavorable price