Are you a new or old dad trying their hands on woodworking (the art of making cabinets, furniture and everything else that involves wood)? Do you have all the necessary woodworking tools in your toolbox, garage, or trunk? Anyone new to woodworking assumes that they only need a saw (perhaps a circular saw) and a few carpenters’ rulers.
Unfortunately, your success in woodworking depends on your investment in the best power tools and accessories. Some of the tools will not fit in your bag, and you must have them, especially if you intend on making woodworking your thing.
On top of the basics, the saws and the saw stand; you also need the best woodworking router.
In woodworking, a router refers to the power tool or hand tool that you’ll use to route or hollow out an area on hard material you’re working on. The hard material could be plastic or even wood. According to Jeremy Broun’s book The Incredible Router written in 1989, a router is the most versatile tool, and it’s a woodworker’s best friend. Thanks to a router, you can make joinery, cutouts, as well as hollow out wood easily.
The router is the tool that allows you to shape those decorative edges, cut grooves/ slots, form raised panels, carve signs, rout intricate inlays, create moldings, and trim veneers and plastic laminates. You also need a woodworking router to mill woodworking joints such as mortises, rabbets, and dovetails.
If you wish to focus your woodworking efforts on cabinetry, you must have a router. In most cases, the router is handheld, but you could also have your router fastened to the cutting end-up on the router table.
The basic router is a spindle router whose base houses the universal electric motor that is mounted vertically. The base will be mounted using a collect at the end of the router’s shaft. The shaft has an adjustable height which for a protrusion via the opening at the flat-sole plate. The height adjustment is possible through the adjustment of the motor-mounting height. But the adjustment mechanism differs depending on the manufacturer of the router.
Types of Woodworking Routers
There are two main types of the woodworking routers: the plunge-base and the fixed base routers.
1. Plunge-Base Router
The plunge-base router features a base with two spring rising up to the handles, bit, and the housing. By doing this, the router allows you to plunge in the bit right into the work piece. The bit will be moving already. As a result, this router opens you up to a world of immense possibilities, ones you cannot perform using the fixed base router.
This plunge-base router cuts in a rather refined way and its cutting bit must be shaped in a specific way for it to bore through/ into the wood the same way a drill press would. Therefore, this plunge base router is ideal for blind dadoes, wood engraving, and mortises.
The only catch is that the plunge routers are harder to control because their handles are set higher. Their set up is also a little complicated.
2. Fixed-Base Router
The fixed-base router, on the other hand, is designed in a way that requires you set the cut depth/ height of the work before you turn on the motor. As the name suggests, the base of the router is fixed, and it doesn’t move throughout the routing process. It’s easy to make adjustments when you’re using this router, making this the simplest (and the cheapest) router in woodworking.
Since the fixed base routers have their handles handing low, close to the bottom of the router’s base, control of these plunger is easier. Note that regardless of the router you’re using, the wood you’re cutting should be clamped tightly in the workbench or the table to prevent movements and for a perfect mold. There also are combo router kits.
Best Woodworking Routers
In this comprehensive review, we intend to look at some of the best routers for woodworking. The routers we’ll review will ensure that you get the job done easily.
1. Bosch 1617EVSPK 2.25HP Plunge/ Fixed Base Combination Router
If you’re looking for the best woodworking routers on the market, one of the things you should check out is the power (along with its speed). A look at Bosch 1617EVSPK’s power reveals one of the most powerful routers on the market. This router boasts top-tier power of 2.25HP at 12AMPs. With such power in the motor, this router has high speeds of between 8,000 and 25,000RPM. This router also features the advanced speed control technology which will monitor and also maintain the router’s speed as desired and for consistency in performance and results.
The other impressive feature of this combination router is its variable speed dial. This speed dial makes it possible for you to set your optimal working speed for a specific material or routing task.
Housing the powerful motor and the bases is an aluminum body that enhances the durability and the lightweight design of the router. The housing and the power switch are also dust-sealed.
You might also like this router for its accuracy. Accuracy comes from the adjustable microfine bit-depth at the base of the router. It has a 1/64-inch accuracy.
Thanks to these features, this router leaves you with precise routes from templates, jigs, and dovetail fixtures. The 2inch opening at the sub base enhances visibility from the right or the left.
- Powerful combination router
- A high degree of precision and accuracy of cuts
- Variable speed dial for enhanced function
- High-quality cuts and molds
- Great for CNC
- The switch is not at an obvious place
2. DEWALT DWP611PK 1.25 Compact Router Combo Kit
If the 2.25HP Bosch router reviewed above is too powerful to meet your current needs or if you’re looking for a smaller router, this DEWALT DWP611PK 1.25 Compact Router Combo Kit is your next best option. Being a combo kit, you can use it for more than a job otherwise performed by a fixed or a plunge base router. And with the 1.25HP, 7.0AMP motor, you’re certain that you are buying a very capable router, one that’s certainly above its weight class.
Despite all its power, this router will not budge under pressure thanks to the sturdy aluminum construction for the housing and the base.
Besides its power, this router is also fundamentally easy to use thanks to its soft-start function and the electronic motor feedback mechanism which gives you control over the machine. The router also boasts a variable speed dial which enhances control over the depth of your cuts and routs, meaning that you can make the necessary adjustments with ease. The router’s ease of use is also enhanced by the adjustment ring that allows the adjustment of the bit depth to within 1/64 inches for the fixed base. The plunge base has a depth of 1.5 inches.
The router’s ease of use is further seen in the router’s design which allows for the effortless switching between the fixed and the plunge based by use of the quick-release lever, as well as the two-side clips. Thanks to these features, you can switch between the bases. You might also like the smooth operation of the plunge base and also the fact that the rubberized grips of the router give you an extra kick in terms of control.
This combo router kit also allows the changing of the bits with the simple snap of the spindle lock. The spindle lock features a multi-catch position setup, and you don’t have to spend much time spinning it before you lock it in place.
Thanks to all the features of this router, it’s an ideal fit for old and new users of woodworking routers.
- High-quality and durable aluminum construction
- The dual LED lights and its clear sub-base ensure a high level of visibility
- Spindle lock has a low-pressure design, and it allows for single-wrench changes in bits
- Easy base removal thanks to the spring-loaded release tabs
- Easy transition between the fixed and the plunge bases
- Greater contact with the work surface from the extended sub base.
- Variable speed control for the maximum speed of the bit
- Powerful motor for use in different environments
- Micro depth adjustments
- It doesn’t come with an edge guide
- Bits are not included
3. Bosch Colt Palm Grip PR20EVSK 1-Horsepower Fixed-Base Router
Don’t let the small size of this fixed-base router deceive you – this router is one of the best fixed base routers you could own. Its motor packs punches with its 1HP, 5.6Amps power; this power gives the plunger a high functional speed reaching 35,000RPM. Thanks to this power, you can use this router effortlessly for all your small woodworking projects at home.
Besides the powerful motor and the high-speed settings, this router comes with a variable speed control dial that gives you control over the equipment, ensuring that you get the perfect cuts and molds. There’s also the soft-start button that eases you into the machine.
As one of the smaller palm routers, its collet is only ¼ of an inch. The router also boasts a fine depth adjustment function which allows you to set the depth just right. The set also comes with an edge guide
- Conveniently located front spindle locks for easy access and wrench control
- Easy to use, and it comes with a quick-clamp system that enhances the router’s usability
- High-speed motor with a variable speed control function
- Overload protection
- Soft start lowers the start-up torque
- The Bosch Constant Response Circuitry is essential for the monitoring of the torque
- Solid aluminum construction
- The edge guide moves around too much
- The fine adjustment wheel is a bit hard to operate
4. Makita RP2301FC 3-1/4 HP Plunge Router
If you’re on the market for the most powerful plunge base router for cabinetry, general woodworking, decking, furniture making, countertops, windows, or doors, you might like this Makita masterpiece. This router sports a 15.0AMP motor which has a 3.25HP and delivers a high operational speed of between 9,000 and 22,000 RPM.
You can, however, control all this power with the plunger’s electronic speed control function that keeps the speed constant under a load. The variable speed control function/ dial allows you to match the router’s speed with your woodworking project easily. You might also like its soft-start feature which allows you to ease into the projects and you won’t have to worry about too much torque. And to enhance your productivity, you have the electric brake.
Its plunge depth is impressive, and it ranges from 0 inches to 2.75 inches. Thanks to this depth range, the router boasts an easy penetration into your workpiece.
This router also features a linear ball bearing system which smoothens out the plunging action while enhancing the performance of the router.
For ease of use, this woodworking router has highly ergonomic and rubberized handles which come with a two-finger switch built-in to give you more control. The LED (two) illuminate the work area, enhancing visibility. There’s also the quick-release plunge’s depth adjustment function features micro-control elements, as well as 3 preset stops for precision.
You might also like the plunge locks lever which enhances the operation of the router. The shaft-lock further enhances the change of the bits. On top of all these, there’s the tool-less guiding system (template) which allows for the router’s quick installation and removal.
- Ultra-powerful motor
- Precision-engineered with a very smooth plunge action
- It uses ¼ inch and ½ inch shank router bits
- Easy to use and it sports ergonomic control
- Advanced and reliable control functions
- Perfect trigger position
- High-quality power cord
- Simple and secure PC template guide connection
- Smooth turn-on button
- Reliable electric brakes
- Weak wing and cap nuts made of plastic
- It doesn’t come with the edge guide
5. Makita RT0701CX7 1-1/4 HP Compact Router Kit
The best woodworking routers boast great power and a host of features that ensure the best cabinetry, furniture making, decking, and general woodworking works. While there are many routers that promise the top results, few live up to expectations, and this Makita RT0701CX7 1-1/4 HP Compact Router Kit is one of the few.
This router has a 1.25HP motor which delivers high speeds of between 10,000 and 30,000RPM.
The speed of this powerful router is easily controlled by the variable speed control dial meaning that you can change the speed to match the current speed of your application. Speed control is further made possible by the electronic speed control, which allows you to maintain the speed of the router under a load. Its soft-start feature allows smoother start-ups.
The router features a smooth, high-quality rack-and-pinion system for fine depth adjustment and a high level of precision.
It also sports a slim and an ergonomic design which enhances your control and comfort levels when using the router. Its quick-release cam lock system allows for simple and quick base installation and removal, as well as the easy depth adjustments.
You might also like the fixed base router’s compatibility with most of the industry-standard template guides.
This router is also easy to use thanks to its high visibility base whose design enhances the router’s performance and its handling.
The solid aluminum motor’s housing is well-engineered for a higher level of durability.
- Durable and hard-wearing aluminum construction
- The depth scales are easy to read
- Easy changing of bits thanks to the shaft lock and the flat-top design
- Powerful motor
- Variable speed control dial
- Soft start button
- Fine depth adjustment system from the rack and pinion fence system
- Ergonomic design for control and comfort
- Smooth operation
- On/Off button for enhanced safety
- There’s a cordless version on the market
- Difficult to adjust the plunge base’s stop screws which are set in Loctite
Whether you’re buying a combo router unit or a single base unit, the best woodworking routers have powerful motors, an LED work light, soft starting, fine depth adjustment, electronic motor feedback, variable speed, a spindle locks, above table adjustments, and ¼ inch or ½ inch collet sizes. They also have the best safety fixtures.