What is the best type of wood router? There are a few different types of wood routers out there, from palm router for small jobs, plunge routers for big jobs, and cordless routers for portability on small to medium-sized jobs.
The best wood router depends on the wood density and depth of cutting you will generally be doing.
You want to get a wood router that is easy to handle when accuracy is important or have enough power for doing deep checkouts in hardwoods if that’s what you will be doing.
Best plunge wood router
#3 Best Bosch wood router
Bosch MRP23EVS 120-Volt 2.3 HP Electronic Plunge Base Router
#4 Best Festool wood router
Festool 574689 OF 2200 Imperial Router
#5 Dewalt wood router
DEWALT DW625 3 hp variable-speed electronic plunge router
#1 Best fixed-base D handle wood router
Makita RD1101 2-1/4-horsepower variable speed d-handle router
Best fixed base plunge router kits
#1 Bosch plunge and fixed base router
Bosch 1617EVS 12 amp 2¼ hp variable-speed router
#2 Best fixed and plunge base kit
Hitachi KM12VC 2-1/4 variable speed fixed/plunge base router kit
#3 Best plunge and fixed base router kit
DEWALT DW618PKB fixed base and plunge router combo kit
#4 Palm router with a plunge base
Bosch PR20EVSPK 5.6-amp plunge base router combo kit
Best palm router
#1 Best Makita palm router
Makita RT0701C 1¼ HP compact router 6.5 amps
#2 Best Dewalt palm router
DEWALT DWP611 1.25 HP variable speed compact router
#3 Best Bosch palm router
Bosch GKF125CEN colt variable-speed palm router
#4 DIY palm router
Bosch Colt PR20EVS 5.6 amp 1hp variable-speed palm router
#5 DIY palm router
Ridgid R2401 laminate trim router
Best cordless routers
#1 Best Makita cordless router
Makita XTR01T8J 18v cordless compact router
#2 Best Bosch cordless router
Bosch GKF12V-25N 12V brushless palm router
#3 DIY Ryobi compact router
Ryobi P601 18V cordless fixed-base router
Routers are power tools that are commonly used in woodworking. They are generally used to cut out sections off a piece of wood.
There are numerous applications for such tools, from decorative work on the edges or surfaces of timber to for cutting “chases” or depressions to conceal wires, cables, or pipes.
The earliest uses of wood routers were for decorative woodworking, where they proved especially useful for making intricate and elaborate cuts in wood.
Over time, these tools were employed for many other uses, and they are now essential for most types of building, decorating repair, and restoration work.
Wood routers are some of the most versatile wood machining tools to have in your workshop. They can be used for cutting, shaping, and grooving, and they are especially useful for creating precise joins between two pieces of wood.
Whether you are making a cabinet, building a staircase, or making skirting boards, you will get a lot of use out of a good wood router.
The first handheld routers were invented around 1915 by Mr Onsrud. His last name derives part of the name “router”.
Additionally, as a wood routers blade sits and cuts below the base plate, this started the tools the nickname as the “the old womans tooth“
Router speeds range from 800 RPM to 30,000 RPM. The best routers come with variable speed controls that allow you to adjust the speed according to the demands of the job.
Routers also tend to vary with regard to the plunge depth or the blade’s cutting depth. With plunge routers in particular, it is important to ensure that each single pass cuts at a fairly shallow depth. This reduces stress on the motor and prevents it from burning out.
The best plunge routers actually come with a depth lock that maintains precisely the same depth at each pass for this very reason.
It is a good idea to get a wood router that has two handles, one on each side. This provides you a handle for gripping, and one for control. Combined with a smooth base plate, this ensures stable and consistent operation.
Wood router features
A few brands specialize in wood routers that are intended for the DIY market. Among these are Robi, Black and Decker, Wen, Porta Cable, Triton, and Tacklife.
Unfortunately, DIY models tend to be inaccurate, and many are prone to breakage. Even if you only plan on using your wood router occasionally, you would be better off with a professional model instead of settling for a DIY model. Even the most basic pro models will give you better value for your money than the most fully-featured DIY models.
Investing in a pro-quality model will pay off in many ways in the long run. Brands such as Makita, Dewalt, Milwaukee, Metabo, AEG, Hitachi, and Festool offer a wide range of quality wood routers that score high in wood router reviews. These models are more durable and are made of higher quality materials and components. They will provide better performance and be easier to use, than a DIY model.
A bad tool can put DIYers of woodworking by getting bad results. A conman problem with DIY routers is the plunge depth won’t hold correctly and slips while in use. It is important that the depth control allows for a consistent result, and to not ruin your work.
Router size and power
You will, of course, want a router that provides sufficient power for demanding jobs. Keep in mind though that power often comes with size and weight. The most powerful routers tend to be quite heavy and difficult to manage, so you might want to go for a slightly less powerful model that is easier to handle.
It would be helpful to figure out what type of work you plan to do with your router and base your decision from there.
Powerful routers can be started by just pushing the plunge down into the wood surface, but this can be better done using some irwin drill bits in your best drill to bore out an area to start your tool off more smoothly.
Corded vs. Cordless
Cordless wood routers offer the advantages of portability and convenience. Some battery-operated models actually provide sufficient power and performance for small jobs, but maybe underpowered when it comes to more demanding work.
Again you have to decide whether convenience and portability are more important than power or vice versa.
Another good thing about a cordless wood router, even with plenty of power it will easily fit inside your portable tool storage. Both a rolling tool tote for when you are on-the-go doing maintenance work. Or a backpack tool bag can hold this tool easily inside without weighing you down.
Many routers have interchangeable collets that can accommodate ¼” and ½” shank router bits. Keep in mind however that some models only accommodate ¼” shank router bits. In general, ½” shank bits provide more stable operation with less vibration. They also tend to produce smoother cuts and last longer.
Best woodworking router to buy
The Makita RP0900K is a versatile unit that provides enough power for most routing jobs. It is designed specifically for detailed and intricate work, with features such as quick bit change and clearly marked depth scales making it easy to use as well.
If power is high on your list of priorities, the Makita RP2301FC is a perfect choice. The 3 ¼ HP motor running at 15 amps gives you the power to spare for even the most demanding tasks, and quick-release plunge depth control gives it added precision and versatility.
When portability and convenience make the most appealing wood router for you the Makita XTR01T8J 18v battery-powered wood router is surprisingly powerful. It can be used for most cabinetry and woodworking applications due to its variable speed control dial.
Who uses wood routers?
Wood routers are especially useful for shaping moldings. By using a variety of different bits, routers make it much easier to create fairly-simple rounded moldings to more elaborate designs and patterns. These tools are especially effective for creating intricate beaded patterns that can be used indoors, windows, and baseboards.
Joiners typically require clean and precisely cut edges. Wood routers can make it much easier to create perfect edges, to a set depth, even when working with narrow pieces.
They are just as effective at making even and precise level cuts on curved edges as they are on straight edges. Even better, they make it possible to perform the same precise cuts on several different pieces of wood.
Next to your other power tool’s a good Makita wood router can trim timber down to a great level of accuracy, just like your makita plane can. Both tools can be used for different timber buzzing and shaping jobs interchangeably.
Using a wood router is a great way to replicate specific cuts, patterns, or designs. They are particularly useful for intricate repair or restoration work where it is essential to match individual pieces with each other perfectly.
With a good wood router, it is possible to use a single piece as a template for succeeding cuts.
Wood routers make it possible to carve out rabbets cleanly. These are the recesses or grooves cut into the wood, which are usually seen in cabinets or bookcases. The best wood routers can be used with different rabbet bits, allowing for rabbets of different widths.
When building tables or cabinet tops a wood router can be used with a simple track to perfectly flatten and level timber, to wide for a portable thickness planner.
Tips for using a wood router
The most important thing to keep in mind when using a wood router is to always wear safety goggles. You need to make sure that they fit tightly fit on your face to prevent wood chips from entering and hitting you in the eyes, rather than just glasses.
In general, it is best to keep the plunger locked down as much as possible. After using your router, you should release the plunge lock in order to avoid damaging the routing heads. This will also prevent any marks on the cutting blade to be transferred to the next piece you will be working on.
Because router blades turn in a clockwise motion, you should feed your router left to right. This will ensure that the blade comes into contact with the wood properly.
And use a sharp beveled wood chisel to tidy up the corners of your cut outs, another option is to use a router hand plane, set to the right depth.
Pushing the router will give you better control than pulling it. You can change to a twisting motion when you get close to the line you are routing to have more control.
Always clean out the dust and debris from your router when you are done. This will prevent clogging and help preserve the life of your router. And if your router comes with a dust extraction hood use it!
You can also use a leather woodworking apron to add a layer of protection from flying woodchips and dust that can get stuck in your clothes.
Make sure to avoid forcing the router through the wood, this could leave burn marks due to the friction produced by the spinning blade.
It is best to work in a shaded area or with sunglasses on. As working with a router often requires you to keep your eyes open for long periods of time, which can cause discomfort to your eyes in bright sunlight.
Also having a good pair of sturdy irwin quick grip clamps can make a huge diffrence to your routering jobs. A stable workpeice is much easier to work with, without worrying about any accidental movement, so you can just focus on holding and guiding your tool.
Top wood router comparison
|Makita RP0900K||Makita RP2301FC||Makita XTR01T8J|
|Amps:||8 Amps||15 Amps||18V 5.0Ah|
|Rpm:||27,000 RPM||9,000 - 22,000 RPM||10,000 to 30,000 RPM|
|Weight:||5.95 lbs||13.4 lbs||15.25 lbs|
I have used the Makita RP0900K for 2 years, it is easy to use without a guide even though it is included. I have uses it for a few different jobs but mostly making check-outs in stair stringers .47 Inch deep with a .78-Inch bit.
It is easy to get the hang of using it as it is light-weight and easy to move around. At the same time, it inst to small like a palm router. This is a nice balance between a heavy powerful router and a small light-weight palm router that doesn’t have enough power for even the most basic tasks sometimes.
Anything less than 5 stars, means I can improve.
Help me improve with your feedback!
Please tell me how I can tweak this post?
Hi, my name is Aaron, and welcome to Banging-Toolbox.
As a genuine carpenter, I started banging-toolbox with the goal to make the #1 building, DIY, and tool review resource on the internet.
Feel free to have a look around, and don’t hesitate to ask me any questions about DIY or building. You can read more about me here.