The best wood router depends on the wood density and depth of cutting you will generally be doing. You want portability and a tool that’s easy to use but at the same time, you want enough power to get your jobs done smoothly, often the best is a compromise in the middle, for both portability and movability, and power.
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 wood router
#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 ““
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.
Features to consider
Pick the right wood router Brand
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 Power vs. Weight
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 wood routers
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.
Understand the two wood router shank sizes
Many routers have 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.
Choosing a woodworking router to buy
#1 Best wood router for control
The Makita RP0900K 1¼ HP Plunge Router is the best woodworking router to buy if you want to do small to medium-sized jobs. It delivers speed, power, and precision in a handy and easy-to-use package.
The powerful 8-amp motor rotates at a top speed of 27,000 RPM, making it possible to perform smooth routing work. The flat-top design makes it easy to change out bits when needed, and the contoured handles ensure comfy handling and better control.
#1 Best wood router for power and value
If power is higher 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.
Equipped with a 3 ¼ HP motor that makes it one of the most powerful routers around. Pumping out 15 amps of power, it remains easy to use due to its smooth plunge action. It’s increased plunge capacity also makes it suitable for a wide variety of tasks, from cabinetry to window work, fine woodworking, and more.
#1 Festool wood router for joiners
On the other hand the Festool OF 2200 has a 2,200-watt motor that can cut through the hardest materials with ease. Even with its impressive power, it is remarkably easy to maneuver and can be controlled easily for precision woodwork.
The OF 2200’s MMC electronics combined with the well-balanced motor results in reduced vibration. This ensures smooth and consistent results even when routing through tough wood. The micro-adjustable dial can be set to 1/256th of an inch, so you can cut as precisely as you need for delicate tasks.
Other features such as the swiveling chip deflector and integrated dust extraction ports effectively clear out debris from corners, making you work more efficiently.
#1 Best cordless wood router
The Makita XTR01T8J combines the power and performance of a corded router with the convenience and portability of a battery-operated unit.
The 18-volt battery can be fully charged in only 45 minutes, after which you get considerably longer run times than most other models.
The variable speed control dial lets you go from 10,000 RPM to 30,000 RPM, which is suitable for a wide range of woodworking tasks. The XTR01T8J also comes with electronic speed control that ensures consistent speeds even under heavy loads.
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?
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 electric 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.
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.
Tips for using a wood router
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.
Sounds like this can be improved for the next reader.
Please share how this article can be improved?
My name is Aaron, and welcome to Bangingtoolbox.
As a qualified builder and DIY’er, my goal with Banging Toolbox is to provide the #1 building and DIY resource on the internet for my readers.
I’m here to show people how to start DIY, and to help qualified professionals take building to the next level.
Feel free to have a look around, and don’t hesitate to ask me any questions, you can find out more about me here.