Top 10 Best Palm Routers

If you’re a serious woodworking enthusiast looking for the best palm router, here is our attempt to help you find it. It’s easy to get sucked into a tool-collecting vortex when you see all the shiny new gizmos in catalogs and websites. Fortunately, you can justify owning multiple routers. Even if you already have a full-size router or two, a palm router will come in handy for lighter tasks.

Introducing the Palm Router

A palm router, also known as a laminate trimmer or trim router, is a compact router designed for light-duty operations. Palm routers have small motors (under 2HP) and accept ¼” shank router bits. A few models also work with other shank diameters.

arrow Jump to the list of the best palm routers

In professional cabinet shops, woodworkers use palm routers to trim plastic laminate and veneer. They glue oversized pieces of laminate to particleboard and trim the excess material with flush trimming bits mounted in palm routers. This kind of work would be exhausting with heavier and larger tools.

Uses for a Palm Router

Anytime you need to do a lot of routing with a small bit, a palm router can be a good choice because the reduced weight eliminates the fatigue that would occur from handling a bigger tool. Chamfers and round overs are perfect chores for a palm router. ¼” shank bits for these operations are widely available. You’ll also be able to fit a palm router into spaces that are too small for a full-size router.

Palm routers are also helpful in shops that use CNC technology. Small parts tend to move around when cut on a CNC machine, so woodworkers use a technique called “onion skinning” to prevent this. Here’s how they do it: The CNC routes most of the way through a piece of stock, leaving a small “skin” that holds the part in place. Then, a woodworker routes through that skin with a palm router and flush trimming bit, which releases the part from the stock.

Commercial CNC machines like those used in big shops use electronically controlled router spindles, but hobby machines are often fitted with palm routers. You’d probably be surprised by the complex work a palm router is capable of producing when used in a CNC machine. Woodworkers make all kinds of interesting things this way, including 3D carvings, guitar bodies and signs.

Spindle Locks

Square and Circular Bases

 If you’re shopping for a palm router, you should look for a few key features. Good routers have spindle locks that make bit changes easier. A spindle lock is usually just a button you press that prevents the spindle from rotating and allows you to loosen the collet nut with only one wrench.

If your router doesn’t have this feature, you’ll need two wrenches to change bits. Spindle locks tend to malfunction on cheap routers, so your best bet is to look for a router designed for professionals.

 Many of the palm routers available today have square or rectangular bases, which are helpful when you need to route against a straightedge. It’s easy to keep the router on a straight path by keeping the flat edge of the base against whatever you’re using as a guide. Circular router bases aren’t always perfectly symmetrical.

When they’re not, your bits can be off center by 1/32” or more. If you’re routing against a straightedge and you rotate the base even slightly, your cut can end up being crooked. A circular base doesn’t have to be a deal breaker, but it’s something to think about if you’re going to route a lot of dados with a straightedge as a guide.

Variable Speed Control

Dust Collection

 The ability to adjust spindle speed isn’t usually as important in a palm router as it is in a full-size router. You can’t use large diameter bits, so you shouldn’t ever need to slow the router down, unless you’re working with metal.

Spindle speeds for routing metal are fairly slow, so variable speed comes in handy if you incorporate aluminum, brass or copper into your work. If you use a palm router in your CNC machine, variable speed control will open up all sorts of possibilities for working with different materials. Many manufacturers offer palm routers with variable speed control, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding one you like.

If you use a palm router in your CNC machine, variable speed control will open up all sorts of possibilities for working with different materials. Many manufacturers offer palm routers with variable speed control, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding one you like.

 Dust is a fact of life in the woodshop, but tool manufacturers have come up with some creative ways to keep the air in your shop as clean as possible. The Rocky 30 Trim Router from MLCS Woodworking comes with a dust-collection attachment that allows you to connect your shop vacuum or dust collector.

It does a fine job of sucking up dust and woodchips. If you can afford it, Festool makes the 574368 MFK 700 EQ, a fantastic little palm router with a combination vertical/horizontal base.

Plunge Base

Accessories

 The first palm routers had fixed bases. Today, you’ll find a few other convenient options. The Bosch PR20EVSPK 5.6-Amp Colt Combo Kit comes with fixed and plunge bases. A plunge base is a useful accessory for a palm router. It’s great for inlay work, mortising and a lot more. DeWalt and Porter Cable also offer fixed and plunge base palm router kits.  Before you buy a palm router, find out what accessories work with it. Manufacturers usually offer their own edge guides, dust collection attachments and baseplates. You can also find some aftermarket items for popular routers.

Best compact router comparison table

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Bosch PR20EVSK Colt router

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Bosch PR20EVSPK palm router

best-compact-routerPorter Cable 450PK palm router

best-palm-routerDeWalt DWP611 trim router

best-palm-router
Porter Cable PCE6435 trim router


Router Type


Fixed & Plunge

Fixed-base

Fixed-base

Fixed-base

Fixed & Plunge

Fixed & Plunge

Fixed-base

Fixed-base

Horsepower


1-1/4

1

1

1

1

1-1/4

1-1/4

1-1/4

Collet Diameter


1/4″

1/4″

1/4″

1/4″

1/4"

1/4"

1/4"

1/4"

RPM


16,000 - 27,000

10,000 - 26,000

10,000 - 30,000

15,000 - 35,000

16,000 - 35,000

up to 27,000

up to 27,000

16,000 - 35,000

Weight
(Pound)


8

11.3

5.6

11.8

14.6

10

5.5

5.2

Dimensions (inches)


7 x 10.2 x 19.2

6.4 x 6.4 x 15.5

10 x 8 x 6

15 x 13 x 8

21.5 x 16.2 x 7.2

19.2 x 10.2 x 7

5.6 x 11.5 x 7.3

8.3 x 8.3 x 5.8

The Best Palm Router list

You’ve learned about what palm routers are and what they do. Now, here’s a look at ten of the best palm routers, starting with the least expensive. These are all excellent tools, so choose one that fits your budget and has the features you need most.

MLCS Woodworking Rocky 30 Trim Router

Palm-router

This version of the Rocky Trim Router is one of the easiest to use while at the same time very efficient in delivering service. The new MLCS 9056 Rocky Trim Router has added features that compliment it’s already high ranking profile. It boasts of a high-performance 1-HP motor speed adjustable from 10,000rpm to 30,000rpm by only using a speed control dial located at the top of the motor.

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  • Its 1-HP motor speed is variable from 10,000 rpm to 30,000 rpm making it fairly versatile
  • It has a 1″ long rule fixed into the aluminum housing marked in 1/16″ as well as 1mm long increments.
  • The motor is double insulated and includes a spindle-locking button to expedite single wrench bit changes.
  • The MLCS 9056 Rocky Trim Router has a rack and pinion height adjustment system employed in adjusting the motor’s height.
  • This version of the Rocky Trim Router possesses a rubber pad that partly wraps the base and offers a positive gripping surface whenever the router is held in the palm.
  • The MLCS 9056 Rocky Trim Router is a heavy duty machine yet a very easy to use router.
  •  At times the router becomes hot and smells as if it’s burning when in intensive use

Bosch PR20EVSK Colt

Palm-router-bosh-colt

The Bosch PR20EVSK Colt is one of the bestselling and most reviewed routers today. It’s a versatile tool perfect for performing custom carpentry, mortising hinges, and trimming laminate flooring/deck planks among other professional and at-home based jobs. With it comes a big power package, small but compact. The Bosch PR20EVSK Colt has a powerful motor, variable speed and has an adjustable depth to ensure precise results. Also, it has a package of user-friendly features for comfort, flexibility, and reliability. This version of the Bosch routers has constant response circuitry for stable motor speed.

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  • Efficient cooling while in intensive use
  •  Its Speed dial is variable and is easily accessible. It’s located on the router’s top
  • It has an indicator to let you know which direction the bit is going to take while rotating.
  • Unlock/lock mark on the side of the router
  • The angled cord maintains the cable away from the work area thus limiting chances of it being cut off while in active session
  • The Bosch PR20EVSK Colt has a soft start thus reducing start-up torque
  • Comes with an edge guide. The PR002
  • May not be easy to use for beginners
  • In rare instances, the power output was discovered to be insufficient
  • The base can at times prove to be very slippery
  • The fixed base limits its plunge base performance.
  • The location of the adjustment wheel makes it somewhat difficult to adjust the depth

Makita RT0701C 1-1/4 HP Compact Router

Palm-router-makita

This router is a 1-1/4 HP compact router with adjustable speed control allowing to make it run from 10,000 to 30,000 RPM. The RT0701C is an amazing piece of engineering, able to perform a wide range of routing applications. The complete set comes with additional features such as a soft start feature. Durability is assured through a double insulation using a heavy-duty motor housing made of aluminium.

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  • Soft start to minimize the start torque of the motor. This is achieved through a 6 1/2 Amp 1-1/4 Horsepower Motor
  • Equipped with a variable speed control that goes from 1-6. This gives speed options of between 10,000 to 30,000 RPM depending on the application.
  • Equiped with a depth adjustment system allowing for precise settings.
  • Electronic speed control that ensures constant speed when put under load
  • Changeable base allows for other base types to be used together with this router
  • It has a Durable flat top design for easy changing of bits
  • Comfort and control are guaranteed through a slim and ergonomically designed body
  • The power switch does not have a dust shield
  • The motor is likely to drop when the base is unlocked
  • It requires two wrenches to change the bits
  • Does not have a micro depth adjustment

Ridgid 1-1/2 Horsepower Compact Router

Palm-router-ridgid

The RIDGID 1-1/2 HP Compact Router brings with it an exciting mix of features that allows for precision, admirable performance as well as durability. It has a soft start to minimize start-up motor torque thus extending the life of the motor. It also features adjustable speed control for different applications and material type. Depth control is assured through the introduction of a micro adjust dial. The most common version is the #R24012 model.

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  • It has a LED light to illuminate your work station (increased visibility)
  • A soft start to minimize the start-up torque as well as extend motor life
  • Variable speed control allows for diverse application and material type
  • It features a spindle lock for easy bit changes
  • A round and square base allow room for more convenience and versatility in your workstation
  • It also has an easy access micro adjust dial for precise depth adjustments
  • The RIDGID 1-1/2 HP Compact Router has an electronic feedback system for consistent power and speed
  • It has a dust shield to control the direction of dust.
  • Motor I easily removal from the base through a quick release lever
  • Flat top allows router to sit upside down while changing bits
  • It’s corded meaning the cord may get cut off when the router is under load
  • The horse length is only 8feet

Porter Cable PCE6435

Palm-router

The Porter-Cable PCE6435 Laminate Trimmer is of one the best laminate trimmer available today. It packages a lot of features that ensures precision, utmost performance, and control. The Porter-Cable PCE6435 Laminate Trimmer has an onboard LED for improved visibility, adjustable speed ranging from 16000-35000 RPM as well as a 5.6 amp motor for power and durability. The ergonomics provide for increased handling and comfort. It can be single-handedly controlled. It’s best for most trimming, hinge routing and small edge forming applications.

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  • Has a variable speed ranging between 16000 and 35,000 RPM in addition to a 5.6 amp motor for  power and durability needed for cutting various materials
  • It’s most ideal for most trimming, hinge routing and small edge forming applications
  • Onboard LED offers improved visibility in the work station
  • It can be single-handedly controlled given the amazing ergonomics
  • Its precision is machined and has a cast-aluminum fixed base for long term durability
  • Motor release and depth adjustment is made easy using an extra-large locking clips
  • Depth rings attached to this laminate trimmer also provides for accurate and quick bit height adjustments
  • Additional spindle lock button is included for single-wrench bit changes
  • It has a 1/4 in. collet
 Slightly heavy

DeWalt DWP611

Palm-router-Dwalt

DEWALT DWP611PK 1.25 HP Max Torque Variable Speed Compact Router offers an excellent mix of characteristics that put it above fellow compact routers. This router is easy to use, has power and its ergonomic features provides for efficient handling, visibility, and overall performance. This router is capable of handling a variety of applications ranging from small bevel cuts to large edge profile, heavy flush trimming or as dictated by the application. Moreover, this Dewalt masterpiece has an additional LED light for illumination of a workstation. The complete package comes with a fixed base but can as well integrate well with plunge bases.

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  • LED allows provides extra illumination onto what you are working on, giving you clear view on all angles
  • A special ergonomic assembly (handle) allows you to efficiently handle the router, especially when shifting from plunge to base or vice versa
  • This router is perfectly compact and has few limitations on what workspace you can operate in
  • It has different speeds that suit different applications and materials. It can do up to 27000RPM
  • It also has a soft starting motor which means low torque on start-up. This extends motor’s life
  • Additional adjustment ring allows for bit depth changes to within 1/64
  • Two tabs are included to allow quick and easy release of the base
  • A new adjustable clamp design to maintain the router/base position even in difficult applications
  • The handle would offer more grip ability if rubber were used instead of aluminum.
  • Does not allow for side handles except for the base only.
  • Would have offered more service were it cordless
  • Slightly expensive, given of its neighbors

Porter Cable 450PK

Palm-router-porter-cable

This router features 1-1/4 HP, is a fixed/plunge router with a powerful palm-grip. The Porter Cable 450PK is capable of handling both light and heavy duty woodwork tasks despite its light weight.

This is partly made possible because this router does integrate easily into both fixed and plunge arrangements.

You will need this masterpiece whether you are a woodworking professional or a DIY type. It’s the recommended router for cabinet construction, sign making, decorative cutting and even delicate inlay work.

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  • Comfort and control are assured by it being excellently compact and lightweight in design.
  • The 1.25HP motor is amazingly durable and delivers power irrespective of the technicality of the application.
  •  It has a soft start motor with an all-round clock electronic feedback mechanism for speed maintenance throughout your on-load session
  • Bit depth control is guaranteed through the adjustable ring, can be brought to within 1/64.”
  • Single wrench bit changes can comfortably be achieved through the large, low-pressure spindle lock button
  • The motor can be maintained in any desired position with the aid of the Depth ring and clamping mechanism. This is for fixed base only
  • Precise depth setting has been made possible by the inclusion of a fine-tune adjustment rod in the plunge base
  • The Motor can easily be converted from fixed to plunge bases orientations
  • Stability is guaranteed by having a large plunge base platform
  • Extended 8-slot 1/4″ collet allows for a tighter grip by maximizing surface contact with router bit shank
  • It may prove somewhat difficult to use on jigs as the bits may not reach the area to be cut.
  • May not have enough horsepower for anything larger than ¼ cutter flute or round over

DeWalt DWP611PK

Palm-router-Dewalt

The DEWALT DWP611PK is a 1-1/4 HP router featuring variable speed control. It shares a lot of features with the Porter cable 450PK 1-1/4 HP.

The DWP611PK combines power, performance, comfort, convenience and precision all in one package. A powerful 1-1/4 motor for power does a fantastic job just as the LED that provides illumination on the working area.

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  • Features a marker to control the depth of the bits for plunge use.
  • Rubber handles, included for a firm grip.
  • Dual LEDs ensure max visibility while in operation.
  • Speed control for various applications.
  • Motor with a soft starter.
  • Depth travel for up to 1.5 inch.
  • Allows for exceptional user control given its smooth depth stroke
  • A 5 step adjustable turret stop enables stepped plunge cuts for precision and consistency.
  • Features a couple of tabs for a quick base release.
  • An added feature of a new base and adjustable clamp, to have motor location kept in position through toughest uses.
  • Router collet of a size of 1/4 inch.
  • Up to 3 years warranty coverage.
  • It at times melts out parts during extensive use, for example, brushes
  • A 1/4″ collet may be a limiting bit choice
  • The d-shape may not accept all standard guide bushings

Bosch PR20EVSPK

Palm-router-bosh

This cold palm router is of a variable speed type and is proven to be an exceptionally versatile tool. It is of those routers good for performing mortising hinges, trimming laminate flooring, deck planks.

It is a robust router featuring a 1 HP and allowing a speed variation from 15,000 to 35,000 RPM. Its soft-start help reduce startup torque. When the router is working overload, its constant feedback circuitry monitors and maintains the speed for consistent performance.

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  • 1.0 HP output for extensive routing applications both at-home and professional jobs
  • Variable speed
  • A Soft Start  that reduces torque at start-up for extended motor life
  • Circuitry for monitoring and maintaining the speed when router is under load.
  • Angled cord to make sure the cord is kept far out of the way
  • The PR20EVSPK  has a rough plunge base combined effortless plunge action as well as a depth rod with micro fine adjustment and a plunge lock release lever
  • The PR20EVSPK  boasts of a fast & precise depth adjustment systems
  • The PR20EVSPK  has a comfortable grip area  and is probably the best on the market
  • Multipurpose and fast bit changing system
  • The push button Spindle Lock ‘s hard to maneuver but may be avoided using two wrenches
  • No dust cover over power switch
  • Notches and markings are missing on the edge guide
  • It may get very hot during usage which calls for usage of gloves

Festool 574368 MFK 700 EQ Modular Trim Router Set

Palm-router-Festool

The Festool 574368 router is designed to suit all your shop-based and job site trim routing needs and offers unbeatable precision and flexibility. Its systematic design added to its multiple base options delivers a swift transformation from vertical to horizontal routing positions. Comfort and control are well taken care of in this masterpiece of a router by having the base relatively wide and an easy-to-grip handle.

The manufacturers added even more amazing features as can be seen in its micro-adjustability, a ratcheting collet, and repeatable depth stops. You can use it with bearing-less bits when combined with the attachable feeler bearing. Dust extraction allows for increased visibility and saves you clean up time. This Festool router has a warranty coverage of up to 3 years.

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  • The 720 watt motor is capable of handling most trimming, routing and profiling applications
  • Variable speed
  • Detachable cord.
  • The inclusion of a Threaded insert allows for integration with template guides. This provides for a smooth glide on a surface without the need to mar the material to be routed.
  • Dust extraction port allows you to attach a vacuum dust extractor.
  • A Multi-Material Control (MMC) Electronics guarantees the motor of the MFK 700 delivers a constant spindle speed when under load.
  • The MFK 700 Router features a one-wrench collet.
  • A tool-less base system for quick and easy change between the horizontal and vertical bases supplied with the MFK 700.
  • Super Fine Micro-Adjustment
  •  This router is quite expensive

Conclusion

Routers are very handy tools in the woodworking industry and knowing which router suits best in what working conditions or for which specific tasks is goldmine kind of knowledge. Our review focuses most on the key features that distinguish these routers and what makes them suit particular tasks. We also have highlighted a few disadvantages of each of these routers that users have come so you get a balanced approach to router review.

We hope you enjoyed reading and obtained valuable information that influences your next router purchase.

Best wood router reviews

The router is arguably the most important tool in woodworking. You can make dovetails, box joints, lock miters, decorative molding and a whole lot more with a router. If you’re serious about getting into woodworking, this tool should definitely be in your collection. Before you buy your first router, you should know exactly what options are available so you can get the one that’s right for your needs. Let’s investigate what makes the best wood router.

Wood-router-reviews-min

10 Things You Need to Know to help select the best wood router

Fixed Base Routers

Plunge Base Routers

Many routers come with what’s known as a fixed-base, which means that the cutting depth will remain fixed during operation.

Best Wood RouterTo use a fixed-based router, you install a bit in the router collet (more on that later) and set the depth of cut by adjusting a ring on the outside of the router base. Then you lock the base in position before making a cut.Because the bit sticks out beyond the base of the router when you start the cut, a fixed-base router is most appropriate for operations in the edges of boards.

It’s excellent at creating decorative profiles for doors, drawers and tables.  A fixed-base router is also a great tool for joinery like dovetails, box joints, lock miters, rabbets and dados. You’ll need a router table for a lot of joinery work, but you can do an impressive number of joints without one.

Good fixed-base routers include the Porter Cable 690LR, DeWalt DW616, Bosch 1617 and Milwaukee 5616. Craftsman makes a decent entry-level router (model #2767) that will stand up to light use.

When routing with a plunge base, you start with the router bit above the work and then “plunge” it into your material. You do this by pressing a lever that allows the bit to slide downwards. This is extremely helpful when cutting a mortise into the face of a board.

It’s also perfect for routing inlays or using guide bushings and templates. Many projects that would be difficult or impossible with a fixed-base router are easy with a plunge base.

Best Wood RouterThe DeWalt DW612 is an excellent plunge router with useful features like variable speed and a built-in dust collection port. It accepts ¼” and ½” collets, so you’ll be able to use any router bit you want, and it has plenty of power (2HP).

Combination Kits

Plunge and Fixed Bases

Most router manufacturers offer kits that contain fixed and plunge bases. If you don’t want to be limited by your router base, consider getting one of these kits. You’ll be able to switch between the two bases, and some woodworkers like to keep one mounted in a router table at all times while using the other for handheld operations. It’s usually less expensive to buy a kit than to buy the bases separately, so you might want to get both up front if you think you may need two.

DeWalt’s DW618K kit is a great value. You’ll get variable speed, 2-1/4 horsepower, plus ¼” and ½” collets. The 693LRPK kit from Porter Cable is another good deal for about the same price, but it doesn’t come with the variable speed option and has a lower horsepower rating. However, this router is a workhorse and you’ll find it in just about every professional woodworking shop.

Bosch makes the 1617EVSPK kit with variable speed soft start, 2-1/4 horsepower and two collet sizes.

Variable speed

Soft Start

Not all routers come with variable speed, but it’s a handy option because it allows you to use bits of all sizes. Small bits can be operated at high RPMs, but the bigger the bit, the slower it needs to spin.

Some woodworking routers are capable of speeds up to 35,000 RPMs, which is way too fast for a large bit like a lock miter. To use large diameter bits, you’ll need a router with variable speed. You simply dial the speed up or down to something appropriate for the bit you’re using.

Even routers without variable speeds can be adjusted for bigger bits with the use of an external variable speed control. There are several models available that allow you to adjust your router’s speed simply by turning a dial. An external speed control isn’t cheap; expect to pay about $50 for a good one. For this reason, it might be wise to invest in a router with built-in variable speed.

When you turn on a router, it immediately spins at full speed, unless it has what’s known as soft-start. Routers with this feature slowly ramp up to full speed, which is much safer with large bits that can cause the router to jerk during start-up. Soft-start is especially helpful on routers over 2 horsepower.

You don’t want a router to jump out of your hands when you turn it on, and the larger models have enough power to take off if you don’t have a tight grip.

Collets

Best Wood Router

To put a bit in your router, you insert it into what’s called a collet and tighten the collet nut. The collet clamps the bit in place. Router collets come in ¼” and ½” diameters. Although some routers can use both, some can’t.

Many routers that are designed for homeowners or hobbyists come with ¼” collets and can only be used with bits that have ¼” shanks. If you choose a router that only accepts these smaller shanks, your choice of bits will be limited. Most professional routers come with ¼” and ½” collets, so look for brands that are made for people in the trade, like Porter Cable, DeWalt, Makita, Milwaukee, Bosch and Festool.

Guide Bushings

Inlay Kit

A router might be the best joinery-making tool you’ll ever use, and to make the most of its capabilities, you’ll want to invest in some quality guide bushings. To route mortises, inlays or anything that requires a template, you install a guide bushing in your router’s base plate. The bushing follows the edges of the template during routing so that you end up with just the right shape.

You’ll also need a bushing if you want to route half-blind or through dovetails for drawers or casework. There are several dovetail jigs on the market, but they all work basically the same way. The router bushing follows an aluminum template to cut the shape of the dovetails into your work pieces.

Before purchasing a router, find out what kind of guide bushings it will accept. Most dovetail jigs, inlay templates and other commercially available fixtures are made for routers that can use Porter-Cable style bushings. Some manufacturers make their own bushings, which won’t fit on routers made by other companies. If you end up getting a router that won’t accept Porter Cable bushings, it doesn’t mean you can’t use them. You can purchase an aftermarket base plate adapter, but you’ll spend a little more money than you would by getting a router that comes from the manufacturer with the correct base plate.

Horsepower

Laminate Trimmers

Routers come in a variety of horsepower ratings, from 1 to about 3-1/2. Depending on what you want to do, you may be able to get away with a smaller router. However, if you’d like to be able to make raised panel doors or crown molding, you should shell out a little extra cash for something more powerful.

The Porter Cable 690LR is the industry standard router, and it’s rated at 1-3/4 horsepower. That’s enough muscle to handle dados, dovetails, decorative edges and other joinery work on a daily basis. It’s also adequate for occasional heavy-duty routing with panel raising and crown molding bits.

Most hobbyist woodworkers will probably never need anything bigger than the 690LR, but for those who want to do a lot of work with big bits, a 3-1/4 horsepower router is a better choice. For demanding jobs on a regular basis, something like the Porter Cable 7538 or the Makita RO2301 would be a good fit. Big routers like these are pricier than the lower horsepower models, but they’re worth when you need something with serious power.

Are you planning to do a lot of joinery and decorative profiles with your new router, or do you just need something for light trimming tasks? Laminate trimmers are small routers that can be operated with one hand. They’re designed to trim laminate and veneer, but can be used for a variety of other jobs.

For example, hobby CNC machines are usually equipped with laminate trimmers and are capable of routing signs, guitar bodies, templates, solid wood, plastic and even non-ferrous metals like aluminum. A few manufacturers even make plunge bases for their laminate trimmers, which opens up even more possibilities like inlay work and mortising.

The DeWalt DWP611PK is an excellent laminate trimmer that comes with fixed and plunge bases. For something a little more entry level, the Rocky 30 Trim Router is one of the few laminate trimmers available with variable speed. It also includes a built-in dust collection port, another feature you won’t find in most routers of this size.

Router Tables

To turn your router into a joinery-making powerhouse, you’ll need a good router table. The router mounts in the table upside down, and instead of running the router over the work piece, you run the work piece over the router. You might be surprised at just how much this expands the tool’s capabilities.

Parts that are too small to work with a handheld router can be safely machined in a router table. You can install feather boards and hold-downs in the table to control the stock and produce more accurate cuts. Joints that would otherwise be impossible are easy: lock-miters, finger joints, cope-and-stick joints and many others can be safely cut on the router table.

When shopping for a router table, look for something with a split fence. This means that the fence can be adjusted on either side of the bit, allowing you to increase or decrease the opening size according to the bit diameter. You don’t want a big gap between the bit and the fence, which could allow chunks of material to get stuck during operation, so get something that can be adjusted to provide the smallest gap possible.

Kreg, MLCS Woodworking, Bench Dog, and Woodpeckers make excellent router tables and fences. Some of their products can be expensive, depending on the options you choose to include. To get started, a simple phenolic or laminated table and split fence should be just fine. In fact, many commercial woodworking shops never use anything fancier. But, if you do want all the bells and whistles like a micro-adjustable fence and above-the-table router lift, go for it. Just know that you’re going to spend as much as $1000.

For a less-expensive option, you can build your own router table. All you need is a flat piece of material like MDF or particleboard for the surface and fence, plus some 2x4s for the stand. To minimize friction, apply plastic laminate to the table top and fence. You can find dozens of plans for router tables online. If you have some basic tools like a miter saw and a drill, you should easily be able to build your own router table.

The best wood router comparison table

best-router-for-woodworking

DEWALT DWP611PK

best-wood-router

Bosch 1617EVSPK

best-wood-router

DEWALT DW618PK

best-wood-router

Black & Decker RP250

best-wood-router

Porter-Cable 690LR

best-wood-router

Bosch PR20EVSK

best-wood-router

DEWALT DW616

best-wood-router

SKIL 1830


Router Type


Fixed & Plunge

Fixed & Plunge

Fixed & Plunge

Plunge

Fixed

Fixed

Fixed

Fixed & Plunge

Horsepower


1-1/4

2-1/4

2-1/4

1-1/4

1-3/4

1

1-3/4

2-1/4

RPM


27000

25000

24000

27000

27500

35000

24500

25000

Depth Stop


5

5

2

5

4

5

5

4

Base Dimension


4 3/8″ x 5 3/4″

6″ x 6-11/16″

6″ x 5-3/4″

4-1/2″ x 6-1/4″

5.5″ x 4 3/4″

3-1/2″ x 3-3/4″

6″ x 6″

6″ x 6″

Collet Diameter


1/4″

6″ Fixed
6-11/16″ Plunge

1/2″, 1/4″

1/4″

0.25″

1/4″

1/2″, 1/4″

1/2″

Weight
(Pound)


10.3

19.5

22.4

10.9

9.4

3.3

7.1

14.4

Height


7″

7"


9.13"

11.5″

8.625"

14.6″

7.25″

10.5″

Depth


19.25″

21.5″

15.88″

11.9″

12″

15.7″

10.75″

16.75″

Width


10.25″

16.25″

24″

6.6″

5.5″

4.9″

9.25″

10.5″

Functionalities

best-router-for-woodworking

DEWALT DWP611PK

best-wood-router

Bosch 1617EVSPK

best-wood-router

DEWALT DW618PK

best-wood-router

Black & Decker RP250

best-wood-router

Porter-Cable 690LR

best-wood-router

Bosch PR20EVSK

best-wood-router

DEWALT DW616

best-wood-router

SKIL 1830

Variable Speed
YES
YES
YES
YES
YES
YES
Shaft Lock
YES
YES
YES
Multiple Base
YES
YES
YES
YES
YES
Spindle Lock Button
YES
YES
YES
YES
Spindle Lock
YES
YES
YES
Aluminum Motor
Housing
YES
YES
YES

Final thought

When selecting your first router, look for the best combination of features, durability and price. Most of the professional-grade routers are comparable in quality and will come with both ¼” and ½” collets. Before purchasing a model designed for hobbyists like a Craftsman or Skil, make sure it doesn’t take only ¼” bits, unless you’re sure you won’t ever need anything larger.

Three BitsTo get the most out of your router, you’ll probably want variable speed and a plunge base. The fixed/plunge base kits are great options that can save you a little money.

Professional woodworkers usually work with Porter Cable, DeWalt or Bosch routers, so you can be confident that anything from these manufacturers should be able to handle your woodworking projects.

Finally, if you’re looking for a recommendation for the best overall value in a router, check out the DeWalt DW618K fixed/plunge kit mentioned above. You can’t beat the combination of power and features. It also comes with an adapter for Porter Cable style guide bushings, a handy accessory for template work.

Wood router reviews

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Triton TRA001 3-1/4 HP Plunge Router review
Dewalt DWP611PK review: Router Combo
Fixed Base vs. Plunge Router: Which one is the best?