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.

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

Best Compact Router Comparison Table: Top Three

  DeWalt DWP611 MLCS Rocky Trim Router Bosch PR20EVSK Colt
Router Type Fixed and Plunge Fixed Base Fixed Base
Horsepower 1-1/4 1 1
Collet Diameter ¼” ¼” ¼”
RPM 16,000-27,000 10,000-30,000 15,000-35,000
Weight (Pound) 8 5.6 11.8
Dimensions (Inches) 7 x 10.2 x 19.2 10 x 8 x 6 15 x 13 x 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.

1. DeWalt DWP611

The DEWALT DWP611PK is a 1-1/4 HP router featuring variable speed control. This Dewalt router shares many 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 provides illumination on the working area.

Pros

  • 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 inches
  • 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 of warranty coverage

Cons

  • 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

2. MLCS Woodworking Rocky 30 Trim 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 complement its already high-ranking profile. It boasts a high-performance 1-HP motor speed adjustable from 10,000 rpm to 30,000 rpm by only using a speed control dial located at the top of the motor.

Pros

  • 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 a router

Cons

  • At times the router becomes hot and smells as if it’s burning when in intensive use

3. Bosch PR20EVSK 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 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.

Pros

  • 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 an active session
  • The Bosch PR20EVSK Colt has a soft start, thus reducing startup torque
  • It comes with an edge guide

Cons

  • 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

4. Makita RT0701C 1-1/4 HP Compact Router

This Makita RT0701C compact router is a 1-1/4 HP compact router with adjustable speed control, allowing it to 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 double insulation using a heavy-duty motor housing made of aluminum.

Pros

  • A 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 variable speed control that goes from 1-6. This gives speed options of between 10,000 to 30,000 RPM depending on the application
  • Equipped with a depth adjustment system allowing for precise settings
  • Electronic speed control that ensures constant speed when putting 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

Cons

  • 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

5. Ridgid 1-1/2 Horsepower Compact Router

The RIDGID 1-1/2 HP Compact Router brings with it an exciting mix of features that allow for precision, admirable performance as well as durability. It has a soft start to minimize startup motor torque, extending its life.

It also features adjustable speed control for different applications and material types. Depth control is assured through the introduction of a micro-adjust dial. The most common version is the #R24012 model.

Pros

  • It has a LED light to illuminate your work station (increased visibility)
  • A soft start to minimize the startup 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 allows 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
  • The motor is easily removed from the base through a quick-release lever
  • Flat top allows the router to sit upside down while changing bits

Cons

  • It’s corded, meaning the cord may get cut off when the router is under load
  • The horse length is only 8 feet

6. Porter-Cable PCE6435

The Porter-Cable PCE6435 Laminate Trimmer is one of the best laminate trimmer options available today. It packs many features that ensure 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, and 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.

Pros

  • 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 workstation
  • 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 extra-large locking clips
  • Depth rings attached to this laminate trimmer also provides for accurate and quick bit height adjustments
  • The additional spindle lock button is included for single-wrench bit changes
  • It has a 1/4 in. collet

Cons

  • Slightly heavy

7. Makita RT0701CX7 1-1/4 HP

Makita RT0701CX7 1.25 HP offers an excellent mix of characteristics. This router is easy to use, has power, and its ergonomic features provide for efficient handling, visibility, and overall performance.

This router can handle various applications ranging from small bevel cuts to large edge profiles, heavy flush trimming, or as dictated by the application. Moreover, this Makita masterpiece has a smooth rack and pinion depth adjustment system for precise settings. The complete package comes with a fixed base but integrates well with plunge bases.

Pros

  • 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 30000RPM
  • It also has a soft starting motor which means low torque on startup. This extends the 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
  • low noise level

Cons

  • The edge guide works only with the standard base
  • A different edge guide is needed if you wish to use the plunge base for straight-line work

8. Ryobi P601 Fixed Base Trim Router

The Ryobi P601 One+ fixed base trim router comes equipped with a ton of premium features you would expect the best palm router to have. However, keep in mind that you are only getting the hand tool with the purchase of this best trim router. You have to purchase its battery separately.

Pros

  • Onboard LED light allows you to see more clearly as you work, providing you with optimal lighting conditions for every project
  • The gripzone overmold allows you to maintain a firm grip using the rubber coating. This is especially helpful in slippery conditions, or you need more precise handling
  • With the depth adjustment knob, you can fine-tune the depth of each cut with its easy to use knob
  • The aluminum base is sturdy and will keep the hand tool stable as you work
  • This trim router is also One+ compatible, so you can use a variety of Ryobi 18V lithium-ion batteries with this tool
  • Trim router is incredibly easy to use
  • Its small, compact size makes it easy to store when it is not in use
  • It is a cordless trim router, making it easy to maneuver and use on small jobs

Cons

  • Battery is sold separately
  • No way to mount this tool to a table

9. GoPlus Wood Router Tool Combo

This GoPlus Wood Router Tool Combo is 1.25 horsepower. It is a compact router with a fixed and plunge base, variable speed, and strong power, making it the ideal tool combo for all your woodworking and furniture manufacturing projects. You have many buying options when it comes to this palm router. You can purchase the kit with one base, two bases, or four bases, so you will have exactly what you need for every project.

Pros

  • Its 6.5 amp motor features a maximum horsepower of 1.25. The 710w compact router also provides reliable power, perfect for a variety of applications
  • The round base is the basic base a woodworker requires and is good for most cutting, trimming, and grooving. The plunge router base can be adjusted conveniently when needed. Having these options makes your project go smoothly
  • The attached dust cover can be combined with a vacuum cleaner to reduce the spattering of sawdust as you work
  • Allows for precise depth adjustment
  • The palm router is made from aluminum and nylon materials, making it sturdy and durable.
  • The GoPlus router kit combo has everything you need to start your woodworking project.
  • Affordable price point that is good for a beginner woodworker

Cons

  • The motor can get warm while you work, so you may want to wear a pair of gloves

10. Metabo HPT Trim Router

The Metabo HPT is a cordless trim router with a variable speed brushless motor. The variable speed dial of this tool controls its 10-30,000 RPM power. The Metabo HPT weighs just 2.5 pounds and is considered almost 26% lighter than many of its competitors.

Pros

  • The variable speed dial of this best wood router offers speeds between 10,000 and 30,000 revolutions per minute
  • It features the Metabo HPT signature ergonomic grip and has a one-handed power and trigger system, making it easy to hold and easy to operate
  • The mounting option is ambidextrous, making it a convenient base mounting option
  • Equipped with a bright LED light that illuminates the workspace and helps you maintain accuracy throughout each project
  • Connect the dust collection port to a vacuum to eliminate the dust and mess as you work
  • Power tool comes with a ¼ inch and 3/8 inch collet, trimmer guide, straight guide, template, dust collection port, and a bit changing wrench
  • Cordless router, making it easy to maneuver and use

Cons

  • Comes with the power tool only. Battery must be purchased separately
  • On the higher end of the price spectrum, especially considering it is the bare tool with no battery included

Best Palm Router Uses

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. Quarter-inch 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 cutting 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.

Best Palm Router Buying Guide

Now let’s take a look at some features and characteristics to keep in mind when shopping for the best palm router for your next woodworking project.

Spindle Locks

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.

Square and Circular Bases

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

 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, a variable speed dial 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 Collection

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.

Plunge Base or Fixed Base

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 router 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 offers fixed and plunge base palm router kits.

A fixed base is considered the standard for a palm router. They also typically have fixed handles and knobs on both sides for guiding the tool. A fixed base router can be mounted to a router table; however, it can only perform edge routing applications.

Depth Control

Setting the right depth control on your palm router can be difficult. When it is set too high, the palm router won’t work. If it is set too low, the cuts may be too shallow. You want to find a palm router that offers clear depth adjustment measurements. This allows you to clearly see the changes you are making to avoid mistakes while working.

Comfortable Grip

Since a router is a powerful tool, you want to maintain control at all times. To do this, you want something that offers a firm and comfortable grip. Safe handling of your router means keeping consistent contact. The best palm router will have a rubberized or wooden grip. Some also have handle-mounted switches, which are easy to learn and use.

Next, look at the body of the palm router and its contours. Since a palm router is on the smaller side, the entire body will be used as a handle. If the palm router fits in your hand as it should, you will have much better control over your hand tool.

Horsepower

The horsepower of a palm router tells you how it can handle dense materials and router bits. The best palm router should come in around 1.25 horsepower. If the tool is too strong, it becomes harder to control. However, if it is too weak, you will find yourself having to make more passes and plunging, which ends in much more friction and resistance.

Accessories

Before buying 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.

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 are goldmine kinds of knowledge. Our review focuses mostly 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 to so you get a balanced approach to router review.

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