A wood router is an incredibly versatile power tool that belongs in any woodworker’s arsenal and is perfect for creating both basic and complex edges on a wide variety of materials. Whether you’re creating unique molding or you need a smooth finish, the router is the power tool for you. With practice, you can perform many woodworking tasks, and it’s especially beneficial for beginners.
Essentially, a wood router is a rotary tool that operates at high speeds. There are a wide variety of different bits available to choose from, and you can connect router bits to the end of the shaft of the motor. By using different bits, you’ll have a number of profiles you can apply to the edges of your materials.
A wood router is a great investment for many woodworkers. How do you ensure you find the best wood router for your skills and needs? The following are seven wood router reviews that show you some of the best options currently on the market.
Wood Router Comparison Chart
|Brand/Model (Click Item Text to Scroll to Review)||Rating|
|1. DeWalt DWP611PK Compact Router Combo Kit|
Our Top Pick for 2019
|2. Makita RT0701CX7 Compact Router Kit||9.7/10||CHECK PRICE|
|3. Bosch 1617EVSPK Combination Router Kit||9.6/10||CHECK PRICE|
|4. Makita XTR01Z Cordless Compact Router||9.6/10||CHECK PRICE|
|5. Porter-Cable 690LR Fixed-Base Router||9.5/10||CHECK PRICE|
|6. DeWalt DW616 Fixed Base Router||9.5/10||CHECK PRICE|
|7. Triton TRA001 Precision Plunge Router||9.4/10||CHECK PRICE|
Best Wood Router Reviews
1. DeWalt DWP611PK Compact Router Combo KitCLICK TO CHECK PRICE
This router kit by DeWalt is our team’s top choice. With a powerful motor that helps you through the toughest projects, it’s easy to use this tool and its electronic feedback maintains a constant motor speed, so you end up with smooth cuts. Its speed ranges from 16,000 to 27,000 RPM, and a variable speed features gives you control so you can optimize the bit speed for your specific application. This router allows up to 1 ½” of depth with its standard base, and 2” with its plunge base. You can make small, fine-tuned adjustments with the plunge base for precise settings.
It’s easy and simple to complete bit changes with multiple detents in the shaft lock, and DeWalt ensures that you experience simplicity as you use this power tool. All you need is a single wrench to complete bit changes, and this is completed comfortably with a large lock button. You get maximum visibility the entire time you operate with a clear sub-base that allows you to see the bit, and two LEDs. If you’re looking for optimal speed, precise adjustments, and fast bit changes, this router is the one for you.
Some users felt that this router is best for small projects and would not recommend running the tool for extended periods of time. Others also had trouble maintaining consistent speeds and felt that the motor can become bogged down. However, DeWalt makes the top of our list due to its power and ease of use.
2. Makita RT0701CX7 Compact Router KitCLICK TO CHECK PRICE
Makita pulls through with this excellent compact kit that provides you smooth cuts that you’re in complete control of. You can easily match the speed of the router to your project with Makita’s variable speed control dial, which goes from 10,000 to 30,000 RPM. For precise settings, you can use the router’s fine depth adjustment system, which features smooth rack-and pinion, and Makita is well known for its soft start feature. This feature gives you smooth start ups, so your cuts are precise and exactly you want from start to finish. The tool also maintains constant speed with electronic speed control.
On top of getting excellent control, you’ll also find increased comfort with this router. The body was ergonomically designed and is very slim and lightweight so it’s very easy to handle. It’s very easy to change the base and create depth adjustments due to the quick release cam lock system. The depth scales are easy to read and you can create precise settings. The router is even double-insulated with heavy duty aluminum, so this is among the most durable power tools you’ll have in your arsenal and you’ll have your investment for a long time.
Some users said that the shaft tends to bend out of shape very easily, and felt that this router had more vibration than many other brands, making it difficult to create precise and smooth cuts. The speed dial is also not ideal. Overall, however, when it comes to comfort, control, and consistent performance, the Makita is tough to beat.
3. Bosch 1617EVSPK Combination Router KitCLICK TO CHECK PRICE
Bosch’s router kit provides you with top tier power, comfort, and durability. You’ll find this wood router among the most powerful on the market with a 12-Amp motor and 8,000-25,000 RPM. Its speed control technology maintains and monitors whichever RPM you desire, so you get a consistent performance the whole way through. The power switch is completely dust-sealed so sawdust doesn’t get into the router, which can ruin its durability, and the housing and base is made of lightweight yet sturdy aluminum that makes the product one of Bosch’s most durable routers. Wooden handles feature a soft grip so you can work in comfort.
This router is also easy to use and incredibly versatile. The kit can be used for a wide variety of applications, such as dovetail cutting, laminate trimming, edge forming, and precise bit plunging. You get maximum control with the rounded hardwood handles, and the built-in Constant Response Circuitry, which Bosch is well known for, ensures your cut is created at a constant speed, delivering accurate and clean results. Its wide openings along the base and two-inch sub-base openings also give you great visibility to both the right and the left as you cut.
An overheated motor, sharp metal edges to the tool, and a flimsy depth stop were common issues with this router. However, it is a popular tool for its ease of use and comfort. Bosch also has faith in their product, and the router comes with a 30-day money back guarantee, one year service protection plan, and one year limited warranty.
4. Makita XTR01Z Cordless Compact RouterCLICK TO CHECK PRICE
Makita’s router was developed for a full range of woodworking applications and is perfect for your next project with dependable precision and smooth performance. It aims to provide you with all the power of a corded tool, with the convenience of going cordless, and is backed by an 18 Volt lithium-ion battery. Its brushless motor is very efficient and ensures a long run time, a longer tool life, and increased speed and power. It’s electronically controlled and uses energy efficiently to automatically match the RPM and torque of the router to the changing demands of your project.
With the variable control dial, you have control over your speeds from 10,000 to 30,000 RPM, and built-in speed control maintains the speed you’ve chosen, even under load. This way, you can ensure that the speed is just right for the application. Makita also keeps your safety in mind with a lock button for the on/off switch, which not only protects your tool but also prevents an accidental startup. Convenient features also include the smooth depth adjustment system which you can use to select precise settings, dual LED lights that illuminate your work surface, and a quick release lock system for quick and easy base installation or removal.
This purchase is for the bare tool only; the Makita 18V LXT lithium ion battery and chargers are sold separately. Users also felt that this router is not compact or easy to maneuver, since it’s top heavy, and the ergonomics are not ideal.
5. Porter-Cable 690LR Fixed-Base RouterCLICK TO CHECK PRICE
This router by Porter-Cable is fixed base only and features a powerful 11 Amp, single-speed motor that supports up to 27,500 RPM for cuts that are smooth and precise. A cam-lock lever enables you to make height adjustments simply and easily, and it functions for motor release from the fixed base. Both the base and the motor housing was developed from precision-machined aluminum, creating a lightweight yet durable power tool. The depth adjuster features a micrometer, and is accurate to the 1/128 inch.
It’s very easy to remove your bit from the router when you’re finished with the auto-release collet system. The included collets accept both ½” and ¼” shank bits, which adds convenience. And under table stop prevents the motor from accidentally rotating out of base, ensuring that you’re able to complete your project, and even if you’re working all day, routing is made comfortable and easy with two handles that are strategically placed and feature overmolded grips. You can use this router for an extended period of time, and you’ll have the tool itself for a long time as well due to a sealed ball bearing and dust-sealed switch, which enhance overall durability.
Although this router is very easy and comfortable to use and it provides very accurate cuts, some users believed that it’s tough to tighten the bit, and the motor may release sparks. People also had their router stop working even though there was nothing wrong with the brushes and felt that this tool is not built to last.
6. DeWalt DW616 Fixed Base RouterCLICK TO CHECK PRICE
This fixed base router is the second tool from DeWalt to make our list. This one features an 11 Amp motor that powers smoothly through even the toughest material and has the maximum motor HP available. Removal and bit or base changes are quick and easy with a quick-release latch, and the adjustable, tool-free steel motor has a cam lock so you can make depth adjustments and base changes fast. A micro-fine depth adjustment ring provides very precise adjustments; you can change the depth in 1/64” increments.
You’ll be able to see the bit you’re working with and receive enhanced base durability with the router’s clear LEXAN sub-base plate. The flat top makes it easy to change bits and depths, and overall the tool is very easy to use. Its aluminum base and motor is precise and durable, yet lightweight, and the handles are rubber and overmolded so you get great comfort and control. The router was even designed to have a low center of gravity, which naturally balances the tool and makes it easier to handle. The switch is dust-sealed, providing a longer life for the switch and the tool overall.
Just like any other router however, some users did have issues with this tool. It can be difficult to tighten bits and when you try, it’s easy to strip the bit. The motor also tends to burn up after a short period of time, and the clamp that secures the motor to the base easily becomes loose as you’re working.
7. Triton TRA001 Precision Plunge RouterCLICK TO CHECK PRICE
The last router to make our list is Triton’s Precision Plunge router, which provides you with some of the most precise routing and great performance you’ll experience. It’s a great versatile tool to add to your collection, and provides you with total control as you work with Triton’s patented rack and pinion depth adjustment system. Electronic speed management ensures that you use exactly the right amount of power as you cut, without compromising safety or performance. You can continuously adjust the depth as you work in full plunge mode with a micro winder.
With the single push of a button, you can switch from a conventional plunge router to a fixed base one that has a rack and pinion mode, making your project completion easier than ever. It’s also ease to change bits with just a wrench using the automatic spindle lock. Side air vents reduce the amount of dust that ends up inside the tool, and the motor housing enhances stability and support. A soft start ensures the perfect speed for cutting and protects your safety.
With six sanding sleeves included, this router is well equipped to provide you with a professional finish no matter what project you take on. Being able to switch from a plunge router to a fixed base router is also an excellent investment. However, the adjustment knob can easily come off and the height adjuster tends to jam. Another common problem is that the spring breaks off when it’s under tension.
How a Wood Router Works
If you’re a serious woodworker, you’ll find lots of benefits by becoming acquainted with a wood router and the wide variety of ways it can be used. This tool is especially handy for both decorative and functional projects around the house, whether you have a job for the weekend or are making some renovations. In fact, many woodworkers consider the router to be one of the most versatile power tools available.
It’s an excellent tool to own due to its portability and versatility. You can use a hand held router for a wide variety of shaping, trimming, and cutting tasks, and you can use it on a wide variety of materials, including laminates, metal, plastic, and wood. Basically, you’ll utilize your router to hollow out (“rout out”, hence the name) a groove or hole into a piece of material. As you hollow out your material, you can produce precise holes, cutaways, curves and contours, and smooth, finished edges.
If your project involves decorative molding or cabinetry, routers can be especially useful, and these are the go-to tools for any experienced woodworker. You can make a wide variety of patterns because there are hundreds of types of router bits available. Use this power tool to create perfect edges, shape molding that’s patterned and stylish, cut dadoes, re-create patterns, recess door hinges, and more.
Many woodworkers know that it can be quite difficult to cut a smooth, clean edge on pieces of wood, but a using a hand held router will provide you with a nice edge, every single time. Whether the edges be curved or straight, level and even cuts are a breeze; these cuts can also be applied to multiple pieces. Re-create patterns and cuts as many times as you need, and you can even trace complicated designs and lettering on flat work pieces.
Whether you consider yourself a professional woodworker or not, a wood router absolutely belongs in everyone’s household. It offers a wide variety of uses, especially when you need to create special designs or ensure a perfect, smooth edge. Routers help you accomplish any project you set your mind to.
Hand-Held Router vs Table Router
Routers are generally designed to be used either as a hand-held tool, or mounted in a router table. While some choose to make their own tables, there are many router tables available for purchase that should hold most units.
Applications that are best for hand-held routing involve close control of the direction and rate of feed by moving the router directly across material so the edge or surface is cut and shaped. Generally, hand held routers are best when you’re working with large pieces of material, as these will be harder to work with on a router table. As you use a hand held router, you’ll also get a better view of the cut you’re making so you can make alterations accordingly. Hand held routers are also excellent for cases when you are making an engraving or carving delicately. Light routers are easily manipulated and provide you with the ability to make intricate movements, which definitely would not be possible if the router was attached to a table.
In the case of a router table, your applications require stationary routing. You will mount your router upside down in the table or in a bench top, so that the cutting edges of the tool are facing upward. Then, you can control the direction and feed rate as you bring the material to the router, rather than the router to the material. Router tables are generally better as you’re working with small pieces of material that might not be able to support the base of a hand-held tool. You can manipulate small stock pieces and thin, long stock easily around a stationary cutter, and projects such as moulding and beading are excellent for a router table.
Setting up and Maintaining a Wood Router
Wood routers are easy to use, however like all power tools, it’s important to understand how to use them and maintain them. This way, you’ll complete your projects successfully and will have your wood router for a long time.
There are two main categories of routers: fixed base and plunge base. For fixed base routers, the bit is in a “fixed” position, which means that it’s set at a single depth and will stay that way. On a plunge base router, however, the bit can be plunged in and out of material. Generally, bit changes are easier on a fixed base and it’s easier to adjust the bit height. If you’re fussy about your bit depth, fixed base routers are for you. With plunge routers however, you can make cuts that have distinct stopping and starting points, which may be useful depending on your project. Many router kits include both a plunge base and a fixed base, so you don’t need to worry about investing in two different tools.
Before you begin, consider your speed. If you’re working with large bits, you need to lower your tool’s RPM; it’s dangerous to run large router bits at full speed. While high speeds may come in handy, you don’t need them for every bit. Ensure that the bit you’ve selected is installed properly in the router, as this will help to turn it smoothly, which produces smooth cuts. If you need to change the bit, unplug the router first and remove the router base to either remove or install bits.
To maintain your router, you’ll need to consistently clean the power tool inside and out. Push out sawdust and other debris on the inside with pressurized air, and apply lubricant to the router’s blades and its surrounding mechanism. Take a small cloth, apply a small amount of lubricant to it, and gently polish to clean. Over time, you’re likely going to need to replace the tool’s brushes. You can open the brush section of your router and inspect them yourself, or, if your motor releases sparks as you’re using the router, this is a sign the brushes need to be replaced.
By taking care of your router and paying close attention during set up and use, you’ll be able to invest in a tool that’s durable and long-lasting.
Best Wood Router Buyer’s Guide
It’s essential that any power tool you use features durability, comfort, and ease of use; you want a tool that holds up for the long term, and which you can use for an extended period of time without experiencing fatigue or cramping, or getting frustrated. However, when it comes to wood routers, there are special features to look out for as you’re perusing the market and determining which tool to invest in. These include the RPM of the router, visibility as you work, and ease of depth adjustment.
As you can see from our list, the RPM (rotations per minute) per tool can vary quite a bit. RPM is a measurement of speed and determines how fast you’ll be able to cut, which in turn can determine how long it takes for you to complete your project. While a fast RPM may seem ideal, it depends on the situation of your project. In general, the more control you have over your speed and the wider the range, the better.
Many routers have a variable speed feature so you can optimize the bit speed for your specific project. However, some speed dials, such as the one with Makita’s router kit, are not ideal and may be difficult to manipulate. If speed matters to you, pay close attention to the RPM range of the tool you’re investing in. For example, the DeWalt combo kit (#1 on our list) ranges from 16,000 to 27,00 RPM, while both Makita routers go from 10,000 to 30,000. The Bosch even ranges at 8,000 to 25,000 RPM. Each router will be different, so be careful.
Depth adjustment is another feature to pay close attention to for routers; it’s essential that you can easily make adjustments, and fine-tune them so your project turns out as well as possible. The DeWalt routers allow you to make fine-tuned, small adjustments and favor precise settings. Makita also features a fine depth adjustment system, and the Triton has a patented depth adjustment system. The Porter-Cable router’s depth adjuster is accurate to the 1/128 inch, and DeWalt allows you to change the depth in 1/64-inch increments. Other models however, such as the Bosch, have flimsy depth stops.
Visibility and the ability to see the bit are also essential as you work with routers. Look for a tool that provides you with great visibility, such as the Bosch, which features wide base openings to both the left and the right. The DeWalt fixed base router also gives you a clear LEXAN sub-base plate, so you can clearly see what you’re working with.
Summing It Up
Wood routers are among the most essential power tools in any woodworker’s collection. With routers, you’ll have the ability to create designs, make precise and smooth cuts, and develop unique molding. They work with a wide variety of materials and there are lots of different types of bits to choose from, so you have never-ending options when it comes to applications.
To find the best wood router for your needs, consider your situation and what’s important to you. Whether you need a router that features a high RPM, is very comfortable and easy to use, or ensures simple yet precise depth adjustments, there is a router for you within our wood router reviews. Take a look to discover the router that will take your woodworking projects to the next level.