If you want to up your woodworking game, a wood router is an important part of that puzzle. Most types of edge work, rabbet grooves, and dadoes require employing a wood router to help with the task. Jobs like beautiful decorative molding and fine cabinetry become possible with a wood router tool. While they are mostly used for woodworking projects some routers are capable of hollowing out metal and plastic. Check out our list of the best wood routers in our section below.
The 5 Best Wood Routers of 2017
Here are the best wood routers currently on the market.
This versatile model from the renowned brand Dewalt is comes in four possible packages: standalone compact router, router with edge guide, router with round sub base, or router with edge guide and round sub base. It is one simple model yet so packed with brilliant features. While the 1.25hp motor isn’t the beefiest you’ll come across in the wood router category, it still spits out a no load speed range of 16,000 to 27,000rpms and is more than sufficient for most applications. Certainly it is one of the best trim routers.
The variable speed control lets you hone in on the exact speed you need for each application. Precise depth adjustments and quick motor pack removal for base and bit changes are a couple of reasons this unit is so popular, it’s just plain easy to use. The adjustment ring allows the operator to control bit dpeth changes to within 1 64th inch. You can get up to 1.5 inches of depth travel with the standard base, and if you splurge for the plunge base you’ll get up to 2 inches.
Some of the extras we’d like to highlight: aluminum motor housing and base for good weight to durability ratio, quality large rubber handles for a sure grip, spring-loaded release tabs that allow for quick removal of base, and dual LED’s that ensure maximum visibility when detailing.
The Bosch 1617ESPK is another performer that woodworking experts love. It has a powerful motor that clocks in at 2.25 HP (12 amp). It is equipped with a Constant Response Circuitry that helps maintain a constant speed and as well protect the motor from damage. Its speed range of 8,000 to 25,000 RPM offers a wider range of speed at the lower end than the Dewalt DWP611PK. Just like the Dewalt model, it is also integrated with a soft start that reduces motor torque upon starting up. This aids then user in executing smooth transitions and overall makes it easier to control. It accommodates both ½ and ¼ inch collar router bits.
The soft grip handles are beautifully polished and designed to optimize grip and control. One standout feature of this model is how quiet it is when running. Its aluminum base construction is top notch and compliments the soft grip handles on the plunge base and wooden handles on the fixed base nicely. We give a nod of approval to the fact Bosch includes both the fixed and plunge bases with the basic package. You can get a benchtop table and router edge guide package with this unit, but the price jumps up a bit for each one and for everything you’re looking at about $400. This is our top pick for best router table and best plunge router.
Deal hunters will appreciate this product from PORTER-CABLE. It made our best router for woodworking list on this factor alone. Well-priced, it will get most jobs done with its 1.75hp motor (11 amp). The big feature it is lacking when compared to other routers is the variable speed settings. You’re stuck at 27,500 revolutions-per-minute with this motor, but that’s not a bad place to be stuck at. This baby is going to shred through most anything you send its way.
It accommodates both ½ and ¼ inch shank bits. At 8 pounds, it isn’t difficult to control and its handles are ergonomically placed to allow full control during the routing process. The coarse adjustments via the spiral design and cam-lock lever offer plenty of precision.
The units switch is dust sealed though a few users do complain of its poor location. The machined aluminum construction is no joke, and the sealed ball-bearing design guard against everyday wear and tear. The bottom line is that this is a powerful, no frills wood router that comes in at a fair price. This sturdy unit would serve any jobsite or woodworking shop just fine.
The Milwaukee 5625-20 Wood Router has a few features that aren’t seen in other models. This may be the reason it is loved by some and others are not so keen on it. We think the micro-fine depth adjustment knob control is just a little misunderstood, but it does come with a bit of a learning curve. It features a very powerful motor of 3.5 HP, which is the most powerful we’ve looked at so far. This is responsible for generating an electronically variable speed of 10,000 to 22,000 RPM. Relative to other wood routers, it is a bit more heavy and large with 12 pound weight and 9.25 inch tall dimensions.
The exclusive linear height adjustment system may be somewhat tricky at first, but it does allow you to get super precise to within 1/64 inch. The entire housing plus the solid aluminum base are top-notch. Just like the Portable-Cable model we checked out above, its ball bearing system is super-sealed. One great advantage of this model is its tilted grip design that allows operators to use this unit comfortably and as Milwaukee argues, superior control over other routers. In our opinion, it is the best wood router for the money.
You didn’t think you’d get through our list without seeing a Hitachi model did you? It is our top pick for the best wood router for beginners. We must say, despite the fact that no router is completely silent, this model is the stealth bomber of wood routers. It employs a unique technology that reduces noise to a best in class noise level of 79.5dB. You can listen to the radio or make a call when it is running. It features a hefty 2-1/4 HP, 11 amp motor that is capable of generating a speed range of 8,000-24,000 RPM, robust enough to make any precise routing designs.
It accommodates a 1/2 or 1/4 inch collect chuck. The base of the M12VC is fitted with elastomeric compounds that help prevent slippage thus enhancing user control. At 7.3 pounds it is one of the lightest units we’ve come across and the depth setting is easily adjusted by rotating the motor pack. It is not perfect, the plunge base takes a little time to break in and the 1/4 collect bit sticks from time-to-time but other than that you’re getting one of the best wood routers for the money.
Factors to Consider When Buying Wood Router
You may be wondering how a wood router manages to work its magic. Well, this incredible super slicer has cutters that rotate at sonic speeds and are able to remove (or shave) wood that lies in their path. It allows a wide range of shapes to be made of wood. The striking artistic woodwork designs that you may have noticed on some furniture are made by the wood router. No professional woodworker or carpenter would be able to accomplish more advanced projects or produce a more finished looking final result without the wood router.
The router can accomplish quite a large number of tasks such as hollowing grooves, making carvings, shaping wood edges, creating joints, making moldings, forming raised panels, etc. Indeed, the limits of the wood router will very much depend on the skills of the operator.
In fact, the wood router deserves to be called a multi-task capable tool. Before going into the tips of choosing a router, it is good to understand the type of routers. There are two main types of wood routers. First is the plunge router which is not fixed on a table. The user can maneuver and guide it with their hands and will set the cutting depth before operation.
On the other hand, we have the fixed base wood router. This one is fit to the router table. The blade depth is thus fixed. Instead of moving the router with your hands, you feed wood into the fixed router. For you to adjust it, you must stop the motor and adjust the depth. Both of them are better at certain tasks.
Just as with any motorized tool, wood routers have different horsepower stats. Small routers have a horsepower that start out at about 1 HP while the most powerful ones have a horsepower of up to 15 HP or so. You don’t need a massive router for your garage or small wood working shop, that’s usually overkill. If you intend to do simple DIY projects it would be wise to go for a small or mid-sized router. For those whose work never stops, you should opt for a powerful router that will chug away for years to come.
Variability of Speed
Varying the speed is very important both for your safety and working convenience. The speed determines how slow or fast the bits rotate. While most work requires a high speed, special tasks may well benefit from a variable speed router. If you can, we recommend going for a variable speed router to future proof your setup.
This is one of the most important factors. You should be aware of the price range before making the final purchase. Like most power tools, wood routers aren’t cheap. This is why we encourage buyers to shop around and check prices online before making a final purchase.
This feature is available in most models and is very crucial to both user safety and machine performance. Without soft start, a router will kick like a mule when first started. A router incorporated with the soft start feature will slowly ramp up the motor until it hits the speed limit.
Every design of a good router should be easy to use and comfortable. Always check the location of the on/off switch and even try holding the router in order to determine whether it is a good match for you. A convenient router should have a depth control that is easily adjustable and ergonomically positioned handles.
Benefits of a Quality Wood Router
Here’s a quick glance at the top benefits woodworkers, carpenters, and DIYers receive by investing in one of the best router tools.
- Easy to Use. A top quality router has practical features such as easily adjustable depth control and changeable bits that make routing a joy to do. Anything that is hindering more than helping defeats the purpose.
- Versatility. Perhaps the main reason most folks purchase a wood router is to open up their world of possibilities in shaping wood. There is a wide array of detail work that is nearly impossible to do without a wood router. When you’re making something that you want to last for decades, precision is everything.
- Safety. Modern day wood routers have evolved and protect the operator. The best wood routers have important features such as the soft start, grip-optimizing handles, and variable speed.
- Increased Production. Routers are equipped with powerful motors. They are therefore able to speed up any project especially if you were once reliant on using someone else’s wood router. Owning your own router is an essential part of having your own well rounded wood shop.
- Consistency. It is possible to cut thousands of wood pieces the exact same size and with the exact same design. Wood routers are not prone to human error when operated correctly. Precision and accuracy are always guaranteed.