Cordless Trim Router Buyer’s Guide
There are many things a cordless trim router can do. These include rounding out edges, cutting grooves, dovetailing, and more. It can also drill holes and cut inlays. Although the cordless version has its limitations when it comes to battery life, it is nonetheless as powerful as a corded laminate trimmer.
It also has the added benefit of being more portable than its corded sibling. You have to be diligent when it comes to making sure that your battery is always fully charged before you go to the jobsite, but that’s a small price to pay for having a compact and portable power tool.
Fixed Base or Plunge Base? Which One’s Right For You?
A fixed base trim router is great for common routing jobs, such as rounding out edges, chamfering, and shaping. Because of its compact base, it is more lightweight than its plunge base counterpart. It is also easier to maneuver while working, making it ideal for first-time users.
You can tell that you’re using a plunge base trim router when you see that the base is larger and that it has two handles at the sides. As the name implies, the base allows you to ‘plunge’ or drop the tool into the material you’re working on before cutting it.
This type of router is ideal for cutting grooves, dovetailing, engraving, and other more challenging routing jobs. It’s going to take some time before you can perfect the use of this tool if you’re an amateur DIYer or woodworker.
The good news is some brands and models let you have the best of both worlds with interchangeable bases. These laminate trimmers are more expensive, but you can always swap a fixed base to a plunge base or vice versa whenever you want.
A trim router with 1 HP or less is ideal for light and occasional projects. But if you’re planning to use the cordless laminate trimmer every day, then choose one with a higher HP rating.
But trim routers are more than just their horsepower rating. The most important factors when determining routing power are amp rating and RPM. The rule of thumb when it comes to these tools is the higher the RPM and the amp rating, the better the performance.
Soft Start Feature
Remember the first time you held a router? The sudden jolt its motor produced startled you, only increasing your apprehension in using a powerful tool. Thankfully, a lot of trim routers available on the market today are equipped with a soft start mechanism. Laminate trimmers with this feature start gently before slowly accelerating to the desired speed.
Variable Speed Control
Many cordless trim routers are equipped with variable speed control. This allows you to control the tool’s feed rate, especially if you’re cutting laminates, plastics, and other delicate materials. Running the tool at a lower speed setting also prevents the bit from causing damage to the surface.
While it might be tempting to adjust the speed to the highest setting when using a larger bit, this is not recommended. It can damage your workpiece with burn marks, as well as dull your bits pretty quickly. But keep in mind that setting the speed too low can also produce rough and uneven cuts.
Bit Changing System
Some cordless trim routers only take one collet wrench to change the bit. Just push a button near the tool’s base, and use the wrench to tighten or loosen the collet when changing or installing a bit.
Some woodworkers, however, are more comfortable with the two-wrench bit-changing system. The first wrench is used to hold the shaft, while the second wrench is used to hold the collet. Take a look at this video for a quick demonstration on how to change a router’s bit using the one-wrench and two-wrench bit changing system.
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