The sheer brute strength of a circular or table saw can cut even the toughest piece of hardwood in your workshop. But sometimes brute strength is not enough, and there are some things that these power saws just can’t do. If you want to add some grooves, intricate edges, and other designs to a workpiece, then you definitely need a tool called a router.
Any woodworker worth his salt owns one or more wood routers. Their main role in the workshop is to trim and smooth the rough edges of a piece of wood, but they are also amazingly versatile.
Routers can be used to create decorative and fancy moldings. These tools can be used to produce rabbets and dadoes, as well as carve simple and intricate patterns on a piece of wood.
All these are made possible by an assortment of bits attached to the routers collet. Some of the commonly used routers bits are straight, rabbeting, and flush trim bits.
If you want to produce a simple bevel cut, then use a chamfer router bit. Cove, edge beading, ogee, and roundover bits are used to make beautiful and elegant decorative edges.
Intricate edges are produced by molding, rail and stile, and raised panel router bits. Some bits are used specifically for joinery, including finger join, lock miter, and dovetail router bits. Check out this page to see the grooves and edges produced by different types of router bits.
DEWALT Router Fixed/Plunge Base Kit, Variable Speed, 1.25-HP Max Torque (DWP611PK)
- Durable 1.25 horsepower motor delivers the power to meet the toughest applications
- Variable speed control feature enables bit speed to be optimized for changing applications. No Load Speed range 16,000-27,000rpm
- Soft-starting motor features full-time electronic feedback that maintains motor speed through the cut
- Dual LED’s and clear sub-base ensure maximum visibility in operation
- Adjustment ring enables controlled bit depth changes to within 1/64-inch (fixed base only)
Makita RT0701CX7 1-1/4 HP Compact Router Kit
- Variable speed control dial (10,000 to 30,000 RPM) enables user to match the speed to the application
- Smooth rack and pinion fine depth adjustment system for more precise settings
- Slim and ergonomically designed body for increased comfort and control
- Quick release cam lock system for easy depth adjustments and base removal/installation
- Electronic speed control maintains constant speed under load
PORTER-CABLE 892 2-1/4-Horsepower Router with 8931 Plunge Router Base
- Soft-starting, 12 Amp motor features full-time electronic feedback that maintains motor speed through the toughest applications
- variable-speed control feature (10,000 – 23,000 rpm) enables bit speed to be optimized for changing applications
- Accessory base for router models 891 and 892
- Replacement base for combination kit models 893PK, 894PK and 895PK
Ridgid 11-Amp 2 Peak Hp 1/2″ Corded Variable Fixed Base Router R22002
- 11 Amp, 2-peak horsepower motor provides the power needed for dense material
- Electronic variable speed with feedback helps maintain speed under load
- Micro-depth adjustment for precise depth control
- Soft start for gradual start-up and extended life of motor
- Bulk Packaged
Bosch 1617EVS 2.25 HP Electronic Fixed-Base Router
- 12 Amp router motor – Combines ample power with adjustable speed settings, allowing users to glide along cutlines
- Adjustable speed dial (8000-25,000 RPM).2 inch sub-base opening
- Fixed base has threaded holes for mounting to router table positioned in common 3-hole pattern
- Now includes RA1161 fixed-base with system for adjusting bit height from above a router table
- Compatible with optional RA1129 Template Guide Adapter Set – for easy change of Bosch quick-release template guides and common threaded template guides; Includes RA1126 Template Guide Adapter and RA1100 interface for threaded template guides
Metabo HPT Router Kit, Fixed/Plunge Base, Variable Speed, 11 Amp Motor, 2-1/4 Peak HP (KM12VC)
- Same tools. New name. Hitachi Power Tools has renamed to Metabo HPT
- 11 Amp motor (2-1/4 Peak Horsepower), for precise, controlled cuts
- 2-stage motor release clamp, for quick and accurate depth adjustments and base changes
- Electronic speed control, maintains constant RPMs even as load varies
- Class leading noise level, only 79. 5dB for a quieter workshop
Festool 574691 OF 1010 EQ F Plus Router
- Ergonomic handle with full-grip is designed for increased control and reduced fatigue with power switch and speed control at the fingertips.
- The OF 1010 EQ Router provides a smooth 2-1/8″ plunge action which enables you to maintain complete control with a quick and secure plunge lock.
- MMC electronic controls provide constant speed under load for improved cut quality, step-less variable speed, and overload and thermal protection.
- Micro-adjustable depth control to 1/256″ (1/10 mm) which allows you to dial in your routing with tremendous precision.
- Integrated dust extraction port extracts dust from the point of generation, increasing visibility and saving valuable clean-up time.
Wood Router Buying Guide
Plunge Base and Fixed Base Routers
Wood routers have two types of bases: a fixed base and a plunge base. Routers with fixed bases are locked in place. Unlike a plunge base router, the user cannot manually move the cutting bit up or down during operation.
When it comes to cutting grooves and edges, fixed base routers offer more power and precision. They are also easier to control, hence more ideal for beginners.
A plunge base router, on the other hand, is attached to a specially designed base. This base allows the router bit to “plunge” when the user manually exerts pressure on it. The cutting bit then returns to position when the pressure is removed.
This type of router allows you to manually adjust the depth and gives you greater control when cutting vertically. Plunge base routers are also ideal for starting a groove in the middle of your workpiece.
But plunge base routers are not as forgiving to beginners like fixed base routers are. They also tend to be more expensive than their fixed base counterparts.
Woodworking Router Size
Wood routers are available in different sizes. The smallest of these tools are palm routers. These machines are small, portable, and ideal for smaller projects.
If you want a router that is still portable but a step higher when it comes to power and strength, then mid-sized or compact routers are ideal for you.
But if you’re looking for the granddaddy of all wood routers, then check out full-sized routers. They are larger, heavier, and packs a lot of punch then taking on the heaviest tasks. These are ideal for professional woodworkers and builders, as well as for hobbyists who have regular projects and want a tool that will last for a long time.
A router that is not equipped with a soft start will go up to its maximum speed the moment you push the rocker switch. The noise the router produces and its sudden movement can be startling for many users. Plus, the sudden surge in power can cause damage to your router’s motor over time. Router motors equipped with soft start pause for a moment before gradually accelerating to the required speed.
Most routers available on the market right now have variable speed. This allows users to control the speed if they are using different bit sizes. Large bits, for example, work well and cut cleanly when the router is set at lower speeds. Smaller bits, on the other hand, work better when the router is set at higher speeds.
Compact and full-sized routers can be difficult to handle and even dangerous if they are designed poorly. Look for a router with sizable and textured handles to prevent it from slipping from your grasp and causing damage to your workpiece and causing injury. Rest your hands regularly to avoid developing muscle tension or carpal tunnel syndrome.
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Our choice for the best wood router is the DEWALT DWP611PK Fixed/Plunge Base Kit. Here are the things we love about this compact router.
First is its heavy-duty 1.25 HP motor that is perfect for its compact body. The motor is soft-starting, so you won’t be startled by the sudden movement the moment you turn it on. The soft-start mechanism prevents wood burns, plus ensures the longevity of your tool. It has a variable speed setting that can go up to 27,000 RPM.
Switching the machine from fixed base to plunge base and vice versa is so easy thanks to the clamp at the back. The rocker switch, which is located on top of the tool, is covered with a clear overmold to prevent dust from getting into the motor and damaging it.
Tracking your progress and making sure that you’re on the right track can be easy with the DEWALT compact wood router. It has built-in LED lights at each side that illuminates your workpiece.
The fixed base doesn’t have a handle. But this is a compact tool after all, so it’s not really necessary. Plus, the fixed base is dimpled for a non-slip grip.
This particular version is a combo kit — meaning you’ll get both the fixed and the plunge base. Pretty expensive, but definitely worth the investment.
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