There are currently loads of woodworking routers on the market. Doing extensive research on all these products is impossible for a regular customer.
But you came to the right place. We did all the research so you don’t have to.
As the name suggests, wood routers are essential if you’re working with wood, whether your game is trimming, laminating, or carving.
But do you know which features to take into account? Can you recognise them in the myriad of products currently retailed?
That’s what this article is for. The short buying guide that follows will discuss all the features you need to consider before purchasing a wood router. Then, you can see these features at work in five of the best wood routers today.
And, if you still have questions, the short FAQ section will help clear all of them.
You don’t want to buy a wrong router, do you? Just a few minutes reading this article will help you avoid that mistake. Read along!
This buying guide discusses the most important factors you need to consider before getting your woodworking router.
- Are you a professional? You need a plunge router or a combination router.
- Are you a newbie? Better stick to a fixed-based router.
- Are you going to use your router for precision carving? You need a light-duty plunge router.
- Will you use the router for repetitive tasks like precision cutting? Consider a medium-duty fixed-based router.
What you need your router for dictates what type of router you need to buy.
If you want a router for versatile jobs, consider getting one with precise speed adjustments and impressive rotations.
Powerful routers can rotate thousands of times per minute, but it’s also important to make proper adjustments.
For example, smaller bits cut well if you’re using your router at high speeds, whereas large bits work better and are safer on slower speeds.
Depending on your task, you need to be able to make various depth adjustments. If you’re getting a fixed-base router, it won’t allow you to adjust its depth without stopping it first as opposed to a plunge router.
Depth adjustments are important to fine-tune details on your carvings or shapes. The best routers boast a large range of depth adjustments, up to 80 mm, on very small and precise increments of 0.1 mm.
Electronic Feedback Circuitry
Older routers don’t have this feature which automatically changes the torque output to match the load the motor has to deal with. If you need to cut through a heavy workpiece, the motor won’t struggle unnecessarily.
This is a safety feature, but it’s also a feature that allows you to concentrate on the technique instead of getting frustrated that the motor keeps lagging.
The best routers boast powerful motors that you can use for different jobs. These motors allow high speeds and will also last for years, especially if they’re built from heavy-duty materials. Powerful motors allow you to cut through difficult materials, including aluminium or hardwood, so you can complete a variety of tasks.
Soft Start Button
A soft start button is essential if you don’t want your router to start at maximum speed when you turn it on. The noise and vibrations will not make things too easy for you.
A soft start gives you a little pause before the router starts, which is important for a hand-held router or for dealing with an irksome cut.
You will see various routers that come with two wrenches which help you change the bits. One wrench keeps the shaft in place, while the other works on the collet.
However, spindle lock routers only need one wrench for the collet because the lock keeps the motor shaft steady while you loosen or tighten the bits.
The spindle lock feature is especially useful for plunge routers because you can’t get the motor out completely to fiddle with the bit.
Even if you buy a plunge router, table adjustment is probably a good addition. In this case, you need to consider two features.
Make sure that your router has a knob or a handle above the table so you can change the cutting depth. Otherwise, you will have to bend under the table, which can become unpleasant.
Also, make sure that your router lets you change bits without lifting it. In this case, the collet has to extend above the table.
Ergonomic handles that fit the shape of your palm are comfortable for long periods of use. Rubber sleeves on the handles are comfortable too, plus they allow you a safe and secure grip.
Dust Removal System
Look for a router with a user-friendly dust removal system. Most routers use vacuum adapters you can fit on your home vacuum, while others feature a combination of retainers and a fan.
Easy to See
A transparent base and LED lights allow you to see your workpiece even in poorly lit corners without having to change the position of your router to reduce shadows.
Make sure all the extras you need are included in the pack, or that you can buy ones that fit easily. For instance, some people buy routers without a plunger or angled support, and then can’t find parts that fit. Of course, you might not need these things in the first place, but it’s a good idea to make sure the package is as completely equipped as possible.
Best Wood Routers on the Market
If you want to get the best wood router for home/professional use, you can take your pick from the selection below:
Bosch POF 1200 AE Router Review – best woodworking router under £100
The Bosch POF 1200 is one of the best wood routers for beginners. Here are some of its top characteristics:
On/ off switch on the handle
This button is conveniently located on the handle, which makes it safe and easy to turn off and on your machine, without turning it sideways.
With a power input of 1200 watts and a power output of 650 watts, the Bosch 1200 is one of the most powerful wood routers for home use.
The SDS system allows you to insert the template guide easily, so you can make the patterns you want. You can choose various pre-made templates, which you can change easily with no need for extra tools.
The speed adjustments are easy to make with the setting wheel. With the lowest speed, you can focus more on details, while the highest speed allows you fast trimming.
Speed adjustments are another advantage when you have to deal with several materials that are difficult to cut through, like aluminium, hardwood or bonded plastic.
User-friendly column guides
The column guides feature rubber sleeves, which protect your hands. Most beginners get calluses from using a woodworking router for long periods of time, but that doesn’t happen with the Bosch 1200.
Besides, these protective sleeves offer you a good grip and optimal balance so the wood router doesn’t slip from your hands. The Bosch 1200 weighs just a little over 5 kg, which is another advantage grip-wise.
Many online reviewers appreciate how precisely you can adjust the depth of this machine, even when you keep it in a plunged position.
The depth stop rod is easy to adjust, and you can easily read its scale both in inches and in millimetres.
With its three-level adjustments, you can change between various cutting depths by loosening or tightening the spring lever.
The motor drive shaft is easy to block with this mechanism, by using just one tool and no need for countering.
The Bosch 1200 comes with an extraction adapter which is easy to attach with two knurled screws. Connect it to your home vacuum cleaner or buy a Bosch one to get the dust out of your eyes.
Transparent chip guard
This feature shows interest in user safety because you won’t have to deal with wood chips getting in your eyes and blocking your view.
Thanks to the plastic gliding shoe you can insert on the durable aluminium footplate, you minimize unwanted friction. If this gliding shoe bothers you, you can remove it with ease.
- Best for newbies
- Good design
- Easy to change different bits
- Good grip
- Adjustable speeds
- Cuts through wood easily
- Accurate depth
- No fine depth adjustments
- Doesn’t go with 1/2” router bits
- The power button makes it difficult to be inserted in a router table
- The depth stop rod needs a bit of strength
Dewalt 230V 1/4-inch Combination Plunge/ Fixed Base Router – best all round wood router
Although it is more expensive than the Bosch 1200, this Dewalt Router is one of the best value router in its category because:
The turret can be adjusted in five positions, which shows high versatility. You can use this feature for various cuts, whether stepped or repeated, so you can complete different projects.
Electronic speed control
It’s always good to have adjustable speeds, but this full-wave electronic speed control that even offers you feedback is a feature that shows high versatility. You can adjust the speed easily and with optimal control, which means you can focus on very minute details for top-quality work on a variety of surfaces that are difficult to handle, including plastic, timber, and aluminium.
The speed goes from 16,000 to 27,000 rpm, which is not something many woodworking routers can achieve, especially working on a 240 volts output.
The fine-tune rod in the plunge base allows you to adjust the depth very precisely so you can focus on various models and work on various materials. The fine-tune rod is easy to use and shows how versatile this machine is.
The Dewalt D26204K-GB features multiple spindle lock dents, which help you change the router bits without any hassle. This lock prevents the spindle from turning during this change, which adds to this machine’s safety.
Two dust extraction adapters
These adapters are easy to insert and stop dust from getting out of the router. It’s great that Dewalt added two adapters instead of just one because now you can use this router with various vacuums.
Sturdy and versatile
The motor housing is durable, considering it’s manufactured from aluminium. The extra advantage is you can also use it into a fixed base for different projects, so the Dewalt D26204K-GB is a combination kit router.
- Premium power tool brand
- Powerful motor
- Electronic speed control
- Highly precise speed and depth adjustments
- Massive plunge depths
- At 3 kg, the D26204K-GB is fairly light for a heavy-duty router
- Only metric measurements
Makita RP2301FCXK – best plunge router
Makita RP2301FCXK is among the best plunge routers on the market because of features such as:
2100 W Motor
Makita RP2301FCXK has a powerful motor that allows you to cut through different types of materials very easily without worrying that your wood router will break. In fact, you can count on speeds between 9,000 to a whopping 22,000 rpm thanks to this powerful motor.
You can’t talk about the best plunge router without discussing its smooth action abilities. A router that has too much play or one that’s too tight isn’t that good for plunging. However, the Makita RP2301FCXK has a linear ball that offers an optimal level of flexibility and smoothness.
Although this router weighs a little over 10kg, Makita promises you can use it with just one hand. That’s true because the RP2301FCXK is stable and easy to grip, but you still need some above-average strength.
Instead of hooking up to a vacuum, Makita gets rid of dust and dirt thanks to a combination of labyrinth-style retainers and the fan. Although some reviewers believe this is a superior way of minimizing dust, others favour the traditional vacuum hookup.
The depth is easy to adjust so you can make various sorts of cuts, including precision ones considering that you can change between 0 to 70mm depths in precise 0.1 mm increments.
And if that’s not enough, consider the three preprogrammed depth stops that increase your precision.
The speed control dial is also very precise and keeps you in control at all types.
The two LED lights are a very user-friendly feature because you benefit from optimal lighting during your work. These lights are better than any lamp you can think of because they’re designed for minimum shadow.
The handles designs are knob style, which is very comfortable and ergonomic, considering they fit into the anatomical shape of your hand. These handles offer a good grip even when using the highest speeds.
User-friendly template guide
The Makita RP2301FCXK comes with a convenient template guide that you can use with no extra tools required. You can insert or remove the templates quickly.
All the buttons and switches are user-friendly, convenient, and safe:
- A soft start to turn the Makita RP2301FCXK on easily
- The lock button on the trigger switch for extra safety
- Plunge lock lever that makes the Makita RP2301FCXK an efficient router
- Shaft lock to keep the router stable when you change the bits
- Quick-release plunge depth adjustment
- Professional plunge router
- Powerful 2100w motor
- Multiple adjustments on precise increments
- Electronic speed control
- Linear ball bearing mechanism for smooth action
- Fan intake
- Can also be installed in a router table
- It’s heavy so not the best for light routing
- No accessory adapter for dust
Makita 1/4-inch/ 3/8-inch 240V Plunge Router – best budget plunge router
1/4 or 3.8 Inch Collet Capacity
The Makita RP0900X works with two types of shank router cutters, which means it’s a versatile enough device for its low retail price.
With 27,000 rpm, the Makita RP0900X is a powerful plunge router and a value-for-money choice.
Insulation is important, especially when you need a plunge router. Friction and vibration mess with details, and that’s not something you want. With a vibration K factor of 1.5 m/sec², the Makita RP0900X is a user-friendly router.
Depth adjustment is another important feature to consider before selecting a plunge router. With its scale level, the RP0900X allows precise depth adjustments, with an easy-to-use height adjuster.
The RP0900X boasts a plunge capacity of 0 – 35mm, which shows you this router is best for smaller-scale routing jobs.
Although it only weighs a little over 2.5 kg and is a relatively small router compared to others in this review, the RP0900X is a sturdy product with a metal and plastic housing.
The extras included in this package are useful. You get two wrenches, a collet cone, a straight guide, and three router bits. However, there’s no vacuum adapter as with other routers, even in this price range.
- Powerful motor
- Good insulation
- Sturdy and resistant for years of use
- Not the smoothest slide
- Limited accessories
- Can’t be used on a table
- Just for small-scale routing
Dewalt DWE6005-GB Laminate Trimmer – best palm router
Trimming laminate edges is a finicky task, but one that the Dewalt DWE6005-GB can accomplish with ease. This is the best palm router on the market because:
Weighing just 1.5 kg, the Dewalt DWE6005-GB can easily be used with just one hand.
10 mm ball bearing
The copy follower system is ideal for laminate trimmers because the 10 mm ball bearings are exactly what you need for reduced friction.
Spindle lock mechanism
You need to make cutter changes rapidly when you’re laminating, and that’s exactly what the spindle lock mechanism helps you with, apart from increased safety.
You can easily adjust the speed of the Dewalt DWE6005-GB between 16000 to 34000 rpm so you can cut through various materials.
The cutter depth is easy to adjust with high precision too. You can make micro-adjustments that will help you complete several precision, albeit repetitive, tasks.
A transparent base isn’t a design whim; it helps you get a better line of sight so you can pay more attention to important details.
Add the LED work light to the clear base, and you understand how user-friendly the Dewalt DWE6005-GB is because you can use it in dark spaces.
Bump stop switch
This feature is convenient because you don’t have to put the workpiece down to free your hand and turn the machine off. You can bump the Dewalt DWE6005-GB on your legs, and the motor will automatically turn off.
The dust extraction adaptor is a convenient addition to various good wood routers. But in the case of the Dewalt DWE6005-GB, the dust extraction is set on the D-shaped guard, which makes this router optimal for cramped spaces.
- Best for edge-shaping, chamfering and template jobs
- Powerful motor
- Precise adjustments
- Clear view
- Reduced friction
- One-hand operation
- Auto turn-off when bumped
- Limited accessories (no cutting bits, angled support, or plunger support)
- Short 1m cable
- Measurements just in the metric system
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a wood router used for?
Routers are devices that help you mill tiny chips of the material you’re using, to give it a new shape according to your creative ideas.
Routers are also versatile, convenient and precise. The best home routers offer you the same level of precision as professional routers for a variety of tasks:
- Profile the edges of your furniture according to your preferences.
- Make grooves or rebates to make sure the wood joints are sturdy.
- Decorate the surface of your furniture to make individual shapes by using templates.
- Make all sorts of interesting decorations, characters, and patterns by using carbon paper.
- Trim laminates to cut the veneer to its final size.
- Chamfer the corners of your furniture to make sloping edges.
- Drill or cut holes into a workpiece.
What type of wood router do I need?
If you want to find out which wood router fits your needs, you have to learn about the different types of wood routers first.
- Excellent for newbies
- Easy to use
- Work best on a router table
- Good for cutting edges or other repetitive tasks that require you to draw straight lines
- No blade depth adjustment on the go
- The fixed base doesn’t allow you to gouge or overcut
- For professionals
- Very stable for all sorts of applications
- You can adjust the depth precisely on the go
- Can be used for making wood signs, grooves, or templates
- It’s heavy
- More expensive than a fixed-based router
- Difficult to set up on a table
- Fixed and plunge base options
- Extremely versatile
- You have to change between bases
What size wood router do I need?
To answer this question, let’s see which are the three sizes you can consider:
- Heavy-duty routers are the heaviest and biggest, but they’re also the most powerful. They require routing table and they are used for large profiling bits or to raise panels for your wardrobe.
- Medium-duty routers are good for delicate jobs and regular use.
- Light-duty routers are great for hobbyists who use them occasionally for short intervals, or for trimming laminates.
Medium-sized routers are the balance you’re looking for almost every type of routing job you can think of, including large cuts, mortising, or dovetailing. Medium-duty routers can be used by experts and hobbyists alike.
Choose a fixed-based medium-sized router for a large array of precise cutting depths and a fixed-based router for general profiling or router-table applications.
What’s the difference between a plunge router and a fixed base router?
A plunge router is hand-held, whereas a fixed-base router is anchored on a routing table. That’s the main difference, though not the most important one.
A plunge router is heavier, better for professional use, and allows you to make depth changes on the go, so it’s best for grooves and carving letters or shapes. A fixed-base router is better for newbies who don’t need to change the depth on the go, so this device is best for cutting edges.
Can you use a wood router to cut aluminium?
Yes, and it’s not that hard. You don’t need a fancy router for the job either, just make sure yours has carbide bits. Less durable bits might dull after a few times of cutting through aluminium, so be prepared.
You will also need eye and ear protection for the job to make sure you’re safe.
We’ve discussed a variety of wood routers for different needs.
Bosch 1200 is best for newbies and general cuts, it has a stellar design with adjustable speed and depth, it’s versatile and easy to cut through wood.
Dewalt D26204K is a premium, powerful combination router with electronic speed control, very precise adjustments and massive plunge depths for heavy-duty work.
Makita RP2301FCXK is the best plunge router because it’s safe, it has a smooth action, it’s efficient, and can be installed on a router table.
Makita RP0900X is a good cheap choice for small-scale routing because it’s a powerful, sturdy, and well-insulated plunge router.
Finally, the Dewalt DWE6005 is best for shaping edges, template, and chamfering because it allows precise adjustments, offers a clear view of your work, and is equipped with a strong motor.
Remember to buy the router that fits your needs, though. Hopefully, the buying guide above and the FAQ section will help you make the best choice. And once you’ve bought your router, come back here and tell us what you think about it!
In the meantime, don’t hesitate. Your perfect wood router is just a click away.