Want a quick answer? We believe that Makita RT0701C is the best budget router under 100 dollars. Read on to find out why!
One of the most difficult things to balance with power tools is price vs functionality, especially if you are new to woodworking. Even experienced woodworkers looking to stock their shop with budget-friendly tools, like a cheap wood router, may not be sure what features they can go without.
The following guide discusses the benefits and limitations of budget routers and reviews some products, one of which may be the best wood router under 100 dollars for your shop.
Top inexpensive wood routers compared:
What You Should Look For In A Cheap Wood Router
I remember when I first got a wood router my decision was based on affordability more than any other feature. As a beginning woodworker or someone who just may be new to these types of power tools, you will discover that you will not need to spend a lot of money to get a router that can match up to your needs. The key is to understand what a router can provide and decide what features are more important than the others.
Electric motor power
Most motors used for routers will draw between 3 and 15 amps. This will put the horsepower output at 1.5 to 3.5 HP. You will find that budget-friendly products often fall towards the lower end of the power range and that will be sufficient for many woodworking or DIY projects.
How many times the bit rotates each minute (RPMs) is also a statistic that many users apply to their power calculations. Variable speed motors can range between 8,000 and 26,000 RPMs and you might be surprised to find that many of the best wood router under 100 dollars are capable of these speeds.
Comfort during operation
Weight is a factor for most hand-held routers, with heavy models creating more user fatigue. One advantage found with budget routers is that they are made from light materials and smaller motors, making them lightweight.
Ergonomic elements are added to some models and should not be overlooked. Padding and textured grips improve your ability to hold the router for longer periods of time. They may also help to reduce the vibration that will be transferred from the work to your hand.
These power tools are measured in 1/4 and 1/2-inch collet sizes. The collet determines the size of the bit shank that the router can hold. Many of the cheaper router designs will use 1/4-inch bits.
That may limit the availability of larger bits you can use with one of these routers, but you should have an excellent range of bits for most beginner or intermediate woodworking projects.
Dust collection is something to think about, so look for adaptors that fit your shop vac hose. Also, soft start-ups will prevent the bits from jumping, and a brake circuit will save motor wear and speed up your workflow. A few battery-powered models are available for those looking to avoid depending upon plugging into an outlet.
What Are The Trade-Offs?
Saving money does have its costs if that makes sense. What I mean is that you will have to trade in features that make work easier in order to save some money.
To begin with, many of the budget-friendly models are made from cheaper building materials that may not last as long. It won’t be an issue for casual users, but it might become a factor if you find yourself using your router a lot.
Motors will usually not generate lots of power. This may limit you later when you start to make deep cuts in harder woods but you will be alright to start with.
You will be stuck with 1/4-inch router bits with most budget-friendly buys, but the torque needed for larger bits may be lacking with a smaller motor anyways.
Finally, the ergonomics might be lacking a bit, depending upon the manufacturer.
6 Best Inexpensive Routers Reviewed
Makita RT0701C Compact Router
- 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
This compact design provides 6.5 amps of power that generates a maximum of 1.25 HP. That should allow you to do various profile cuts as well as guided work of shallow and medium depths without bogging down as you work.
- It has a variable speed dial, with ranges from 10,000 to 30,000 RPMs. That higher end will work well with most smaller bits in the 1/4-inch shank range;
- It comes with a fixed base, but Makita offers additional base-types separately. That includes a plunge base option as well a tilt-base;
- A quick-release cam lock adds security to the settings you make for depth. You should be able to make these adjustments quickly with the knob before locking them into place.
- While this product comes with a straight guide, that guide will not connect to all bases available for the router. For instance, it will not mate up with the plunge base;
- You might need to check on the bit tightness every so often. That is due to the fact that some bits may become loose as you work.
Bosch PR20EVS Palm Router
- PR20EVS Colt Palm Router features a 1.0 HorsePower 5.6 amp variable speed motor with speeds from 16,000 to 35,000 rpm
- Convenient: Provides a straight edge guide to lead router along edges of work piece or up to 3-5/8 inch from edge; The wood router also features an angled cord exit to keep the cord out of the way...
- Durable: The rugged aluminum fixed base of the wood router is durable, solid and precise; The PR20EVS features unique finger support pockets for additional stability, especially when trimming edges
As the name indicates, this router is palm-sized and can be easily controlled with just one hand. This can be to your advantage, especially working with smaller pieces that you will use on fine furniture projects that require a more delicate tool.
- It uses an advanced cord design. There is an angled opening that will help to keep the power cord out of your way and it also uses a power cord that is a foot longer than other models;
- You can make quick depth adjustments. Controls allow you to make larger macro-adjustments to get you in the general range and you can then follow this up with micro-adjustments for highly accurate bit depth;
- Makita has included finger support pockets. This is an ergonomic design that provides a natural placement for fingers as you work, allowing for better control.
- It uses a small one horsepower electric motor. That will be fine for small pieces and bits, but this will also limit you with medium-sized or larger projects;
- It will require you to perform maintenance more often. This includes greasing moving parts as well as more frequent cleaning to free up debris.
PORTER-CABLE PCE6430 Router
- 31,000 RPM, 4.5 amp motor
- Precision-machined, cast-aluminum fixed base
- Extra large locking clips allow for a quick motor release and/or course depth adjustment
Porter-Cable offers plenty of power with this model at a good price. A 4.5 amp motor will help to generate up to 31,000 RPMs. This will get you through most woods that you will be using in entry and intermediate level projects.
- It uses a fixed base made from cast aluminum. This will tend to last longer than bases made from more flimsy materials and should provide a smooth motion as you move across the wood;
- Locking clips are large by design. This allows you to manipulate them easily, even if you have large hands or fingers and makes doing adjustments quicker;
- A spindle lock is included in this budget router design. The lock is easy to operate and will allow you to make quick bit changes with just a single wrench.
- They use a single-speed motor here. A lack of variable speed adjustments makes this less versatile and could prevent the use of some bits that require a different running speed for optimal performance;
- The base to housing connection point can be loose, so you may need to watch this as you make connections.
Ryobi P601 One+ 18V Cordless Router
- LED LIGHTING: A set of LED lights onboard this unit allow you to see your project clearly in less than optimal lighting conditions
- GRIPZONE OVERMOLD: Maintain a firm grip with the rubber coating that allows precision handling, even in slippery conditions
- DEPTH ADJUSTMENT KNOB: Don’t worry about having to use a tool; fine tune the depth of your cuts with the onboard, easy-to-use knob
The obvious advantage a cordless router offers is the ability to work anywhere. You are not only free from power outlets, but you are also able to reach materials that might not be easy to access with a corded unit.
- Ryobi uses Gripzone Overmold to cover the hand hold position on this power tool. This is an ergonomic design that helps to provide more grip as you hold onto the tool;
- There are seven 18 volt battery options available from Ryobi to power this cordless router. That allows you to exchange with a lot of different battery-powered tools;
- It uses LED lighting. These should allow you to see in conditions that would other wise require an additional light source as well as another hand.
- It does not come with a battery. One downfall with many platforms is that you have to purchase batteries separately from the power tool, like here;
- This product is top-heavy. The location of the battery makes the unit heavier along the top, making it more difficult to balance on edges as you trim.
TACKLIFE PTR01A Compact Router Kit
- ➤ 6 VARIABLE SPEED: Features a pure copper motor delivers versatile speed range of 10,000 to 30,000RPM. A 6-speed dial switch allows you to set the optimal speed for the routing task and material
- ➤1 METER FLEX SHAFT: Tacklife plunge router is equipped with a 1/8-inch 1meter flex shaft, which can help to do some carving work, like relief carving, flower carving, extending the practicability...
- ➤ WIDE APPLICATIONS: Tacklife PTR01A router is suitable for edges and profiles, grooves, template milling, free-handed routing, moulding; and rotary-tool-like flexible shaft can fulfill cutting,...
This is a kit in the true sense of the word. This product comes with the router as well as two collets, flex shaft, compass, guide, and auxiliary handle. A handful of bits, keys, and wrenches completes a decent list of extras that come out of the box.
- You get a fixed and plunge base with this router. That provides you with easily repeatable cuts as well as more versatility that a plunge depth will offer you;
- Comfortable handles make holding this power tool easy. The knobs are large enough for the entire hand and are angled so you hold it properly without having to strain as you work;
- A six-speed dial offers more settings than most other dials that usually provide only five positions or less.
- It may harder for you to see the contact point between the bit and surface. The opening to see through is a bit narrow on this product;
- It has a tall profile that may feel a bit unstable along edges. Due to the height and cord placement, this router may be less balanced than a shorter model would be as it sits on an edge.
Ryobi 8.5 Amp 1-1/2 HP Fixed Base Router
- Micro-adjustment knob with 0 reset for accurate cut adjustment depth
- Quick release button for quick and easy depth adjustments
- Ergonomic handles for your comfort
If you are a green builder, the idea of getting a renewed power tool should fit into your lifestyle choices. This product has been inspected by professionals and will come with a money-back guarantee that lasts for 90-days after your purchase.
- One major advantage of renewed power tools is that you get a model for a reduced price. This can put a router in your hand that you would normally not be able to afford;
- It has a base that is wider than most other products reviewed here. That will provide you with more stability as you work, especially along edges;
- A clear shield helps to keep debris from flying at your face. This shield offers extra safety and also keeps your eyes on the contact point of the bit as you work.
- One downside is that renewed products will not usually have part or work warranty coverage after three months. This is less than most manufacturers offer by at least half a year;
- Battery platforms on renewed power tools rarely charge to 100-percent. The maximum battery level is usually rated at 80-percent or more, but it will not be brand new.
Best Bang For Least Bucks
You would not go wrong with any of the products reviewed here. That said, I do think that the cheap wood router I like the most is the Makita RT0701C Compact Router.
It might not have the largest motor, but the 1.25 HP should get through most edging and cut projects a new woodworker would need. You will still get a top RPM speed of 30,000 so smaller bits should cut smoothly as well.
It takes 1/4-inch router bits, a size that still offers plenty of selection while avoiding larger bits that the lower 10,000 RPMs might not work well with anyway.
A fixed-base can be interchanged with additional base types that you can purchase separately. Finally, the bits can be changed quickly on this model, so you can keep a good workflow going without a lot of downtimes.
If you need something more sophisticated, make sure to also check out the reviews of the best plunge routers and the best wood routers overall. I also have a review of the best router tables so check that out also if you need one in your shop.