Are you in a hurry and just want to know which wood router is the best? Short answer: Bosch 1617EVSPK is the best fixed & plunge router for the money. Read on to find out why.
One of the most versatile power tools you will come to depend upon in your shop is the hand router. You can shape your timber in multiple ways to create fantastic looking projects, no matter what your skill level is.
Let’s take a closer look at these tools, as well as review some of the best router tool products you can buy.
Top-rated woodworking routers compared:
Why Do You Need A Router for woodworking?
As the name suggests, a router can hollow out (rout) an area on your woodworking project. You can shape the edges of boards, add hollows or beads to their surfaces, make holes, joinery, as well as carve. Your imagination is the limit when determining what your router can do for you!
This one power tool is able to do the work of several traditional hand tools. Whether you are a beginner or advanced, a woodworking router will be a great addition to your shop.
Things To Look For On A Good Router Tool
Comfort during use
The fatigue from weight and vibrations generated during operation can be lessened through ergonomic design features. Hand grips are traditional of the knob variety, which can produce stress on your fingers over time. A pistol grip setup allows you to hold the router more naturally.
No matter what type of grip the router has, look for handle surfaces that include a no-slip texture and perhaps a vibration-absorbing cushioning on the best wood router models. These additions will help to reduce wear and tear on your fingers, hands, and forearms.
Router sizes and weight
There seems to be an endless variety of routers in today’s market. With that being said, I feel that Rockler’s router categories help to break the different models down into simple categories: Trim, mid-sized, combination, and full-sized routers.
Simple edge work, shallow profiling, and small joinery can be done with a one-handed trim router. These products are the lightest router designs.
If you are looking to work with a variety of profile sizes and depths, you may want to consider a mid-sized unit. These power tools will also tackle larger joinery than a trim router can handle. They will be heavier than a trim router, especially if they have a plunge-router base.
A combination router will make use of both a fixed and plunge router base. They also tend to be a bit heavier than the mid-sized units when the plunge base is attached. If you plan on using large profile bits or cutting deep into your wood a full-sized router will get the job done. These are also the heaviest models due to their larger frames and electric motors.
Plunge vs fixed-base routers
A fixed base design is considered the standard router base. These bases are ideal for mounting to an insert plate on a routing table, as well as fixing them unto a router lift. They are great for guide bushing applications and edge routing.
The plunge base is able to perform the jobs that a fixed base can, as well as operations away from the edge of your project where the bit needs to be plunged into the wood. Those extra abilities make the plunge router base more versatile than a fixed design.
Those new to routing might be surprised by the sheer volume chips and dust that are generated. You will want a router design that helps to collect that debris as you work in order to see the bit clearly as well as keeping the air cleaner.
My late grandfather had a full-sized dust collection system installed in his work area. I myself started out with a shop vac. No matter what system you use, make sure that the dust collection port allows you to attach hoses without getting in your way as you work.
RPM range and speed control
Trim routers often come with fixed speed motors, while larger designs usually employ variable speeds. This gives you greater control with bit speed, a feature that is important as larger bits should be operated at lower rotations when compared to smaller bits.
Electric motor amperage needs should be based on the type of work you plan to do regularly. If your needs can be met with a trim router, you will be able to get away with products rated as low as three amps. Larger projects will require units that can generate up to 15-amps or more on the best wood router models.
Router amperage ratings often fall in the 6 to 16 amps range.
Router depth adjustability
The easier that is is to adjust the bit depth on the router, the faster and more efficient your workflow will be.
A macro-adjustment knob will allow you to make quick depth adjustments as you move from one task to another. Another adjustment would be the micro-adjustment knob. This will allow you to make small adjustments when working with delicate projects.
Five Of The Best Router Tools Reviewed
Bosch 1617EVSPK Wood Router Tool Combo Kit
- Versatile: This versatile kit can be used for a broad range of applications, including precise bit plunging, edge forming, slot cutting, laminate trimming and dovetail cutting; Making it one of the...
- Durability: Aluminum construction makes this one of our most durable wood routers yet with wooden handles on a fixed base and a soft grip handle on a plunge base
- Ease of use: Rounded hardwood handles maximize user control
Durability is important with power tools, and this combo kit from Bosch feels the part. It uses aluminum construction to provide a solid housing that also helps to keep the weight down. That feature will let you handle this router for longer periods without fatigue.
- It has a 2.25 HP motor. This is a significant increase that will be noticed with deeper cuts and edge work.
- It has ergonomic handles on the plunge base. The softness and texture will help to promote comfort along with control during use.
- There is a smooth transition of position when using the plunge base. This is due to the spring design and tension from Bosch.
- This hand router comes with a higher price point than other models on this list. That could be a factor for someone just looking to get into routing.
- The wooden knobs that come with the fixed base portion seem out of place and bit gimmicky. It would have been better if the company had made them from the same material used for the plunge base.
DEWALT Router Fixed/Plunge Base Kit (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
This combination kit from DeWalt will allow you to take advantage of both a fixed and plunge base design, depending upon the job at hand. You can reach 1.5-inch depth in fixed mode and up to 2.0-inches depth with the plunge base.
- Built in motor controls offer a soft start, allowing the RPMs to increase more slowly. Motor controls also provide sensors that keep the motor at the same speed throughout the cut.
- It provides users with a clearer look at the bit. This is accomplished with dual LEDs as well as a clear base plate.
- The manufacturer offers a three-year limited warranty on the router. This is one of the longest warranties on the market and should provide consumer confidence.
- The handles are made from hard plastics. While this provides the handgrips with durability, it is not the most comfortable design when routing for long periods of time.
- Its 1.25 HP electric motor is a bit small for larger applications. When handling larger bits or plunging into deep or hardwoods the motor may tend to overheat a bit.
Makita RT0701CX7 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
This compact model offers you a kit with a smaller footprint. For some operators, the smaller size is more ergonomic and easier to control that a wider housing would be. It feels like a trim router when it is used with the fixed base more than when the plunge base is used.
- This unit is equipped with variable speed control. The RPMs generated at the top end reach 30,000. That is great for smaller bits.
- The depth scales used by Makita are easy to read. That is a bonus when you are making small adjustments at the bench.
- There is a smooth feel on the depth adjustment due to the rack and pinion system. That makes fine adjustments easier to do with slight movements.
- It is equipped with a smaller electric motor. That makes the 1.25 HP unit less than ideal for using with larger router bits.
- The housing seems to transfer a lot of vibration into the user’s hands. It is unclear if this is a design issue or materials, but you may notice this as you work.
Metabo HPT Router Kit
- 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
The Metabo product line is actually part of the Hitachi manufacturing company. This particular Metabo model represents a more powerful combination router in their power tools range. The extra power can be used to work on projects that will require larger router bits.
- It is equipped with an 11-amp motor. That will provide you with a peak HP rating of 2.25. That will help with larger bits taking out more material.
- The two-stage motor release clamp makes changing between bases fast and efficient. It also aids in producing accurate depth results.
- This product runs a fair bit quieter than other models reviewed here. The decibel rating is listed at 79.5 dB. This can be noticeable, although I do recommend that you still use ear protection.
- It weighs over 22-pounds. That can be a lot of weight to work with for extended periods of time.
- The transition from Hitachi power tools to Metabo HPT may make customer service and support more difficult to receive. That could be even more difficult for North American consumers as the company is based in Japan.
PORTER-CABLE Router 892
- voltage: 120.00
- 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
This is a larger fixed based router. Porter-Cable offers this upgraded version over its smaller 690LR model. You might be surprised how much of a difference the additional one amp of power provides you with when making deeper cuts.
- A larger 12 amp motor provides users with 2.25 HP. That will suffice for most hobbyist projects without being too much power.
- A top range of 23,000 RPMs is a good top end for a larger router. That will still produce decent rotation speed for most bits without being too fast for larger ones.
- This model is equipped with a dual-position power switch. That will allow you to cut power to the motor while maintaining overall control of the unit itself.
- Porter Cable uses lighter material to keep the overall weight down. This will influence the durability in a negative way and is a bit of a surprise at this price point.
- Due to the materials used for the housing, this unit lacks a bit of venting. That may cause it to get hot or overheat, especially if it is mounted under a table.
Which Router Made The Cut?
I found that each of these routers excelled in one or more areas. With that being said, I believe that the Bosch 1617EVSPK Wood Router Tool Combo Kit will be the best wood router reviewed here.
To start with, this product is a combination kit. That gives you the option for a fixed base or for plunge based applications. It also offers you a all-around product that won’t be limited as the smaller router setups will.
This router is built with an aluminum body. That makes it more durable than some models that make use of multiple materials, including plastics. It will stand up to wear in your shop and could be taken to the job site as well.
It provides plenty of power with a 2.25 peak rated motor. That will help to power large and deep bits through your projects, even if they are hardwoods.
Finally, it provides a smooth and comfortable experience, especially in the plunge base mode.