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 combo for the money. Read on to find out why.
One of the most versatile power tools you can have in your shop is a wood 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 wood routers you can buy in 2021.
Best 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 when using a wood router 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 onto a router lift. They are great for guide bushing applications and edge routing.
The best plunge routers are able to perform the jobs that fixed base routers 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 wood routers might be surprised by the sheer volume of chips and dust they generate. You will want a wood 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.
No matter what wood router you opt for, 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 wood routers 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 of the wood router 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 wood routers that can generate up to 15-amps or more.
Amperage ratings of the best wood routers often fall in the 6 to 16 amps range.
Router depth adjustability
The easier it 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 to the wood router when working with delicate projects.
The Five Best Routers: A Review
Best Wood Router Combo Kit: Bosch 1617EVSPK
- 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 wood router combo kit from Bosch feels the part. It uses aluminum construction to provide solid housing that also helps to keep the weight down. That feature will let you handle this wood router for longer periods without fatigue.
DEWALT Router Fixed/Plunge Base Kit (DWP611PK)
- Durable 1.25HP motor of DEWALT router delivers the power to meet the toughest applications
- Variable speed control feature of DEWALT plunge router enables bit speed to be optimized for changing applications
- 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 fixed base and plunge base designs. You can reach 1.5-inch depth in fixed base mode and up to 2.0-inches depth with the plunge base.
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 wood router 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.
Metabo HPT Router Kit
- MOTOR: 11 amp motor (2-1/4 peak horsepower) for precise, controlled cuts
- DEPTH ADJUSTMENT: 2-Stage motor release clamp for quick and accurate depth adjustments and base changes
- FINE DEPTH ADJUSTMENT: Fine depth adjustment (plunge base) for precise depth control
The Metabo product line is actually part of the Hitachi manufacturing company. This particular Metabo wood router represents a more powerful combination router in its power tools range. The extra power can be used to work on projects that will require larger router bits.
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 makes when making deeper cuts.
Which Router Made The Cut?
I found that each of these wood routers excelled in one or more areas. With that being said, I believe that the Bosch 1617EVSPK Wood Router Tool Combo Kit is 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 an 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.