It doesn't matter if you're a professional woodworker, a hobbyist, or just a beginner; there is one vital tool that you should have in your workshop. We're, of course, talking about the wood router, which is probably one of the single most useful and versatile tools you can own. A router allows you to finish edges of your workpieces and also carry out a wide variety of template work.
Owning a router is essential, but buying the best wood router for your needs can be a bit difficult due to the oversaturated market. So, to help you find a perfect tool, we have compiled a list of best wood routers that are available right now. In this article, our primary focus will be on portable routers since they are cheaper, easy to use, and offer more flexibility.
Below you will find our top pick and the list of the best wood routers. But, if you’re not sure what you’re looking for, you can find a brief buyer’s guide later in the article.
The 1617EVSPK is a quite powerful variable router brought to us by Bosch. This model is versatile and ideal for all types of wood routing, from light-duty to heavy-duty work. Unlike most other routers, this unit offers ample convenience to the user with its two-base option: plunge and fixed bases that come with it.
The two bases included are interchangeable, and the process of switching between them is quite an easy task that doesn't require any tools. Other than that, this model features a 0.25” and 0.5” bit shank and collet sizes, and both collets and bit sizes can be used. Due to this option, this tool is perfect for various routing tasks, and capable of accepting bits that include 0.25", 0.5" and 0.375" as well as 8mm.
Equipped with a powerful motor, the horsepower rating of this tool is 2.25 HP. The motor, however, is surrounded by an aluminum housing which protects it from any damage. With the power rating of 2.25 HP, this model can handle almost anything, but high power makes working on softer materials a bit problematic.
To avoid damaging softer materials, the 1617EVSPK features a variable speed dial that gives you the ability to choose from 6 different speed options. These six speeds range from 8,000 to 25,000rpm, which is quite enough, in our opinion.
The RP2301FC from Makita is a 3.25 HP plunge router that delivers excellent precision along with superior performance and smooth plunge action. This model also comes with some other features, including variable speed control, electronic speed control as well as an electric brake. All of these features and some others make this tool one of the best in its class.
This model is equipped with a 15-amp motor, which is quite powerful, so naturally, the machine comes with a speed dial. This variable speed dial allows you to choose the speed anywhere from 9,000 to 22,000rpm. Other than this speed control, the RP2301FC also has an electronic speed control feature that maintains a constant load speed.
Another great feature of this tool is the soft start, which provides smooth startups and also an electric brake system that ensures high productivity. The RP2301FC has a plunge depth, with three depth stops, that ranges from 0” to 2.75” and helps to penetrate the wood easily. Also, the smooth plunging action is ensured by the linear ball bearings that are included in the unit build.
When it comes to dust removal, this model comes with a labyrinth construction and a fan that reduces the amount of dust that can enter the tool. Other than that, the users can use 0.25" and 0.5" shank router bits for furniture making, cabinetry, decking, and fine woodworking, making this model perfect for furniture makers.
If you are searching for a mid-sized wood router that has a power rating of around 2 HP, then the 892 from Porter Cable could be perfect for you. This model is great for all-around use and provides enough power to handle most of the wood tasks that you’ll be working on. Trust us; this is a fantastic machine that offers all the features you might need.
The 892 is equipped with a powerful 12-amp, 2.25 HP motor, which offers full-time electronic feedback that maintains a constant motor speed. Another great attribute of this motor is the ability to provide you with enough power to overcome almost any wood task. Also, the speed of the motor is variable, and it ranges from 10,000 to 23,000rpm so you can easily set the desired speed for your task.
As for the soft-start feature, it minimizes torque when the tool is starting-up. This feature also ensures that the router won’t twist in your hands if you’re using it without a router table, which is a big plus. One other bonus of this attribute is the reduction of wear and strain on the motor resulting in a prolonged motor life.
When it comes to router bit sizes, this tool has both 0.25” and 0.5” collets, offering you a complete choice. Choosing a shank of a larger diameter means the router bit has less chance of vibrating during cutting, ensuring a more delicate cut.
Compared to other routers, this tool is probably not the most powerful model on this list, but it's nothing less effective, and it has an excellent price. The PR20EVSK is powered by a 5.6-amp 1 HP motor, which is strong enough to accomplish even the toughest of routing works. So, despite not being very powerful, this model can cut through softwood and hardwood alike with great ease.
When it comes to adjustability, the PR20EVSK has a variable speed control that ranges from 16,000 to 35,000rpm, which is more than enough. The lowest speed is ideal for cutting through sturdy materials such as hardwood; on the other hand, the highest speed is perfect for softer materials that require a smooth and clean cut.
The depth adjustment on the PR20EVSK is designed to be quite straightforward. All it takes to adjust the height is to align and lower the motor and then lock it in place using the clamping level. As for the micro-adjustments, there is a wheel on the back of the base.
This model is made to work with a fixed base that is designed to fit the slim motor snuggly. Also, there is only one possible way to fit the motor, so you can’t put it in the wrong position. Other than that, the collet on the PR20EVSK accepts only 0.25", meaning that this tool is suitable for refining works.
The RT0701C from Makita is a pretty able and powerful wood router that comes at a reasonable price and deserves a place in your workshop. Design-wise this product falls into the line of smaller trim routers, but don’t let the size of the tool fool you. This model offers a wide variety of advanced attributes, which include an option for variable speed control.
Probably the best feature that this model has to offer is the slow start option, which is perfect for beginners as well as users that haven't used power tools that much before. This option allows the user to increase the power quickly and won't allow the machine to work at full speed right from the start. This feature prolongs the motor life and improves the overall handling and, at the same time, prevents accidents from happening.
Powered by a 6.5-amp, 1.25 HP motor, this model can deliver speeds that range from 10,000 to 30,000rpm. The variable speed control allows you to choose between six different rates, which makes this tool quite versatile. Also, there is an electronic speed control that helps to maintain a constant speed during the work to ensure consistent results.
As we said before, this tool might be small, but it's quite powerful and perfect for the majority of small projects; some of these include trim, edging, mortises, hinges, and dovetails. Professional woodworkers and beginners alike can both benefit from having this powerful tool in their arsenal.
The DWP611 is regarded as one of the best compact-sized routers available on the market right now. This model is straightforward to use, and over time it has collected quite numerous positive reviews from all over. Also, it comes in two main versions, and the second version will be right below this one.
This version of this model doesn't come with a whole kit but rather with only the fixed base. This doesn't mean it's any less effective; it just means that it's less expensive and more suitable for users that don't require different bases. That said, the base included is transparent to help you see what you're doing, and it also accepts all of the universal template guides.
The DWP611 provides very precise depth adjustability that ranges down to 1/64", but it's very powerful for its size as well. It's equipped with a 7-amp, 1.25 HP motor, which can easily cut through most hardwoods and keep a constant speed during the cut. Also, this model features the soft start option, which reduces the chances of causing damage to your tool or your workpiece.
Another great feature of this model is the variable speed dial control, which is located on the top of the device. This dial lets you choose a preferred speed, and each mark increases it by about 2,200rpm, with speed ranging anywhere from 16,000 to 27,000rpm.
As we said above, this version of the DW611 model from Dewalt comes with a plunge base included next to the main unit. Compared to the other version whose maximum depth is 1.5” the maximum depth of this version is 2” thanks to the said plunge base. So, these versions are essentially the same, with some minor differences in price and overall usability.
When it comes to the process of switching between the plunged and the fixed base, it's designed to be pretty straightforward. The motor needs to be released by the spring-loaded tabs, which are easy to use and find thanks to their prominent size. Once you put the motor in the position on the other base, the clever clamp design will hold it in place.
The plunge base features an accurate depth marker and scale, and the router is locked in the chosen depth setting by a lever. Other than that, the stepped plunge cuts are made simple by the base's turret stop, and there are five different step settings in total.
Given that this router is compact-sized, it sports a 0.25" diameter collet along with a big spindle-lock button used for changing out the bits. This model offers 12 detents in total, so the bit shaft can be locked into any position that you require. Also, the plunge base has two rubber handles that offer a fantastic non-slip grip, and it fits right into your palms.
The power tools that Porter Cable manufactures are certainly not the cheapest ones on the market, but their quality is definitely worth the money. And their 960LR model, with a fixed base and a single-speed motor, is no exception. It's exceptionally user-friendly, which makes it very suitable for beginners who are new to the woodworking profession.
Equipped with an 11-amp motor, this tool has a power rating of 1.75 HP, and it can deliver enough power to cut through most hardwoods. Although it has only one speed without the option of adjusting it, this feature still has some advantages. The high speed of 27,500rpm that this tool can develop is perfect for the majority of woodworking tasks, especially if you're working on harder woods.
One downside of this single-speed high-velocity power tool is the inability to make any fine adjustments on your workpiece. However, the upside of the constant speed is the cut-consistency, which is pretty much guaranteed with this model.
When it comes to depth adjustment, it's designed to be pretty straightforward and easy to use. You set the depth with a tolerance of up to 1/128”, meaning you can make some micro-fine adjustments even if you’re not an expert.
As for the collet sizes, the 690LR comes with collets that accept 0.25" and 0.5" shank bits. Also, there is an auto-release system for the collet to ensure the bit changing goes as easy as possible.
As time goes on, more and more power tools go cordless, and this is especially nice to see when it comes to wood routers. It's undoubtedly a step in the right direction – as long as there is no sacrifice to the productivity and power, of course. That said, if you're looking for a tool to serve you throughout the whole day, we would recommend some other corded model from our list.
Even though it's a cordless model, we are genuinely impressed by the sheer power and overall usability of the DCW600. Since it's a bit larger than most laminate trim routers, it becomes a part of a more powerful but still compact step-up class of routers. Speaking of power, this tool’s motor can develop a speed of up to 25,000rpm, which is powerful enough to overcome almost any woodworking task.
One of the essential features that this model offers is the variable speed control that ranges from 16,000 to 25,500rpm. Other than that, the DCW600 also comes with a brushless motor that possesses a near-instant electronic motor brake and a soft-start feature as well. Some other attributes that are worth mentioning are the two LED lights that illuminate your workpiece and the D-shaped subbase, which provides some extra support.
We should say that design-wise, this model is the closest thing to the Dewalt DWP611 router - it will work with all the same accessories; these include the plunge base, dust collection shrouds, and a subbase that works with template guides.
Ryobi probably isn't the first manufacturer that comes to mind when you're searching for a new power tool. However, their tools are quite adequate, and they also come at a reasonable price tag., which makes it perfect for occasional users. If you want to buy a wood router to add to your tool arsenal and expand your woodworking skills, then this might be the perfect model for you.
The R163GK is powered by a fantastic 120V, 8.5-amp ball-bearing motor that provides outstanding performance. This motor has a power rating of 1.5 HP and can develop a no-load speed of up to 25,000rpm. So, this model from Ryobi is powerful enough to cut through almost any type of wood you put in front of it.
This model comes with a fixed base made of die-cast aluminum, which adds to the overall stability and accuracy. Attached to the base are two ergonomically designed handles that reduce fatigue levels during prolonged usage, and also a chip shield for added safety.
As for the depth adjustment, the R163GK features a micro-adjustment knob that allows you to set the tool to the desired depth accurately. Also, for quick adjustment, there is a quick-release button that gives you the ability to adjust the depth in seconds. The maximum cutting depth is 2", and the tool accepts only 0.25" collets which is a bit restricting, but not a deal-breaker.
As we said at the beginning of the article, wood routers are among the most valuable tools a woodworker can have in his arsenal. A quality router allows you to produce intricate designs, create joints, make grooves, and shape edges on your workpiece. But finding a perfect router for you can be overwhelming because there are many types to choose from and too many features to look out for.
Knowing the difference between various routers can be crucial in finding the best one for you. Buying the wrong kind could result in you not getting the results you were hoping for. So, to make all this easier on you, we've compiled this buyer's guide in which you'll be provided with some necessary information about these tools.
Types of routers – There are two main types of routers: those with fixed bases and those with a plunge base. The work you’ll be able to do will be determined depending on which one you choose.
Fixed base – This base type is excellent for beginners and performs best when it's fitted onto a router table. The fixed base models are ideal for edge cutting and tasks that require precision, such as molding. When working with this type, you have to set the depth before the cutting, and you can't adjust it during the cutting.
Plunge base – This type of router features a spring-loaded base, which allows you to push the bit into the wood. You have the option of locking the base at the desired depth when you're working on specific projects. On the other hand, if you unlock it, you can adjust the cutting depth with the tool is running. The plunge base models are much more versatile but, at the same time, harder to use compared to fixed base routers.
Importance of motor power – Different models have different types of motors, which results in different speeds and horsepower. The most common horsepower rating for routers ranges between 1.5 HP and 3.25 HP, but you can find even stronger ones. More power is usually better, but when it comes to woodworking, that isn't always the case; higher speeds are great for various types of hardwood, while lower speeds are perfect for softer woods and more delicate work.
Other features you should take into consideration – Wood routers come with a variety of different attributes that can help make your woodworking easier and here are some of them:
Speed control – All tools have an on/off switch, and some of them even have a dial for variable speed control. The speed control is quite useful if you plan on working with a wide variety of different types of wood.
Soft start – In our opinion, this attribute is a big plus; it prevents the tool from twisting in your hands when it's turned on. It doesn't allow the router to work at full torque right at the start but instead enables you to ease into it. Soft start is becoming a new standard when it comes to newer models, and it's perfect for inexperienced users.
Collet size – A collet is a sleeve in which the router bit is fitted into. Most common collet sizes are 0.25" and 0.5" and the more sizes the router accepts the more tasks you'll be able to do.
Now that you have our opinion of what the best wood routers available are, we hope we helped you in finding the ideal one for you. Searching for the perfect tool doesn't have to be scary or confusing, just take your time and do all the research you have to do. When you eventually buy the ideal model for your needs, it will quickly become one of your favorites.