Even an amateur woodworker knows that you can’t get very far without proper tools. No matter how good your skills are, some things are impossible to do without the necessary technology. One of the most indispensable tools a woodworker must have is a wood router.
We will now introduce you to some wood router reviews, as well as discuss what you should exactly pay attention to when looking for the best model to buy for your workshop. Purchasing a new wood router can be a bit intimidating if you’re new to the whole concept, but after you read this article, we’re sure that you’ll be equipped with all the necessary knowledge. Let’s get right to it!
Best Wood Routers 2018
There are truly lots of great wood routers out there, no matter what your price range is. Moreover, you can actually save when shopping for wood routers by making the most out of, for instance, eBay coupons. Because of this, it can sometimes be a challenge to find the best machine for your particular needs. When most folks decide to buy a new wood router, the first places they look are Home Depot or the Lowes online catalog. The problem here is that if you shop online, you don’t get a thorough elaboration of what you can expect from the product – instead you most often just get the specifications, not actual reviews.
Because of that, we’ve decided to make your lives easier and put together the 16 quintessential Wood routers reviews, 2018 edition! Any of these 16 will be a good choice regardless of your budget or skill level, so read away if you want to get yourself a good router.
DEWALT DWP611PK Variable Speed Compact Router Combo Kit
This wood router employs a powerful 1.25 HP motor, more than enough for even the toughest woodworking applications. The Dewalt DWP611PK has a variable speed option that allows you to tweak the rotation speed from 16,000 RPM to 27,000 RPM (important for router longevity), as well as a soft-starting motor. One thing that’s great about this router is the two LED’s that provide you with pristine lighting at any given moment while using the unit, making your job as a woodworker a lot easier.
PORTER-CABLE 7538 Speedmatic 3-1/4 HP Plunge Router
Unlike the previous model, the Speedmatic doesn’t possess a variable speed function. Instead, the motor operates at a constant speed of 21,000 RPM. However, it is equipped with a soft start feature to reduce the torque at startup, significantly contributing to the durability of the machine. The auto-release collet system makes it easy to switch out bits as much as you please, making this a versatile unit in almost every aspect.
Craftsman 27683 Combo-Base Router
This 12-amp powered base router features soft start technology, and thanks to a little engineering ingenuity you can use it both as a fixed-base and a plunge router, depending on your requirements. It’s designed to be used with 1/4” and 1/2” collets and the motor allows you to choose between 6 different speeds, from 10,000 to 25,000. Additionally, the dual-view window and the chip deflectors are there to provide you with superior visibility, which takes a lot of guesswork out of your workflow.
CNC Router & Engraver 3 Axis 3040T
If you need small-scale, precise shaping, and modification then this is definitely the router for you. First of all, as the name suggests, this is a CNC router, which means that its software-controlled operation can provide you with far greater precision than a conventional router could. The spindle motor knob further allows you to make small positioning adjustments, and the strong, durable chrome shaft guarantees that this unit is sure you a long time.Buy Now
Bosch 12 Amp 1617EVSPK
The variable speed motor in this unit allows you to choose from speeds between 8,000 RPM and 25,000 RPM, more than sufficient for any range of operations you might need to perform. The powerful 2.25 HP engine is more than enough to deliver the force necessary for drilling through even the hardest of wooden materials, and the aluminum construction makes this one of the most durable wood routers on the market. This is possibly the best model for beginners in this price range, so even if you’ve just learned how to use a wood router, this unit will definitely take care of you.
Makita Compact Router Kit RT0701CX7
The Makita’s rack-and-pinion fine depth adjustment system allows you to be precise with the actual depth of the drill. This router is ergonomically designed, easy to control, and comfortable to work with, which is more than can be said for many conventional wood routers out there. The electronic speed control makes sure that the speed remains constant no matter the amount of force involved, and the soft start feature is effective at preventing excess initial torque that can damage the unit.
Milwaukee 15 Amp 5625-20
With a whopping 3,5 HP motor, this fixed-base router is powerful enough to drill through a solid piece of oak like butter. The variable speed feature allows you to switch between 10,000 and 22,000 RPM with a soft start, and the linear depth adjustment system allows for precise movements. As far as wood routers go this one is pretty light at only 12 pounds, which is also something to consider if you’re going to be moving the router around a lot. All of this explains why this overall excellent model ranks great in most wood routers reviews.
Hitachi KM12VC Combo Wood Router
The KM12VC features a 2-stage motor release clamp, allowing for quick and accurate adjustments and base changes – this means you can work quickly and efficiently without having to fine-tune anything on the router itself. According to various wood router reviews, a cool feature of this router is its industry-leading noise level of a mere 79.5 dB – very quiet by wood router standards.
Skil Fixed-Base Router w/ Soft Start 1817
Like many routers in this price range, this machine features a LED SiteLight illuminatory system that keeps your workspace perfectly lit, so you know exactly what’s going on. The soft-grip handles make the unit easy to control and maintain, and the router even features a dual position on/off switch and a quick-release button for easy motor adjustments and removal. If you’re looking for the best wood router under $100 that gets the job done, this is a good choice.
VEVOR CNC Router 4 Axis 3020T
This router is equipped with spiral flute bits that can be used to shape a lot of different materials such as metal, steel, as well as stone – not just wood! The unit can be controlled by a simple laptop near your workstation, allowing for easy, efficient and precise adjustments and designs. Whether you’re a pro or a hobby woodworker, this unit is one of the best wood routers because it is equipped with everything necessary to make your job as simple as possible, without sacrificing efficiency.
Bosch Palm Router PR20EVS
The rugged aluminum fixed base of this unit makes it super durable, solid and precise, and the base itself is designed with cavities for your fingers. This makes operating this router safer and more efficient by giving you more control over the unit, and the quick-clamp system allows the motor to be easily transported to a different base. If you’ve settled on this wood router, Lowes offers the best deal for it.
PORTER-CABLE Wood Router Kit 893PK
With a whopping 12 amps of power, the motor of the 893PK is powerful enough to maintain optimum speed even through the toughest of applications. The variable speed function lets you change between 10,000 RPM and 20,000 RPM, and the plunge base is equipped with brass bushings and steel rods to give you more control with your plunge strokes. For this wood router, Home Depot is the place to look for the best price.
DEWALT 12-AMP Wood Router Kit DW618PK
One of the most common causes of wood router failure is excessive dust buildup, which leads to mechanical flaws and overheating. This is why this Dewalt unit comes with a through-the-column dust collection system that gathers up to 95% of the dust particles flying around while you’re working, instead of letting it gather inside the machine itself. This is a big plus for durability and reliability, so if you don’t fancy taking your router apart to clean the dust every couple of weeks, this machine is the best woodworking router to buy.
Black and Decker Plunge Router RP250
If you’re a total amateur at woodworking, this is the model for you because it is strong contender for the best wood router for beginners. The Black and Decker plunge router is equipped with a turret stop system with three separate turret stops that you can use to plane repeatedly at three precise different depths. This means that there’s no need to fine-tune and focus on being precise – the machine will do it for you! Additionally, the unit features a sightline base to improve visibility on the work surface, so you always have a clear view.
PORTER-CABLE 11-Amp Fixed-Base Router 690LR
The cam lock lever on the 690LR allows for simple coarse height adjustments without having to spend a lot of time fine-tuning the bit depth. The 11-amp motor suffices for nearly all woodworking operations at a single speed of 27,500 RPM, and the aluminum motor housing and base make this a durable unit that will last you a long time with the proper care. Furthermore, you can often find this model at a reduced price as part of Walmart deals and coupon offers.
Drill Master 2 HP Fixed Base Router
This Harbor Freight wood router features a spindle lock that can be used to easily switch out the bit for a different one so that you can perform all kinds of woodworking operations with this unit. Unfortunately, this unit does not have a variable speed controller, so you might want to purchase an external one if you want to have access to lower speeds. If you’re looking for a cheap model that will still do the job, at $55 the Drill Master is a pretty good choice.
Before you purchase a wood router
What are wood routers?
Alright, so now that we’ve looked at some concrete examples of the best wood routers you can find on the market, let’s talk about what a wood router is exactly, and why it’s an essential tool to have in your workshop. Put simply; a wood router is a machine that allows you to make precise modifications to all kinds of wood material, shape edges, making joints, hollowing out grooves and more.
Modern CNC routers are connected to a computer, so that you can make very precise and consistent movements via a piece of software, so be sure to check out some CNC wood router reviews as well. It’s definitely a must-have for any kind of precise woodworking action.
Types of wood routers
If you want to purchase a new wood router, it’s a good idea to be aware of what kind of router you need, but before you can do that you need to know what types of wood routers exist at all. In this section, we’ll elaborate on that part, so you get a somewhat better idea of the type of router that you need.
Fixed-base wood routers
This is probably the most popular type of woodworking router. As the name suggests, this machine is fixed to a surface like a table, so whatever material you want to work on has to be brought to the router instead of the other way around. These are suitable for beginners because they’re easy to use and it’s very hard to hurt yourself as long as you’re careful.
Instead of being fixed onto a surface, this machine contains spring-loaded bases that allow the router bit to be directed into the material by hand. The depth of the drill can be adjusted to a specific value, so you can change it if you need to. Possibly the biggest upside to the plunge routers is the fact that it allows you to shape the wood from any point, instead of being limited to the edge. If you’re looking for the best plunge router, 2018 has got a lot of choices for you as these routers are very popular nowadays, especially among more experienced woodworkers.
Wood routers with interchangeable bases
This is a nice compromise from having to buy different routers because you can just change out the base for a different one. This gives you more flexibility in your designs without having to purchase a whole other unit with a different base.
Which is the best woodworking router for you?
Now that you know what types of routers exist, there are a few more factors that you need to consider when purchasing your next one.
These machines put out a lot of power so they can get quite large. The largest ones are impossible to operate by hand, so they will probably be fixed-base by design. The mid-sized routers are the most user-friendly, with motor sizes from 5 to 2.25 HP. These routers can be used either on a fixed base or handled by hand. Finally, there’s the Trim router option which is pretty much a mini wood router that you can use with very small bits in confined spaces that can’t logistically handle a bulky router.
With a fixed-base router, you have to unlock the base from the motor of the machine so you can adjust the depth. The bases can be interchangeable on some units, but not all of them. If you purchase a fixed-base unit without an interchangeable base, you need to be sure that you’ll be able to work on all your designs on that base.
Horsepower of the unit
Not all wood routers are created equal when it comes to power, because not every woodworking operation requires the same amount of it. It’s much harder to cut through oak than plywood, so you need to think about what kind of power you will need in your workshop. A unit that is too powerful will likely be noisy and will affect your electric bill as well.
This is a characteristic that you’ll be looking for in your future router, especially if you use larger wood router bits. Giving the bit the opportunity to rotate slowly gives you greater precision and puts less strain on the unit itself, which means that your router will last longer and won’t give you out when you need it the most. All the best wood routers will likely have this setting built in already, but definitely pay attention to this nonetheless.
For the same reason, this one is also a desirable feature in your next router. Soft start means that the machine won’t max out the speed of the bit right away – rather it will start slow and build up the speed gradually. Just like variable speed, this is an important feature that most wood routers working with larger bits will have, primarily because of the positive effect it has on the lifespan of the entire machine.
Your level of ability is also something you should consider when purchasing a wood router. Ask yourself how versatile do you need the machine to be, and how much use are you going to get out of it. If you’re going to be using it for complex designs on a regular basis, a good plunge router might be a good choice. If you’re a beginner, then a low-end fixed router with an interchangeable base might be a better fit for you.
Depending on the type of work you do, you might need to invest in different types of router bits. Most wood routers will allow you to change the bits, and there are a few basic ones you need to be familiar with. Specifically the 1/8” round over bit, the 1/4” round over bit, the 5/32” roman ogee bit, the 1/4 straight bit, the 1/2” down cut spiral and the 1/2” flush bit. What each of them does is pretty self-explanatory, and depending on your particular needs you might need all of them or just some of them – this is completely up to you.
Speaking of router bits, you should also consider the material the bits are made out of. This will impact their performance as well as their longevity. Bits are made from several different materials: solid carbide (very durable), high-speed steel (used on softer materials), and carbide tipped (stronger than high speed and good for harder materials. Which bit you should go for depends on the type of wood you’re going to be using.
Wood router table
If you’re a pro, you might want to think about getting a wood router table to go with your router. A good table will make all the difference in your workflow and will allow you to shape wood faster, more efficiently with greater precision. If you’re an experienced woodworker it’s not that difficult to make your own because these can be rather costly at times. The best wood router table can cost you hundreds of dollars.
Finally, you have to consider the price. All of the factors we’ve mentioned above will impact the price of the unit. Generally speaking, plunge routers are more expensive than the fixed-base ones, but this is more of a guideline than a rule. However, Amazon promo codes are just one of the many alternatives you can rely on to bring the price to the lowes. In our opinion, durability, ease of use, and versatility are the three main factors you should be looking at when deciding how much to spend on a wood router; but pay attention to each point mentioned in this section even if you opt for a cheap wood router, and you should be fine.
The Bottom Line
As you can see, it takes quite a bit of thought when deciding to purchase a wood router, and with good reason too. This machine is something that is supposed to last you a long time and let you get a lot of use out of it, so definitely don’t go for the first unit you see before you do your research. Hopefully, this guide and our wood router reviews have helped make that whole process easier, so you can make the right choice and get yourself a router that’s perfect for your particular needs. Good luck!