Best Wood Router Reviews 2017 – Buying Guide

What can a wood router do? Well, if you are new to woodworking then you should know that the router is one of the most versatile tools in the world. It can cut grooves, decorative flutings, profile edges, inlays, shape wood, trim it flat, drill holes, and cut a range of joints among many other functions – all with amazing ease. It is the most essential tool of a woodshop and should definitely be added to your collection. You can read more about wood routers here. Since there are a variety of wood routers available on the market, which one is the best wood router for your needs? With the help of these wood router reviews you will be able to select the best one.

Editor’s Top Pick

wood router reviews

DEWALT DWP611PK 1.25 HP Compact Router

ModelDimensionsSpecial FeaturesRatingsCustomer Reviews of the Product
DEWALT DWP611PK 1.25 HP Compact Router19.25 inches x 7 inches x 10.25 inchesPlunge(5 / 5)
475+ Reviews
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Porter-Cable 450 1.25 HP Compact Router11.2 inches x 7.1 inches x 5.4 inchesFixed Base(4.5 / 5)
33+ Reviews
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Bosch PR20EVSK Fixed-Base Router8 inches x 15 inches x 13 inchesFixed Base(4.3 / 5)
380+ Reviews
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Makita RT0701CX7 Compact Router7 inches x 17 inches x 10 inchesFixed Base(4.6 / 5)
120+ Reviews
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Bosch MRC23EVSK 2.3 HP Router22.65 inches x 9.6 inches x 15.25 inchesPlunge(4.5 / 5)
90+ Reviews
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Mentioned below are wood router reviews of the top 5 wood routers. All of these have good ratings and you will surely find one that suits your needs no matter whether you are a novice or a professional carpenter.

Top 5 Wood Router Reviews

#1 DEWALT DWP611PK 1.25 HP Compact Router

The DEWALT DWP611PK is packed with so many features that it will prove to be a great tool if you have wood router reviewsjust started woodworking. However, it is

also a great addition to the collections of advanced woodworkers.

Its variable speed option helps you to maneuver when you are working on a piece of wood and you need to slow down the speed, or make it go fast, especially when you are working off the edges. The speed range is from 16,000 – 27,000 RPM.

Packed with a 1-1/4 HP motor this is not really the strongest wood router, but is definitely good for the beginner woodworker who needs more control at hand.

One feature that newbies will certainly like is its soft start button. The grip provided by the DEWALT DWP611PK is slightly lower than the competition and is close to the work surface. This helps with the correct control of the router when you are working with it and provides precision, which in turn leads to high productivity. However, you should know that even with a soft start button the motor will run with some vibration – its 1-1/4 HP motor does have a lot of torque, after all.

One of the main reasons why we have chosen this tool to be the best wood router is that it offers convenience. It comes with both the fixed base and the plunge, each of which have plenty of features. The fixed base has dual LEDs that offer excellent visibility while in operation.

The only drawback that this router has is that its horsepower is less than many other wood routers on the market and this may be a deterrent to professional woodworkers who are working on heavy projects.

 

#2 Porter-Cable 450 1.25 HP Compact Router

Although tiny in size, the Porter-Cable 450 Compact Router is a quality product. You cannot expect this trim router to do every type of task, but it is great for trimming. At 5.4 pounds it is small and wood router reviewslightweight with a comfortable design for holding and maneuvering easily.

Powered with a2 amp 27,000 RPM motor, it produces 1-1/4 HP. The fact that it is a soft-start really helps woodworkers even if they are new in the field. Soft-start prevents the unit from twisting when the motor is starting. The same motor works with the fixed base and the plunge base, which are included with the product.

Both the bases of the Porter-Cable 450 come with a quick release clamp, so you can remove the motor easily. The overmolded handle of the plunge base offers good control over the tool when it is in operation. The plunge base has 2” depth of travel. In contrast the fixed base offers 1.5” depth of travel. It has an adjustment ring that allows depth adjustments of up to 1/64”. There is a locking mechanism, which helps in in securing the motor to the preferred height.

Since most of the jobs that you are going to do with the Porter-Cable 450 will involve trimming, you will see that the collet can accommodate ¼” router bits only.

You can change the router bits easily by pushing the collar lock and the collet wrench.

The Porter-Cable 450 comes with an aluminum motor housing making it a durable router for your woodshop. Being compact you can use it in a tight space too.

The main disadvantage with the Porter-Cable 450 is that it comes with a fixed 27,000-RPM speed unlike the DEWALT DWP611PK. An absence of variable speed is an issue when you are trying to cut the edges and you want to slow down. Yet another problem you may face is that you will have to buy separate guide brushes, as the ones provided with it may wear out with overuse. Don’t try to run it for a long time (like an hour continuously), else the motor will overheat.

 

#3 Bosch PR20EVSK Fixed-Base Router

With a 5.6 amp and a 1 HP motor the, Bosch PR20EVSK Colt Palm Grip wood router is not the most powerful on the market, but has several other features that compensate this. It has a variable speed range Bosch PR20EVSK Colt Palm Gripof 15,000 – 35,000 RPM, which is much better than the DWP611PK’s 16,000 – 27,000 RPM. The variable speed option allows you to slow down when you are trimming edges. The speed dial is set on top of the tool for easy access. The soft-start function is great, as when you start it the torque generated won’t pull the machine out of your hand. After all, 1 HP is not that much less!

The secret to the durability of the tool you own is how well you operate it and maintain it. It is advisable that you don’t run the Bosch PR20EVSK continuously for a long period as the motor may overheat. This router will produce great results if you make multiple small cuts.

The PR20EVSK weighs only 3 pounds. It has an aluminum base and comes with a single-handed grip. You can insert the standard ¼” bits in the collet. The maximum flexibility that it provides is 1-5/16” diameter. The manufacturer has provided a front spindle lock on the motor so you can change the bit easily by pushing the lock and using the wrench.

The Bosch PR20EVSK includes ‘Constant Response’ circuitry that will monitor its speed when you are doing one of those occasional heavy tasks. This doesn’t mean that this router won’t stop running when you overload the engine, but it will definitely take care of those occasional overloads that are usual with every wood router.

This one lacks a plunge base – perhaps that is why it costs less than most others on the market. So, if you are looking for a wood router with both the fixed base and the plunge base options, you should buy a different one. This doesn’t mean that it is a bad product. In fact, it has numerous rave reviews. Its ease of use makes it a hot item in the industry.

 

#4 Makita RT0701CX7 Compact Router

Equipped with 6-1/2 amps and a 1-1/4 HP motor the Makita RT0701CX7 wood router provides plenty of power for your average task. This is a compact sized router, making it great for any woodworking project Makita RT0701CX7around your home or shop. The 1-1/4 HP motor does offer quite a bit of torque, but its soft start button ensures that the tool doesn’t get pulled from you when you start it. The soft start button is a prominent feature in many wood routers today as it temporarily reduces the load on the power train during start up, thereby reducing the strain on the router motor.

The variable speed option of the Makita RT0701CX7 allows the user to match the speed of the application. So you can easily control the speed when you are working on a project.

This product comes with both a fixed as well a plunge base. The fixed base is equipped with a locking lever and a 360 micro adjustment ring with the help of which you can move the router up and down to achieve the required depth of cut.

The RT0701CX7’s main disadvantage is that the motor drops when you open the lock lever, which makes it difficult to make fine adjustments and you may lose the previous position as a reference point.

The Makita RT0701CX7 comes with a ¼” collet, which is a common size for most compact routers. However, it can also accommodate a 3/8” bit, which you have to buy separately. It doesn’t accommodate ½” bits. You can change the bit by locking the spindle and pressing the red button near the collet and using the wrench to release it.

The plunge base of this router has a base depth range of 0-1-3/8”. You can adjust the required depth by opening the locking lever placed on the side of the unit and moving the cam up or down. Even though there is a scale engraved on the motor to provide some guidance about the depth, the range is just 7/8”. You have to have good eyesight to see the kind of fine adjustment shown on the scale. So basically, this is not well thought out and could be improved upon. You have to achieve fine depth adjustments by turning and adjusting the knob provided on the top of the plunge base (1 mm per turn).

Overall, the Makita RT0701CX7 is a slim and compact wood router with a solid construction and weighs about 3.9 lbs. It is ergonomically designed so that you can use it even in the narrowest spaces.

 

#5 Bosch MRC23EVSK 2.3 HP Plunge and Fixed-Base Router

With a 15 amp motor and a beefy 2.3 HP the Bosch MRC23EVSK is one of the toughest wood routers on the market and therefor included in our wood router reviews. You can easily work your way through pine, oak or Jatoba (which is a dense wood). The point is that even at that HP, which incidentally creates a huge torque, you will find that this wood router works Bosch MRC23EVSKsmoothly. The main reason for its smooth operation is the fact that it is equipped with ‘Constant Response Circuitry’ that maintains normal speed when there is an occasional hiccup in the performance. Featuring 10,000 to 25,000 RPM variable speed, this one offers a little less speed as compared to the Bosch PR20EVSK. The variable speed dial helps you to lock in the speed necessary for the task.

The router is solid, and a little on the heavier side, weighing 12.6 lbs. It comes with a fixed base and a plunge base. The plunge base comes with a fine bit adjustment depth and the fixed base also allows micro-fine bit depth adjustment with a depth range of 1-5/5”. The afterlock fine adjustment available on the plunge base is a useful feature. It has a lot of power and full 3” plunge base. The Bosch MRC23EVSK comes with both ¼” and ½” self collets.

The tool has LED work lights and a trigger switch, which facilitates starting and stopping with both hands in place. It doesn’t come with a quick release guide bushing adaptor so you have to buy one. There is a dust collection port, but the centering cone and dust collection accessories are now widely available.

The MRC23 series has more enhancements than the Bosch 1617 series, although it is more expensive. Overall, the Bosch MRC23EVSK is superior to many other wood routers on the market because of its effortless power and good ergonomics. But you have to be sure of buying a 15 amp wood router – they are very powerful for size.

 

Wood Router Buying Guide

Routers are wonderful devices at cutting a passage through a mass of wood and providing a stable base. They can also adjust the bit upwards or downwards and can install differently shaped and sized bits to provide a different cutting edge. This makes the potential for taking off material limitless, when done in a controlled way. It’s also ideal for cutting a dovetail joint’s tails, mortises, tongue and groove joints and tenons.

Types of wood routers

There are many kinds of wood routers, salient among them being the following:

Large routers

Routers used for large and heavy-duty projects have a horsepower of about 1.75 to 3.25. This makes them extremely powerful and just right for such projects. They are ideal for removing large tracts of material and can be used with a router table, thereby converting a router into a shaper.

Though a large router is capable of removing a lot of material accurately and efficiently without getting bogged down, yet a woodworker may find it difficult to hold for long periods due to its weight and size. However, woodworkers will appreciate that large routers can accommodate bits whose shanks are about ½” in diameter. They usually have replaceable collets which can be used along with ¼” diameter shanks.

Small routers

These routers are also called laminate or trim routers. Their motors range between 1 and 1.25 hp. It’s advantageous to use a small router because it is lightweight and easy to handle, especially when the work at hand is detailed. However, it does not have enough power to remove a lot of material. These routers can accept bits with shafts of ¼” diameter. Woodworkers should take care when using these routers as their bits could break if these devices are worked too hard.

Table mounted routers

A router can also be mounted upside down on a bench or router table. Its base plates is set to the table’s lower portion, with a hole that lets the bit protrude over the table top. This arrangement lets the work be passed above the router, rather than the router above the work. This works well when the woodworker is working on small projects and makes it some router functions safer to operate. For the work to be done safely and accurately, the woodworker may choose to fit the router table with fingerboards, a fence or any other accessories.

Stationery routers

To work these routers, the woodworker will have to set a particular depth which remains constant when the tool is used. The stationery router works better than other types particularly for routs that are on the edge of wood pieces. It’s also the best choice of router when the depth of the cut to be made has to be absolutely accurate. In fact, they are more accurate than plunge routers. However, they are not the ideal choice if a woodworker wants to fix his router on a router table.

Plunge routers

Plunge-based routers when used as an attachment or as an in-built feature are very common today. With a plunge base, you can cut out a hollow which extends to the inner edges of a wooden board.

Is one router sufficient?

It’s never enough to have one router–you always need at least two– a large and a small router. Logically, if you can have only one, you would choose the one that you would need for the maximum projects you handle.

What to look for in a wood router

A good wood router has several outstanding features, things you should look for before buying one. Here are the most salient of them all to help you buy just the right one for your needs:

Good horsepower

When selecting a wood router, its horsepower is its most important feature. Ensure that the one you’re looking at has a horsepower that suits your usage. This means that it should have a combination of high speed and low torque for giving you the smoothest incisions. Another benefit of good horsepower is that it would need minimal sanding. Of course, routers with such configurations cannot be used for continuous use nor for heavy-duty projects.

However, if you do use medium-sized routers with a speed ranging between 1.5 hp to 2.5 hp, you can use it to achieve deeper incisions in hardwood types if you put strain on the motor which will only end up reducing its life. If you’re into large projects and heavy jobs, you’d do well to have a large router of 3 hp. However, by and large, it’s best to go with a medium-sized router with ample power, while small jobs can be done with a lightweight trimmer which is easy to handle.

A soft-start motor with an electronic variable speed

This feature helps the woodworker as it enables him to work well, easily and safely. By having the soft-start feature, the woodworker needn’t use force on his wrist to make the wood router start, which can often twist the device out of one’s hands, if careless. By adding on the Electronic Variable Speed technology (EVS) feature to a router, it aids in providing the woodworker with electronic feedback that will help him to keep constant the cutting speed even at times when the load fluctuates.

Variable speed dial

With this feature, a woodworker can operate the router at a low speed when using particularly large bits. With the speed dial facility on the router, the relative speed can be read numerically.

Depth adjustment control knob in two stages

A good wood router will have a fast rough adjustment to which a micro-adjustment is added so that the router is easier to handle. It should have a scale that’s easy to read on the front or side of the router. One can tell a good wood router by the scales that can set the scale to zero when the point of the bit touches the work piece’s surface. The depth of the router can also be adjusted when the device is mounted on a table. If a wood router has a long knob for depth control, the woodworker will find it easy to use.

Two individual collets

It’s better to choose a wood router with two individual collets instead of one with an adapter. Both medium-sized and large routers are usually fitted with a half-inch and a quarter-inch collet, though only a few router types have an adapter with quarter-inch bits.

Smaller routers are designed with a quarter inch bit collet because they are meant for lightweight operations. If routers are designed with tempered steel and have good quality collets that can be self-released, they are worth buying. For a better grip, it’s ideal to have longer collets with several slits that keep it centrally positioned, even though its shank isn’t machined with precise definition.

Flat smooth top on the router’s framework

This feature makes it easier for the woodworker to place the router on a flat and smooth surface with its shaft facing upwards in order to change bits when necessary. Self-releasing collets (which grip the bit) and a convent spindle lock also make it easier, so you only need to use one wrench for bit changes (though some woodworkers prefer the two-wrench system).

Comfortable handles

It’s necessary to choose a wood router with comfortable handles so that a woodworker can have a good grip over the device, particularly when working for protracted periods. It should be so easy to use so that the woodworker should be able to reach for the switch without easing off the handles. To prevent saw dust from causing damage to the motor and wood chips from flying in the air and harming the woodworker, it’s beneficial to use a dust-covered power switch. Look out for a router that can be turned on and off while you use it on its own.

Large opening in the base

If the base of the wood router has a large mouth, it can take in bits ranging from medium size to large. For medium and large-sized routers, a four-inch hole is perfect, while for smaller routers, a three-inch hole is sufficient.

Good mounting holes with a clear foundation

With a clear base, designed perfectly with large mounting holes, a woodworker can see the work area clearly. The base needs to be flat and the circular edge should be equidistant from the bit from all points. This provision lets the bit be positioned at the center during operation. There are many accessories mounted on to the base of the router, so it becomes imperative to have many strong threaded holes fixed onto the base.

Guide bushings for pattern cutting

These accessories are metal sleeves that mesh into the router’s base to cut with a pattern. While choosing a wood router, it would help immensely to check for industry-accepted bushings.

Which is the best wood router for your needs?

If you are working on a small-scale routing, you’ll find that they have all the features to handle small projects, joinery milling and template routing. When you’re in the market to buy your first router, you’ll find the market overwhelming with its variety of routers. Of course, the way to zero in on what you want is to examine your needs and buy accordingly. Hopefully, what you buy will turn out to be the best router for your needs.

Router Accessories

To work the router, the woodworker would require certain accessories, e.g. some router bits that can cut the wood and make specific designs in it. Some other accessories that are equally important to a woodworker include fences, clamps, jigs, router tables, switches and speed controls.

Conclusion

It is widely acknowledged that routers are a carpenter’s most powerful electric device that can work wonderfully for him. If this device has the most appropriate bit or shape of the cutting edge, it can easily and smoothly cut anything ranging from a square groove to a complex edge in just one stroke. Routers come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from simple hand-held routers or trimmers for hobbyists to heavy duty models for professional woodworkers. They are very popular with people who do decorative work in wood as this machine is very good for edging and cutting through wood. The highlight of a good router is its bit. The router works through its bit which is responsible for this device’s output. If you’re looking for a specialty bit, ensure that the router under your consideration has it as this can make your woodwork extra special and entirely different from any other carpenter’s work.

When buying a router–whether elementary or heavy-duty, check all the wood router reviews and ensure that the one you are buying has all that you want in it and you can handle it easily without any compromise on grip, safety or accuracy of performance.

References:

http://www.rockler.com/how-to/ultimate-router-buyers-guide-choosing-router-shop/

Router Buying Guide

Variety of routers

Author: John Clax

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