We absolutely love the DEWALT DWP611PK Wood Router, make sure that you check it out! There’s no quicker way to add a whole lot of capability to your workshop than to add a router. These tools, while seemingly simple, add an absolutely enormous amount of things you can do with wood in your shop and finding the best wood router can be something of a chore. So lets get started on picking out the first tool that you’ll need to go from being a DIYer to a true craftsman.
If you’re new to using a router and want to start with a high-quality tool, then the DeWalt DWP611PK is a good place to begin your journey.
Top 5 Wood Routers
|DeWalt DWP611PK||16,000-27,000||Compact||Check Price|
|Bosch 1617EVSPK||8,000-25,000||Intermediate||Check Price|
|DeWalt DW625||8,000-22,000||Full||Check Price|
|MLCS 9056 Rocky||10,000 to 30,000||Compact||Check Price|
|Hitachi KM12VC||8,000 to 25,000||Intermediate||Check Price|
1. Best Overall Wood Router
If you’re looking for a high quality, versatile, and lightweight router then the DeWalt DWP611PK just might fit the bill. This 1 ¼ horsepower trim router packs a serious punch, especially considering it’s dimunitive size.
The motor can be smoothly altered from 16,000 to 27,000 RPM. It’s not a super fine adjustment, but it’s a pretty wide range and the lower end should be find for hardwood as long as you give it time to cool down between passes.
It also features a soft start motor, which is pretty much a requirement for anyone new to using a router. The motor comes with both a plunge and fixed base which makes this a pretty versatile all around tool.
It only weighs 4.6lbs with the fixed base, or 6.2lbs with the plunge base attached meaning that most people should be able to control it fairly easy.
Pros and Cons
- Lightweight and versatile
- Comes with both base types
- Extremely powerful for a trim router
- Soft start motor
- Expensive for a trim router
- Needs care when applied to hardwood due to high low range RPM
2. Best Powerful Intermedia Router
If you’re looking for a powerful intermediate router which can be used freehand or with a table, then this offering from Bosch should demand your attention.
It comes with a 2 ¼ horsepower motor which provides a huge amount of power and a smooth speed control which ranges from 8,000 to 25,000 RPM. This makes it good for use on pretty much any type of wood so long as you keep light on the pressure.
There is one issue with this otherwise perfect router, however, which is that switching the base frequently almost invariably leads to problems. This can be circumvented by slightly sanding down the base and waxing it, but this will void your warranty.
The Bosch 1617ESPK is a solid, affordable router that can work both in hand and tabletop. If you don’t mind voiding the warranty it’s nearly flawless otherwise the problems with the base may lead you to a more expensive router in the same size.
Pros and Cons
- Extremely powerful
- Smooth speed control
- Both plunge and fixed base
- Soft start motor
- One year warranty
- Problems with base
- On/Off switch can be finicky
3. Best Full Sized Router
The DeWalt DW625 is a great full sized, 3 horsepower router. It’s a beast of a tool, and it comes with the weight to match which makes it much more suitable for being a dedicated table router rather than using it freehand.
The smooth speed control runs from 8,000-25,000rpm which gives you a wide range of options for differing materials. It’s also soft starting which is pretty much required with the amount of power which is laid to the bit.
All of this is offered with one of the smoothest plunging bases around. The DeWalt DW625 definitely makes the industry standard.
It does lack in some areas, however, primarily in some of the newer features which can be found on high-end pieces like dust collection.
That said, if you want a durable, powerhouse of a tool with a ton of power and smooth action, you won’t find a better full sized router for anywhere near the same price.
Pros and Cons
- Very powerful
- Smooth plunging base
- Full sized router
- One year service warranty
- Comes with both ½” and ¼” collet
- Very heavy
- Ergonomics can be a bit off
4. Best Budget Option
MLCS 9056 Rocky 30 Trim Router
While it lacks some of the brand name appeal of the other routers we’ve picked out, the MLCS 9056 Rocky 30 Trim Router does one thing very well it provides hobbyists with a cheap entry product that works great for small DIY projects.
This trim router comes in with a 1 horsepower motor that ranges from 10,000-30,000 RPM. It’s a bit fast for hardwood, and it lacks super advanced electronics, but it’s more than adequate for the hobbyist.
Thankfully, it’s still newbie-friendly since it boasts a soft start. A single horsepower is fairly easy to manage anyways, but it’s a nice attention to detail that most will appreciate.
The main problem with it, apart from a lack of power, is that it has a tendency to run hot if you use it for long periods consecutively. Make sure you’re aware of the temperature, as a hot motor can burn the hand but if you’re careful with it you should have no issues.
For a hobbyist or aspiring woodworker, this cheap router will barely touch your finances and let you get a taste of why people find wood routers indispensable. For the professional it leaves a lot to be desired.
Pros and Cons
- High range of RPMs
- Easily maneuverable
- Super cheap
- Soft start
- Solid build
- Prone to overheating
- A little underpowered
5. Best Beginner Wood Router
The Hitachi KM12VC is a solid intermediately sized router which comes in at a bargain price. It comes with a 2 ¼ horsepower motor and a variable speed control that runs from 8,000 to 24,000 RPM.
The powerful motor is actually one of the quietest routers you can buy as well, with the sound coming in at only 79.5 decibels.
You can purchase it with both styles of base if that’s your poison, or save a few bucks and purchase it with a fixed base only. Some have complained about the lack of smoothness with the plunge base, however, but it seems to work into a groove if you use it frequently.
It also comes with both ¼” and ½” collets, making it a versatile tool which can be used with a wide variety of bits.
It does have some problems, of course, mainly that the collet has a tendency to be “sticky” and the brushes on the motor don’t seem to last as long as many routers of the same horsepower. This means it will require a little bit more maintenance.
For a budget, intermediate sized router, however, the Hitachi KM12VC might be exactly what a beginner is looking for and it’ll serve pretty well for just about anyone.
Pros and Cons
- Variable speed control
- Quiet running
- Comes with two collets
- Can be purchased with a plunge base
- Plunge base needs to be used to become smooth
- Collet has a tendency to stick
What is a Wood Router?
A wood router is essentially a shaft fixed to a motor with handles. They allow you to make specialized cuts dependent on the bit you’re using and depending on the model can allow you to work edges or the interior of a piece.
The cutting portion, or bits, of the router allow you to make joinery as well as aesthetic modifications to the work piece.
As a tool, they tend to be rather high-powered and the older models can be a bear to use. Thankfully, modern technology has actually improved wood routers for the most part, rather than simply making them cheaper than their elder counterparts.
What is the Advantage of Owning a Wood Router?
Wood routers are simply indispensable. The only tool which is comparable in usage are old router planes. Unlike a lot of carpentry tools, there’s really no debate in this arena: a powered wood router is the superior tool.
Without one, many of the basic operations used in woodworking will simply be beyond your shop’s capabilities.
Having one or two of them around in varying sizes isn’t just creating an advantage, it’s pretty much required for anyone who plans to do more than chop 2x4s when it comes to wood working. For such a simple tool, they’re one of the mainstays of the serious craftsman.
What to Look for in a Wood Router
There are a ton of different routers on the market, enough of them that it seems almost impossible for the novice to figure out what they’re looking for. Thankfully, it’s a fairly simple process. Hopefully you already have a project in mind, but if you don’t we’ll tie everything together for a good all-around router at the end of this section.
Routers come in three basic sizes, each of which has its own unique advantages and disadvantages.
Trim routers are the smallest. They’re also referred to as palm routers, and they’re generally smaller tools which can be easily handled. These are best for light paneling work, and the motors usually come in at under a horsepower. If you’re looking to clean up trim or do light edge or interior work they’re your best bet.
Intermediate routers are a bit bigger and usually range from 1-2 horsepower. They’re the most versatile of the router family and with modern electronics they can make a fantastic all around router. They’re suitable to be used free hand and can also be mounted in a router table.
Full sized routers are generally those which have 2+ horsepower. At this range they tend to be rather bulky, and while they can be used free hand it’s really not recommended for a novice. For the most part, a full-sized tool will live out most of its life as the central component of a router table.
This is a lot less of a concern than it used to be, thanks to the existence of modern kits which will allow you to interchange bases. The base types are split in two main types.
Fixed bases are generally used for edge work, they maintain the router’s bit at a fixed level of depth and allow you to work on the edge of a work piece quickly and easily. They’re not really suitable for interior work.
Plunge bases, on the other hand, allow you to change the depth while moving the router. They’re the primary tools used to work the wood in the interior of a piece, allowing the craftsman to do intricate work away from the edges of the wood.
Most people will want a kit that allows you to do both, they don’t cost much more than buying a less versatile tool.
Unlike a lot of tools, you don’t just want a high-RPM router. Instead, what you need here is a variable speed control.
Different types of wood handle faster and slower bits differently, a slow cut is better on hardwoods like oak while faster works better on softer woods. A good wood router will have a variable control which allows you to cut a wide variety of different materials without risking burning them.
The electronics in a router are a complicated mater. This is the main reason it’s always best to go with a modern router, unlike some other tools where the main innovations have been making them cheaper.
Electronic feedback is standard on any new router. This allows the motor to adjust the torque produced on the fly in response to the pressure you’re putting on the workpiece. It’s pretty much essential, especially with larger routers.
Soft start is the feature to look for if you’re not used to routers. A soft start spools the speed of the router up over a couple of seconds, rather than just starting it at full speed. It’s less of a concern with palm routers, but in anything with a horsepower or more of motor behind it you’ll quickly see the advantage.
Variable speed controls are also a good thing to keep an eye out for. Some routers will come with a high/low speed, but ideally you’ll be able to adjust the speed as needed rather than being limited by factory settings.
If you’re just trying to add a router to your workshop, and you’re not sure what you’re looking for, we recommend the following:
- Mid-sized Motor
- Interchangeable Base
- Smooth Variable Speed Control
- Soft Start
As long as you have all of that, you’ll have a good “all around” router which is suitable for all but the most delicate or heaviest-duty projects.