Best wood routers are essential tools in woodworking and carpentry, offering accuracy and versatility that are unsurpassed in the industry. They are used for hollowing out an area in pieces of wood, enabling craftsmen to create intricate designs with relative simplicity and precision. Wood Routers are indispensable for tasks such as edge profiling, cutting grooves and dadoes, shaping intricate patterns, creating joints, or simply rounding over an edge. With a good wood router, tasks that would otherwise take hours to complete by hand can be done in mere minutes. In this guide, we will review the 5 best wood routers in 2023, diving into their features, specifications, and how they can make your woodworking jobs more efficient and enjoyable.
Buying Guide for Best Wood Routers
Before purchasing the best wood router, there are several factors you need to consider to ensure you pick a tool that will serve your needs effectively and for a long time.
1. Power and Speed
The power of a router is measured in horsepower (HP) and this will determine the types of jobs you can take on. Higher HP routers are suitable for larger, tougher jobs. Similarly, you should consider the speed of the router, often given in RPM (rotations per minute). A higher RPM allows for cleaner cuts.
2. Collet Size
The collet is the section of the router that holds the bit. Standard collet sizes are 1/4 inch and 1/2 inch. While both sizes are useful, the 1/2-inch bits are generally more stable and create less vibration.
3. Fixed Base vs Plunge Base
Fixed base routers are great for edge cuts and molding, while plunge base routers are ideal for interior cuts, like mortises. Some routers come with interchangeable bases, giving you the best of both worlds.
Look for a router that allows you to easily adjust the speed and depth of the cuts. Some models even offer micro-adjustment capabilities for ultimate precision.
5. Ease of Use
The tool should be easy to hold and maneuver. Consider the handle design, weight, and whether the router includes features like soft start (for easy bit starts) and electronic feedback (to maintain speed under load).
6. Brand and Price
Reputable brands often offer higher quality, greater durability, and better customer support. However, they can be more expensive. Choose according to your budget and the requirements of your projects.
By taking these factors into account, you can choose the best wood router that will enable you to create your woodworking masterpieces with ease and precision.
5 Best Wood Router Review
In this review, we delve into the specifics of five high-performing best wood routers from world-renowned brands. The list includes the compact and powerful Bosch Colt 1.25 HP Palm Router, the versatile Makita’s RT0701C, the robust Bosch’s 1617EVSPK, the dependable DEWALT Router DW618PKB, and the dynamic SKIL 14 Amp Plunge RT1322-00. Let’s take a closer look at these models and evaluate their performance, functionality, and value to help you make an informed decision in your next purchase.
1. Bosch Wood Router
The Bosch Wood Router Tool is a compact yet powerful woodworking tool that stands out for its exceptional design and performance. Its 1.25-Hp, 7.0 amp motor is capable of reaching speeds from 16,000 to 35,000 RPM, giving it the versatility needed for various woodworking tasks.
Priced between $130 and $150, it offers great value for money, particularly given its average rating of 4.8 on Amazon. This wood router strikes an excellent balance between power, precision, and ease of use. Its innovative depth adjustment system marks a new standard in woodworking, allowing for easy and precise control over the depth of your cuts.
At 4.4 pounds, it is lightweight, making it easy to handle and maneuver. Its compact dimensions (4.13″W x 8.25″ H) further add to its portability and ease of use. The router’s wide-bit capacity is another plus, as its fixed base accepts bits up to 1-5/16-in wide, accommodating a variety of woodworking needs.
One of the standout features of the Bosch wood router is its constant response circuitry – this ensures the router maintains a consistent speed under load, offering reliable performance. It also provides overload protection and a soft start function, reducing start-up torque for safer operation.
Adding to its user comfort, the palm-grip design with soft grip and finger support pockets offers exceptional comfort and control, ensuring you can work for longer periods without feeling fatigued.
- Powerful and Versatile: With a 1.25-Hp, 7.0 amp motor, and variable speeds from 16,000 to 35,000 RPM, the Bosch GKF125CEN excels in versatile woodworking tasks.
- Value for Money: Priced between $130 and $150, it offers great value for its features and performance.
- Ease of Use: Its lightweight design (4.4 lbs) and compact dimensions (4.13″W x 8.25″ H) ensure easy handling and maneuverability.
- Advanced Features: The constant response circuitry maintains a constant speed under load and provides overload protection and soft start function.
- Comfortable Design: The palm-grip design with a soft grip and finger support pockets offers comfort and control.
- Limited Base: The router has a fixed base, which could limit its use in certain woodworking tasks that may require a plunge base.
2. Makita Wood Router
The Makita Wood Router is an alloy steel hand-powered tool that stands out due to its superior ergonomics and a host of user-friendly features. This compact wood router boasts variable speed control (10,000 to 30,000 RPM), allowing users to match the speed to the specific application.
With a price range of $100 to $150 and an average Amazon rating of 4.7, it offers remarkable value for its cost. Its fine depth adjustment system ensures precise settings, and the quick-release cam lock system facilitates easy depth adjustments and base removal or installation.
The Makita wood router comes in compact dimensions (3.5″W x 7.88″ a H) and features a slim and ergonomically designed body for increased comfort and control, making the tool suitable for extended use without causing fatigue. The constant electronic speed control maintains a steady speed under load, and the soft start feature ensures smooth start-ups.
The fixed base of this router accepts industry-standard template guides, adding to the convenience of a variety of woodworking tasks. The high visibility base design improves handling and performance, while the heavy-duty aluminum motor housing increases the router’s durability.
- Variable Speed Control: The Makita RT0701C offers a variable speed control dial (10,000 to 30,000 RPM), enabling users to match the speed to the application.
- Value for Money: With an affordable price range of $100 to $150 and offering multiple features, it provides great value.
- Ergonomics and Comfort: Its slim and ergonomically designed body increases comfort and control and is ideal for prolonged use.
- Precise and Easy Adjustments: The smooth rack and pinion fine depth adjustment system allows for more precise settings, and the quick-release cam lock system makes depth adjustments and base removal/installation easy.
- Durability: Its heavy-duty aluminum motor housing is engineered for increased durability.
- Limited Base: This model has a fixed base, which might restrict its usage for some woodworking tasks that require a plunge base.
3. Bosch Wood Router (1617EVSPK)
The Bosch Wood Router (1617EVSPK) is a top-tier router with 12 Amp, 2-1/4-Horsepower that provides a blend of power, precision, and versatility. It features a variable speed setting ranging from 8,000 to 25,000 RPM, powered by an adapter. This allows users to match the speed with different woodworking tasks for optimal results. The wood router comes in a kit that includes a plunge and fixed base, 1/4-Inch and 1/2-Inch collets, and an RA1054 Deluxe Router Edge Guide with Dust Extraction Hood and Vacuum Hose Adapter.
The wood router is priced between $250 and $300, which might seem steep, but given its high performance and excellent average rating of 4.8 stars on Amazon, it offers great value for money. One of its standout features is the micro-fine depth adjustment that facilitates accurate and precise cuts, enhancing the quality of your work.
The Bosch wood router (1617EVSPK) is not just about power; it also takes into account user safety and comfort, as evidenced by its soft-start function that reduces start-up torque for safer operation. The router also easily converts into a circle guide for making arcs and circles up to 32″ in diameter, offering more versatility in your woodworking projects.
- Powerful and Versatile: The Bosch 1617EVSPK comes with a powerful 2-1/4-Horsepower motor, variable speeds (8,000 to 25,000 RPM), and a bundle that includes both plunge and fixed base, making it adaptable for diverse woodworking tasks.
- High Precision: The micro-fine depth adjustments ensure high precision in your work.
- Comfortable and Safe Operation: The router has a soft-start function for safer operation, reducing start-up torque.
- Versatility: Easily converts into a circle guide for making arcs and circles up to 32″ in diameter.
- Value for Money: Despite its higher price range ($250-$300), the high performance and extra features make it a good value for money.
- Price: The router is on the more expensive side, which might be a deterrent for those on a tight budget.
4. Dewalt Wood Router
The DEWALT wood router (DW618PKB) is a corded router with a powerful 12.0 amp motor that effortlessly cuts through even the toughest hardwoods. With its electronic variable speed ranging from 8,000 to 24,000 RPM, it ensures a constant speed under load, offering enhanced control and smooth operation.
This wood router is priced between $230 and $280, which might be slightly high for budget-conscious users. However, with an impressive average rating of 4.7 stars on Amazon, it provides exceptional value for the cost. The tool boasts a micro-fine depth adjustment ring that facilitates precise depth adjustments in 1/64-inch increments, enhancing the quality and precision of your work.
The DEWALT wood router (DW618PKB) is not only powerful but also designed for user comfort and convenience. The adjustable, tool-free, steel motor cam lock allows for quick and solid-locking depth adjustment and base changes. Additionally, the wood router has impressive dust collection capabilities, collecting 95% of the dust and providing superior bit visibility.
Despite its slightly bulky dimensions (6.88″W x 21.88″ H) and weight (10.1 lbs), the router’s features, such as the quick-release motor latches for easy bit and base changes, and the detachable cord set for cordset serviceability, make it a highly practical tool. The precision-machined brass bushings and case-hardened steel guide rods deliver a smooth and accurate plunge stroke, ensuring high performance and durability.
- Powerful and Versatile: The DEWALT DW618PKB has a robust 12.0 amp motor and variable speeds (8,000 to 24,000 RPM), offering the power to rout smoothly through the toughest hardwoods.
- High Precision: The micro-fine depth adjustments ensure precision in your work.
- Convenient Features: The quick-release motor latches and detachable cordset add to the tool’s convenience.
- Dust Collection: The router collects 95% of the dust, providing superior bit visibility.
- Value for Money: Despite the higher price range ($230-$280), the high performance and additional features make it a good value for money.
- Weight and Size: The router is on the heavier side (10.1 lbs) and has slightly bulky dimensions, which might affect its handling and maneuverability.
- Price: The router is more expensive compared to other models in the market, which could be a deterrent for budget shoppers.
5. SKIL Wood Router – 14 Amp (RT1322-00)
The SKIL 14 Amp Plunge and Fixed Base Router Combo (RT1322-00) is a reliable and versatile router with a powerful 14 Amp, 2.5 HP motor. It includes both fixed and plunge bases, offering a wide range of woodworking tasks. A standout feature of this router is the speed control LCD display, which lets you select the bit type and material for suggested speed settings tailored to your specific task.
Priced between $140 and $150, this router provides top-notch performance at a relatively affordable price point. With an average rating of 4.6 stars on Amazon, users appreciate its value for money and high performance.
The SKIL wood router (RT1322-00) emphasizes safety and control, evident in features like the soft start function that ensures a safe and controlled start to routing, and the live tool indicator that lights up when the router is connected to power. Electronic feedback ensures the motor maintains RPM while the material is being routed, increasing the precision and quality of your work.
Despite its slightly bulky dimensions (10.04″W x 14.37″ H) and weight (14.3 lbs), the router’s features and performance make it a practical tool for a variety of woodworking tasks.
- Powerful and Versatile: The SKIL RT1322-00 has a robust 14 Amp, 2.5 HP motor and comes with both plunge and fixed bases, making it adaptable for a wide range of woodworking tasks.
- Speed Control LCD Display: This feature allows you to select the bit type and material for suggested speed settings, providing optimal results for your specific task.
- Safety Features: The soft start function and live tool indicator enhance safety during operation.
- Electronic Feedback: This feature ensures the motor maintains RPM while the material is being routed, enhancing the precision and quality of your work.
- Value for Money: Despite the slightly higher weight and size, the high performance and additional features offered at a price of $140-$150 make it a good value for money.
- Weight and Size: At 14.3 lbs and with dimensions of 10.04″ W x 14.37″H, the router is on the heavier and bulkier side, which could affect handling and maneuverability.
Safe Use and Maintenance of a Wood Router
When operating a wood router, safety should always be your primary concern. Start by ensuring that you’re wearing proper safety gear including eye protection, ear protection, and a dust mask. Keep your hands away from the bit area and never touch the bit right after use as it can be extremely hot. Always unplug the router when changing bits, making adjustments, or when you’re finished with your work.
Use the router in a well-lit, clean, and clear workspace. Make sure the wood you’re working on is securely clamped to prevent it from moving while you’re routing. When routing, move the router against the rotation of the bit. This means you should move it from left to right for most handheld routers. Always keep a firm grip on the router with both hands to ensure control.
A well-maintained router is essential for delivering a smooth and high-quality finish. Regularly clean the base and the collet of the router to remove dust and debris that could affect performance. Lubricate moving parts periodically to keep them operating smoothly.
Be mindful of the router bits. They should be kept sharp and clean, as dull or dirty bits can strain the router motor and produce poor-quality cuts. Inspect bits for any sign of damage before use. When not in use, bits should be stored in a protective case to prevent damage.
Finally, inspect the power cord regularly for any signs of wear or damage. If the cord is damaged, avoid using the router until the cord has been replaced. Following these safety and maintenance tips will ensure your best wood router continues to operate safely and effectively.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Wood Routers
- What is a wood router used for?
A wood router is a versatile tool primarily used to hollow out or create designs in a piece of wood. It’s commonly used in woodworking, especially in cabinetry and decorative moldings.
- What is the difference between a plunge and a fixed base router?
A plunge router allows you to start cutting in the middle of a piece of wood, whereas a fixed base router can only start at the edge. The plunge router is more versatile, but the fixed base router offers more stability and precision.
- How do I choose the right speed for my router?
The right speed depends on the diameter of your router bit and the type of material you’re cutting. A general rule is to use slower speeds for larger bits and harder materials.
- Can I use a router on all types of wood?
Yes, but the results might vary. Softer woods like pine are easier to rout, while hardwoods like oak or maple require more power and patience.
- How do I prevent my router from tipping or wobbling?
Ensure the router is well-balanced and the base is flat. Also, apply uniform pressure and move the router steadily and slowly.
- How do I keep my router in good condition?
Regular cleaning and lubrication of moving parts are essential. Also, make sure to keep the router bits sharp and clean. Check the power cord regularly for any signs of wear or damage.
- Is it safe to use a wood router?
Yes, it’s safe provided you follow safety guidelines. Always wear safety gear when operating a router, and ensure your workspace is clean, well-lit, and uncluttered. Always unplug the router when changing bits or making adjustments.
In conclusion, we have reviewed several top-tier best wood routers, each with their unique features, pros, and cons. Ranging from the powerful DEWALT DW618PKB to the versatile SKIL RT1322-00, the market offers a wide variety of options tailored to different woodworking needs. However, our top recommendation, considering its performance, convenience, and value for money, is the Bosch wood router. While all routers examined in our review are exceptional in their own right, the Bosch stands out for its robust design, precision, and superior functionality. Therefore, it earns our top priority as the best choice for both beginners and professionals in woodworking.