Best Wood Router Reviews and Buying Guide for 2016

Anyone accustomed to working regularly with wood knows how important a wood router is to create a quality product with precision.

It is especially important for those with little experience to have a tool that performs well enough to compensate for any shortcomings he or she would present with woodworking.

Even skilled craftsmen need a tool that is strong enough to impress but still simple enough to handle, so the best wood router is the one that suits each worker’s individual needs the most. Here you can find wood router reviews on some of the most superior models on the market, and you can use these to help narrow down your choices.

Our Recommended Top 10 Wood Routers

Wood RouterHorsepowerSpeed range (RPM)Weight (pounds)Review
DeWalt DWP611PK

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1.2516 000 - 27 0008Our Review
Bosch 1617EVSPK

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1.758 000 - 25 00018.2Our Review
Porter-Cable 690LR

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0.2527 5009.4Our Review
Black & Decker RP250

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1.758 000 - 27 00010.9Our Review
DeWalt DW618PK

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1.758 000 - 24 00022.4Our Review
Bosch PR20EVSK

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116 000 - 35 0003.3Our Review
DeWalt DW616

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1.7524 00010Our Review

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2.310 000 - 25 0003Our Review
DeWalt DW618B3

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1.758 000 - 24 00026.8Our Review
Milwaukee 5625-20

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2.510 000 - 22 00011.8Our Review

Best Wood Router Brands


DeWalt is one of the most recognized brands in tools of all kinds, and it is one of the most reliable wood router brands. The brand has a versatile product line that suits the needs of everyone from professionals all the way down to amateur DIY carpenters.

The DWP611PK is a popular DeWalt router that provides a performance for various tasks with a 1.25 HP motor and speed ranging from 16.000 to 27,000 rpm.

The DeWalt DW618PK model has a 12-amp motor to handle tough hardwoods in addition to a dust collection system, and the DW618B3 model features a 2.25 HP 12-amp motor and vacuum port.


Bosch is a leader in cutting edge creation with their wood routers, and they are made with high-quality design. Bosch routers offer features such as precision centering, micro-fine depth adjustment, quick-release motor clamps and above-table depth adjustment.

These models are difficult to surpass in terms of full performance and user satisfaction, and their PR20EVSK model is ranked #1 on the list of routers sold on Amazon.

The Bosch 1617EVSPK is a best selling unit as well with a 2.25 HP motor, constant response circuitry and double insulation. The innovative MRC23EVSK Bosch router is the first combo to place the on/off switches on the base handles.

Porter Cable

Porter Cable is a well-recognized name in the power tools industry, as the brand has had a long record of innovation and creating many “firsts.”

For those that prefer power tools made in the United States, Porter Cable is based out of Tennessee. The brand has been manufacturing tools for over 100 years. A popular Porter Cable router is the 7518 model, and it is a durable five speed 3.25 HP unit.

The Porter Cable 892 is a mid-sized fixed-base unit that provides a balance of power without the bulk and weight of larger routers.

The Porter Cable 690LR is also a mid-sized fixed-base router designed after the 7518 model but with less weight, simpler design and an affordable price.

Black & Decker

Black & Decker is a famous brand in home electronics, power tools and more. A favorite Black & Decker router is the RP250 model.

It is a plunge router that can handle some of the tasks tackled with a fixed-base model. It is designed to allow for cutting from the center, making inlays and other methods.

The RP250 has a slow start feature to allow for better control, and It has a 10-amp variable speed motor ranging from from 8,000 to 27,000 rpm. It comes with a 0.25-inch collet and wrench, and it is designed with its SIGHTLINE base that offers improved visibility.


Purchasing a Hitachi router is a sure bet for power and versatility. The M12VC model features 11-amp variable speed motors ranging from 8,000 to 24,000 rpm, and it has a soft start feature. The Hitachi KM12VC Router Combo Kit provides the router motor along with a plunge and a fixed base along with 0.25-inch and 0.5-inch collets.

The M12V2 model features a 15-amp motor with a speed range of 8,000 to 22,000 rpm, and it can easily cut through the toughest hardwoods.

Top 10 Wood Router Reviews



The DWP611PK confirms its high quality by being a user favorite among DIY workers all the way up to professional craftsmen. If features a 1.25 HP motor that delivers much more power than models from many competitors, and it offers the performance you need to be productive in all of your projects.

The soft-starting motor features electronic feedback that maintains its speed throughout the cut. The model offers variable speed control that allows the bit speed to be optimized when changing applications, and its speed ranges from 16,000 to 27,000 rpm.

The unit can be set up to switch from both a fixed and plunge base or simply be equipped with a fixed base. The DEWALT DWP611PK presents ergonomic features that make it very comfortable to use in many ways.

It features dual LED lights to offer ample illumination as well as a clear sub-base to provide maximum visibility. The router features a low contoured grip that is close to the work area to provide a great deal of control.

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Bosch 1617EVSPK

Bosch 1617EVSPK

The Bosch 1617EVSPK features a 2.25 HP motor with 12 amps for exceptional power and performance. It is made with wooden handles on its fixed base and a soft grip handle on its plunge base, and it is constructed of aluminum.

It features a variable speed dial that allows you to control the speed based on the material you are routing at any time, and its speed ranges from 8,000 to 25,000 rpm.

The Constant Response Circuitry is built in to help you maintain a constant speed throughout the routing process. This provides you with results that are more accurate and of higher quality.

The 1617EVSPK has a soft start feature that provides smooth transitions and better handling while preventing gouging.

You can switch between fixed base and plunge routing based on the intent of your current project. The unit is double insulated, and it features soft grip handles for enhanced comfort and better control. The Bosch 1617EVSPK is definitely satisfactory for those that use their routers very often as it is durable and powerful.

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Two of the main benefits of this unit are its efficiency and power. The router features a fixed base with a powerful 1.75 HP motor. The unit generates 27,500 rpm to provide accurate and precise cuts with every use. The durable machine is built with a housing base made of machine crafted aluminum to allow it to stand up through repeated use.

The unit’s switch is dust sealed, and it features a sealed ball bearing construction. This prevents dust from getting into the switch mechanism and causing unnecessary problems down the line, and it reduces overall wear and tear.

The router accepts 0.25-inch and 0.5-inch shank bits to add to its versatility and performance. It features ergonomic handles that offer comfort for the user even through jobs that last for hours on end. The PORTER-CABLE 690LR makes an ideal router for very busy wood shops or garages.

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Black & Decker RP250

Black & Decker RP250

The Black & Decker RP250 may be the best plunge router available, and it provides the functions of a fixed router and more.

The plunge router can handle decorative edge design like a fixed router even from the center of the material being cut. It is uniquely designed to allow you to create these center cuts to make inlays, cut-outs and more elaborate designs.

It features a 10 amp motor for excellent power with a variable speed motor ranging from 8,000 to 27,000 rpm. It provides maximum performance with a gradual start function to allow you greater control, more precise results and better safety.

The RP250 comes with a 0.25-inch collet and wrench and features adjustable parallel edge. It is built to be convenient with a specially designed SIGHTLINE base that allows for better visibility, an easy depth scale to provide better accuracy and a spindle lock for easy bit changes.

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The 2.25 HP DEWALT DW618PK is powerful enough to handle even the toughest hardwoods with ease. It has a 12-amp electronic variable speed motor with a range of 8,000 to 24,000 rpm. It features a soft start to ensure safety and precision as well.

The router allows for quick and easy changes of DeWalt router bits and bases, and it comes with 0.25-inch and 0.5-inch collets for better versatility and bit retention. Its adjustable tool-free motor cam lock helps make depth adjustment and base changes quick and solid.

It features a comfortable handle for maximum accuracy and ease of use along with its integral dust collection that collects 95 percent of the surrounding dust. This allows for excellent bit visibility as well as superb protection from unnecessary wear and longer machine life.

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Bosch PR20EVSK

Bosch PR20EVSK

The Bosch PR20EVSK is compact in size, but that takes nothing away from its performance. The PR20EVSK is the Amazon #1 Best Seller in routers, and its 1.0 HP is the highest for small routers in its class. It features a 5.6 amp motor with speeds ranging 15,000 to 35,000 rpm.

It features Constant Response Circuitry to maintain speed under load. The router is capable and versatile enough to handle edge forming, deck plank trimming, window cutouts, slot cutting, decorative inlays and much more.

It also features a depth adjustment system in addition to finger support pockets. It is made with an aluminum construction for durability, and it features a soft grip for comfort. The router kit includes a drop-forged collet and shaft wrenches, straight-edge guide fixed base, collet and case.

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DeWalt DW616

DeWalt DW616

As one of many quality DeWalt wood tools, the DW616 is a 1.74 HP router that is powerful enough to work fluidly through even the toughest hardwoods with its 11-amp motor. The fixed based router features a micro-fine depth adjustment ring to provide quick and precise depth adjustments in 1/64-inch increments.

Its adjustable tool-free motor cam lock to make depth adjustment and base changes solid. The quick release motor latches also offer easy depth change and fast motor pack removal for bit and base changes. It features a concentricity gauge included to provide the best accuracy with bit to sub-base centering.

The unit features rubber overmolded handles along with a low center of gravity to offer comfort, balance and control. It also features a machined die-cast aluminum base with nickel-plated aluminum motor housing, a detachable cordset, dust-sealed switch and clear sub-base for durability and visibility.

The DW616 comes with 0.5-inch and 0.25-inch self-releasing collets and two wrenches.

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The Bosch MRC23EVSK is a 2.3 HP router with a soft starting motor that operates from 10,000 to 25,000 rpm. It features a spring-lock plunge lever, depth rod and smooth plug action for precise but simple plunge routing.

The trigger control system features a trigger switch in the handle for better control, and the two-stage quick clamp system provides fast and tool-free conversion.

The MRC23EVSK provides versatile fixed-base adjustment with 1 5/8-inch continuous micro-fine adjustment. The fixed-base has a hex wrench for micro-fine adjustment through the top of the optional router table. Its afterlock micro-fine depth adjustment allows for easy adjustment at any plunge setting.

The Bosch MRC23EVSK kit comes with the fixed-base router, plunge router, two collet chucks, a collet nut wrench, T-handle hex wrench, shaft wrench, carrying case and three screws.

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DeWalt DW618B3

DeWalt DW618B3

The DeWalt DW618B3 router kit comes with three bases to handle a variety of tasks and provide excellent versatility with professional level quality. Included are a fixed base, a plunge base and D-handle base for more accurate handling.

The D-handle incorporates a trigger switch with a lock-on feature, and the 2.25 HP 12-amp variable-speed motor offers the power to rout smoothly even through the most dense hardwoods.

The router offers full feedback control to maintain constant speed under load from 8,000 to 24,000 rpm, and its soft start helps reduce start-up torque for better control.

The unit provides precise depth adjustments in 1/64-inch increments, and it vertically adjusts for constant cordset location. It features a clear sub-base that provides visibility and durability, and it accepts standard template-guide bushings to make setups easy. The router also features a sub-base concentricity gauge.

Its through-the-column dust collection system collects nearly all dust to provide bit visibility and allow vacuums to be attached to the router without blocking your view. Each base in the kit features rubber over-molded handles and a low center of gravity for better balance, control and comfort.

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Milwaukee 5625-20

Milwaukee 5625-20

The Milwaukee 5625-20 is a heavy-duty 3.5 HP fixed-base router with a powerful 15 amp motor with electronic variable speed ranging from 10,000 to 22,000 rpm.

The adjustment system allows for “above-the-table” access for fast and precise adjustments. It features a linear depth adjustment system with knob-controlled micro-fine depth adjustments to 1/64-inch in addition to its soft start.

The 36-position speed dial allows the user to match the rpm of the tool to the diameter of the bit for a consistent finish, and the electronic feedback circuitry maintains power and speed under load.

The 5625-20 is made with a durable machined aluminum motor housing and base, and it features completely sealed ball bearings with a strong 8-foot power cable. The kit includes the router, a 2.5-inch sub-base, 0.5-inch collet, 2 collet wrenches and T-handle wrench.

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What is a Wood Router?

What is a Wood Router?

Courtesy of Mark Hunter

A wood router is one of the most important tools for anyone working with crafting wood. What does a wood router do? A high quality router with equally performing bits allows you to shape wood edges, hollow out grooves, create joints and many other elaborate woodworking designs.

There are various types of wood routers available, and knowing the differences between such types will inform you of how to use a wood router in addition to helping you learn to choose the model you need.

Your best woodworking router will fit your tasks and working space, but you will not produce the results you want without the right option. Some people may even need more than one router to fit their working habits, so you should consider your situation before making the selection. Consider the following:

  • Do you perform lots of plunge cutting?
  • Does much of your work require bits of large diameter?
  • Will the router be mounted to a table?
  • Do you need a portable unit?

What can you do with a woodworking router?

Best Wood Router Reviews and Buying Guide for 2016

Types of Wood Routers

Fixed Base Wood RoutersFixed Base Wood Routers

Fixed-base woodworking routers perform best when fit to a router table, and they are most suitable for beginners. They are used for edge cutting and molding that requires precisely straight lines. Compared to plunge models, these routers provide the benefit of being lighter in weight and easier to use.

The blade depth is fixed, so it must be set before use as it cannot be adjusted while in operation like a plunge router. Many models allow you to adjust the bit vertically by twisting the housing to screw or loosen the unit.

Plunge Routers

Plunge Routers

What is a plunge router? Plunge routers have spring-loaded bases that allow the router bit to be maneuvered down into the wood. The base of a plunge router can be locked to a specific depth depending on the application for which it is being used.

If the depth release is unlocked, the depth of the bit can be changed while being operated. Plunge routers offer the advantage of allowing the wood to be cut from the center of the piece instead of having to begin at is edge.

They provide more versatility in comparison to fixed-base routers, but they can also be more difficult to use. These routers tend to cost more as well.

Interchangeable Bases

Interchangeable Bases

Many router models allow for both types of bases, and they are changed by simply removing the motor from one base and switching it over to the other. Interchangeable base options give you the ability to expand your design and creation potential without requiring you to purchase an entirely new machine for different tasks.

You can keep one base attached to the table while leaving the other one free as a more portable unit. Using interchangeable bases means the weight you must carry and shift is lessened when compared to owning multiple routers. For some users, it may be better to own multiple routers if you find yourself switching bases quite often.

Factors to Consider When Buying a Wood Router

wood router Horse PowerHorsepower

One of the most important features to consider when looking for a router is its horsepower, and each individual model will have its own power. Knowing exactly how you plan to use your router will help you determine the horsepower you need.

Motors may run from 1.0 HP and 5 amps for a small wood router all the way up to 3.5 HP 12 amp units. A more powerful motor provides you the privilege of taking on much tougher jobs if necessary, and you can easily and smoothly rout through tough hardwoods without much concern when pushing larger shank bits into the workpiece.

More powerful routers do have their disadvantages as well, and these include greater size and weight. Heavy and large tools are inconvenient to use for more delicate projects.

wood router sizeSize

router sizeLarger routers are best for router tables due to being heavier and more cumbersome to operate. They usually have more powerful motors and are made to be used with larger bits that cut more wood.

They are best with variable speed motors as this allows you to reduce speed when increasing bit size. Mid-sized routers are the go-to models that are relied upon for various purposes. Because they are so versatile, many people choose these sizes as their first routers.

They can be used by hand or mounted on a table, and they can be used with a wide range of bits with motors usually ranging from 1.5 to 2.25 HP.

Trim routers have motors at around 1 HP, and they feature 0.25-inch collets and can only be used with small bits to cut little sections of the workpiece at a time. Their weight and size make them easy to use by hand.

wood router baseBase

If deciding upon the base seems difficult, you must begin by considering the purposes for which you will use the tool. Different tasks will require different capabilities from the machine. Both fixed base models and plunge base routers have their advantages, so you should figure out which one is best suited for your needs.

router baseYou should be aware of the main differences between the two. Generally speaking, a fixed base router is usually used in a router table while a plunge router is used for handheld tasks.

A fixed base router is set to a specific depth, and the depth stays consistent while the machine is being used. It requires you to unlock the base from the motor before adjusting the depth of the bit and securing the lock to fix the depth of the bit. These models can allow easier changing of the bits because the base is often removable.

What is a plunge router used for? A plunge router allows you to plunge the bit down and into the piece to make the cut and lift the bit back out of the stock.

A plunge unit allows the motor to move up, down and along two guides. A level lock controls the depth of the bit as the motor is locked on the base. The main advantage of a plunge router is the fact that it allows the motor to reach the desired speed before making the cut.

The bit can be lowered into the stock, and this allows cuts to be made from the center of the piece. Many manufacturers produce routers with both a fixed and plunge base to increase the versatility of the machine, and they allow use of both 0.25-inch and 0.5-inch router bits. You can also check plunge router reviews to find out out which models stand out in the base type.

wood router speedVariable Speed

Variable speed is important as it allows you to reduce the rate at which the bit rotates. As the size of the bit increases, the more wood is removed. When this occurs, the bit will rotate slower.

Variable speed is helpful for allowing you to use a range of bits without unnecessary safety hazards. A variable speed motor provides more versatility with bits and allows you to match the speed with the specific task no matter what type of work you take on.

wood router bit sizeBit Size

router bit sizesThe bit shank size is very important to the type of router you purchase, and the most common sizes are 0.25 and 0.5-inch. You must consider the types of projects you plan to take on and the availability of the bit sizes you will need for those tasks.

It will be much easier to find bits in 0.5-inch size as it is the most common, and even the specialist bits used by professionals tend to come in this size.

You can check router bit reviews to discover how other craftsmen use certain bits. Fortunately, many modern routers come with both 0.25 and 0.5-inch collets, so you may be more equipped to tackle a variety of projects.

wood router convenienceConvenience

The ease with which you can use your router is highly important, so it is worth the effort to find a model that you can operate without hassles. A significant convenience feature on many newer wood router models is dust control.

The cutting you do will likely create lots of wood dust, so having a machine with a vacuum port will help take some of the time and energy you would spend cleaning up behind it. It will also reduce your chances of inhaling particles that could lead to health problems.

wood router soft startrouter soft startSoft Start

A soft start is important for safety and precise cutting, and many models provide this feature. It allows the motor to slowly and gradually reach the desired speed, and it prevents sudden jerks when the unit is first engaged to make it easier to handle.

This feature helps to prolong the life of your machine (especially when using larger bits) by reducing the strain on your router’s motor.

wood router comfortComfort

Your comfort when using a carpentry router is a significant factor in deciding if a model is a good match for you. Taking this aspect into consideration will allow you to better create the projects how you want them to be because you will have better control over the machine.

A router that you find to be comfortable will also help to keep you safer due to your ability to handle it more efficiently. You should find a model that fits well to your comfort level based on size, shape and power.

wood router costCost

Many people won’t consider the cost of their router before purchase, but finding a model that fits within their budget is a top priority for many others. If you are one of those shoppers looking to stay within a strict budget, you must also make sure you find a top quality router within your price range.

If budget is not a factor, feel free to shop for the best features you need. Having a wider budget does not mean you should automatically shop for the flashiest craftsman router you can find.

You should still make sure the unit you purchase is suitable enough that you only have the features you need and none that make the using the machine seem overwhelming.

wood router powerYour Own Ability

Your Own AbilityYou must consider your own skill level and experience in using wood routers when deciding to buy a new one. You may have no experience owning your own unit, or you may years of experience routing wood and simply need to upgrade.

Either way, you must take into account how your own skill matches to the router you want to buy. The router is only part of the process, but how you handle the tool ultimately affects how pleased you will be with the results you are able to produce.

Don’t try to aim for the most flashy or powerful unit if you do not believe it matches your personal comfort based on physical features or skill level.

Important Wood Router Accessories

Important Wood Router AccessoriesThere are many types of accessories you should consider purchasing as you may need them when you use your router. Some accessories are necessary for most workers, and others are helpful for increasing the functionality of your router.

They will allow you to perform an assortment of tasks. Many routers already come with features that may make operation easier, but it is still wise to consider all the extra components you may need. Accessories you should consider include:

  • High-quality router bits
  • A router table
  • Fences
  • Speed controls
  • Clamps
  • Jigs
  • Switches

What are Router Bits?

What are Router Bits?Router bits are the cutting pieces used with the router to shape the wood piece, and they come in many styles to create decorative effects and joints. Bits vary in the diameter of their shank, and these sizes range from 0.5-inch to 6-mm shanks.

Larger bits are stiffer and are less prone to vibration and breaking compared to smaller sizes. Their reduced vibration results in smoother cuts, but these sizes are more expensive than smaller bits.

The sizes of the bit shank and router collet must match exactly to prevent damage to either component, and the bit can slip out of the collet while in use. Many routers come with removable collets for more popular bit shank sizes.

Bits are often classified as high-speed steel or carbide-tipped, and modern creations such as solid carbide bits offer more variety for unique projects. Router bits can also be classified as edge or non-edge bits.

Edge bits have a wheel bearing that acts as a fence against the workpiece when making edge moldings, and the bearings can be changed with a bearing kit. Changing the bearing essentially changes the diameter of the cutting edge. Non-edge bits require a fence on the router table, attached to the piece or on the router.

Anti-kickback bits use non-cutting material around the perimeter of the bit to limit the feed rate. This reduces the chance of the workpiece being pushed too deeply into the bit and causing significant kickback.

Most newer routers allow variation in the speed at which the bit rotates, and a slower speed is helpful for larger bits to be used safely and effectively. Speeds usually range from 8,000 to 30,000 rpm.

Bits can be made to match nearly any shape, and you can even order custom bits that are helpful in home design projects that require updating trim or molding that may be discontinued.

Some bits come in complimentary sets in order to work on joints used in creating panels and frames. One bit is made to cut the grove in rail pieces while the other shapes the panel to fit in the grove.

High-Speed Steel router bit

Router Bit Materials

High-Speed Steel

These bits are meant to be used with softer woods as they are not able to maintain their sharpness as long as other bit types. They are the most affordable router bits, and they work well for those that only use their routers from time to time.


Carbide-Tipped wood router

In contrast to high-speed steel bits, these bits are made of much stronger material, and they can maintain their sharpness and shape much longer than high-speed steel types.

Carbide-tipped router bits can be used to cut hardwood workpieces in addition to metal. Because of their strength and durability, these bits are often a favorite among professional woodworkers and others that may use their routers on a daily basis.

Solid Carbide

Solid Carbide

Solid carbide router bits are the strongest and most long-lasting bits you can buy, and they are used for the hardest of work materials. They are strong enough to hold their edges extremely well in addition to being used for longer periods without problems compared to high-speed steel and carbide-tipped varieties.

Solid carbide bits are more expensive, but the cost pays off in the longevity and the methods with which you can use them.

How to Use Wood Routers : Types of Router Bits

Best Wood Router Reviews and Buying Guide for 2016

Tips on Choosing the Best Wood Router

Tips on Choosing the Best Wood Router

1. Take Your Budget Into Account

For some buyers, the amount they spend on their wood router is a top priority. Many people want a balance between cost and quality. Other people want the best quality without concern for cost, and still others want the most affordable unit possible and aim for a cheap wood router.

2. Decide on the Type of Base You Need

You may prefer a fixed-base router, a plunge router or one with bases you can switch. You should be certain about this before choosing a model because it is an important factor that will determine how easy your routing experience may be. Do you need the best table router or one that can be moved easily?

3. Read Reviews Thoroughly

When researching wood routers, reviews are an essential component in the process. Reading wood router reviews helps you to gain a general understanding of the machines available for purchase.

You learn about the most important features of each model, and you can begin to compare models this way to help narrow down your choices.

4. Make a Wood Router Comparison in Person

Even if you compare models based on router tool reviews, it is still important to get a personal feel for them on your own. Find models available at stores in your area if they match ones that you are willing to buy. Ask other users about their own experiences as well to find the best router for woodworking.

Wood Router FAQ

Wood Router FAQ

 Should I purchase a lift kit for my router?

Your need or desire for a lift will depend upon the model you use. A lift kit helps adjust the height of the unit while mounted to a table, but it is unlikely that a lift will actually be required for your router.

What is the benefit of using a spiral bit compared to a straight bit?

Spiral bits produce an exceptionally smooth surface as they cut with a shearing action. Compared to straight bits, the cutting edges of spiral bits are always in contact with the workpiece. A spiral bit will decrease the need for subsequent sanding after shaping.

There is a clear coating on my router bit. What is it and how do I remove it?

Bits may be coated with a layer of protective wax to defend against moisture and chipping, and this must be removed before the bits are used. It is best to use your fingernail to peel the layer away.

How can I prolong the life of my bits?

Clean your bits thoroughly after each use, and spray them with a blade lubricant. Keep them stored in an environment at room temperature with low humidity. You can also store them with desiccant packs to absorb any moisture.

Do a I need variable speed for my router if I perform simple tasks?

Many woodworkers find a set speed adequate for the majority of their work, so it is not absolutely necessary to change it. A benefit of being able to use lower speeds when necessary is the fact that it places much less strain on your bit and allows it to last longer.

What is a CNC Wood Router?

What is a CNC Wood Router?A CNC wood router is a machine to which a router or spindle mounts, and it is controlled by computer. The machine can be a moving gantry type with a fixed table and a spindle that moves over it or a bridge style with the table moving underneath the router spindle.

The part that needs to be created uses CAM/CAD programming software as the computer creates a tool path that the machine follows to cut out the part. The CNC moves along three X, Y and Z axes.

Most CNC routers feature a three motor drive system that uses stepper or servo motors, but the advanced models use a four motor system for better speed and accuracy.

How CNC Wood Router Works

Best Wood Router Reviews and Buying Guide for 2016

Router Tables, Router Fences and Other Features

Router Table

Router TableA router table is a machine upon which the router is attached. The purpose of the router table is to allow the router to be attached with its bit up. The spindle of the router extends from the table, and router bits are mounted in the spindle chuck.

When the router is in use, the workpiece slides across the top of the table and the top of the bit or blade. The cutters mold a shape into the wood as it is fed into the machine. You can use a free-standing router table or a tabletop model that can be placed on your existing workbench.

What you consider to be the best router for table use will depend upon how you plan to use it. The best router table for the money will provide you with quality without breaking the bank, and many buyers shopping on a budget opt for a DeWalt router table due the brand’s reputation for quality machinery.

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Router Fences

Router Fences

A router fence acts as a guide that the worker uses to push the wood against while cutting. It prevents the workpiece from shifting out of place, and it allows the bit to cut in accurate and precise straight lines.

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Router Clamps

Clamps clip to the workpiece to prevent it from slipping out of place. They can also be used to help hold the jig to the table to keep it more stable. Clamps are essential tools for all carpenters and anyone working with wood.

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Router Jigs

Jigs help hold the wood in place for cutting box joiners, hinge recesses, dovetail joints and dado joints.

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Electronic Feedback Circuitry

Known as EFC, the electronic feedback circuitry allows the router’s circuitry to monitor how much strain is placed on the motor. It then adjusts the torque to match that. This system prevents an overload on the motor and keeps the work consistent.

Speed Control

Router Tables, Router Fences and Other FeaturesSpeed controls are essential for having maximum control over your work. Many routers have a variable speed trigger to help engage and control the speed of the machine.

You may encounter a task that requires you to use both hands while working on a piece, and having a foot switch to control the on/off switch of the router to power it makes this much easier.

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Soft Start

The soft start feature allows the router to slowly increase its speed when initially engaged. The worker is given a slight moment of pause after the unit is started before it begins to accelerate to the chosen speed. This prevents gouging when the machine is turned on.

The best wood routers are built standard with this feature, so it is important to look out for it when choosing. It is a great feature to have for those that are new at woodworking and may not be accustomed to the sudden jerking or noise that comes with engaging the machine.

Router Tables, Router Fences and Other FeaturesSpindle Lock

A spindle lock may not be a feature that is considered absolutely necessary, but it is one that certainly comes in handy. There are many router models that require two wrenches to make bit changes, but a spindle lock provides the benefit of allowing bit changes to be made more easily.

Ergonomic Handles

It is important that your hands are kept comfortable while working to prevent cramps and fatigue that may lead to mistakes or injuries. This is even more important when you have to tackle many tasks all at once and will be working for extended periods. Many routers feature two handles, and those that are covered in rubber material will be much more comfortable to use.

Dust Control

Completing a task can cause lots of wood dust or shavings to pile up when using a router. Having a machine that allows for vacuum connection can improve or eliminate this problem to keep the work area clear, reduce accidents and decrease the risk of breathing problems. As important as this feature is, it has become much more popular among newer router models.

Router Tables, Router Fences and Other FeaturesCollet Size

The collet is the sleeve that holds the bit in the router, and it does so along with the shaft that is connected to the motor and the collet nut. Collets usually come in 0.25-inch and 0.5-inch size, and they come in four different types including:

  • Split shaft
  • Split shaft with sleeve adapters
  • Tapered shaft with single slit
  • Tapered shaft with multi-slit

Collet Maintenance

All machines that require metal to metal contact (as well as those that create wood dust and shavings) will usually face wear and tear over time that will require some form of maintenance.

Router Tables, Router Fences and Other FeaturesIf the collet becomes worn or scratched, it will not provide a proper hold for the router bit and may increase vibrations when working. To prolong the life of a collet, never tighten it without having the router bit in place. Doing so can cause the collet to become deformed, and this will cause the router bit to fit improperly.

Sap and dust can collect and clog the collet or decrease the recess of the shaft, but buildup can also harm the inside of the collet nut. This can be helped by cleaning the collet on a regular basis to ensure it fits tightly on the router bit.

Cleaning can be done by using a soft rag for the main components and a small brush with nylon or brass bristles for the small and tight areas. These materials help to clean the collet without causing damage to any of the surfaces.

Never use sandpaper as it is too abrasive, but any surfaces that are already damaged can be smoothed with a bronze cleaning brush. You may also use a steel wool pad to lightly scrub away burns or surface scratches.


Templates are helpful to add to both creativity and execution. There are numerous styles of templates that can be purchased with your machine, and they allow you to create various intricate designs with ease. You simply attach a template and follow it with the router.

Other Tools That are Similar to Wood Routers

Laminate Trimmer

Laminate Trimmer

A laminate trimmer is used to trim laminate by cutting to fit its wooden substrate. When fit with a bearing-guided flush trimming bit, the bit is guided around the edge of the substrate to create a perfect cut. A laminate trimmer is similar to a wood router, but it is designed to use small cutting bits. Because of this, it is easier to handle when used for smaller tasks.

Wood Shaper

Wood Shaper

A wood shaper is a stationary machine with a vertical spindle featuring cutter heads that shape wood as it is fed into the tool. They are very similar to routers, but wood shapers are designed to handle work of larger volume. These tools hold larger cutting components, and they can be used for deep and large-diameter cuts.

Pin Router

Pin Router

A pin router is like a larger form of a hand electric router, but it features a much more powerful motor along with additional features such as automatic template copying. These tools are well suited for single part creation or limited tasks, and it is a better option for handheld contour shaping compared to many other tools.

Where Should I Buy a Wood Router?

Even if you have decided on the model you want, you may still be unsure of where you should buy a router for wood. Your local hardware stores will likely have wood routers for sale, but you may not be able to find the exact model you need or the accessories to go along with it.

Buying a wood router is a significant investment for anyone that works with wood regularly, so you should not have to settle for another model just because it is available at the time.

You can easily find an assortment of wood routers on The added benefit of buying this way is the fact that you can often find discounts on popular models compared to buying in-store.

Making the Decision

Making the right decisionIf you have come this far, it means you are now equipped with much more information than you likely had before visiting this site. You must use the woodworking router reviews and other information provided here to make your own personal choice in purchasing the best router tool.

You must carefully examine the tool options available to you and compare the selection to your specific needs when working with wood. How much will you produce? Will you use your machine daily? For what applications will you need your router? What style suits your needs best? These are only some of the questions that should be considered before the final purchase.

Some of the research has been done for you, but you must still dig deeper to narrow down your choices based on what you’ve learned here.

This is the only way to end up with a wood router that will prove to be valuable in all of the ways you plan to use it. Once you have found your perfect model, get out there and buy it to start crafting masterpieces right away.

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