Wood Router Reviews:
If you are a woodworker, then you know the most versatile and probably the most popular power tool in your shop is your router. Modern routers are light, easy to handle, and certainly way more accurate than models a decade or so ago. Routers
work great on complex and simple woodworking joinery like mortise and tenons, dowel joints, tongue and groove joints, box joints, and dovetails. With all the accessories and range of bit sizes you can create sign lettering, decorative edges, and patterns that look like they were hand carved. Certain routers are made for cutting synthetic materials like medium-density fiberboard, plastics, and light metals. Buying a router can be confusing these days with the so many features and options on each model. The 2 basic router types are fixed-base (standard or shop routers) and plung base. Fixed based routers are more secure and clamped into a base while the plunge routers can move vertically which give it the "plunge" effect into wood. Plunge routers
are perfect for deep grooves and mortises, template pattern work, stopped dadoes, and through cuts. However, the plunge router does have some drawbacks - it's top heavy, handles are harder to adjust and maneuver. Most users with home workshops tend to own multiple routers for various purposes and the fixed-base routers are preferred for their compact designs and ease of use.
- When deciding on purchasing a router, take into account both the capacity (bit shank) and size (Horsepower) when making your decision. A router with 1 HP or less should be just fine for crafts, hobbies, models, etc. while a router with 1 3/4 HP or more and 1/2 inch bit shank capacity will be needed on professional projects involving work with hardwoods or shaping/forming pieces in a router table. The added power will allow for deeper cuts and completing cuts in 1 try. A lightweight router with plastic housing should be fine for light use but consider metal housing for more professional woodworking. Modern routers have electronic features like the electronic variable speed control which should assist you in making more precise cuts. The EVS has a "soft start" feature which users say is ideal since it speeds up the motor gradually. Many plunge routers already have this feature and more and more fixed-base routers are getting it as well. If you do inlay work or dovetails and need precision cutting depths, then make sure the model you choose comes with a fine adjustment control. A "self releasing" collet (holds the bit) should prevent stuck bits and are usually found in higher quality routers. Top brand names for wood routers are Bosch, Porter-Cable, Skil, Triton, Dewalt, Festool, Hitachi, and Milwaukee. You can purchase many online at Amazon were you can read customer reviews and get feedback on the advantages and disadvantages of each model. Of course going into Lowes or Home Depot to actually touch the levers and see them in action is priceless research as well. See the top selling wood routers online here
Best Plunge Router:
The Bosch 1619EVS
is the top rated plunge router and comes with a 3 1/4 HP, self-releasing collets, a soft-start variable speed motor, and dust control. Users say the Bosch wood router works great freehanded and when mounted to a router table. Consumers also mentioned they like the "versatility" of this router since it can start grooves or cuts in the middle of boards. The 3 3/4" base opening and 2' subbase opening accepts large bits while the constant-response circuitry maintains constant speed under load and protects against overload. Most users said the biggest advantage to the Bosch routers are the fine adjustment knobs which are much better than those found on competitors models. Other top plunge routers include the Makita 3621X 1-1/4 H.P. Plunge Router with 3-Piece Bit Set, Porter-Cable 690LR 11 Amp Fixed Base Horsepower Router, and the Hitachi KM12VC.
Top Fixed Base Routers:
For a heavy-duty fixed base router, go with the Milwaukee 5625-20
15 Amp 3-1/2 Horsepower Fixed Base Variable Speed Router with T-Handle Height Adjustment Wrench for under $250. Although it lacks a dust control and the maximum depth is an inch less than the Bosch reviewed above, users say it performs well while mounted to a router table. The 5 year warranty is long enough for most to think that the product is worth the price. The electronic variable speed offers speeds of 10,000-22,000 rpm, and most reviewers say the "graduated-knob depth adjustment" works perfectly. For a mid-size fixed base router the Milwaukee Body Grip 5615-21 ($153) is slightly cheaper than the other Milwaukee router and a touch smaller but still gets excellent reviews. The exclusive BodyGrip design features a tactile handgrip molded into the base of the router, the linear depth adjustment system makes both coarse and micro-fine height adjustments quickly and accurately, and the router sub-base includes a special access hole for above-the-table depth adjustments. At 8.8 pounds you can hold it with one hand and experts say it's a great first router for any woodworker. Again, Milwaukee offers a 5-year warranty on this model. You can view the top selling Milwaukee routers here
Router Combo Kit:
A woodworking router combo kit combines 1 motor with 2 bases (fixed base and plunge based). The fixed-based does well on trimming work and table mounted projects while the plunge base is perfect for cutting grooves into the center of your woodpiece. The best mid sized router combo kit is the DEWALT DW618PK
($210) - a 2 1/4 HP router with a 3 year warranty and tremendous history of durability and customer satisfaction. Top qualities include the dust control and the ability to easily change bits and adjust the depth of your cuts. The 2.5 inch maximum depth cut is quite deep for this size router. The Skil 1825 (under $100) is a good budget choice for a router combo. Comes with a 2 1/4 hp motor, plunge/fixed bases for smoother cutting, a variable speed motor for optimal performance, and has a touch activated work light. Users say if you only do router woodworking periodically, the value in the Skil saw is there. The collet system is not as good as higher end routers and the maximum depth cut is only 1.5 inches. One other router worth mentioning is the new Bosch Colt PR20EVSK ($120) - really considered a laminating trimmer. It works well as a trim router and provides a rugged aluminum fixed base - that is solid, durable and precise. You also get the best depth adjustment system in its class. For additional stability, especially when trimming edges the unique finger support sprockets come in handy.