The 8 Best Wood Routers Buying Guide & FAQ

What is the best wood router? The answer depends on what you want to make, the materials you plan on using, and how you plan on using the router.

The best wood router can make large wood picture frames or round off the edges of plexiglass shelves. And to make sturdy dovetail joints for drawers or create a panel cabinet door, you need the best wood router.

Yes, the best wood router can do all of that and even more, but not one router can be the best at all of that. So which is the best wood router for your project?

Comparison Table

PRODUCT

IMAGE

PRICE

Bosch GKF12V-25N 12 V Max Palm Edge Router

Bosch 12V Max EC Brushless Palm Edge Router

Image Source: Amazon.com

DeWalt 20V MAX*XR Cordless Compact Router

DeWalt 20V MAX XR Cordless Compact Router

Image Source: Amazon.com

Porter-Cable 1-3/4 HP Fixed-Based Router

PORTER-CABLE Router,

Image Source: Amazon.com

Makita RT0701CX3 1-1/4 HP Compact Router Kit

Makita RT0701CX3 Compact Router Kit

Image Source: Amazon.com

Makita XTR01T7 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Brushless Cordless Compact Router Kit

Makita XTR01T7 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Brushless Cordless Compact Router Kit

Image Source: Amazon.com

Festool 574692 OF 1400 EQ Router

Festool 574692 OF 1400 EQ Router

Image Source: Amazon.com

DeWalt DW616 1-3/4 HP Fixed Base Router

DEWALT Router

Image Source: Amazon.com

DeWalt DWP611PK 1-1/4 HP Max Torque Variable Speed Compact Router Combo Kit

DeWalt DWP611PK Torque Variable Speed Compact Router Combo Kit

Image Source: Amazon.com

What Are Wood Routers?

The wood router is a staple in every woodworker's shop, whether that shop is a corner of the basement or a humongous commercial shop making furniture and cabinets. The router is used to form joints for joining wood or other materials, joints like dovetails, dadoes, rabbets, mortise and tenons, and countless others.

Some other uses of a wood router are to shape edges, create raised panels, rout inlays, and cut circles. But those are only a few of the things you can do with a router. Your imagination, material on hand, and budget are all that limit their use.

Popular Mechanics says you can make anything with a router and a pile of wood.

But what George L. Kelley of Buffalo, NY, was imagining was an easier way to rout stair stringers. His imagination and desire led him to the invention of the first electric handheld router. He was awarded and received a U.S. patent on January 28, 1908. And the rest, as they say, is history.
So after a hundred years, while there have been many improvements, the basic principle of the router is unchanged. Still, a router holds a bit that routs (hollows out), trims, and shapes wood, plastic, and other materials.

Before You Take It to the Wood

Before you start looking at routers, and there are a lot of them, think about what you want to make and what you expect the router to do. What kind of wood will you use? Are you going to make furniture? Will you be making drawer joints> Or do you want to make cutting boards and trays?

In general, these are just a few of the types of questions that will help you decide what you should be looking for in a router.

Because different routers accomplish different tasks, and the price of handheld routers range from the mid $30s to over several hundreds of dollars. And we all know that the budget is always a factor in purchase considerations.

Types

There are two basic types of routers: plunge base and fixed base.

Although, many of today's routers come with interchangeable bases, and some will call those the third type of router.

Plunge base

Plunge base routers have a spring-loaded base that lets you plunge the bit down into the wood or other material. And these types of routers allow you to change the depth of the bit while it is running, by unlocking the depth release control.

The most significant advantage of a plunge router is it lets you begin cutting in the middle of a piece of material, instead of at the edge. Consequently, these types of routers are useful for making deep inlay grooves, patterns, or mortises.

But some of the downsides of plunge routers are they are a bit more complicated to operate when compared to the fixed base; you will have to practice to get perfect. Also, plunge base routers are more expensive, and you cannot use them with a router table or bench.

Fixed base

A fixed based router is perfect for putting edges on wood and other materials and is the right choice for the beginner. Also, these routers are most efficient when on a router table or bench, and they're especially useful when your project needs straight-line precision.

With a fixed base router, you set your depth before you start routing, you cannot adjust the blade depth while running like you can with a plunge base. But these routers are typically compact and maneuver more easily than a plunge base router.

Can You Put a Half-Inch Bit in a Quarter-Inch Router?

Router Technologies router bit extension

Image Source: Amazon.com

No. The collet is the steel sleeve the holds the router bit, and they make most collets in either quarter-inch or half-inch sizes. The collet works with the routers shaft (connected directly to the motor) and the collet nut.

But you can put a quarter-inch bit in a half-inch router if you have a router bit ad​​apter.

What's the Difference Between a Brushed and Brushless Motor?

In a brushed motor, the brushes are in constant contact with the rotating commutator, and that creates a lot of friction. Not only are brushed motors noisy, but the continual friction also produces heat, which results in energy loss, and wear and tear on the brush.

They design brushless motors with a stronger electromagnetic field so that the rotor is not touching anything. So there's less noise and nothing to wear down over time. Which also means the same voltage will deliver more power to a brushless motor.

So while the brushless router may cost a bit more initially, it will outlast the brushed router and give you more energy-efficient power.

How We Picked the Best Wood Router

This best wood router review is an independent analysis of the different types and brands of wood routers available to today's consumer.


To narrow our best wood router choices, we researched and reviewed over 45 of the most popular wood routers, along with comments and reviews from furniture makers, carpenters, wood hobbyists, and consumers.


Our purpose is to give you sufficient factual, unbiased information. So that you can make a confident, informed, and easier decision when purchasing your best wood router.

How We Picked the Best Wood Router

The following eight routers are our top picks for the best wood router. They are in no particular order of preference or ranking.

1. Bosch GKF12V-25N 12 V Max Palm Edge Router


Bosch 12V Max EC Brushless Palm Edge Router

Image Source: Amazon.com

The Bosch GKF12V-25N 12 V Max Palm Edge Router with its lightweight, ergonomic cordless design makes edge routing and trimming a lot faster and easier.


The GKF12V-25N is a brushless router that comes with a quarter-inch self-releasing collet chuck and a forged collet chuck wrench. Bosch does not include a Lithium-Ion battery and charger; they sell them separately. And the maximum router bit size for this router is 1 5/16 inches, with a capacity of a quarter-inch shank.


The comfortable offset design of this cordless router allows for most of the tool and gripping area to be over the workpiece. That along with this router only weighing 2.2 pounds, without the battery, means edge-forming and trimming are stable and comfortable.


Bosch says their EC Brushless 13,000 rpm motor, when rounding 0.2 inches of beech, will deliver 23 feet of routing per battery amp hour.


The versatile depth-adjustment system ensures accurate depth adjusting (0.04 inches per dial revolution), and a depth adjustment lock prevents tampering with the depth setting.
For safety, this router has restart protection to prevent accidental startup when you are switching batteries.


The dimensions of this router are 5.7 inches by 3.1 inches by 9.9 inches. Bosch backs this product with a one-year limited warranty.

Pros and cons

What we like

  • Ergonomic handle
  • No cord
  • The size

What could be better

  • There's no dust collector
  • For the price, they should include the battery

2. DeWalt 20V MAX*XR Cordless Compact Router


DeWalt 20V MAX XR Cordless Compact Router

Image Source: Amazon.com

DeWalt's 20V MAX*XR Cordless Compact Router is a fixed based router with the power of a corded router, but the convenience of no cord getting in your way.


The 20V MAX*XR comes with the motor, a plastic fixed base, a quarter-inch collet, and a wrench. DeWalt does not include the Lithium-Ion battery and charger; they sell them separately. They also sell a plunge base for this router motor separately.


With the dual LED lights and clear plastic base, your work surface is well lit, giving you better visibility as you work. And the depth adjustment ring lets you make height adjustments quickly and with ease.


The soft-start motor has full-time electronic feedback that allows the motor to maintain speed while it's cutting. Also, the variable speed (up to 25,500 rpm) dial will enable you to match speed to the application, and the electronic brake quickly slows the motor after it shuts off.


The dimensions of this 2.6-pound router are 8.4 inches by 5.8 inches by 5.8 inches. And DeWalt backs this product with a three-year limited warranty, one year of free service, and a 90-day money-back guarantee.

Pros and cons

What we like

  • No cord
  • Lightweight
  • Value

What could be better

  • Include the battery
  • Too big for the power

3. Porter-Cable 1-3/4 HP Fixed-Based Router


PORTER-CABLE Router,

Image Source: Amazon.com

Porter-Cable's 1 3/4 Horsepower Fixed-Based Router has an 11 amp motor that produces 1 3/4 peak horsepower at a fixed speed of 27,500 rpm.


This corded fixed base router comes with the motor, a fixed base, a quarter-inch and half-inch collet, and a collet wrench. A compatible plunge base is available for this fixed-base router, sold separately.


For versatility, this router has six depth stop positions and a cam lock lever that allows simple coarse height adjustments, and release of the motor from the fixed base.


The micrometer depth adjustor is accurate to 1/128 inch, and the under table stop prevents the motor from inadvertently rotating out of the base.


The dimensions of this router are 12.5 inches by 8 inches by 12 inches, and it weighs 6.4 pounds. Porter-Cable backs this product with a three-year limited warranty, one-year free service, and a 90-day money-back guarantee.

Pros and cons

What we like

  • Affordable
  • Simple and straight forward router
  • Accuracy

What could be better

  • No plunge base
  • More speeds
  • Aging design lacks refinements

4. Makita RT0701CX3 1-1/4 HP Compact Router Kit


Makita RT0701CX3 Compact Router Kit

Image Source: Amazon.com

Makita's RT0701CX3 1 1/4 Horsepower Compact Router Kit has a 6.5-amp, variable speed (10,000 to 30,000 rpm) motor.


This complete router kit comes with the motor, a quarter-inch collet, two guides (trimmer and straight), two dust nozzles (for the fixed and plunge base), two spanner wrenches, a tool bag, and three plates (plunge, tilt, and offset).


The plunge base has a full 0-inch to 1 3/8-inch plunge capacity. The tilt base is for routing angles at -30 degrees to 45 degrees. And the offset base is for routing in hard-to-reach and close areas. Also, the router accepts industry standard template guides for versatility.


The quick-release cam lock system lets you change depth adjustments and base removal/installation quickly and with ease.


The soft-start feature lets you have a smooth start, and the electronic speed control maintains a constant speed while working.


The overall length of this router is 7 7/8 inches, and it weighs 3.9 pounds. Makita backs this product with a one-year warranty and a 30-day satisfaction guarantee.

Pros and cons

What we like

  • Depth adjustment system
  • Matches speed to the application
  • Slim and ergonomic
  • Less vibration

What could be better

  • The depth adjustment doesn't hold
  • Could use an LED light
  • Needs a clear base

5. Makita XTR01T7 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Brushless Cordless Compact Router Kit


Makita XTR01T7 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Brushless Cordless Compact Router Kit

Image Source: Amazon.com

Makita's XTR01T7 18 Volt LXT Lithium-Ion Brushless Cordless Compact Router Kit includes almost everything for your router needs.


Makita says their BL Brushless Motor has up to 50 percent longer run time, increased power and speed, and longer tool life. This kit includes the motor, two 18 V LXT 5.0Ah batteries, a rapid optimum charger, a quarter-inch, and a three-eighths inch collet.


The kit also includes two template guides, two spanner wrenches, an interlocking case, a plunge base, and a trimmer base.


The variable speed control dial (10,000 to 30,000 rpm) will match the speed to your application. And the electronic speed control maintains constant speed under load.


The overall length of this product is 5.25 inches, and it weighs 4.6 pounds. Makita backs this cordless compact kit with a one-year warranty and a 30-day satisfaction guarantee.

Pros and cons

What we like

  • It's cordless
  • On/Off lock with the electronic safety lock
  • LED lights are bright
  • Small and mighty

What could be better

  • Depth adjustment is clunky
  • Sub-base too small for larger bits
  • Not great on heavy loads

6. Festool 574692 OF 1400 EQ Router


Festool 574692 OF 1400 EQ Router

Image Source: Amazon.com

Festool's 574692 OF 1400 EQ Router has an 11.7 amp, 1400 watt, variable speed (10,000 to 22,500 rpm) motor.


This router is a large, professional-quality router and while not designed for small spaces, it's powerful enough to handle volume work and precision details.


This plunge router also comes with three collets (quarter-inch, half-inch, and eight-millimeter), two guide rods, a chip catcher, dust extraction hood, and T-Loc Systainer 4.


The quick depth adjustment range has up to 2.75-inch plunge depth that is precise to 1/256 inch. Festool designs their routers to increase control and their ergonomic handles reduce fatigue.


This router measures 15.6 inches by 11.6 inches by 12.8 inches and weighs 17.9 pounds. Festool backs this plunge router with a three-year all-inclusive warranty and a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Pros and cons

What we like

  • Dust and chip collection
  • Excellent quality
  • Power, performance, precision

What could be better

  • It's expensive
  • Hand placement different from most routers

7. DeWalt DW616 1-3/4 HP Fixed Base Router


DEWALT Router

Image Source: Amazon.com

DeWalt's DW616 1 3/4 Horsepower Fixed Base Router has an 11 amp, variable speed (up to 24,500 no-load rpm) motor.


This fixed base corded router comes with quarter-inch and half-inch collets, two wrenches, and a concentricity gauge. There is a compatible plunge base that you can buy separately.
The quick-release motor latches let you remove the motor for fast and easy bit and base changes. And it has a heavy-duty, precision machined, die-cast aluminum base and motor housing for durability and light-weight handling.


The micro-fine depth adjustment ring gives precise depth adjustments in 1/64 inch increments and adjusts vertically for a switch and cord set location.


The clear, LEXAN sub-base provides base durability and bit visibility. The rubber over-molded handles and the low center of gravity design improve comfort, balance, and control.
The dimensions of this fixed base router are 10.8 inches by 9.2 inches by 7.2 inches, and it weighs 7.1 pounds. And DeWalt backs this product with a three-year limited warranty, one year of free service, and a 90-day money-back guarantee.

Pros and cons

What we like

  • Powerful
  • Depth adjustment ring
  • Easy bit change
  • Motors cam lock

What could be better

  • Did not get the concentricity gauge
  • Warranty
  • Noisy

​8. DeWalt DWP611PK 1-1/4 HP Max Torque Variable Speed Compact Router Combo Kit


DeWalt DWP611PK Torque Variable Speed Compact Router Combo Kit

Image Source: Amazon.com

DeWalt's DWP611PK 1 1/4 Horsepower Max Torque Variable Speed Compact Router Combo Kit has a seven amp, variable speed (16,000 to 27,000 no-load rpm) motor.
This combo kit includes the motor, a quarter-inch collet, a fixed base, a plunge base, collet wrench, and a soft-sided storage bag.


At its lowest speed, the corded DWP611PK gives 0.37 pound-feet of torque, and at the maximum, the torque goes down to 0.22 pound-feet.


The dual LED's and clear sub-base allow for maximum visibility while operating, and the soft starting motor has full-time electronic feedback that will maintain speed while cutting.
The adjustment ring on the fixed base enables depth changes to within 1/64 inch, and with the plunge ring, the stroke is 2 inches.


The dimensions are 7 inches by 10.25 inches by 19.25 inches, and it weighs 8 pounds. DeWalt backs this product with a three-year limited warranty, one year of free service, and a 90-day money-back guarantee.

Pros and cons

What we like

  • Dual LEDs
  • Clear base
  • Powerful
  • Affordable

What could be better

  • The locking mechanism is prone to slipping
  • Burns out brushes
  • Low torque motor

Amazon customers rated this compact router kit 4.6 out of 5 stars. A favorable 83 percent of reviewers rated this product 5.0 out of 5 stars.

Bring on the Wood and the Dust

The best wood router is among our eight choices, but which one is the best wood router for you? If this is going to be your first router purchase and you're just putting your toes in the sawdust, check out the Porter-Cable router and the DeWalt DW616.

If you're someone like my husband, who already has at least seven routers in his shop, join him in drooling over Festool's router. And if your projects have you dealing with edges take a close look at the Bosch GKF12V-25N.

Whatever your router needs may be, you're going to find the best wood router for you in our group of sawdust making routers. So, pick a router, find some wood, have some fun, and make something.

Let us know in the comments below what wood project you're working on and what best wood router you're using.

Featured Image Source: Wikimedia.org

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