The Best Wood Router For 2017; Complete Buying Guide & Reviews

Introduction

With the before article, We discussed the best dovetail jig buying guide. This article aims at identifying the top five best wood router brands available on the market and the specifics on what to look out for when buying or renting one.

Carpentry and woodwork are among the oldest trades in the world. This is no surprise considering wood is among mankind’s oldest building materials. These seasoned and time-tested trades often employ a variety of tools and contraptions. In the field of fine woodworking, some degrees of artistry alongside an array of tools are a prerequisite. Advances in science and technology have given rise to a new generation of power tools, making everything a whole lot easier.

More...

** Below, you'll find our more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Amazon.

The History Of Wood Routers

A router is a woodworking tool used to hollow out or cut furrows on woodworking materials. Most power tools used in woodworking retain some semblance of the original handheld predecessors. Power routers are revolutionary woodworking tool that has over time replaced traditional hand planes and other specialized tools used for molding and grooving. The degree of precision achieved using wood routers makes it a must have tool for any fine woodworking task.

The first ever commercially produced router was manufactured in the year 1905 by the Kelley Electric Machine Company based out of Buffalo, New York. The tool’s patents were filed in 1906 and later granted in the year 1908. The original Kelley Electric Router was a basic portable bench machine comprising universal motor running on either AC or DC current. The motor was rated at a mere 1 horsepower and drove the cutters at 6,500 rotations per minute.

The router was used for panel raising and sinking, staircase routing and other fine woodworking tasks. The cutting bits were located within the motor’s housing. Several other models and router brands sprung up within the same era. The most notable brands included; The Mattison No. 9 Line Cutter and the Hunter Electric Stair Router which reached speeds of up to 3,400 RPM.

How Do Wood Routers Work?

For beginners or rookie users, wood routers can be quite intimidating. Routers work by rotating a cutting bit at varying and predetermined speeds. Woodworking routers operate between 8,000 and 30,000 revolutions per minute. Other router types used for materials such as metal operate between 2,000 and 10,000 revolutions per minute.

The actual routing process is a high-speed affair involving cutting, reshaping wood or whatever material is being used and trimming of the same. Router bits come in two classifications;

a. High-Speed Steel and,

b. Carbide tipped bits.

Aside from the material bits are made of, router bits can also either edge bits or non-edge bits and also “anti-kickback” bit. The edge bits have a small wheel bearing that acts as a fence in edge molding tasks. Anti-kickback bits have non-cutting material around the bit’s circumference which limits the feed rate. This essentially reduces the chances that the working piece will be pushed in too deep into the bit resulting in significant kickback.

Things Consider When Choosing A Wood Router

When out scouting for a wood router, consulting power equipment dealers is a highly recommended move as they offer valuable insight into the best router brands and models available. It is particularly highly advised for new users or inexperienced individuals. Take into consideration several wood route reviews prior to making that all important purchase. Below are some few pointers as to what you should be looking for in a wood router;

1. Variable Speed

Variable speed is a must-have feature if you demand more from your wood router. The safety guidelines also require that you run the router at lower RPM’s when working with large diameter cutting bits. It is ill advised to attempt running large diameter router bits at full speed. The variable speed feature allows you to make precision molds on different material types. As mentioned earlier, different materials require different cutting speeds.

2. Soft Start Feature Of The Best Wood Router

Without the soft start feature, a router will quickly power up to full speed the moment you turn it on. The surge of power can make the router suddenly jerk in your hands, which is especially the case with big bits in the chuck which can be risky. The noise, on the other hand, can be startling as well. With a soft start, you will experience a momentary pause after powering it up after which the router will gently accelerate to the preset speed. The Soft start feature comes as a standard with most new routers that have electronic feedback circuitry.

3. Type Of Router

There are several types of routers with each suited for a particular task;

Plunge Router: When looking to make interior cuts, plunge routers are the gold choice. The router bit moves up and down allowing the user to plunge right into the center of the cut.

Trim Router: This is a type of handheld router designed and built to perform lamination work. This type of router comes with a variety of bases for offset and bevel cuts.

Fixed Base Router: This router features a bearing at the cutting bit. This bearing allows the router to follow the edge of the material being cut. This router is, however, unsuitable for making interior cuts.

4. Power Of The Router's Motor

Power in routers is expressed in terms of motor horsepower. Motor horsepower should be somewhere on top of your checklist. The horsepower rating determines how effectively the router can push larger sized bits through the working material.

5. Dust Collection

Working with wood routers is no doubt a dusty work . Dust is a known respiratory hazard and it is often advised to accompany power tools, especially woodworking ones with face masks. Having a router with a dust vacuum is an added advantage as less time will be spent cleaning up.

Which Is The Best Wood Router That You Should Buy?

In the following segment, I have sampled a compilation of the top five bestselling wood routers available on the current market while highlighting the specific features that set each model apart from the next. Have a look;

1. DEWALT DW618PK 12-AMP 2-1/4 HP Plunge and Fixed-Base Variable-Speed Router Kit

Via Amazon.com

The DeWalt brand makes yet another entry onto this list of best-selling routers. The DeWalt DW618PK combines the aspects of power and prime comfort making it the ideal tool for both professional and DIY woodworkers.

With a 2.25 horsepower motor, this model offers a soft start feature which as discussed earlier is quite important. The variable speed settings on this model comprise an electronic variable speed dial alongside full feedback control. The speed on this model ranges between 8,000 and 24,000 Revolutions per minute. The settings range from 1 to 6 allowing the user to toggle between the different speeds for respective materials and specific needs.


What We Liked

  • This model features a handy detachable power cord.
  • This model’s design incorporates a low center of gravity which enhances the tool’s stability during operation.
  • Ergonomic handles add onto the comfort during operation. The handle grips are designed to reduce operational fatigue of the power tool.
  • Unlike most routers in its class, this particular model features an effective dust collection system which is a huge advantage.
  • Additional accessories accompanying this product increase this product’s performance and service life. The 3-year manufacturer’s warranty adds onto this router’s quality on top of a beautiful durable finish.

What We Didn't Like

  • The edge guide tool and centering tools are purchased separately.

2. Bosch 1617EVSPK 12 Amp 2-1/4-Horsepower Plunge and Fixed Base Variable Speed Router Kit

Via Amazon.com

The BOSCH 1617EVSPK is a mid-range wood router with a 2.25 horsepower motor. The router’s motor is capable of handling a vast array of tasks without experiencing any fatigue. This model features a beautiful aluminum finish that enhances the device’s service life.

This router has been termed as being capable of handling heavy duty tasks and continues to be a favorite to both beginners and professionals alike. This model also features a cutting-edge Bosch Precision Centering design which allows the router to be centered with the base template guides for precision cutting.


What We Liked

  • The BOSCH 1617EVSPK is both a Plunge router and a fixed base wood router. This makes the tool the perfect pick for individual undertaking regular fine woodworking. It eliminates the need to procure both fixed and plunge wood routers separately.
  • The variable speed feature comes in settings ranging from 1 to 6 available on the dial. From 1 to 3, the RPM ranges between 8,000 and 25,000. From 4 to 6-speed dials, the RPM’s range is between 20,000 and 25,000.
  • The handle ergonomics on this model are impressive making its operation quite comfortable. The handles are contoured.

Via Amazon.com


What We Didn't Like

  • The dust collection feature is virtually non-existent. Instead, the router offers a dust deflection feature. This can cause a dust build-up in the router ultimately causing it to malfunction.
  • Bit changing is quite the hassle on this model. You need specialized wrenches and tools.

3. DEWALT DWP611PK 1.25 HP Max Torque Variable Speed Compact Router Combo Kit with LED's

Via Amazon.com

The DeWalt brand is world-renowned for the quality of power tools produced. In the case of the DWP611PK compact router, the quality of design, build and finish are exemplary.

This product features a 1.25 horsepower motor with variable speed settings ranging from 1 to 6 available on the dial. From settings 1 to 3, the speed varies between 16,000 and 20,400 RPM. Between settings 4 to 6, the speed is 22,600 to 27,000 RPM.

The higher speed spectrum is suitable for use with small diameter bits on soft wood, plastics, and other light consistency materials. With each speed dial, the speed bump is up by about 100 RPM. Whether for home DIY woodworking or light professional tasks, the DeWalt DWP611PK delivers.


What We Liked

  • This product comes with a combo kit which allows the user to switch between plunge and fixed base models.
  • This model features ergonomic handles that render the DeWalt DWP611PK relatively comfortable to operate. Arm fatigue is eliminated.
  • The sub-base is clear allowing the operator to have a view of the working area. This coupled with working lights enhances precision.
  • This model comes with a 3-year warranty. So you know the quality of this product is above average.

What We Didn't Like

  • This model doesn’t have side handles which can be quite limiting.
  • The edge guide for the fixed base is purchased separately.

4. PORTER-CABLE 690LR 11-Amp Fixed-Base Router

Via Amazon.com

This model has been described as being a tried and true router. It features a 1.75 horsepower motor that reaches an upper speed limit of 27,500 RPM. The cam lock lever on this motor allows easy course height adjustment and motor release.

The router runs on a standard 120 volt A/C home current. This model has been on the market for a while and continues to be a favorite to most professional and basic DIY users. This model offers an efficient blend of power and comfort during operation.


What We Liked

  • This product accepts both 0.25 inch and 0.5-inch shank bits on the router.
  • The 11-ampere motor delivers up to 27,500 Rotations per minute. This speed comfortable covers most materials used in molding and woodwork.
  • The variable speed settings allow the adjustment of speeds via the use of speed dials. This allows the user to match the working material’s specific needs.
  • Unlike most other brands and models, this product features an easy bit removal and change system eliminating the need for wrenches and other specialized tools.

What We Didn't Like

  • The drawback on this router model is a lack of a dust collection feature.

5. Bosch PR20EVSK Colt Palm Grip 5.6 Amp 1-Horsepower Fixed-Base Variable-Speed Router with Edge Guide

Via Amazon.com

This router is among the most comfortable power tools out there today. This is thanks to an over molded soft grip that enhances the tool’s ergonomics. This makes for comfortable operation devoid of fatigue over extended projects. Also known a Colt Palm router, this tool features a 1 horsepower motor rated at 5.6 amperes. For a router of its size and specifications, this model has a lot of power and torque. It is a favorite with home DIY users. The design is simple, compact and features a beautiful finish.


What We Liked

  • The variable speed feature consistent with most routers allows this model to toggle between different speeds and tasks. The 5.6-ampere motor ranges the speeds between 16,000 and 35,000 RPM.
  • This router comes with two settings, fixed and plunge router modes. The fixed base cuts at a consistent depth while the plunge option is variable in nature.
  • This product is a small compact router that is comfortable to operate. The size plus the handle ergonomics make for a smooth ride during use.

What We Didn't Like

  • This router is built to handle lightweight tasks and as such is unsuitable for professional duties.
  • No dust collection.

The Verdict

Each wood router on the above list has earned its place and reputation among the market’s top five bestselling routers. Every wood router is an excellent choice. However, the top spot goes to the DeWalt DW618PK. This wood router combines the aspects of power delivery, ergonomics, user safety (i.e. dust collection) and elegant design making it the ultimate routing tool for both inexperienced and professional users alike.

This particular wood router model is among the most powerful routers available; a fact which combined with its unique dust collection abilities justifies its pole position.

Our Pick: 

1. DEWALT DW618PK 12-AMP 2-1/4 HP Plunge and Fixed-Base Variable-Speed Router Kit

Conclusion

The trade of fine woodworking is a long-standing discipline that combines the best of carpentry with art. The tools associated with fine woodworking have a lot placed upon them as far as expectations go. As newer models continue coming up, the improvements in user safety, precision, and control make wood routers must have tools.

I sincerely hope that this article has been educative and enriching. You can now confidently proceed to determine the best wood router for your DIY or professional purposes. Kindly share your comments, thoughts, and suggestions in the space provided below.

Jose A. Brown
 

Jose A. Brown is a mechanic engineer and an enthusiastic blogger whose mission is to provide the readers with the best tips, guides in the Home Improvement, DIY Project, and Industry.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 0 comments