Monday, May 27, 2024

The Top 5 Wood Router Tools To Perfect Your Projects

A home workshop full of the best woodworking tools is truly a sight. A key component of your tool collection should almost certainly be a wood router. 

Wood router tools work by spinning quickly to shape, cut and trim wood, creating perfect finished edges and corners.

I have compiled my top 5 wood router tools to complete the job in style. My favourite is the DeWalt 18v XR Cordless 1/4″ Router Kit. However, all the tools mentioned will complete the job to an incredible standard.

The 5 Best Wood Router Tools - At A Glance

Why Should My Opinion Matter?

Being a keen DIY enthusiast and ex-tradie, I have always enjoyed woodworking. As my skills have developed over the years, I have wanted to acquire top-of-the-range tools for my arsenal, which has become slightly addictive and expensive. (It’s called shiny object syndrome)

I’m always looking to try something new and perfect my woodworking projects. The wood router tools have been tried and tested in the last few years.

That is either through my purchases, spending time in my home workshop or the various woodworking classes and clubs I have attended, honing my skills.

I’ll give it to you with no fuss or nonsense on how they perform.

My Top 5 Wood Router Tools To Perfect Your Projects

With so many options, getting lost in the world of power tools is easy. I’ve categorised my 5 picks on the different types of wood router tools they are and how they function.

My Pick – DeWalt 18v XR Cordless 1/4″ Router Kit

wood router tools

• Go cordless for maximum mobility.
• Get longer runtime and zero maintenance with a brushless motor.
• Make precise plunge cuts with the adjustable turret.
• Easily switch from handheld to fixed base with the aluminum motor housing.
• Keep speed steady under load with electronic speed control.

I’ve put my DEWALT cordless router through its paces over the last year, which was a worthy investment.

This router is compact and lightweight, weighing just 2.3 kilograms without a battery. The rubber over mould grips provide decent comfort for your hands when used for a long time, while the dual LED lights illuminate my work area.

I like how it transitions between the plunge and fixed bases. The intelligent design of the aluminium motor housing can be thanked for that.

Setting this bad boy up is a breeze, with features like the spindle lock for quick accessory changes and the plunge base’s fine-tuned rod for precise depth adjustments.

It has a brushless motor, and this router delivers good runtime and decent power. The variable speed control allows for different cutter speeds to suit the different materials I use. Clean cuts every time!

It also has a soft start feature, which allows you to get the feel of it on startup nicely and slowly.

DEWALT always prides itself on safety, which is evident in this router. The electronic brake gives you added control, and the lock-on switch prevents accidental startups.

While the router is slightly pricer than others, its features, solid construction, and brand reputation offer excellent value for money. The kit, as a whole, is the perfect choice for those precise cuts and intricate designs.

While some minor points for improvement, such as optimising the power button’s placement, the router’s overall performance and versatility have made it my favourite wood router.

Plunge Router – Makita RP0900X Plunge Router

wood router tools

  • Enhanced safety with double insulation
  • Choose between 1/4 or 3/8 plunge router options.
  • Enjoy boosted motor power.
  • Comfortable ergonomic grip for extended use.
  • Experience faster cutting speeds.

I recently received the RPO 900 quarter-inch router, and I’m impressed with its performance and features.

This router packs a punch with a 900-watt motor and spindle speed of up to 27,000 RPM. It has excellent collet options, accommodating quarter-inch and 3/8-inch collets, which are included in the standard equipment.

The RPO 900 has plenty of accessories. A guide roll/side fence provides support and guidance during the more precise routing tasks. Additionally, two spanners for the spindle lock make accessory changes super easy.

The router’s design is comfortable. The 35-millimeter plunge depth offers plenty of flexibility. The locking lever is one of the strongest I’ve seen, while the pull-and-go trigger on the right-hand side handle is highly convenient.

Dust management has been prioritised for this router. The dust guard is good and contains dust well, while a dust nozzle can be fitted for further collection.

Fixed Base Router – DeWalt Compact Router

wood router tools

  • Variable speed control (16,000 to 27,000) optimises router bit for tasks.
  • Depth ring and clamping ensure motor accuracy.
  • Aluminium housing guarantees durability.
  • Large 100mm D-Base provides ample router support.
  • Dual LED lights enhance visibility around the router bit.

Yes, I know. Another DEWALT, but a specific fixed base one this time.

The spindle stop feature on this router is fab and a game-changer for me. With it, I can tighten the collet without constantly removing the spanner because it locks in multiple positions, not just one.

The height adjustment mechanism is brilliantly simple yet incredibly accurate. Plus, the famous DEWALT LED lights at the base illuminate my workbench perfectly.

The parallel fence is another impressive feature. It’s ideal when using a cutter that isn’t guided by a bearing. And when I’m just rounding off a window board edge with a guided cutter, it’s easy to remove.

Even after I pull the motor out of the base, putting it back in the same setting is a piece of cake. That level of consistency is something I haven’t experienced with other brands like Makita or Bosch.

The power switch also comes with a soft rubber dust cover. I love that attention to detail, and it’s a small touch that goes a long way in keeping dust out of my tool. The generous ten to twelve feet of cable is also handy.

Palm Router – Bosch Gkf 12V-8 Router

wood router tools

  • Experience enhanced flexibility and portability with cordless freedom.
  • Ensure user safety with restart protection.
  • Easily adjust cutting depth with macro depth adjustment.
  • Secure cutting depth with the lock feature.
  • Convenient spindle lock for easy tool changes.

My favourite palm router is the Bosch GKF. Despite its unique appearance, this router is comfortable, making it easy to use for extended periods.

The on-off switch is easily accessible, and its low centre of gravity prevents tipping during operation—a common issue I’ve found with other cordless routers.

Unlike other models that require two hands to change bits, this router allows for quick bit changes with just one hand. It’s a remarkable fact.

Height adjustment is convenient, with a button on the side for quick adjustments and a wheel for fine-tuning depth settings. Once set, a knob on the side locks the router into place.
Due to its compact size, I’ve used this router mainly for cutting V-grooves and mortises, albeit slowly.

One standout feature of the Bosch GKF is its remarkably quiet. While the lack of dust collection may seem like a downside, the router’s size makes accommodating a dust collection system difficult.

Budget Router – Bosch Home and Garden Router

wood router tools

  • Handle-mounted on/off switch for convenience.
  • Input power: 1,200 Watts; Output power: 650 W.
  • SDS system facilitates easy template guide insertion.
  • Features vacuum adaptor and clamping lever.
  • Adjust speed effortlessly with the setting wheel.

While it may not be classified as a professional-grade router, it certainly packs a punch in features and performance, making it an excellent choice for beginners.

This router offers superb versatility with a plunge design and a maximum cutting depth of 55 millimetres.

Its variable speed control allows me to adjust the RPM between 11,000 and 28,000 to suit different cutting requirements. The speed adjustment knob is well-placed for convenience.

The transparent chip guard is a standout feature, which can be easily folded up and down to access the router bit.

While the LED light under the chip guard helps with visibility, it would have been better to have a separate light activation button for positioning the router before starting. This is a minor inconvenience, though.

The safety button and switch on the grip allow good operation without the need to release the router during startup. The plunge lock lever, self-tightening and easily adjustable, gives you secure locking.

As someone who purchased this router as one of their first wood router tools, I believe its usability and affordable price make it an ideal choice for people starting their journey into woodworking.

The Types Of Routers You Can Buy

There are several types of wood router tools you can buy.

Fixed Base Router

A simple fixed-base router that has all the necessary functions is available. It features an adjustable depth control to manage the bit’s extension below the base, a strong motor, ergonomic grips, and a sturdy metal base.

The ergonomic handles are important since, when operating, routers generate a lot of centrifugal force, which can easily cause one to lose control.

\The router bit rotates clockwise, so it’s best to operate the tool from left to right to ensure it cuts into the wood effectively and keeps it from spinning away.

Plunge Router

A pair of smooth metal bars attach a plunge router to the base, enabling it to slide up and down. This movement allows you to position the tool over a chosen spot and gradually lower it to create depressions, holes, or grooves.

Pair a plunge router with a suitable cutting bit to make cutouts. A quality model typically features variable speed control, enabling you to adjust the speed for better precision and control.

Cordless Router

Corded palm routers are straightforward, but cordless models offer even greater convenience.

Cordless routers can reach comparable rotational speeds to corded ones. However, they usually lack the same power level and are better suited for lighter tasks like trimming and shaping edges.

Suppose you’re working on complex edges or dense hardwood. In that case, you might progress slower with a cordless router, and more frequent battery changes may be necessary.

Combo Router

A combination router merges the functionalities of a fixed-base and plunge router, featuring both bases interchangeably.

They offer versatility for various applications, including edge trimming and shaping, dovetailing, hole boring, groove cutting, and shape carving. A combo router is highly recommended if you invest in a single router for your workshop.

Palm Router

Also known as a palm router, a compact router is a miniature version of a fixed-base router. Its smaller size doesn’t necessarily compromise its power but offers increased ease of use.

When mortising door frames or performing other routing tasks on pieces of wood that can’t be transferred to your work table, a palm router provides greater accuracy and convenience than a heavier fixed-base model.

wood router tools

Wood Router Tools Buying Guide

Type

Knowing what type of router you’re looking for is the first step to buying one. Do you want pattern cuts or straight bits? Pick the right router for the job at hand.

Corded vs Cordless

Convenience or power? Do you dislike wires or charging? Depending on your work style, this can be a big decision.

Power

Sufficient power is essential to accomplish your woodworking goals. Yet, the advantage of greater power must be balanced against the drawback of manoeuvring a bulky router by hand. Higher power becomes advantageous, as routers use more rigour when mounted on a table. 

Speed

Except for the lightweight options, having variable speed is advantageous. It provides increased flexibility when using larger diameter cutters.

It allows for cutting materials like plastics and alloys at the appropriate speed. Moreover, the added benefit of a ‘soft start’ upon switching on is significant. When opting for a heavy-duty router for general use, I would not contemplate purchasing a single-speed model.

Ease of Use

To facilitate convenient installation and utilisation within a router table, the router necessitates a base plate offering clear visibility and sturdy attachment points.

A deep plunging collet, a straightforward switch (while being operated through an NVR switch), and a height adjustment mechanism that simplifies and ensures precise depth-of-cut adjustments.

Wood Router Accessories

A router’s flexibility is impacted by its maker’s selection of accessories and compatibility with accessories from other providers.

Always consider the accessories you anticipate needing and whether they are compatible with your chosen router.

Router Safety

Given their power, wood router tools can be dangerous if not handled correctly.

Make sure the gadget is turned off. When changing the router parts or when the tool is not in use, remove the battery, if appropriate, or unplug it.

Go over the operating instructions in the handbook. When purchasing a new power tool, reading the handbook is always a good idea, even for seasoned users.

To ensure you get the most out of your instrument, become familiar with the many fine adjustments that can be performed on routers.

Using both hands, grasp the device when operating a plunge router, and utilise both hands. The larger machines have a higher power output and a maximum rotational speed of 27000 rpm. It can hurt you or take off your fingers if it slides.

Put on appropriate protective gear and apparel. When cutting with wood router tools, you should always wear goggles to shield your eyes from debris that might fall off. You should also wear a mask to prevent breathing in harmful particles when working with some materials.

FAQ's

Of course! With their versatility and precision, wood router tools is an essential tool for any woodworker, helping you take your creations to the next level of professionalism.

A router lets you unleash creative creativity and accomplish exact outcomes that would be difficult to do with other instruments alone, from shaping edges to cutting elaborate motifs.

Plunge routers and fixed-base routers are the two primary types of hand routers. Plunge routers are perfect for grooving, mortising, and carving jobs because they allow you to change the cutting depth while the router operates.

However, fixed-base routers are more consistent and appropriate for jobs like edge profiling and dado cutting, which require constant cutting depths.

In general, you should move the router opposite where the bit rotates. You should push the router when working on a workpiece’s edge and pull it when routing the surface.
This method promotes safer and more efficient operation by controlling the router and preventing it from escaping.

The scope and intricacy of your woodworking tasks will determine the size of the router you require. A small router with one to 1.5 horsepower motor can be enough for amateur use and light-duty operations.

However, a large router with 3+ horsepower or a mid-size router with 2 to 2.5 horsepower can be required for more demanding applications requiring precision on par with that of a professional.

When choosing the appropriate size router for your purposes, consider variables like the size of your workpieces, the required depth of cuts, and the materials you’ll be dealing with.

Although wood router tools are very useful and necessary for many woodworking projects, it’s important to understand their limitations. One drawback is their potential for noise, particularly when using larger routers with powerful motors.

Additionally, routers must be handled carefully and with safety precautions to prevent mishaps or damage to your workpiece. Another thing to remember is that routers produce dust and debris; thus, suitable dust collection devices should be employed or worked in well-ventilated spaces to reduce health hazards.

Lastly, the cost of ownership may increase if specific router bits or accessories are needed for various woodworking jobs. However, with proper maintenance, the benefits of using a wood router exceed these possible disadvantages.

The Top 5 Wood Router Tools To Perfect Your Projects

Thanks for reading our article on The Top 5 Wood Router Tools To Perfect Your Projects. Please go check out our blog HERE for more advice for those handy dads out there.

Chris

Chris

I'm Chris, and my life revolves around two profound passions: embracing the joys of fatherhood with my energetic 2-year-old son and channelling my skills into transforming every nook and cranny of our home.
Dads tool shed

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"A Dad is as only as good as the tools in his tool shed"