Best Wood Router For The Money

best wood router

Last Update: September, 2019

If you have dabbled in woodworking before, you have probably heard of a wood router. It is a tool that workers use to hollow out (rout) an area in harder materials like wood or plastic. Many woodworkers love using a wood router because of its versatility in the shop.

It can also be used around the house on your projects, be they decorative or functional. They come as either a hand tool or a power tool and typically involve a base housing attached to a vertical electric motor.

Below we have included five of the most popular wood routers on the market and listed the pros and cons of each. We have included a handy guide on how to use a wood router so that beginners can quickly and properly learn how to use this versatile tool.

In addition, we discuss various factors to consider when purchasing a wood router to find the best configuration that suits your needs and lifestyle.

Wood Router

Summary

Bosch Variable-Speed Router

Bosch 12 Amp 2 1 4 HP Variable-Speed

This is a wood router that is powerful and capable of delivering a vast range of speeds.

Dewalt DWP611

DEWALT DWP611 1

A popular wood router featuring LED lighting and easily convertable bases for maximum performance.

Porter Cable 690LR

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

This is a single speed wood router that is great for beginners and professionals with its powerful motor and auto-release collet design.

Bosch Colt Palm Grip PR20EVSK

Bosch Colt Palm Grip PR20EVSK

This is a fixed base router that is perfect for carpentry, floor trimming tasks and more.

Makita RT0701CX7

Makita RT0701CX7

An ergonomically designed Router that delivers fantastically in both speed and power.

Pros:

  • Variable Speeds
  • Precise and Consistent Results
  • Double Insulation and Sealing

Cons:

  • Base Difficult to Adjust

More About The ​Bosch Variable-Speed Router

Bosch 1617EVS is one of the most powerful routers in the market. It has a 12A, 2.5 HP motor that output speeds varying from 8000-25000 RPM. You can choose the perfect speed setting you need for the job with the variable speed dial.

Its speed control technology maintains the desired speed for unwavering performance and accurate results. Also, its two wooden handles provide stability while you are working.

The base and housing are made of durable aluminum and in case something does go wrong with your router, Bosch's one-year limited warranty and service protection plan puts you in good hands.

Now the Bosch Router comes with several accessories, including ½” and ¼” self-releasing collets, drop forged wrenches, chip shield, and a table height adjustment wrench. The mounting hardware is also included in one package deal.

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Makita RT0701C HP Compact Router

Makita RT0701C HP Compact Router

Bosch Colt 1-Horsepower

Bosch Colt 1-Horsepower

DEWALT DWP611PK

DEWALT DWP611PK 1.25 HP Max Torque Variable Speed Compact Router Combo Kit

Bosch 2.3 HP Combination 

Bosch 2.3 HP Combination Plunge & Fixed-Base Variable Speed Router Pack

Pros:

  • Relatively Quiet
  • Good Visibility
  • Bits Can Be Switched Out Easily

Cons:

  • Only ¼” Collet Included

More About The ​Dewalt DWP611

The Dewalt DWP611 is a 1.25 hp, 7A router capable of delivering no-load speeds from 16,000 to 27,000 RPM for just the right application. It comes with a soft-start feature and full-time electronic feedback to keep speed constant while cutting. Like the Bosch, it too has a durable aluminum housing and base.

Its dual LED lights and clear base ensure visibility while you work and the adjustment ring helps control the bit depth as precise as 1/64”.

It gets better: the large spindle lock button means you can easily switch single wrench bits and the multi shaft-lock detents make switching bits simple. You can quickly alternate between the fixed and plunge base, each of which has its own benefits.

With the fixed base, the clamping mechanism ensures the router stays in place, and its extended base gives the user more control. The plunge base, on the other hand, provides stability for heavier applications.

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Makita RT0701C HP Compact Router

Makita RT0701C HP Compact Router

Bosch Colt 1-Horsepower

Bosch Colt 1-Horsepower

DEWALT DWP611PK

DEWALT DWP611PK 1.25 HP Max Torque Variable Speed Compact Router Combo Kit

Bosch 2.3 HP Combination 

Bosch 2.3 HP Combination Plunge & Fixed-Base Variable Speed Router Pack

Pros:

  • Auto-release collet design
  • Powerful Motor
  • Precise Cuts and Adjustments

Cons:

  • Single Speed

More About The Porter Cable 690LR

The Porter Cable 690LR is an 11A fixed base router that delivers a single speed of 27,500 RPM at 1.75 hp. The fixed base is great for beginners looking for their first router, but it is great for professionals as well.

The cam lock lever helps you adjust the height and release the motor easily and the depth adjuster is accurate to 1/128th in. It has an auto-release collet system that can handle both ¼" and ½" shank bits and makes switching them out simple.

Now, the 690LR is durable not only because of its aluminum body and base but also because of its dual seal switch and sealed ball bearing construction. Thanks to its under table stop, your motor won’t rotate out of the base.

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Makita RT0701C HP Compact Router

Makita RT0701C HP Compact Router

Bosch Colt 1-Horsepower

Bosch Colt 1-Horsepower

DEWALT DWP611PK

DEWALT DWP611PK 1.25 HP Max Torque Variable Speed Compact Router Combo Kit

Bosch 2.3 HP Combination 

Bosch 2.3 HP Combination Plunge & Fixed-Base Variable Speed Router Pack

Pros:

  • Versatility
  • Easy to Change Bits or Wrenches
  • Can Be Used One-Handed

Cons:

  • Visibility Could be Better

More About The ​Bosch Colt Palm Grip PR20EVSK

This fixed base router comes with a 1 hp, 5.6A motor that delivers speeds of 15,000 to 35,000 RPM with a turn of the speed dial. Its soft start system also helps reduce torque.

The PR20EVSK is great for carpentry projects, floor trimming, and more. It comes with finger support pockets for added precision and finger guards for safety.

Thanks to its depth scale and microfine depth adjustments, it is easier than ever to make precise cuts: just line everything up properly before clamping the router in place.

It gets better: not only does the collet receive industry standard ¼” bits, but it can also diametrically expand to 1-5/16". The spindle lock makes switching bits out easy and the included shaft wrench gives users an option. 

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Makita RT0701C HP Compact Router

Makita RT0701C HP Compact Router

Bosch Colt 1-Horsepower

Bosch Colt 1-Horsepower

DEWALT DWP611PK

DEWALT DWP611PK 1.25 HP Max Torque Variable Speed Compact Router Combo Kit

Bosch 2.3 HP Combination 

Bosch 2.3 HP Combination Plunge & Fixed-Base Variable Speed Router Pack

Pros:

  • Compact yet powerful
  • Variable Speed
  • Comes with Spanners

Cons:

  • No Shield for Dust

More About The ​Makita RT0701CX7

If you are looking for a compact wood router that unites precision and performance, you can find it in the Makita RT0701CX7. This router has a 1.25 hp, 6.5A motor that is capable of delivering speeds from 10,000 to 30,000 RPM through speed control dial.

Now, you can adjust the speeds as needed for your specific application. With its soft start feature and electronic speed control, you literally and metaphorically have control in the palm of your hands.

Its double insulated aluminum housing ensures durability for repeat use. The Makita has a rack and pinion fine depth adjustment system to make sure your settings are precise before cutting and includes a standard ¼" shank router bit.

The cam lock system helps make easy depth adjustment or remove the base, which is designed for high visibility.

The Makita comes with quite a few accessories, including the ¼” collet, plunger base, straight guide, and two spanner wrenches. All this performance comes in the small easy-to-use package that weighs in at only 3.9 lbs!

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Makita RT0701C HP Compact Router

Makita RT0701C HP Compact Router

Bosch Colt 1-Horsepower

Bosch Colt 1-Horsepower

DEWALT DWP611PK

DEWALT DWP611PK 1.25 HP Max Torque Variable Speed Compact Router Combo Kit

Bosch 2.3 HP Combination 

Bosch 2.3 HP Combination Plunge & Fixed-Base Variable Speed Router Pack

How to Use a Wood Router

If you are just a beginner woodworker looking to dabble or become a professional, you should know how to use a wood router. It is arguably the most versatile tool in a woodworker’s arsenal, with which you can complete so many woodworking tasks, from grooves to dovetails.

Below we’ve assembled some handy tips for beginners looking to learn how to use a wood router.

When Installing Router Bits

To ensure the bit turns smoothly while in use, you need to ensure the bit is installed properly in the collet. The most common bit sizes are ¼” and ½” shank bits, so make sure you know which one you need before starting your project.

Pick the Right Direction

To make sure you don’t move the router in the wrong direction, make sure to turn it against the rotation of the bit. Or another way to think about it: bits facing downward rotate counterclockwise, so move the router left to right.

In some situations, the feed direction changes, like when you are working on inside edges. When you are turning the router in the correct direction, you’ll have more control and precision, and won’t be fighting against your tools to get the job done.

Follow the Leader

Beginners might find it easier to learn when they use router bits that have been fitted with ball bearings. They help keep the bit going where you want it to- all you need to do is set the depth. Ball bearing pilots come in various shapes and trims, so look into which ones appeal to you.

Stepping Up to the Template

If you are comfortable with using a router for basic work, you can step up your game by installing a guide bushing. It is a steel collar that is mounted on your router’s base and helps create more precise cuts.

The bit extends past a steel tube which guides the edge of your template and gives you the ability to cut to any size and shape you need.

Coming at it From a Different Angle

If you mount your router upside down on a router table, you can now use both your hands to feed the wood to the bit, making it much safer on you. For routers, without great top-down visibility, this will also help you see the bit better. With some bits, you will need to use the router in this configuration.

Four Routing Methods

There are four common uses for routers. The first is a straight groove, which is used everywhere in woodworking. Next is the dovetail joint, which is composed of two sections and used to make joints like those you see in traditional log buildings.

The router edge is usually used for more decorative pieces, and the template cut is used for make duplicated of a part.

Factors to Consider When Buying a Wood Router

Size and Power

Every router has a different horsepower rating, so keep that in mind when choosing one. The smallest routers start at 1HP: if you are focusing mostly on craftsmanship that requires attention to detail, a smaller router is more ideal...

On one hand, it is easier to cut harder woods with a more powerful router. It is a great choice when you need to work with larger volumes of material. However, a more powerful router can be more cumbersome and require heavier tooling.

Speed Variation

Speed is directly connected to bit rotation, so make sure to pay close attention to what speeds your router is capable of. For larger bits, you need to slow down the speed to cut safely.

Something to make note of is that not every bit type works with the speeds your router is capable of. For reference, routers up to 1” diameter is capable of a maximum speed of 22,000-24,000 RPM. If you will be going faster, it is advisable to switch out your bit.

Outer Base

As you saw in the product views, some routers come with a fixed base and some with a plunger base. With a fixed base router, you can't move vertically on the router bit, but with a plunge base, you can. Take this into consideration when picking one for your application.

Conclusion

 With this guide, you will know what factors to consider when choosing the best router that fits your needs and work style. Once you have selected one, you’ll be off to great start with our handy user guide to create whatever woodworking creations you can dream of.
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