What Is a Router?

If you do a lot of serious woodworking and cabinetry and haven’t considered a router before, then it’s time that you should get one! It will surely be a indispensable tool once you have it.

A router is a power tool that is used to make hollows, or “rout out,” an area to create patterns on a hard material like wood and plastic. Basically, a router is all about grooves and fancy edges – and sometimes, more than those. It can also create flawless rabbets, dadoes and other inlay wood patterns. A router proves itself to be a versatile tool as it can also be used for plunging and can be inverted in a router table as well.

There are the two main types of router:

Plunge – This is the type of router that is used by most woodworkers. A plunge router allows the user to make cutting adjustments without having to turn the motor off. It has an electric motor mounted between two posts. The motor rests atop of springs, while a flat base supports and guides the motor at an angle of 90 degrees. Plunge routers are great for making dadoes, mortises and other patterns because you can move them into position and lower the bit accurately.

Since plunge routers are a bit unwieldy and difficult to work with, some peple do not like to use them and instead prefer the fixed routers. However, it can be addressed by placing the router in a router table. There are store-bought router tables which are relatively cheap, or you can make your own router table.

Fixed-base – Also called stationary routers, fixed-base routers are ideal for woodworking jobs that do not require midcut adjustment to the depth of the cut. Fixed-base routers are also ideal for making rabbets and dadoes and for making decorative edges. These types of routers give you better control and stability when moving the machine over the workpiece, as it allows your hands to be much closer to it. This makes fixed-base routers ideal for making freehand edgework and jig work.

Most fixed-base routers are relatively small and lightweight, and are also inexpensive compred to plunge routers. You may actually lock a plunge router at a particular depth and use it in a way that you would with a fixed router, but you need to keep a close eye on the depth that you’ve just locked. But with a fixed-based router, all you need to do is to just set the depth – and that’s it. That will be the only depth that you’ll be cutting throughout the job.

Features, details and accessories:

  • Handle – Routers come in D-handles and knobs. Many people have their own preferences, but D-handles seem easier to grip since it also features a switch that can be triggered by your index finger.
  • Collets – A collet is a steel-based that holds the bit in the router. It works with the router shaft and the collet nut. Self-ejecting collets make changing bits a bit easier and simpler since it also comes with a spindle lock.
  • Power – Power may range from 1 to 3.5 hp. Obviously, the more horsepower a router has, the more efficient it will be in making deeper cuts on hardwood. But there’s a trade-off: the more power means the heavier the tool. That’s why it is up to you to decide which of these factors are important: power or comfortable weight?

Laminate trimmer – If you are on a tight budget but are needing a tool that will work improve the edges of your work piece, you may want to purchase a laminate trimmer. This smaller, lighter and more portable version of a router basically trims laminate and typically has a 1/4-inch collet. It is also good for making clean and even decorative edges on a workpiece such as tabletop or the edge of the shelf.

Best Routers to Buy

Product
Visual
Where to Buy

Bosch 1617EVSPK Combination Router

DEWALT DWP611PK

PORTER-CABLE 690LR

Bosch MRC23EVSK Combination Router

Makita RT0701CX7

Bosch 1617EVSPK

The Bosch 1617EVSPK is a plunge and fixed base router with a 12 amp motor. You can also set a variable speed on the router with a speed dial, providing 8,000 to 25,000 RPM. During the cutting process, you can rest assured that the momentum will remain constant, due to the Constant Response Circuitry of the tool. It has a rounded handle made of hardwood and a 2” sub base opening. The fixed base also has three holes so you can mount the table in the standard 3-hole manner. It weighs 10 lbs and comes with a carrying case to fit all items included with tool.

What makes it stand out?

The Bosch Precision Centering Design makes this tool a total steal for woodworking personnel. This enhanced technology allows the bit to remain centered with the sub-base or any other template guides. You will not be disappointed if you get this.

DEWALT DWP611PK

The DEWALT DWP611PK has a 7amp, 1.25 HP motor which is customized to deliver heavy-duty performance. The motor maintains constant speed throughout functioning. The no load speed is 16,000 to 27,000 RPM. It is a corded power tool with a compact router. In plunge base, the rubber handle provides comfort while maintaining a firm grip during cutting. It also has a multiple shaft lock which enables quick bit changes. The tool comes with a 3 year warranty.

What makes it stand out?

The motor can be quickly shifted between plunge and fixed bases, which makes the DEWALT DWP611PK an ideal tool for workshops and busy project sites. Moreover, the extended 8-slot ¼ “ collect is perfect to cover a maximum surface area.

PORTER-CABLE 690LR

The PORTER-CABLE 690LR is a fixed router with 1-3/4 HP and 11 amp motor. It can provide 27,500 RPM with the single speed motor. The grips of this tool are overmolded to provide extreme comfort during usage. The motor diameter is 3-1/2” and two collets of ¼” and ½” are also included. It also includes a collet wrench. The tool comes with a 3 year warranty.

What makes it stand out?

The two ergonomic handles in the PORTER-CABLE 690LR make it very easy for professionals to route during working on a fixed base. They can even smoothly go during an all-day on-site job. Moreover, the precision machined aluminum motor and base provide accuracy in making cuts.

Bosch MRC23EVSK

The Bosch MRC23EVSK is a router made for bearing the toughest field jobs in woodworking. The motor on this tool provides 25 percent more power than the routers mentioned above. It has a 6” fixed and 7” plunge base. There is no dust collection capacity. The sub base opening measures 2 inches max. The cord swivel is also an advanced function for more mobility during operation. The LED light attached to this tool is always on, providing visibility in dark or semi-dark areas.

What makes it stand out?

This is an advanced tool for fixed-base and plunge-based usage. The great thing about this tool is that it provides excellent control to the operator at all times. You can achieve accurate results with the smooth plunge action and a spring lock lever. Gliding across the cutline is easy using the fixtures and other guidance services.

Makita RT0701CX7

The Makita RT0701CX7 has a great motor with 1-1/4 HP which provides high performance and precision. The plunge based router has a variable speed control dial that provides 10,000-30,000 RPM through which the user can match the speed of the tool with the application. The soft start motor also provides electronic speed control so you can manage the pressure and depth. The machine weighs 3.9 lbs and is designed for easy installation and removal.

What makes it stand out?

There are a few things which make the Makita RT0701CX7 an ideal tool to teach woodworking to beginners and keep the tool at a busy workshop. The fixed base of this router has been designed while maintaining industry standards in mind, and the high visibility of this design provides comfortable handling and robust performance.

A few things to keep in mind

Buyers can use router bits for cutting and applying various shapes to the wood. With that said, the bits are unlikely to achieve maximum efficiency unless they’re installed in the right manner. In fact, improper installation might cause the bit to vibrate wildly and even produce unwanted noises. Hence, it’s critical to set up the bit properly, and practice proper safety while using the router. By applying profiles (partial) and using the bits simultaneously, you should be able to produce a range of profiles on the wood’s edge.

And while some power tools are strong, durable and versatile, none of them last forever. This means buyers should do everything in their power to enhance the router’s life. Good news is that every router comes with detailed manual that highlights how to use it beset. The manual can also be used to understand the router’s functioning, and how to maintain it in the best manner possible.

Conclusion

Once you use a router for your woodworking need, it becomes an important part of your toolset. The models mentioned above are trusted to give you a great performance with durability. Make sure you choose a model that suits the need of your project.