For anyone looking to do woodworking and wood cutting at home, it’s essential that you have a great wood router and table. There are a variety of routers available on the market – some targeted at beginners, some targeted toward those on a budget, and some that are the best to buy all-around. Which one is right for you? Read through our reviews of the top 4 wood routers available on the market today.
Our Picks for Best Wood Routers – Reviews
1. Black & Decker RP250 10-Amp 2-1/4-Inch Variable Speed Plunge Router
For the average beginner, the basics are the most important. You won’t need a router that has more power than you can handle, or one that needs to deliver professional results. The Black & Decker RP250 is a wonderful beginner’s machine for home use, and it’s even pretty cheap, too. It does best with softer woods, like balsa and pine, as the 10-Amp motor isn’t strong enough to handle heavier woods. They are meant to be an entry-level machine, though, so if you’re hard on it, you should expect it to be disposable.
For the price, this machine is very basic. You can do some minor adjustments if you’re experienced with fixing and tuning power tools, there are a number of upgrades you can make – but, if you can afford a machine that comes with these upgrades already done, it may be worth it as the fixes are time-consuming and tedious.
This is a wonderful way to start working with a variable speed plunge router, as most plunge routers are much more expensive than this. It’s compact and easily carried, but this is largely due to the plastic design and lower-powered motor. If you need something that’s going to give you the ultimate in precision, keep looking – but if you’re still learning, this one is inexpensive enough to get started.
2. PORTER-CABLE 690LR 11-Amp Fixed-Base Router
The next stop on our router tour is the Porter-Cable 690LR. This fixed-base router offers an 11-amp motor, a micrometer depth adjuster, and a 27,500 rpm single-speed motor. While these definitely aren’t the most impressive stats on the market, the Porter-Cable 690LR offers consistent results that won’t break the bank. Porter-Cable is a very well-known brand, and this router is compatible with a wide variety of third-party tools like bushings, edge guides, and bases. There is also a variable speed version available, the 690vSLR, although the variable speed model is not as widely available.
For those looking to start woodworking as a hobby or side business, the Porter-Cable 690LR is the industry standard. There’s nothing flashy or pretentious about this machine. It is purely meant to get the job done well, and the 11-amp motor offers a balance between power and price. For most people, this is more important than the style.
There are a number of machines that offer much better specs than the 690LR, and if you’re going to be using your router on a daily basis, it’s well worth investing in a better model (such as the ones below). The plastic case that comes with this machine isn’t very easy to work with, and the switches have a tendency to get stuck or snap off after extended use. For those who just need an occasional router that’s a slight upgrade from the under ... crowd, this machine will take a reasonable amount of abuse for the money.
3. DEWALT DWP611PK 1.25 HP Max Torque Variable Speed Compact Router
If you’re looking for one router with many options, the DeWalt DWP611PK offers variable sspeed from 16,000-27,000 rpm. DeWalt also offers customers the choice between the basic unit, one with an edge guide, one with a sub base, or a “complete” combo kit which comes with both accessories. These combo kits are an incredible deal, as they save you money and time spent searching for the matching accessories.
This router is a bit more expensive than the other routers on our list, but more importantly, it feels more expensive than the others. This is a much higher-quality router than you’d expect from the price tag. This router easily performs at least as well as routers in the range, but this one can be bought for under on Amazon. Additionally, DeWalt regularly offers rebates on their routers, which allows you to get a little bit more of your money back.
We do wish that the DWP611PK offered a rubber grip, as opposed to the dimpled handle that’s present. The aluminum design works fine in most situations, but when your hands are a bit dusty or sweaty, you’re going to miss the plastic and rubber grips. The canvas bag this router comes in doesn’t offer much protection, either, but if you already have a safe place to keep your tools, this isn’t much of a problem. If desired, you can always add your own handle made from grip material, if you feel it’s worth the upgrade.
4. Bosch 1617EVSPK 12 Amp 2-1/4-Horsepower Plunge and Fixed Base Variable Speed Router Kit with 1/4-Inch and 1/2-Inch Collets
At the highest price point on our list comes the Bosch 1617EVSPK. This router comes with both a fixed base and a plunge base, a 2.25 horsepower motor, and a micro-fine depth adjustment. This machine offers speeds from 8,000-25,000 rpm, giving it the widest speed variety of any router on our list. If you need a machine that can handle fast work as well as precision work, and can cut through woods of any weight, the 1617EVSPK is the choice for you.
This machine delivers professional-quality results, even from absolute beginners. The learning curve is very short with the Bosch, and there’s an 8-position turret on the plunging base. This is an amazing feature, and should be the standard across all brands. We didn’t really like the wooden handles on the fixed base, because they had a tendency to come loose. This can be fixed with a strong glue or Lock-Tite, if you don’t need to remove the handles for certain baseplates and jigs.
We do recommend that you keep spare parts, if you can, or that you opt for the additional protection plan offered by Amazon. The power switches on this router have a tendency to wear out with regular use, and if you’re using the router more than a few times a week, you can expect to replace it every year. Overall, this is a minor annoyance on an otherwise impressive machine.
Our Pick for Best Overall: DEWALT DWP611PK 1.25 HP Max Torque Variable Speed Compact Router Combo Kit with LED's w/ DNP613 Round Sub Base and DNP618 Edge Guide
If you can afford the price (or can find a rebate available – DeWalt offers them from time to time), the DeWalt DWP611PK is one of the greatest tools on the market, at a price that’s not too much higher than entry level devices (at the time of this review). When you spend the extra to get the available combo kit, you are getting everything necessary to last you months in your new woodworking hobby or side business. This router will not only perform above expectations, but will also last for years to come.
1. What is the brand?
As is often the case with power tools, it’s usually a good idea to buy from a well-known brand. They are often able to offer warranties and replacement parts, and the bits will be more widely available.
2. How powerful of a motor do you need?
Different routers have different horsepower ratings, and your preferences will be based upon your experience and the precision required. If you need a machine that offers variable speed, there are models that offer between 8,000-30,000 rpm.
3. What accessories come in the kit?
Not all routers will come with an accessory kit, but many combo models may come with a table, extra bits, bases, or clamps. Other accessories may include fences, jigs, and extension cords. If your router is missing any of these items (and you would use the item), it’s worthwhile to invest in extra tools to get the job done right.
4. Will you be plunge cutting?
If you will be doing plunge cuts (and don’t already have a plunging tool), you’ll want to get a plunge router. Many routers do plunge and fixed cuts. If you won’t be doing any plunge cuts, you may be able to get a fixed-only router for cheaper, but you may need to buy a separate router if you end up needing a plunge cut in the future.
5. What is your budget?
Higher-priced routers are often fuller featured or more durable, but it’s best to buy one that’s affordable to you. There are great routers available for under $100, and there are also routers that cost over $1,000. All of the routers on our list fell under ... on Amazon at the time of this review, but the prices may have changed due to factors outside our control. Any price mentioned does not include any relevant taxes or shipping charges.