Any woodworker knows how important it is to have a router to hollow out and shape any piece of wood. Even if you’re new to woodworking, you probably already know that a wood router is the best power tool to make this job easier. Wood routers have always been a great help for me in making templates and creating artwork on wood blocks that I personally enjoy a lot.
It’s extremely important to know about the qualities and features of a router in detail in order to choose the perfect model. However, this research would take a lot of your effort and time. That’s alright, we’ve come up with this guide with every detail you need to know about a wood router.
Here we prepared a list of the 10 best wood routers present in today’s market to help you make an informed buying decision. If you are uncertain about which model and router accessories would be perfect for your needs, go through reviews and you’ll see that making the decision has become a lot easier. Let’s get started!
Why Do You Need a Wood Router?
A wood router is a cutting tool used to rout out an area in a piece of wood. This is the most versatile tool that you can have in your woodworking shop vital to perform any kind of woodworking project. You’ll need a wood router for crafting artistic pieces, cabinetry, and of course, carpentry. You can also create beautiful wood patterns by cutting flawless dadoes.
You can use this versatile tool as a plunging tool as well. For maximum versatility, you would require to have both a small and a large router. The large one for a great volume of woodwork while the small one for smaller tasks.
Wood Routers: A Comprehensive Buying Guide
A plunge router cut from above like a drill press. It enables you to preset a cut depth and lower the router bit into the cut to slice the exterior of a material from above.
Fixed based routers come with their base and body set together. They begin cutting from the edges of the object.
Laminate trimmers are the most compact in the router family. Their engines are consumer-grade, putting out maximum 1 HP.
Some routers have interchangeable bases. The upper-half of the router comes with a base that is detachable. You get at least one extra base for different applications.
Wood routers come in a variety of sizes and shapes. It depends on the category of the router you’re looking for. There are palm routers that fit into your palms. On the other hand, compact routers are slightly bigger and feature higher power than the palm routers. Then there are full-sized routers which are the most powerful and largest in size.
3. Motor type
Wood routers basically have two types of motors. The first type is a single speed motor that’s perfect for people who need more intense power, but they might get disappointed with the precision. The other type is called the variable speed motor. You can customize the machine’s power output and get more precise cuts.
4. Heavy or medium or light duty routers
Heavy-duty routers are the most dominant and significant among all. They can hold router cutters of more than 1½ inches in place.
Medium-duty routers are neither light nor heavy. They are more suitable for regular use and projects that are fragile.
Light-duty routers are categorized as semi-proficient tools suitable for specialists and light work. They are lightweight and their cutting diameter is under 1½ inches.
5. Dust collection
Wood routers give off lots of dust that settle in your workplace as well as your lungs. It’s not only that you have to clean up the workshop after every session, sawdust also damages your lungs in the long run. So, you must make sure that your wood router has a good dust collection system.
Make sure your wood router is ergonomically designed. It should be comfortable to use and prevent any long-term injury. If your tool is not ergonomic, it can cause serious painful condition like carpal-tunnel syndrome.
When you buy a router table, make sure it’s compatible with your wood router. Just check the compatibility list of the router table. You will find the table compatible if you get it from the same brand.
8. Variable speed
You will find some routers with variable speed components. They are mostly handy when you work with remarkably soft or hard woods.
9. Corded or cordless
Wood routers can be either corded or cordless. Corded units are less portable and you can run them only near an outlet. On the other hand, battery-powered wood routers are easily portable, but they can run only until the battery dies. So, choose a corded tool if you’re going to use that only in your workshop. Otherwise, a battery-powered router will be good for you.
10. Soft start
It’s better that your power tool has a slow start and isn’t instantly activated with full force once the switch is on. The soft start feature prevents injury and is especially handy when children are around.
11. Adjustment dials
With more adjustability of your router, you’ll have more precise work. Routers that come with adjustment dials feature can handle a wide range of jobs, but they are usually more expensive.
12. Built-in light
Though not mandatory, it's always good to have a built-in LED light with your wood router, especially when you’re working in a poorly lit environment.
13. Electric Brakes
Electric brakes are a great safety feature that will maximize your efficiency. They allow you to stop the router immediately to avoid any accident.
You can easily maintain and alter the wood routers which feature the tool-free chuck change. Even if your router doesn’t have this feature, learn about the process of changing the bits.
15. Warranty and Budget
You should always consider the warranty offered by a wood router. It varies by the length of time, use, and coverage. Usually, you’ll get 1-3 years of a warranty period.
Another important factor is your budget. You know price indicates the quality of a product, but this doesn’t necessarily have to be true at all times. You can get a good wood router within $100 -$300.
Care & Maintenance Tips
A wood router requires well-maintenance for a consistent and lasting performance. There are a number of things you need to do to maintain your wood router.
- Check the cables and blades regularly. Make sure to unplug the router before you do that. Rewire the cable immediately if you find it damaged.
- Remove any sawdust or debris from the table’s inner compartment. For this, you have to dismantle all the connected compartments. Use the right tool so that the screws remain intact.
- Clean all the parts of your router for a flawless performance. Use pressurized air to push out the dust and small sawdust pieces.
- Change the brush when it gets worn off. If your motor seems to create sparks during operation, this is an indicator that the brushes need to be replaced. Try to maintain the brushes with different lubricants.
- You should use either a rust prevention spray or a lubricant on the moving parts. For some plunge router models, you can separate the columns to remove springs and then use a dry-lubricant spray .
- Store your router in a dry and clean place and never forget to unplug after use. You can also consider a storage case that will help you transport the machine.
Wood Router Usage & Safety Tips
- When you use your wood router freehand, securely clamp down the workpiece to the router table. You can place a friction map on top of the table.
- Never hold your workpiece with your free hand when you’re routing freehand. Your router table has to be fitted with some guard covering the area above the bit. You can also use any feather board for keeping the workpiece pressed against your router table when you rout.
- Always remember to unplug the router before making any adjustments.
- Wear eye and ear protection every time you rout. Also, wear a dust mask and fitting clothes.
- Never start a router keeping the bit in contact with the working material.
- Your workpiece must be always fed against the bit’s rotation.
- If you notice any unusual vibration or noise, immediately stop your router and inspect if there is any damage.
- Never let your fingers get too close to the bit. If a part is too small, secure it in a jig.
In this wood router buying guide, we tried to provide you with all the necessary details that you need to know before purchasing a wood router. After a thorough appraisal, we selected the 10 best wood routers out of hundreds of options available today so you don’t get confused and find the right match for your needs.
Remember that expensive products don’t necessarily have to be the best. Sometimes you can get the best features with a great performance from midrange tools too. Don’t worry if you’re on a tight budget because we got you covered with the best options at various price ranges on this guide.
This guide should be pretty comprehensive for you and we hope choosing your perfect wood cutter won’t be a challenging task now. Feel free to share your experience with us in the comments section below.
Q. 1. How does a router work wood?
Ans: Routing is done on moderately fragile and weak objects, generally wood. A router can run at a high speed since these objects are soft in smaller parts. Hence, small routers cut more rapidly.
Q. 2. What type of wood router do I need?
Ans: You should consider the engine size and base style while choosing a wood router. It totally depends on your personal needs and preferences. We recommend that you check out our buying guide to know the details about the different types and features.
Q. 3. What are the rituals that I must follow for the longevity of the router?
Ans: Regular maintenance and care is essential for longevity. Also, you can get a router that features too-free chuck change. You can easily maintain such routers and the bits are alterable in seconds.
Q. 4. Do I need a dust collection pot in my wood router?
Ans: It’s always recommended to use a dust collection pot since these devices produce a lot of dust. Sawdust can be really harmful for your lungs. You'll find some routers that already have a dust collection system.
Q. 5. What should be the speed for wood routers?
Ans: Too high RPM could consume your wood while you could have an unpleasant cut with too slow speed. Most wood routers allow you to alter the engine speed. You should choose a speed depending on what type of wood you are dealing with and the size and type of the bit that you’re using.
Q. 6. How does the design of the tool decide its performance?
Ans: If you’re comfortable with any type of tool, your performance will be better and enhanced. It’s really important that your wood router is ergonomically designed. A poorly designed router will cause muscle tension that may result in burning sensations, reducing your work speed and efficiency significantly.
Q. 7. Should I go for one with a brushless motor?
Ans: Modern wood routers usually use brushless motors. They don’t make noise and last longer. So, it’s worth having a router with a brushless motor.
Q.8. What sized router should I buy?
Ans: There are different sizes and shapes available. Your storage capacity and type of tasks are crucial factors in deciding the size of the router. Palm routers are the smallest that you can use for smaller tasks. There are also compact routers that are slightly bigger and you can try the full-sized ones for heavy tasks.
Q. 9. What is the use of electric brakes in a wood router?
Ans: Electric brakes help you stop the router immediately to avoid accidents. This increases your tool’s efficiency while working. It’s a great safety feature for any wood router.
Q. 10. How do torque and rpm affect routing?
Ans: Torque measures the cutting ability of a router. You need more torque for hardwoods compared to softwoods. RPM, on the other hand, limits the diameter of the bit. If you prefer large bits, choose a router that has low RPM range.