While there are a lot of woodworking tools you may want to have in your arsenal, having a good wood router is a necessity. Armed with the best wood router you can afford, you will be able to bring the majority of the woodworking creations you have in your head to life.
When you read wood router reviews, it is clear that amateurs and professionals benefit from this versatile tool. Without good wood router, you must resort to archaic and sloppy methods to attain the cuts you want.
Working with top wood router will not only improve the quality of your work, but it will also allow you to work faster. This is important whether you are working on a hobby project or completing a professional job for a client.
This guide is designed to give you the basic information you need to make a conscientious decision when deciding what the best wood router is for your needs.
What Is a Wood Router and How to use it?
What is a router tool? A router is a versatile tool that every woodworker needs in their arsenal. It is designed to route, or hollow out, a space in a piece of wood or plastic. It is an excellent tool for making cutouts, joint cuts, and decorative surface cuts.
Still, you may be wondering, what does a router do? What types of routers are available? And what is the best wood router for my needs?
What Does a Wood Router Do?
A wood router is useful for more than just cutting intricate edges on a piece of wood. It is a powerful tool that can create almost flawless wood patterns. It is used extensively in carpentry and cabinetry.
At the outset, routers were solely hand tools. Now there are many styles of electrically powered spinning routers on the market today. Routers have an electric driven motor and spindle. The router has a flat plane and a shaft or a bit that sticks out at the bottom. The electric motor causes the bit to spin rapidly, allowing it to cut wood to a desired shape.
Learning how to use a router tool effectively will take some time. This is because the best wood router will have versatile speed controls and other settings that need to be mastered before you are able to produce the woodworking results you want.
Types of Routers
Plunge Routers: These routers are designed to allow you to make controlled vertical movements as you cut. You can insert, or plunge, the cutting bit into the surface of your wood seamlessly. Plunge routers allow you to make deep grooves, do pattern and template work, do complete cut through, as well as mortises.
Fixed Base Routers: These routers are perfect for edge shaping. They’re easy to maneuver and are considered to be a good all-purpose router.
What Size Router Will You Need?
Before selecting the best affordable router and before learning how to use a plunge router, you first need to decide what size router you will need. The power of your router is determined by its horsepower. The horsepower along with the collet will determine how large the bit you can use can be.
While these are not hard and fast rules, the following are some guidelines to consider.
When looking for a general all-purpose router, it may suffice to purchase one that has:
- A Fixed Base
- 1.5 to 3.5 hp
- 8 to 15 A
- Weighs Between 8 to 10 Pounds
A model of this sort is going to be compact and easy to maneuver.
If you want a model with more flexibility, the best wood router for you will be one with similar specifications to the above mentioned model but one that has an interchangeable base. This will allow you to have flexibility and at the same time versatility to meet your changing needs.
There are a lot of budget routers on the market. It is worth it to take the time to find the best budget router on the market by reading the reviews in order to get one that has the power and versatility to meet your needs.
Types of Wood Routers
Each router style has its pros and cons. Understanding a little bit about these routers helps in making a good choice when selecting the best cheap router for your needs.
There are five basic styles of wood routers. They are:
Fixed Based Router
With a fixed base router, the position of the router is constant. This means that if you set the router bit to cut at 3/8 of an inch, the bit will extend past the base 3/8 of an inch and provide a consistent cut depth throughout the job until you change the position of the bit.
What is a plunge router? A plunge router is similar to a fixed base router, but it allows you to set a preset cut depth. However, you can lower or plunge the bit deeper into the material you are working on, adjusting the depth of your cut while you are working.
Fixed based and plunge routers are among the two most popular styles of routers available. When determining fixed base versus plunge router, consider the type of work you are planning on doing now and the possible woodworking jobs you will have in the future. For most people, a plunge router is the best choice because it offers greater flexibility.
Interchangeable Base Routers
These routers offer the freedom to go between a fixed base router and a plunge router. Most are designed with an easy to detach base. It saves you money because you have the benefit of using two styles of routers in one product.
Combination Router Kits
These kits have a single motor with a fixed base and a plunge router base.
These routers are small and lightweight versions of a traditional router. They are primarily used for flushing the edges after applying a laminate or a veneer.
Keep in mind the following when thinking about different types of routers. Trim routers are light duty use routers. You will use them on some inlays and to form veneers. Most have a one horsepower motor.
From there, you will have medium-range plunge routers, fixed base routers, and a combination of the two. These will have a horsepower range of 1.5 to 2.3. These products are going to be what most do-it-yourselfers and some professionals will use. They come with ¼ inch or ½ inch collets.
Finally, you will have fixed routers and some plunge routers that have a 15 amp 3.25 hp motor. These are heavy duty beasts. They are pro-routers that most average users will have little use for.
Wood Router Accessories
When you read the reviews, it becomes clear that having a powerful and well-designed router is pointless without having the proper accessories and knowing how to use them. The following is a list of the most important router accessories as well as a bit of information about their use.
Router bits come in many profiles. Profile refers to the shape of the cutting edge of the router. Some of the most common profiles include:
- Straight Bits designed to make a straight cut in the material or to form a groove.
- Rabbeting bits are designed with a spinning pilot bearing at the tip. This allows you to cut a shoulder in the edge of the piece you are working on. These are often used when creating a joint.
- Flush trim bits are used to trim the edge of a piece of wood so that it matches with the edge of another piece of wood.
Other bits include chamfer bits, edge forming bits, and specialized bits.
A router table is stationary. It is a machine that allows a router to be mounted underneath it with the spindle pointing vertically. Different router bits may be added to the spindle chuck, changing the results you get on the project you are working on.
Most router tables have a vertical fence that allows the wood piece to be guided while at the same time determining the depth of the cut. A router table improves the versatility of a handheld router, making it easier to work with larger pieces. By reading wood router reviews, you can get a good idea of which router table will work best with your machine.
A router fence is a must-have for guiding your work through router bits. A good router fence is going to be completely flat and slide across the router table in a smooth manner. Some router fences are designed with a dust extraction or collection system.
When looking for a router fence, find one that has a micrometer adjustment feature. This will allow you to make accurate adjustments.
You want your router fence to be sturdy and square to your table. A good fence will be the right size for the router table.
In the most basic terms, a router jig is designed to make your woodworking easier. It is used in conjunction with the router as a way of speeding up repetitive tasks and ensuring that your measurements, your cuts, and the position of your work pieces are uniform.
Clamps are essential for any woodworker. They are a way to hold the pieces of wood you are working on in place and prevent them from slipping. They also can hold a jig onto your worktable. All of these things make your project more uniform and safer. When you speak to any long time carpenter, they will tell you that their clamps are among the most valuable tools they have.
There are a variety of clamps available, including those made for use on rough wood and for finished projects.
Some speed control features include:
- Electronic feedback circuitry that monitors the amount of stress placed on the motor, adjusting the torque to match it.
- Soft start that prevents the router from gorging the material by surging to full speed when you turn it on. Instead, the router gradually gains speed, protecting your work material.
- Switches on a router are pretty straightforward. All routers have a switch to turn them off and on. Some routers have what is referred to as a variable speed trigger.
These speed controls when used in conjunction with a foot switch can make it easy for you to do two-handed router work.
If you were to ask most carpenters what they feel defines the best wood router, the majority will say that it has a D-handle base. These routers are excellent for working freehand.
They will allow you to have a weak grip to perform a wide range of techniques that are very difficult to perform with a traditional grip.
As you can see, there is a lot that goes into getting the most out of your wood router. It all starts with buying the best inexpensive router, adding on necessary accessories, learning how to use the machine, and then creating wonderful functional and art wood pieces.
Best Wood Router Reviews
Factors to Keep In Mind When Buying a Wood Router
It is pretty clear to see that having a router is essential for anyone who is serious about producing high quality wood work. There are some factors that you should consider when determining which router is right for you.
Talk to anyone who has worked with wood for a considerable period of time and they will tell you the quality of the tool you purchase will determine how safe you will be while using said tool. When it comes to a router, there are a couple of safety features that are a must.
When you are working on large projects, it is likely that you will have your router in your hand for hours on end. While you are working on the project, you may not notice the effect the grip is having on your hands. Once the project is done, if the grip is not ergonomically designed and if it is not soft, your hands will pay the price.
Just about every professional woodworker understands the importance of using hearing protection as they are going about their tasks. At the same time, just about every professional has had a time or two when they worked on a project without wearing sufficient hearing protection. A quieter router minimizes the damage done to your hearing when you work. At the same time, a quieter router is usually designed to produce less vibration, giving you a better end product.
These allow you to clearly see what you are working on and also see if there any obstacles in the way that could pose a potential safety hazard.
The best router for woodwork is a router that produces high-quality end results. Never compromise the quality of your router for price. A good router is going to be made of high quality materials, and it is going to have certain features that will improve your end product. Some of these features include:
The speed that your router operates at should vary depending on the materials that you are working on and the end goal. While a one speed router may be less expensive, it is not necessarily the best router for woodworking.
Horsepower combined with amperage and the weight of your router is what gives you the power you need to get the job done. There is no point in spending money on an under-powered router that does not allow you to work on hardwoods. Generally, it is a good idea to purchase the most powerful router within your budget. It gives you the flexibility to increase power when needed and decrease it when you are working on more delicate projects.
There are countless stories of individuals with completely ruined beautiful pieces of wood work because they were using a router that did not have a soft start. A soft start allows you to start working on the wood without losing control of the router because you are not prepared for the motor to rev all the way up in less than a second.
When you read a router buying guide, one of the things you see over and over again is the importance of stability. Using a router is a very delicate thing, especially if you are trying to do an intricate design. For this reason, when looking at a router focus on the following two things:
Balance and Comfort
If the router that you use is not balanced and if the router is not comfortable, it is going to affect the end result. If you are not comfortable, you’re going to be more focused on how you feel and not focused on producing a high quality product. Newcomers to routing may become discouraged if their router is not balanced because it makes it harder for them to produce high quality work.
The base type you select determines what you will be able to do with the router. If you purchase a router that has a fixed base, until you adjust the cut depth level, you will only be able to cut at one depth. Conversely, with a plunge base, you will be able to make adjustments to the depths of your cut, but you will sacrifice some stability.
Where to Buy Best Wood Router
After reading some of our fixed base and plunge router reviews, you no doubt are asking yourself, where you can get a router power tool? You might even be considering buying a cheap router table.
When purchasing routers for woodworking, it is not enough to simply ask, what is the best router to buy? You also need to ask yourself, where you should buy the router?
There are a lot of brick-and-mortar stores that will offer you a wood router for sale. And there is nothing wrong with going down to your local hardware store and looking for wood routers for sale. However, we feel that the best option is purchasing your router online.
Purchasing a router online from a site like Amazon.com or from the manufacturer’s website allows you to look at router tool reviews written by other people just like you. It allows you to decide which router you want to buy from the comfort of your home.
Most importantly, when you purchase a router online, you are likely going to be able to find discounts that are a lot steeper than what are offered in brick-and-mortar stores. At the same time, you will be able to examine the top rated routers side-by-side in one virtual location.
Making The Decision
Throughout this guide we have tried to answer questions like: What is a router used for? What is a good router? And what are the top rated routers? Now the ball is in your court.
Whether you are looking to purchase the most expensive router or if you are looking for the best router under 100 dollars, one thing is true, having an inexpensive router is better than having no router at all.
Owning a router opens up a world of woodworking opportunities you would not otherwise have.
So what are you waiting for? Hop online, read some more reviews, do your due diligence, and then purchase the best wood router in your price range. Once you have the machine in your hand and once you look at the amazing work it has a allowed you to produce, you are going to be so happy you made the decision to buy.