What's the most versatile tool in your shop? The answer just might be a wood router, so choosing the right one is important. If you need help making a choice, you're in luck!
We examined seven models from various manufacturers. Our goal was to find the one with the best features and ease of operation for both professional woodworkers and hobbyists or homeowners.
We've picked our own favorite from the list, but we'll review each of them for you, so you can make your own decision. Let's find the wood router that will bring out the craftsman in YOU.
Makita RP2301FC 3-1/4 HP Plunge
The Makita RP2301FC 3-1/4 HP Plunge Router offers plenty of manageable power to handle the tough projects. With electronic variable speed, it's adjustable for all types of material.
Its ergonomic design, extremely rugged build and a host of convenient features make it an excellent choice for any skill level or project.
Top Wood Router Models
Bosch 12 amp
OK, so what’s the secret to choosing the right wood router?
First, you’re going to need to know what type of router you’ll need. That’s going to be determined by what you plan to do with it:
Fixed Base: This is a conventional router, best suited for edge work. If you’re creating shelves, cabinets, frames, or molding, these will get the job done with the fewest adjustments to worry about. Fixed-based routers tend to be very durable tools and comparable quality will cost less than a plunge router. They are also the best choice for mounting to a router table.
Plunge base: If you’re going to need to start working in the middle of your material, this is the type you’ll want. Sink cutouts, surface milling, carving, and engraving are all projects that will be easier with this router. Most of these can also be used for edge work – some easier than others.
Interchangeable Base: You’ve already figured it out, haven’t you? This router gives you a plunge base and a fixed base. You swap the motor between them to suit the job at hand.
Laminate Trimmer: This specialized router is designed for cutting the edge of countertop materials flush with the edge of the counter. If that’s all you plan to do, these are small, lightweight and can even be found in cordless models. They also won’t set you back as much as larger wood routers.
Once you’ve determined which of those types you’ll need, the choice comes down to four things:
Make no mistake; those first three things cover a lot of territories. Let’s look at them one at a time:
A router should be capable of ripping the right bit through just about anything. It may need to handle all sorts of material, from woods to laminates to soft metals.
Power tools are rated by current draw (amps), horsepower or both. The higher either of those ratings, the more torque a wood router develops.
This requirement should be pretty much standard for any power tool, right?
Right, but there are some special considerations with a router. These tools may rotate at speeds measured in the tens of thousands. That puts a tremendous amount of stress on motor and shaft bearings.
That’s not all. Routers get banged, bumped, pushed and drug through some pretty tough environments. Base and motor housing materials need to be strong and resilient
There’s an awful lot rolled into this requirement:
A wood router takes concentration and skill to operate. Features make the job easier. Here’s a short list of just a few of the convenient features that modern routers offer:
- Variable speed: Working with materials of various hardness and a wide range of bits is much easier if you can control the motor speed.
- Soft start: Routers develop very high torque. Bringing the motor up to speed slowly on startup helps maintain control of the tool.
- Lights: You can’t rout what you can’t see. A built-in light is a huge plus.
In addition, you’ll want all the features common to any convenient tool. Controls should be easy to access. Changing bits should be easy. Markings should be easy to read.
There’s much more, but you get the idea.
This one speaks for itself. Let’s check out the tools!
Best Wood Router Reviews By Category
It stands to reason that “best” is a relative term when it comes to power tools. To help you sort out the router that fits your needs, we’ve added some to our list based on specific criteria. Here’s the run-down on those models:
Best Cordless Wood Router
Ryobi ONE+ Trim
There aren’t many cordless ones available, so this isn’t a difficult choice. The Ryobi ONE+ Trim Router is definitely worth listing. It’s part of a great line of cordless tools that share 18V batteries.
It’s also an awesome trimmer that won’t break the bank.
You can handle this tool with one hand. It weighs only 3.35 lbs with a 10” x 5” x 10” footprint. Depth adjustment is quick and easy. There’s no cord to drag around.
If you’re looking for something to trim edges with no hassles, this is it. On the minus side, it won’t handle larger routing jobs.
Best Wood Router for Beginners
Porter-Cable has a reputation for building rock-solid power tools. Their 690LR Fixed-Base Router is a great example. It’s everything a novice needs to learn the basics, with plenty of power to take on the heavy loads.
With its machined aluminum base and motor housing, this one can take a few hard knocks. It develops 1-3/4 horsepower at 27,500RPM. A lever lock lets you set the depth quickly and ring-style fine adjustment gets you within 1/128 of an inch. The traditional knob-style handles and wide base provide a stable grip and ease of control, whatever your skill level.
This model doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, but it’s a very reasonably-priced machine that will get you off to a great start. It’s also capable of tackling bigger jobs as you gain experience.
Best Wood Router Under $100
Is price your biggest concern?
Here’s a solution:
The Ryobi R163K Router with 3 bits is a great package deal. You get the router and your first 3 bits for less than $100!
While this general-purpose router isn’t quite as rugged as our beginner’s choice, it does pack a 25,000RPM, 1.5HP ball-bearing motor to get the job done. It also has a few extra features you’ll like:
- Quick, cam lever adjustment
- Top-mounted micro-adjustment knob
- LED work lights
- Spindle lock makes bit changes easier
- Ergonomic handles
To get you started working right away, it also includes three of the most commonly used bits: a 5/32” Roman ogee, a 1/4” round over and a 5/16” straight cutter. How’s that for economical?
Best Wood Router Under $200
Bosch 12 Amp 2
You say you’ve got a little more room in the budget? Here’s a kit for you:
Bosch 12 Amp 2-1/4 Combination Horsepower Plunge and Fixed Base Variable Speed Router Kit 1617EVSPK with 1/4-Inch and 1/2-Inch Collets
Wow. That’s quite a mouthful, huh? It’s also quite a deal.
This package includes a hefty, 12A, 2.25HP router motor with TWO bases. You get all the stability of a conventional wood router and the convenience of a plunge router for less than the price of many with a single base.
Did you notice that it’s made by Bosch?
If you’ve been around power tools, you know that name is synonymous with quality. Here are a few of the extra features you’ll get for your $199:
- Soft start motor
- Electronic variable speed (8,000 – 25,000RPM)
- Rugged aluminum construction
- Classic wood handles on the fixed base
- Soft-grip plunge base handles
- Precision centering
This one has all the capacity you need for really big projects, thanks to its multi-collet capability. It accepts 1/4”, 3/8” and 1/2” collets and two sizes are included (1/4” and 1/2”).
Put simply, this kit just gives you a whole lot of “bang for your buck”!
Top Rated Wood Router Reviews
Makita RP2301FC 3-1/4 HP Plunge Router
Speaking of value for the price, this variable speed plunge router from Makita delivers in a big way! Although it’s a plunge base, it’s designed to function equally well as a fixed-based model. What’s more, it’s the most feature-packed one on our list.
Let’s start with the motor:
It’s a 15-amp motor with internal, labyrinth-ducted fan. Electronic control provides constant speeds under changing loads, variable from 9,000-2,000RPM. Just dial it in with the convenient thumb wheel. It delivers soft starting AND electric braking, so you don’t have to wait for it to wind down.
- Oversize ball bearings
- Linear plunge ball bearings
- TWIN LED lights
- Ergonomic, rubber-coated handled motor switch
- Shaft lock
- Easy-swap template system
- Switch lock
- 1/4” and 1/2” collets included
- 2-3/4” plunge depth
- 3 preset plunge stops
- micro-adjustable plunge depth
- Lock the plunge depth for conventional routing
There’s more, but we have other routers to show you. This one will hit your wallet a little harder, but it’s worth the difference.
Triton TRA001 Dual Mode
Here’s a unique approach:
How about a single router that performs as two? This one from Triton (Check Price on Amazon.com) switches from plunge mode to rack-and-pinion adjustable, fixed-based mode.
If that’s not enough, it boasts a big 3-1/4HP motor with variable speed and soft start.
A micro-winder provides fine depth adjustment in plunge mode. Side air vents help prevent clogging. There’s an automatic spindle lock for easy bit changes. All in all, it’s a well-designed, well-rated, dual-mode tool.
What about shortcomings?
This wood router is a bit higher on the price scale. Additionally, in both modes, the handles stay well above the base. That may make for a little less stable control. For experienced operators, it may not be a problem.
This fixed-base router from Dewalt is modestly priced but has the guts and goodies to give the others a run for their money.
2.25HP delivered by a robust 12A motor is enough to get through hard materials without bogging down. Full-feedback electronic variable speed provides constant 1,000 to 24,000RPM even when the load changes.
Old-timers will recognize some traditional features on this one. D-handles provide a more natural grip than round knobs. The motor housing twists for quick depth adjustment.
A micrometer ring does the fine tuning down to 1/64”. Bit changes can be made easier by flipping the quick-releases and removing the motor housing from the base.
This one came in second on our list for a beginner’s router, but would certainly do the job as a low-cost, basic edge router for professionals, too.
DEWALT Compact Router Combo Kit
No matter what type of projects are on your to-do list, this is one of the ultimate wood routers for you, Backed by the kind of warranty you would expect from DEWALT, it features a 1.25-horsepower motor that practically eliminates the need for any of other routers. You'll also find that it has a speed range of 16,000 revolutions per minute up to a maximum of 27,000 RPM.
Do you still have questions about this router and whether it's a good choice for you? You can take a look at some of its other impressive features, including:
- A variable speed control
- Dual LEDs that work with the clear base to improve your visibility
- A soft start motor that actively monitors and reduces feedback to give you more cutting control and power
With an affordable price, this is the best wood router combo kit for under $200. You get an adjustment ring that works with the fixed base to help you more easily adjust your cutting depth and a plunge base that gives you better and more precise cuts.
While we could spend all day on this DEWALT model, we want you to take a look at all the other great wood routers on the market.
Bosch Colt Palm Grip Router
Anyone who ever used a Bosch power tool before knows that this company really backs up its statements with one of the best warranties you'll find When you're in the market with a router that has a fixed base and don't want to drop a ton of cash, this is the best tool for you. Bosch made this one for shoppers who want to spend less than $100 on a router.
Yes, you really read that correctly. This amazing little tool retails for less than $100. Don't let the price tag trick you into thinking this isn't a good tool though because you'll find impressive features that include:
- A quick lock system that reduces injuries and common mistakes
- A 5.6-amp motor with a solid 15,000 to 35,000 RPM rating
- A lightweight design that reduces its total weight down to less than 12 pounds
Are you tired of struggling to find tools and accessories that work with a wood router? Bosch gives you loads of accessories with this router, including both shaft and collet wrenches and a guide with straight edges for making cuts. You also get a protective case that keeps the router and all those accessories safe.
Porter-Cable fixed base Router
The best fixed base router for budget shoppers just might be this Porter-Cable model, which has an 11-amp motor that has a 1.5-horsepower rating. Designed for making quick and accurate cuts, it features a single-speed motor that produces more than 27,000 revolutions in a single minute. A handy guide located on the base of this tool helps you cut to the exact depth that you need too.
Made from a heavy-duty aluminum that can stand up to hundreds of cuts, this router has a locking lever that lets you change the depth of your cuts without lifting the tool first. It also features a rounded head that helps you grab the tool and make your cuts without any discomfort in your hand.
When you cut any type of wood, you worry about the sawdust flying through the air damaging the motors on your tools. Thanks to a sealed switch, you'll never worry again. This sealed design ensures that the motor works for years.
You'll also appreciate the oversize grips on each side of the router that reduce user fatigue. No matter how many projects you want to complete, you can work for hours without suffering any pain or discomfort.
Makita Compact Router Kit
Do you wish there was a way to get all the router supplies and accessories that you need without spending a lot of money? Makita has you covered with this kit, which features the top accessories that wood enthusiasts like. It also has an ergonomic design that lets you accomplish all the tasks on your to-do list without straining or hurting your hands.
You can easily get a good look at all the top features of this Makita model with a quick look at our list of the best, which includes:
- A dial that helps you adjust the variable speed of the router
- A quick release system for making fast adjustments on the fly
- Smooth operating power because of a soft start motor
The variable speed motor makes it easy for you to adjust your overall speed based on your projects or the types of wood you use. You can adjust that dial down to 10,000 RPM or increase the speed up to 30,000 revolutions.
One of the top features that many shoppers love is the aluminum housing used on this model. That housing protects the motor from dust and other debris that comes off the wood and extends its overall life.
DEWALT Router Kit
Why settle for a router that only comes with one base, when you can get this kit that comes with both? You'll find that some projects benefit from a fixed base while others require a plunge base that lets you cut deep into a piece of wood. Like other products from DEWALT, this one comes with a great warranty too.
An electronic motor with a variable speed design lets you change the power of the motor based on the type of wood you plan on using. You can crank up the speed to cut through the toughest of woods without the motor struggling or burning out. Not only can you change the speed before you cut, but you can adjust the speed while you're in the middle of a project.
No matter how much you want to spend on a router though, what you really care about is the overall features. DEWALT gives you loads of nice features that include a cam lock on the motor that you can access and adjust without any tools and depth adjustment ring that you can change with just one hand. We think you'll love the built-in dust collection system that removes more than 90% of the dust produced by the router.
Bosch Combination Router Pack
A good router is only as strong as its base, but many workshops could benefit from this Bosch combo pack that comes with a plunge and a fixed base. With the plunge base, the simple motion of pressing down on the top lets you plunge the router through a piece of wood. When you want to make shorter or fixed cuts, you can use the other base just as easily.
The 15-amp motor is one of the top features on this model because it has a 2.3-horsepower rating and a variable speed range. You can use this router at a lower 10,000 RPM or turn up the speed to hit up to 25,000 revolutions. Some of the other features that you'll really love include:
- A spring lock added to the plunge base to keep it moving smoothly
- Constant Response circuitry ensures that you get the continuous speed that you need
- Pre-drilled holes on the fixed base allow you to mount the base onto a cabinet or table
Thanks to contoured handles on each base, you'll get the comfort that you need too. Those handles help you get a grip and maintain a grip on the router.
Milwaukee Multi-Base Router Kit
Though we included lots of affordable wood routers on this list, you can get a much better tool when you spend more. Though Milwaukee charges nearly $300 for this set, it features everything you need in your workshop and a durable design. Both the housing that surrounds the motor and the base use machined aluminum for added durability.
We think that you'll really appreciate the included storage case for a few reasons. This case helps you:
- •Organize your router and accessories
- •Keep all parts clean and safe
- •Take the router and accessories with you to job sites
Milwaukee itself doesn't give you much information about this tool, but the company does tell you that it features six accurate stops along the metal turret that you can use to make macro and micro adjustments.
It also features a pop and drop quick release design that actually lets you drop the motor out of one base and quickly snap it into the second base. Not only do you get a fixed base, but you also get a plunge base. Other accessories that come with this 2.25-horsepower motor router include two steel wrenches, two assembles and a slot collet.
Final Verdict: Best Wood Router For Your Money
After carefully reviewing seven of the best choices, the Makita RP2301FC 1-1/4 horsepower Plunge Router deserves our number one rating. Initially, it might seem odd to award that position to the most expensive tool in the list. After all, you’re looking for the best value for your money.
Here’s the thing:
Although this wood router costs a bit more than the others, it delivers MUCH more. It meets and exceeds all of our criteria for power, durability, and convenience.
What’s more, when you compare the features of each of those reviewed, it delivers a great feature to cost ratio, too!
This router is a valuable addition to any shop, amateur or professional. Whether you grow into it or simply start taking advantage of all it offers, you definitely won’t outgrow it. In fact, it will probably be there when your son or daughter is ready to learn. Get yours now and be ready to hand it down!