Looking for the best wood router? Read our in-depth wood router reviews, comparison charts and top picks for 2017 to help you make the right buying decision for all your DIY projects.
If we had to name one power tool that will have the most utility in your woodworking shop, then it will be the wood router. From cutting grooves, to profiling edges and even creating joints, wood router especially when combined with a router table brings incredible value to your woodworking shop.
In this article, we’ll recommend and review the best wood routers in the market today. We also make recommendations for different types of buyers, so you can pick the one that fits your need.
Best Wood Router for Professional Woodworkers
Bosch MRC23EVSK 2.3 HP Router Pack – A true heavyweight, this router offers top notch performance. With smart design features, user convenience is at the forefront. If you need a beast to handle ALL OF YOUR routing jobs, this is what you should get.
Best Wood Router for Hobbyists and DIY projects
Bosch 1617EVSPK 12 Amp Router Kit – The best value for money router a DIYer could ask for. Packs enough power to handle all of your projects and micro adjustment settings & ease of use, make it a complete package.
Best Wood Router Reviews for 2017
|Bosch MRC23EVSK||2.3 HP||Plunge and Fixed Base router||Premium||4.9/5|
|Bosch 1617EVSPK||2.25 HP||Plunge & Fixed-Base router||Premium||4.5/5|
|DeWalt DWP611PK||1.25 hp||Compact Router||Budget Pick||4.4/5|
|Makita RT0701C||1.25 HP||Compact Router||Affordable||3.8/5|
A true monster, the Bosch MRC23EVSK is designed to eat through anything you throw at it. If you are looking for the perfect router setup for your shop, this is what you need. Here is our full review –
The Perfect Machine for a Seasoned Woodworker
A professional woodworker has two kinds of routers, a 15 AMP router for in-house router table operations and the 12 AMP router for handheld routing.
Bosch changes that with the MRC23EVSK. It comes with all the muscle with a 15 AMP 2.5 HP motor and the total weight (of all the parts) is less than 13 pounds.
We were able to perform basic tasks like plunging holes and edge profiling with complete ease and complex tasks like rabbeting which require pinpointing accuracy was no different. The router was tested on various woods (including hardwood), and the performance was consistent throughout.
Coming to design the handles were ergonomic, dual LED lights helped in darker environments and the plunge action was silky smooth for the most parts. However, we loved the trigger switch which was on the handles. It is super helpful during long hours of operations, where you need to route continuously.
The variable speed of motor gives you the flexibility of using bits of different sizes. (Furthermore, it supports both ½ inch and ¼ inch collet).
Both the bases can easily be attached to most router tables, and adjustments can be made for cuts with complete ease.
The Bosch MRC23EVSK kit works as the perfect hybrid which can be used for both with a router table and job site applications. It comes with the muscle to handle difficult tasks and gives users complete control for making precision cuts. Overall this is hands down the best wood router for a professional.
If you are DIYer who builds his or her projects, then you need a router which ranks high on performance and user convenience. The Bosch 1617EVSPK router kit fits into that category. Here is why we think it’s the best buy for a DIYer.
The Perfect Balance
Three routers were in contention for the #1 router a woodworking hobbyists could buy – Bosch 1617EVSPK, Dewalt DWP611PK and Bosch Colt. The colt felt short on performance and was not able to handle tough applications (including raising panels). The Dewalt router was able to handle almost everything we threw at it which was impressive considering the price. However, we experience a few burn out issues here & there, but user convenience is where it let us down.
And finally, this is where Bosch 1617EVSPK impressed us. Bosch designed this keeping the user in mind. First up switching the motor from the fixed base to plunge base was the easiest thanks to the simple locking mechanism. Next, it has handles on both the bases. They prove to be of immense help when you are working for long periods and also improves precision.
We had no complaints concerning performance. The Bosch router powered through most tests including raised panels and edge profiling. We tested this on a full fledged table project which included multiple grooves. The fixed base operation was smooth, but we experience an occasional jam while plunging.
Also, the motor gets heated up if you stretch it out. We don’t recommend a continuous operation for a period greater than 20-25 minutes. You should cool the motor between tasks to ensure smooth performance.
Overall, the Bosch 1617EVSPK gives us everything we ask for it. If you are looking for power & convenience, and budget is not an issue, this will be our top recommendation.
Budget Pick: DeWalt DWP611PK Compact Wood Router
If you are just starting out with woodworking, then the Dewalt DWP611PK might just be what you are looking for. It ranks high in both quality and performance. Here is our full review:
The Beginner Router
On first impressions for the DeWalt DWP611PK feels like a small, sturdy router. The fixed based weight close to 4.5 pounds while the plunge base weighs just over 6 lbs. It is powered by 1.2 HP motor which drives 7 AMPs of power. In the spec department, it doesn’t match some of the other recommendations we have made in the list.
But, that doesn’t mean that it can’t get the job done. We tested this router on tasks like edge profiling, inlay pattern work and even mortising. It consistently performed as per our requirements. Having said that this is not built for harder woods (like oak). Also, do not stretch it for longer durations.
Regarding flexibility, it gives you a variable speed range of 16,000 – 27,000 rpm. You can use bits of different sizes, and this increases the number of cuts you can make with the router. On the downside, it only supports a collet size of a ¼ inch, which again makes it difficult to route on harder woods.
Secondly, it is not the most convenient machine to use. The adjustment settings take some time to get used too, and the micro-adjustments are not that clear. You get the hang of it after using it for some time. Also, due to a complex locking mechanism switching between bases takes time. (Our experience with Bosch routers was completely different, where it takes about 5 seconds to switch and lock bases).
The Dewalt DWP611PK is a budget option and something which we can easily recommend to beginners. It helps you get started with projects, you can make all kinds of router cuts, and it all comes in a durable package. However, you have to be content with average user functionality.
#4 Pick: Makita RT0701C Compact Wood Router
Finally, if you are into artistic applications or into trimming jobs, then this Makita router would be our top recommendation. It packs quite a punch in a tiny footprint making it perfect for handheld operations. Here’s more:
The #1 trim router
For certain shelf projects or trimming laminates or even light fluting, you don’t need a heavy duty router. This is where the Makita RT0701C comes in. It weighs just under 4 pounds and packs 1.25 HP of power. This is incredible, and you get a lot of power in a tiny little package.
This lightweight design in a tiny footprint comes in handy when you are trimming cabinets. Apart from that, we tested this for certain edge profiling tasks and some fluting. We are quite happy with the performance as you can quickly make cut adjustments and the sight line was great with all the bases.
Talking about the bases, you get three additional bases (apart from the offset base) including the plunge base, the fixed base, and the tilt base. We particularly liked the tilt base as it gives you the convenience of making a cut at an angle.
The durability is also top notch. The bases include a lot of plastic, but that is done to improve the sight. This has no impact on the durability, and all the bases are built to last for years.
Finally, the versatility is also taken care of as it supports industry standard template guides. However, in our tests, the router works best with Makita Template Guides.
After speaking with some users of the Makita RTO701C, the biggest issue with a router is that the bits start to loosen up after some time. So you would have to tighten the bit occasionally while working.
Secondly, if you opt for all the bases, it makes the whole package a little expensive. DIYers who have a standard router can opt for the simple offset base, while professional woodworkers can go for the entire bundle.
The Makita RT0701C is designed for trimming and small routing jobs, and it excels at that. We loved the performance, design and the ease of use. This is not meant for building doors or complex DIY projects. For trimming needs, this is best router kit you can find on the market.
Ultimate Guide to Buying Wood Routers
Picking a wood router depends a lot on what you want from it. But there are certain standards that make a router worth your money. We have narrowed down to the following after consulting with seasoned professionals and woodworkers –
- Powerful Motor – You want a motor that is powerful enough to handle bits of any size. You can go for a lowered power motor if you’re looking for smaller DIY projects. We tested routers with bits that are used to raising panels indoors as they are the mostly bigger in size.
- Variable Speed – Since you are going to operate bits of different sizes, you need a motor that offers variable speed functionality. For larger bits, you need smaller RPM and for smaller bits, you need a higher RPM. Also, soft start feature should be present otherwise your run the risk of spoiling your workpiece at the start.
All our recommendations have soft start feature
- Next, the fixed base router should be nice and balanced, while the plunge base router should be smooth and easy to use.
- Adjusting and changing the bit should also be convenient. Also, if you are going to pair it up with a router table, then make sure that you can change the bit through the base.
- Finally, attachments like dust collector hood help reduce dust and thus also adds to the utility of the router.
Next, there are three types of wood routers that are available in the market. We discuss in brief about them in the following section –
These are the handheld routers which can be used for light applications. It can be used to perform cuts in tight corners like in cabinets. They can accommodate bits of different sizes, but the motor is not big enough to handle large bits and tougher wood applications.
Fixed Base Router
The oldest kinds of routers are fixed base routers. They are used for edge profiling and run across the edge of the material being cut. They cannot be used for making cuts in between of the workpiece.
However, different bits can be used to make different types of cuts.
Plunge Base Router
Finally using a plunge base router, you can make a cut in the middle of the workpiece. You basically plunge the cutter bit to the desired area. You can easily adjust the depth of the bit. With the template guide, you can guide the bit according to the template, and this helps in making a specialized interior cut.
The Option of Kit
Most routers now offer kits where you get both the fixed base and the plunge base. It includes a detachable motor which can be attached to the fixed base or the plunge base. We recommend getting a kit, as you save you the trouble of buying two separate routers and no compromise is made with regard to the power.
Finally coming to the router you need something with an efficient motor that can be used for longer durations. Secondly, a durable construction also helps in increasing the longevity of the kit.
We have made sure our recommendations are top of the line and we have made recommendations for both a seasoned woodworker and a hobbyist.
If there is a particular doubt which you want to ask, feel free to comment below.