The 10 Best Wood Routers

Updated November 22, 2017

10 Best Wood Routers
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
If you're going to be creating decorative cutouts, inlays, small profiles, door hinges or dovetailing, you're going to need one of these special tools. Wood routers and plunge routers enable you to create just about any kind of cut in all wood types. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best wood router on Amazon.

10. Skil 1830

The Skil 1830 provides clean and professional-looking edges for basic and intricate home improvement projects. It starts smoothly and gradually increases in speed, with less kickback, better control and a longer motor life.
  • able to cut large profiles
  • fixed and plunge styles
  • hard to remove from the base
Brand Skil
Model 1830
Weight 15.4 pounds
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

9. Black & Decker RP250

The Black & Decker RP250 boasts a unique construction that allows you to start work from the center of the wood to create decorative cutouts, inlays, and more. Its specially designed sightline base gives you great visibility.
  • contoured chip shield for comfort
  • adjustable parallel edge guide
  • not ideal for heavy woodworking
Model RP250
Weight 9.9 pounds
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

8. Bosch PR20EVSK

The versatile Bosch PR20EVSK packs big power into a small, compact design that is ideal for both at-home or professional jobs. It includes a handy instruction manual that lists the best settings and speeds for the most common tasks.
  • easy-to-access speed dial
  • simple one-handed operation
  • no built-in light
Brand Bosch
Model PR20EVSK
Weight 8.3 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

7. DeWalt DW618K

The DeWalt DW618K has depth adjustment as accurate as 1/64 of an inch, making freehand routing through any type of wood a breeze. Plus, the cord is fully detachable to keep it protected when stored away or for use with other DeWalt products.
  • base changes can be made quickly
  • comfortable oversized hand grips
  • difficult to swap bits
Model DW618K
Weight 14.8 pounds
Rating 3.5 / 5.0

6. Porter-Cable PCE6430

The Porter-Cable PCE6430 is a powerful and efficient router that generates an impressive 31,000 revolutions-per-minute, while maintaining compatibility with aftermarket parts. It also features a cast aluminum base, making it lighter than other models.
  • under-table stop prevents movement
  • collets accept shank bits
  • inconveniently placed switch
Model 690LR
Weight 9.8 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

5. Hitachi M12VC

The ergonomic Hitachi M12VC makes a great addition to any workshop, thanks to its consistent performance. It features electronic speed control for making smooth cuts in a variety of materials, and has a two-stage motor release clamp for quick depth adjustments.
  • operates very quietly
  • 3 wrenches included
  • glides smoothly without scratching
Brand Hitachi
Model M12VC
Weight 10.5 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

4. Makita RT0701CX3

The Makita RT0701CX3 is ideal for routing small profiles, dovetailing, and door hinges. It boasts a soft start feature for lasting motor life, and a high visibility base design for improved handling and performance that allows for very smooth plunge actions.
  • fine depth rack-and-pinion
  • accepts standard template guides
  • double insulated for protection
Brand Makita
Model RT0701CX3
Weight 19.7 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

3. Bosch MRC23EVSK

The Bosch MRC23EVSK contains a plunge router and a fixed-base router to tackle various jobs. It features a unique trigger switch in the handle for high levels of control, and its robust build means it is great for heavy-duty use.
  • long-lasting led lighting
  • variable speed dial
  • swiveling 10 foot cord
Brand Bosch
Weight 25.7 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

2. DeWalt DW618B3

The professional-quality DeWalt DW618B3 includes 3 different bases with comfortable rubber handles and a low center of gravity for more precision and less user fatigue. As a bonus, the switch and cord set can be on your left or right side.
  • full feedback control
  • eight-slotted collets prevent jams
  • collects 95 percent of dust
Model DW618B3
Weight 27.2 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

1. Porter-Cable 7518

If power and durability are what you're after, then the Porter-Cable 7518 is the perfect choice. The 15-amp motor can handle the toughest applications, and the heavy duty aluminum motor housing and base will last for years to come.
  • sealed ball bearing construction
  • dust protected switch
  • easy bit removal after use
Model 7518
Weight 18.9 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

Invention Of The Power Wood Router

Wood routers come in both power and hand versions. While many carpenters and handymen choose to use powered versions, some traditionalists feel that hand versions offer better control and accuracy. One can also find Computer Numerical Control or CNC routers, which are navigated by a computer program allowing them to offer superior precision and automation.

The handheld power router was invented in 1915 by Oscar Onsrud. He named them Onsruters, which is a term created by combing his last name and the word router. Onsrud was inspired to build the power router by a railroad company that wanted to use steam power from a locomotive engine to power its front headlight. He designed an air turbine engine, or jet motor, and submitted the plans to the railroad company. He didn't get the contract, but this can be considered serendipitous, as he would later find a use for his design.

Just a few short months later, after continuously getting frustrated while trying to carve a groove into the bottom of a chair with a hand router, he realized that he could use the same air turbine engine he had designed for the locomotive headlight to power a router, and so the makings of the power router was born.

Instead of steam, he slightly altered the engine's design to run on compressed air. He modified an endmill to have steeper rake and clearance angles so that it could evacuate the chips as it cut. Endmills are normally found on standard milling machines, which spin at an average of 3,000 RPMS, but his jet powered router was designed to spin at 30,000 RPMs in order to produce a clean cut with no burn marks on the wood.

Must Have Router Features

There are a few features that every good router should have which make jobs easier and allow for more precise work. The first feature to look for is variable speed controls. Different bit sizes work best at different speeds. For example large bits should rotate at lower speeds, while smaller bits should rotate at higher speeds. The ability to adjust the size can be of vital importance.

Electronic feedback circuitry can be useful to increase the lifespan of the engine and make the wood router easier to handle. Essentially it monitors the engine load and adjusts the torque to match. This prevents the router motor from lagging or stalling when hitting dense patches of wood, which also helps reduce the chance of it spinning out of control when it suddenly speeds up again.

A soft start feature slowly brings the router to top speed, instead of suddenly blasting to full speed once it is turned on. This can be useful to help prevent the router from jerking in the hand when turned on, allowing you to approach a cut in a cool and collected manner.

Finally, look for a router with a spindle lock feature. This allows you to make bit changes with just one wrench, instead of two as is needed with routers that don't have this feature. This can be especially useful in plunge routers where it is difficult to access the bit.

Deciding What Kind Of Wood Router You Need

Wood routers come in many different sizes and matching the right size router to the job at hand will help you produce better results. If you will mostly be using your router to soften edges and create small profile areas out of a workpiece, than a compact trim router with a 1 to 1.5 HP engine is your best bet. Their small size allows them to easily be used in a variety of orientations and in compact areas where using a larger router would be problematic.

They are called trim routers because they are ideal for trimming the edges off a board. Using a larger router for this kind of application can be difficult as they may feel off balanced in the hand. Trim routers can be used with one hand and are extremely versatile as they can also be used for fine joinery, hinge mortises, and small dado joints.

Routers with engines in the 1.75 to 2.25 HP range would be considered mid-sized routers. These may come with a plunge or fixed base and require both hands during operation. Mid-sized routers are a good compromise between convenience and power. They can accomplish jobs that would unfeasible with trim routers, and jobs where a full-sized router would be too unwieldy.

Plunge-base options have a motor that is mounted between spring-loaded posts, and handles located high up on the machine. They allow you to quickly vary cutting depth without having to turn off the tool and feature a depth stop. Fixed-base routers have a lower center of gravity with handles located near the bottom. They only allow routing from the side and cannot be plunged directly into the workpiece. They also require one to turn of the tool to adjust the cutting depth, but many find them easier to work with.

Full-sized routers usually have an engine in the 3 to 3.5 HP range and are only suitable for large profiling. If trying to use a full-sized router on smaller jobs, one may often over route and destroy the workpiece. They are also very heavy and can feel unwieldy to the inexperienced woodworker.

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Last updated on November 22, 2017 by multiple members of the ezvid wiki editorial staff

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