If you are new to woodworking or looking to upgrade your tools, a wood router is an essential power tool to consider. A router is a versatile tool that can be used to cut intricate designs, joinery, make molding, and much more. When looking for the right router, there are several key factors to consider. This guide will walk you through what to look for when buying a wood router.
1. Key Considerations When Buying a Router
1.1 Router Types: Fixed Base and Plunge Router
One of the first considerations when buying a router is the type of router you need. There are two main types of routers, fixed base and plunge routers. A fixed base router is designed for trim work and basic routing tasks.
A plunge router, on the other hand, allows the router bit to move up and down, making it ideal for deeper cuts and more intricate designs. If you are a beginner, a fixed base router is a great starting point, while experienced woodworkers may want to consider investing in a plunge router for more versatility.
1.2 Horsepower and Variable Speed
The horsepower and variable speed of a router are important factors to consider. The horsepower of a router determines how much power the router has available for cutting. A larger motor with more horsepower will be able to cut through hardwoods and other dense materials more easily. Variable speed allows the user to adjust the speed of the router, which is important when working with different types of wood and router bit sizes.
1.3 Versatility and Compatibility with Router Bits
When choosing a router, it’s important to consider its versatility and compatibility with different router bits. The type of router bit you use can greatly affect the outcome of your project. A router that is compatible with a wide range of bits will allow you to take on a variety of tasks without having to invest in multiple routers.
2. Choosing the Right Router Base Style
2.1 Fixed Base Router
A fixed base router is a great choice for trimming and shaping tasks. It has a stationary base that is lifted or lowered to set the depth of cut. This type of router is easy to use and provides consistent results.
2.2 Plunge Base Router
A plunge base router is designed for tasks that require more depth of cut. The base of the router is spring-loaded and can be plunged into the piece of wood. This allows for more precise and intricate cuts.
2.3 Combination Base Router
A combination base router allows the user to switch between a fixed and plunge base, making it a versatile tool for a range of woodworking projects. Combination base routers offer the best of both worlds, letting you handle all types of tasks with a single tool.
3. Understanding Router Bits and Accessories
3.1 Router Bit Types and Shank Sizes
Router bits are the cutting tools that attach to the router’s collet. There are many different types of router bits, including chamfer, dovetail, hinge, and groove bits. It’s important to choose the right bit for the task at hand and to ensure that it is compatible with your router. The shank size of the router bit is also important to consider, as not all routers accept every shank size.
3.2 Router Table and Jigs
A router table is a stationary work surface that allows you to easily rout large or awkward pieces of wood. Router jigs are accessories that help you create accurate and repetitive cuts, such as dovetails or mortises.
3.3 Templates for Accurate and Repetitive Cuts
Templates are a great way to ensure accurate and repetitive cuts when using a router. Templates are pre-made patterns that allow you to easily create the same shape or design multiple times.
4. Dust Collection and Ergonomics
4.1 Dust Collection System
Dust collection is an important factor to consider when buying a wood router. Wood routers create a lot of dust and debris, which can be dangerous to inhale. A dust collection system helps keep your workspace clean and safe.
4.2 Ergonomic Design and Ease of Use
Ergonomics is another important consideration when buying a router. A router should be comfortable to hold and easy to use for extended periods of time.
4.3 Noise and Vibration
Noise and vibration can also be issues when using a router. Look for routers that have built-in noise reduction features and are designed to reduce vibration.
5. Best Wood Routers on the Market
5.1 Top Picks for Fixed Base Routers
Some of the best fixed base routers on the market include the Bosch 1617EVS Fixed-Base Router, the DeWalt DWP611PK Compact Router, and the Makita RT0701CX7 1-1/4 HP Compact Router Kit.
5.2 Top Picks for Plunge Base Routers
Some of the best plunge base routers on the market include the DeWalt DW618PKB Plunge and Fixed-Base Router Kit, the Bosch 1617EVSPK Plunge and Fixed-Base Router Kit, and the Makita RP2301FC Plunge Router.
5.3 Top Picks for Combination Base Routers
Some of the best combination base routers on the market include the Triton TRA001 Dual Mode Precision Plunge Router, the Festool 574692 Router OF 1400 EQ Imperial, and the Porter-Cable 895PK Router Kit.
When looking to buy a wood router, there are several key factors and features to consider in order to make the best choice for your woodworking needs. Here are some important FAQs with answers that can help guide you in your decision-making process:
- What are the different types of wood routers available?
There are four main categories of wood routers: full-size, midsize, compact, and trim routers. For general use and versatility, a midsize router is often recommended. However, if you primarily work on small- and medium-sized projects, a compact router may be more suitable due to its lighter weight and reduced bulk.
- How much power do I need in a wood router?
The power of a wood router is typically measured in horsepower or amperage. Higher ratings generally correspond to more power. Consider the type of projects you plan to tackle, as this will significantly affect the power requirements of your router. A small router may not have enough power for continuous heavy-duty work, while a large router may be too cumbersome for delicate tasks.
- What is the importance of motor speed in a wood router?
Motor speed is an important factor to consider, especially when using large cutters. Variable speed routers offer greater versatility and are particularly useful for beginners, as they allow for more opportunities to learn and adapt to different tasks.
- What should I look for in a router base?
A stable and accurate router base is essential for precise cutting. Ensure that the base does not rock around, as this will affect the quality of your cuts. Guides can help maintain control, but it’s important to choose a router with a suitable base size for your intended projects.
- What collet sizes are available for wood routers?
Most wood routers come with interchangeable collets that accept bits of both 1/4-inch and 1/2-inch sizes. Some smaller palm routers may only accept 1/4-inch router bits. Consider the types of bits you plan to use and ensure that your chosen router can accommodate them.
- Are there any additional features I should consider?
Additional features to consider when choosing a wood router include dust collection ports, which help keep the cutter area visible and reduce workshop cleanups; ergonomic handles for comfort during use; and plunge capability for added versatility.
- How do I choose the best wood router for a beginner?
For beginners, it’s important to consider factors such as type, power, motor speed, base stability, collet size, and additional features when choosing a wood router. Some top recommendations for beginner-friendly wood routers include the Makita RT0701C 1-1/4 HP Compact Router, Bosch 1617EVSPK Wood Router Tool Combo Kit, DEWALT Router DW616, Bosch Colt Router Tool PR20EVS, and WEN RT6033 Plunge Woodworking Router Kit.
By considering these FAQs and their answers, you can make an informed decision when purchasing a wood router that meets your specific needs and preferences.
Buying a wood router can be overwhelming, but with the right information, it’s easy to make an informed decision. Consider the type of router, base style, router bits and accessories, dust collection and ergonomics, and horsepower and variable speed when choosing the right router for your needs. With the right router, you can take on a wide range of woodworking projects and achieve professional results.