Here are our wood router reviews, comparison charts and buying guides to help you buy the right router for your woodworking projects.
If you are looking for a router which can handle the toughest of tasks with minimal dust then you should go for Festool 574342 OF 1400 EQ Router.
However if you are looking for something which provides the flexibility of both fixed and plunge base in one kit then you should go for Bosch 1617EVSPK Variable Speed Router.
Wood routers are considered the most flexible tools in a workshop which can be used for many woodworking applications. You need different routers for different tasks. For example, for simple everyday routing a fixed base router is recommended but for micro adjustments, edge-cutting and pattern work, a plunge router is recommended. Many woodworkers now look for a single kit with both router bases to avoid the hassle of buying too separate router bases.
Our team, considered various factors while testing these wood routers. The main areas of focus were, how well it can handle various applications, ergonomics, adjustments and durability.
Best Routers for Heavy Woodworking
- Festool 574342 OF 1400 EQ Router – It can handle almost any application, and it prevents dust creation, which is one of the major problems woodworkers face. It is the most powerful plunge base router.
- Porter Cable 7518 Fixed Base Router – If you are looking for a powerful fixed base router then you can’t go wrong with the 7518. A powerful 3-1/4 motor and an aluminium housing for durability, ensures all round performance.
Best Routers for Flexibility and Hobbyists
- Bosch 1617EVSPK Variable Speed Router – A router which gives good performance, fine adjustment capabilities, flexibility of fixed and plunge base in one kit and comes at an affordable price.
- Dewalt DWP611PK Variable Router – A slightly less powerful router which can handle moderate applications. But it is one of the most convenient routers we have used, which probably makes it the Amazon Bestseller.
Recommendation #1 : Festool 574342 OF Router
With a powerful 11.7 amp motor the Festool 574342 is designed to handle tough applications. Apart from that it has fine adjustment features. But its dust handling capabilities is what sets it apart from other wood routers.
Most woodworkers would know that routers produce a lot of dust and chips. Cleaning has always been a hassle. This is where Festool is different from other routers in the market. There routers have excellent dust extraction capabilities. The 574342 is no different. It has a dust extraction hood which is in line with the power cable. This dust extraction hood is removable and is adaptable with the 27mm or 36 mm hose.
Another convenient tool is the removable chip catcher which catches chips at their source.
Earlier a lot of time was wasted in cleaning the mess, but that is substantially reduced thanks to Festool. This feature would be loved by any woodworker.
Powerful Motor and Great Comfort
When we first saw the power rating (1400 watts) we were a little apprehensive. But it performed far better than we anticipated. It can handle the most difficult of plunge cuts with ease. The variable speed helps you to take extra care while working with larger bits.
The handle is also impressive. It reduces the pressure on the hand. The power cord tube doubles up as a handle and they have provided extra grip on it. We were able to manoeuvre this with ease.
Best in Class Adjustment
You can work with extreme precision with this router. You can control the depth to a factor of 1/256”, which is insane in our books. Deep cuts with this level of precision can help in fittings. You also get 3 position depth turret which helps in creating incremental steps.
Professional expect lot of precision while making plunge cuts and this is exactly what you get with this Festool Router.
What isn’t impressive?
Festool tools have always been considered expensive. The price will remain the major question mark for buyers. To add that, you need to buy few necessary accessories like guiding rods & routing bits with it. They could have included few accessories at that price. We cannot point on to a single design flaw, except the motor seems a little edgy at the highest speed.
The Final Word
Most woodworkers will think that router is exclusive for professionals with its fine adjustments and powerful motor, but this wouldn’t be a bad choice even for a beginner. It is not difficult to operate, you have to deal with far less dust and the comfort is also pretty good.
So even if you are beginner it wouldn’t hurt to own what many consider one of the best routers in the market. For professionals, this is one router you must have in your cabinet.
Recommendation #2 : Porter Cable 7518 Fixed Base Router
If you are looking for a fixed base router that can handle the most difficult of jobs with ease, Porter Cable 7518 can prove to be the best option. Apart from the powerful motor, which by the way, can handle anything you throw at, the 7518 has some other features which makes it’s an excellent fixed base wood router. Here is the full review.
Powerful Motor with Variable Speed
Generally you expect optimum performance from a 15 amp motor, and the 7518 doesn’t disappoint. We threw the toughest of jobs at it, and it literally breezed through them. You can choose from 5 different speed settings ranging from 10,000 to 21,000 rpm.
This makes it possible to accommodate bits of any diameter and size. All this makes the Porter Cable 7518 highly versatile and makes it a suitable choice for almost all handheld routing tasks.
Soft start feature has become a standard in wood routers now. But since this router is capable of reaching speeds as high as 21,000 rpm, soft start function becomes very necessary. From our tests, the soft start feature worked well for all speed levels. This can help you to achieve precise cuts right from the start.
From the outside this router appear to be well built and durable. The sealed ball-bearing design prevents any dust from reaching the crucial components of the router, this increases their life. The aluminium housing protects the whole machine. The handles are also made from high grade metal.
We have spoken with few customers who have used this, and according to them this router has worked nicely for years without a hiccup.
We were quite impressed with the durability.
Porter Cable 7518 lags behind in ergonomics. The handles even tough are made of metal, don’t feel that good in hands. If you use it for long duration, it get uncomfortable. We recommend you to take frequent breaks while working with this.
One of reviewers, was of the opinion that this router is ‘too powerful’ to be used as handheld device. If you have provisions on your router table you can also use this as table mounted router as well.
All in all the 7518 is a versatile, powerful and durable fixed base router.
Recommendation #3 Bosch 1617EVSPK Variable Speed Router
If you are looking for a router kit with both the fixed and the plunge base, you can’t go wrong with the 1617EVSPK. Apart from the versatility it scores well in areas of ergonomics, power and adjustments.
So with this router you get both the fixed and plunge base. You can change them easily. At the start you would may face some issues, but once you get a hang of it, it won’t take much effort. Both the bases fit nicely with the motor, and the locking mechanism is impressive.
The convenience of changing bases while working on a job makes this router versatile.
Powerful Motor with Soft Start
This router has a 12 Amp 2-1/4 horsepower motor which does a more than decent job. You get variable speeds with maximum rpm 25,000. This makes it possible for you to use larger bits. This router was able to handle 90% of the jobs we threw at it. If you looking for extremely heavy routing jobs, you would be better off with a 15 amp router. But this router would work well for most woodworking applications.
It also has a soft start feature which reduces the torque at the start, and prevents damage to the wood.
Superb Ergonomics and Handy Adjustments
This Bosch router has separate handles for both the fixed and the plunge base. Having handles eases the pressure and makes your job a lot easier. Most router combo kits like the dewalt DWP611PK don’t have handles on both the bases. Holding the handles on the plunge base is an absolute pleasure. They are of good quality and absorb the shock nicely. You can make those delicate edge cuts easily thanks to grip. The wooden handles on the fixed base however could have been better, but they don’t do that bad a job. Overall we love the ergonomics of 1617EVSPK and it easily to list of top 3 features of this router.
It also does a good job at adjustments too. It supports ¼ & ½ inch collets. Microfine depth adjustments are available which are accurate to 1/64 of an inch. The bit also stays centred because of the Bosch Precision Centring Design. The adjustment capability of this router allows you to work on your job with greater detail.
We experienced 1 or 2 jamming uses with plunge base, when we started working with this router. Also we recommend not to use the motor with extremely heavy tasks, as it might affect the durability of the router. Finally the wooden handles on the fixed base leave you somewhat disappointed.
Overall at a pretty inexpensive price tag, you get a flexible router kit, with decent power, great ergonomics and fine adjustments. This is one router kit we recommend to every woodworker, because from the moment you start using it, you will prefer it as your daily driver.
Recommendation #4 : Dewalt DWP611PK Combo Kit Router
The bestseller on Amazon has received critical acclaim from woodworkers throughout. It boasts many features at comes at any highly affordable price. We tested its various features and here is our review for the Dewalt DWP611PK.
LED Lights with Both the Bases
As you know the DWP611PK is router kit with both the fixed and the plunge base. They are quite easy to interchange, and even though the price is low, no comprises were made on the locking mechanism. Anyway one of the impressive features about this router are the LEDs.
Dewalt introduced this feature claiming that this feature might change your woodworking experience forever. And truthfully speaking these LEDs help you a lot. You get a clear view of point where you are working at. While making edge cuts, you can evaluate whether you are getting desired results. This proves to be quite handy.
Once you get used to working with LEDs, the other routers seem like lacking something very crucial.
Low Power Motor with Variable Speed
Even though it is a low power motor (1.25 HP) it is able to reach speed as high as 27,000 rpm. It is not designed to handle heavy load applications. We tried to stretch it, but it gives up after medium level load.
It also has a soft start feature which prevents any damage to your wood.
You can easily alter the speed and thus work with different sized bits. For the price you get lot of features from the motor.
Even though price cannot be listed as a feature but you have to do it with the Dewalt DWP611PK. You get 2 bases, a 1.25 HP variable speed motor, convenience of LED lights, decent build quality and many adjustment capabilities. These are all the features you expect from a high end wood router, but Dewalt gives you all this at an affordable price bracket. The low price point makes this a great choice for beginners.
We were not impressed by the handles of the DWP611PK. Handles are only available for the plunge base and they are not that great. This makes it difficult to work on this router for long durations.
Secondly, this router has a lot of plastic. Obviously, this is done to reduce the price, but durability takes it hit. You would have to observe caution while working with this and ensure that you do not drop it.
The accessories that come along with this are also not that good, so it is best you order them separately.
This can work as a great trim router. It is the perhaps the perfect choice for beginners who are not willing to spend much. A lot of hobbyists will love the feature set of this router. Overall an impressive router especially considering the price.