Routers can get pretty expensive, especially the top of the line compact or full-size ones. And if you start adding accessories to your cart, the price tag will only get higher and higher. Fortunately, you still have some good budget options available out there, so you don’t have to pay a small fortune for a decent router.
Ryobi R1631K: The Best Budget Router Tool You Can Buy
If you are looking for the best compact router, the Ryobi R1631K 1-1/2 Peak HP 8.5 Amp LED-Lit Corded Router Including 3 Piece Bit Set (w/ Tool Bag) is the perfect choice. Ryobi has a tool that few companies seem to offer: a single-speed motor with a 1/4” collet. This router has an above-average motor, for a compact tool, and is just perfect for those little jobs around the house.
Good Motor for A Budget Router
The Ryobi R1631K has a 1.5HP 8.5 Amps ball-bearing motor, which is actually a lot more powerful than what most compact routers come with. This means that the router can do a variety of jobs, but don’t expect it to make deep cuts or use large bits. The only downside with this motor is that it doesn’t have variable speed, so you can only work at 25,000 RPM. There’s not soft start function either, which means that you will have to be extra careful when powering up this tool. The router has enough power to actually kick and, if you don’t have a good grip on it, you will get injured.
Easy to use
For a budget router, it is extremely easy to use. That’s why we can recommend this tool to beginners as well. The handles of the Ryobi R1631K are actually quite comfortable, so you won’t feel any discomfort after prolonged use. The base is constructed of die-cast aluminum, which makes it very durable but also provides good accuracy and stability.
A surprising feature, especially for a budget router, is the LED light. Sometimes, when working in your shop, you won’t have enough light to see what the bit is doing. The LED on the Ryobi R1631K gives you enough light to see exactly what you are doing. The router also has an integrated polyethylene chip guard system, so you don’t have to worry about chip flying out when you are looking at the bit.
With the Ryobi R1631K depth adjustments are made easy. First of all, the router has a quick-release button that allows for quick and easy adjustments. You also have a micro-adjustment knob, with a zero-reset, that can set depts of up to 1/128” increments. Now that’s great precision.
Changing bits is easier than with other similar devices. The Ryobi R1631K has a unique shaft lock instead of the familiar button close to the collet. Once it is moved into the lock position, the motor can’t be started, so you can actually use both hands to loosen the collet nut and install or remove the bit. The router uses only 1/4” bits and has a cut depth of up to 2 inches.
Works Great When Table Mounted
The Ryobi R1631K can be used both as a handheld device or mounted on a routing table. If you don’t have one yet, you should definitely consider investing in one, as it will allow you to do more complex jobs faster. You can get a good Ryobi routing table for as little as $130.
As a table-mounted router, the Ryobi R1631K performs better than almost all the other compact machines. The switching between table-mounted and handheld only takes a few minutes and, if you haven’t done this before, you can find several videos on Youtube showing you how.
No Plunge Base
Given the price, it’s no surprise that this router only comes with a fixed base. A compact router with both bases can easily cost close to $180. The bad news is that, unlike other tools, you can’t purchase a plunge base separately. This doesn’t mean that you can’t use the Ryobi R1631K for boring. On the contrary, the micro-adjustment knob lets you fine-tune the bit depth in 1/128” increments.
Nowadays, most routers don’t have a lot of accessories in the box. The Ryobi R1631K is probably one of the few that still comes with bits. The set contains a 5/16” straight cut bit, a 5/32” Roman Ogee bit and a ¼” Radius Roundover bit, along with a collet wrench and a tool bag. According to the description provided by the manufacturer, these accessories add up to $20. The set basically contains everything you need to start working on your projects straight away.
The manufacturer offers a 3-year limited warranty on the router. Sure, this is better than what Bosch offers, which is a 1-year limited warranty, but it’s nothing compared to DEWALT’s limited lifetime warranty. The good news is that you don’t have to worry about this tool breaking down since you’re probably going to buy it just for casual jobs around the house.
You can’t find a lot of routers that are cheaper than this. At $100, or $80 if you don’t take into account the accessories in the kit, this router is nearly three times cheaper than other routers. Although affordable, the Ryobi R1631K isn’t the cheapest router on the market, but when it comes to quality, this machine certainly has the upper hand.
The Ryobi R1631K is probably the best compact budget router tool you can buy at the moment. For a compact router, it has an above-average motor that can easily tackle a wide variety of jobs, as long they are not heavy-duty. Unfortunately, the Ryobi R1631K doesn’t have a plunge base, but at $100 you don’t have many that do.
Probably the biggest downside of this tool is it’s a fixed speed router, which means you’ll have to be extra careful when starting it up. All in all, this is a pretty good entry-level router and, if you haven’t owned one yet, it makes a great first purchase. You’ll not regret it!