Favourite Wood Routers

wood routers

Searching for wood routers, I'm not going to beat about the bush here as its quite an easy choice, Bosch. This is not just my opinion but also from reviewers who compare them against most others. I'm talking about if you are going to use the machine regularly, if not then most other makes are adequate, they get the job done.

I have to be fair too. Makita, Hitachi, Trend, Porter Cable, DeWalt and one of the cheaper brands Direct Power, are all perfectly good for average to low use. I've used them all occasionally and found little difference in capability.

But being as you're buying and not hiring, buy the best if you are able but don't lose any sleep if you want to save some money.

Your biggest decision is what type of router you should buy.

N.B Prices shown are approximates at the time of writing 2011.

Plunge Router

Whilst fixed based wood routers are ideal for router tables and are cheaper than plunge routers, they are not as adaptable. Plunge wood routers are ideal for depth because you can increase the depth in stages, preventing the wood bit from wearing too quickly and also burning. They can also be used mounted in a table.

Plunge routers are heavier than fixed routers and my advice is to handle the machine before use and unplugged. Get to know it inside out, how the plunge works, how and where to switch it on and off, how to insert and release the cutter, the clockwise cutting and then try it out on a few clamped scraps.

I've read comments about the Bosch 1619EVS at $280 being a little top heavy, it is 13.2lbs, but if you compare it to the Makita RP1801/1(2) $ 421 which is only 6 ounces lighter, the weight difference for me is no big deal. I would put more emphasis on the quality of the bit which must be carbide tipped because I've found without the carbide, the bits wear quicker.

Others worth buying are: De Walt DW621K, but the most expensive at $530
Hitachi M12VE at $ 358

Types of router

Table router only : Fixed base router
Table router and General purpose : Plunge router
Laminate and Edging : Palm/Laminate router.

Trying to compare like for like is impossible because they all have different specifications. For instance, plunge depth varies between 35mm and 80mm, Horse Power between 1 and 3, size of collet to hold the bit, voltage, wattage, variable and fixed speeds and PRICE.

My advice is to buy a machine which will cope with all your present and possible requirements. Plunge or depth of cut, variable speed so that you can cut hardwoods,worktops and wide grooves slower to avoid burning, soft start which prevents the initial jolt when starting, minimum power of 2.25 HP.

The following have combinations of the above and are all recommended, I've placed them in my preference order.

Bosch, DeWalt, Porter Cable, Makita, Hitachi.

wood routers

If product guarantee is an important factor for you, then the Hitachi and Milwaukee should be considered as they give 5 years.

The Milwaukee has excellent ratings for its Fixed base model 5625 at $ 289

A Bit of Both

All the above mentioned produce combo's, which are a plunge and a fixed base. They are suitable if you want a permanent table router and a portable one, but the specifications are inferior to the individual items. They are good for light duty work but not constant or deep/wide hardwood machining. They range in price from $ 194 for the DeWalt to $320 for the Porter Cable.

Palm routers concludes the range and again the Bosch is top of its class with a 5.7 Amp model and reasonable price of $ 120

Bits and Pieces

Other considerations when purchasing wood routers are the bits, a box of twelve carbide tipped will set you back $ 25.

Should you be routing work tops a straight carbide cutter is in the region of $ 15, however if there is more than one joint to make I would buy two, because you never know what's inside the chipboard..Fragments of nails I find quite often.
For this task a jig is needed to suit the worktop width which can cost $ 100 and you'll need 2 clamps to hold the jig in place.

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