One of the first things that woodworking enthusiasts need to do is figuring out the best wood routers for beginners.
After all, a router is among the most vital pieces of equipment in your arsenal. You can spend a huge amount of effort and get nothing if you do not have the right router.
There are, nonetheless, so many types of wood routers available on the market. For this reason, it has become hard to determine the most suitable option for a beginner.
That is why we put this article together, hoping that we can make it easier for you to make a decision.
Table of Contents
- Top Rated Wood Router For Beginner
- Difference Between A Fixed And A Plunge Router
- How To Choose The Best Wood Router For Beginners
- 5 Best Wood Router For Beginners – Reviews
- Frequently Asked Questions About Wood Routers
Top Rated Wood Router For Beginner
Difference Between A Fixed And A Plunge Router
Currently, there are two types of routers, the plunge model and the fixed base model.
Plunge routers have a design focusing on lowering the bit from some height. For this reason, their bases will be flat on the cutting material.
They are excellent for situations where you need to cut right in the material’s center, away from its edges.
There are usually two arms on a plunge router, one on each side. This setup provides you the ability to plunge manually into your material before actually cutting it.
That is why this type of router is named the “plunge” router.
You get more control if you use plunge routers. You do need to keep in mind that they are not that good with edge-cutting.
Fixed Base Router
The fixed base router’s base is fixed, unmoving throughout your cutting process. As a result, your bit’s depth is the same as the value you set beforehand.
Fixed base routers are easier for newbies to use, as there is no need to adjust. The router will physically lock itself onto a surface, so the router bit will also not move. This results in you being able to cut the bit with a lot more precision.
Also, there are router packages that you can swap bases. They can capabilities providing a fixed base and plunge router in the same kit.
These combo kits can easily switch but they will be more expensive. You don’t need to buy separate routers. However, they can slow down the workflow when the process swapping bases.
How To Choose The Best Wood Router For Beginners
To the less experienced, all types of wood routers may look the same. However, the difference lies in the smallest of details, and they will decide if your router can do the job or not.
It’s often measured in horsepower (HP). There is no arguing against the fact that only when routers have adequate power can they do their jobs.
Nonetheless, you must always keep in mind that having more power almost always means your router will be heavier.
That is why one of the most important questions you must ask yourselves is, “How much power is enough?” The balance between power and weight will determine the success of your projects.
For this reason, the best wood router for beginner usually does not have the most power.
Nevertheless, if you plan on using a table-mounted router, then you can get as much power as you want.
Variable speed will always be a highly sought-after advantage for many types of routers. Its versatile nature means you can cut many materials at appropriate speeds.
Do not underestimate this feature, as cutting alloys at the wrong speed can have disastrous consequences.
Switches are necessary components for every single router, but they need to be as simple as possible.
Few people can work with a complex system of switches in the middle of a woodworking session.
Also, switches that are unable to lock on the “ON” position are problematic for hand-held operations.
You should only look for collets that are made completely from tempered steel. They should also be precision made and tapered so that they can fit with motor shafts.
Low-quality collets have cone-shaped lumps of steel as their main material. As such, they are usually too shallow and incapable of gripping the cutter shank. They also wear out much quicker and cause more cutter chatters.
Most of the time, heavy-duty routers possess 1/2″ collets, but they do have corresponding ones for smaller shanks.
Some routers are capable of letting their collets plunge through their bases. This capability is invaluable because it offers the ability to regain cut depth lost.
Of course, it’s only possible if your router is mounted to a table or if there is a guide bush and a template.
You rarely can find this information on the specifications that manufacturers give out. They will only tell you how far their router’s bodies can travel down and up the legs.
The minimum requirement for the best wood router for beginner is that the collet can touch the top of the bench. Deeper plunges are simply bonuses, and shorter ones create issues while you are working.
There are two primary types of handles on the market currently, the side levels and the knobs.
The side levels will give you a lot of leverage, so you tend to see them on heavy-duty machines.
We believe that the best handles should not carry any extra features like plunge locks, switches, etc.
Beginners still cannot make full use of those functions. Instead, you should only focus on comfortability, as it helps you have an easier time controlling the router.
Dust extraction has become a new focus for many router manufacturers.
These days practically every single router has some kind of dust extraction feature. We believe that the best one should be the integrated dust extraction connector.
Most router bases have plastic-facing plates. You should look for those that are removable so that you can replace them later down the line.
We also recommend looking for those that have threaded holes. They can help tremendously if you want to fix your router to your woodworking table.
5 Best Wood Router For Beginners – Reviews
1. Bosch 1617EVSPK Wood Router Tool Combo Kit
The Bosch 1617EVSPK is incredibly flexible in usage. Weighing only 18.2 pounds, many people will not believe that this router possesses a powerful 2.25 HP motor.
With its help, the router can go through all types of wood like cedar, pine, cherry, etc. You can also use it for many applications ranging from dovetail cutting to bit plunging.
The design of Bosch 1617EVSPK also means that it will surely last for a while. After all, there is rarely a router that has robust aluminum encasing its construction.
No matter how much work you make it do, this construction will keep the machine in top form in terms of durability.
Also, this router does not vibrate too much in your hands, along with the fact its speed is constant throughout the routing process. This provides you the ultimate stability.
You will need an adapter if you want to pair it up with any third-party collar. This issue can be quite a pain, as the machine can only shine when there is no limit on its versatility.
Also, there is no wrench accompanying the machine, so it can be hard to change parts properly.
2. Makita RT0701CX7 Compact Router Kit
If you are just starting out on your woodworking journey, we are sure that your budget is quite limited.
You should also realize how hard it is to find an affordable wood router that can guarantee quality. That is no longer the case with the Makita RT0701CX7 Compact Router Kit.
To keep the cost down, this router focuses on being good on one single aspect, sacrificing all unnecessary components. As a result, it has clear more advantages as well as weaknesses.
One of the advantages is that its design is slim, offering ease of use and comfort for you.
Adding to the ease of use, this machine is only 3.9 pounds in weight. Yet, the top speed that it offers is as high as 30000 rpm, which is fairly high for this range.
You also get a dial to control the speed precisely, with the lowest possible speed being 10000 rpm.
Of course, there is no way that this router can take on any heavy-duty woodworking task.
We have mentioned above that Makita cut all the available corners to keep the price down. One of them is the motor, as this router’s motor is only 1.25 HP.
3. DEWALT DW616 Fixed Base Router
Of course, we would see a DEWALT product in this list. It has built a respectable reputation thanks to lines after lines of successful power tools, each of them having specific strengths.
The DEWALT DW616 Fixed Base Router is no exception with its incredible depth adjustment capability.
This machine gives you a steel motor cam lock that is both adjustable and tool-free.
There is also a micro-fine ring for the adjustment process that will provide you with an amazingly precise 1/64 inch increment. For these reasons, you can enjoy quick and perfectly accurate changes of depth.
The 1-3/4 HP motor means that this router can cut smoothly through any kind of hardwood. However, you will not feel any rumbling while cutting, no matter how hard the wood is, thanks to the curved grips.
These rubber grips will fit nicely and stabilize your hand throughout the cutting process.
This router has the same disadvantage as the Makita RT0701CX7. Due to its size and motor power, working on heavy-duty projects is only a pipe dream.
You also need to know that it is not easy to access the switch while the machine is in free-handing mode.
4. Bosch PR20EVS Variable-Speed Palm Router
There is no doubt that people with less experience with woodworking will struggle to keep a router stable.
Despite how easy it looks in the hands of professionals, a router will always tremble fiercely in your hands. With the Bosch Colt PR20EVS Variable-Speed Palm Router, that is not an issue.
The secret behind this stability of the Bosch Colt PR20EVS is its fixed base, which is made from rugged aluminum.
This base will stay in place, no matter how hard the wood you are cutting is. As such, you can spare lots of effort and pay more attention to the cutting lines.
In spite of having only a 1 HP, 5.6 amp motor, this machine can go as high as 35000 rpm. This kind of speed, coupled with its stable nature, means you can easily do jobs like trimming and edge forming.
In other words, this router is incredibly fitting for tasks valuing precision the most.
Certainly, there are also some problems that we have noticed within this machine. One of them is the fact that you will need to turn the router at least once while routing the four edges.
5. Triton TRA001 Precision Plunge Router
Triton has made its name based on the quality of the products it puts out, and this time is no different.
If there is one thing that we can be sure about the Triton TRA001 Precision Plunge Router, it’s the power. This machine has a 3.25 HP motor, the most powerful on this list.
It is the only machine on this list capable of working on heavy-duty projects with ease. To compensate for the trembling from the motor, it has a stable base.
This base is also a rare two-in-one type, which means you can easily change between the plunge and fixed mode.
The Triton TRA001 has plastic sheets wrapping around the motor as well as exhaust vents. These sheets are there to protect those components and extend their service life.
This feature, coupled with the high-quality aluminum body, makes the machine incredibly durable.
We do want to note that the handle can feel quite uncomfortable to use. This is a classic issue that Triton seems to always make, placing their products’ handles way too high.
Also, the dust can build up easily within the plastic shield, so you need to clean them regularly.
Frequently Asked Questions About Wood Routers
Which Size Wood Router Is Recommend?
For beginners, 1/4″ routers are usually the best choice, as they are much easier to control. You can move on to 1/2″ models when you working with heavy-duty jobs.
How Do You Use The Wood Router For The First Time?
First, you need to make sure that the collet is loosen to put the bit in, then you tighten it slightly. Draw a line according to what you want to cut on the material.
You then ensure that you are wearing all the necessary protective gears before starting the router.
Once started, all you need to do is drive the router following the line you decided beforehand. Also, you can learn and follow tutorials on YouTube from woodworkers with experience.
Can A 1/4″ Router Take In 1/2″ Bits?
You must check the collet of the router, if there is a 1/2″ collet, then the answer is yes. Otherwise, it’s highly likely that it cannot take in 1/2″ bits.
You can also look at the motor’s horsepower. If your router has a 2 HP or higher motor, it certainly can work with 1/2″ bits.
Are Trim Bits Replaceable For Pattern Bits?
Yes, trim bits are good replacements for pattern bits, as the only difference between them is the bearing’s location. It is usually at the bit’s end for trim bits and between the shank and the cutters for pattern bits.
We want to note that pattern bits will be more suitable if you intend to cut lots of patterns.
How To See The Spinning Direction Of My Wood Router?
Whenever you hold your router, look down from the top. From this perspective, the bit will always spin clockwise. All you need to do is draw an arrow on the base following the bit’s spinning direction.
How Do I Install Wood Router Bits Properly?
First, you need to pick bits that fit with your router in both length and size. You then clean the bite, collect, and router properly.
Afterward, insert the bit carefully into the collet, stop when it’s at least 1/6 inch from the bottom. The last thing you need to do is tighten the collet nut until there is a firm grip.
Can I Plane Wood With A Router?
Yes, but you need the help of a jig. You need to set the wood’s face parallel with the blade and then smoothen it. After a short while, your plank will be perfectly suitable for your planer.
The most important factors to keep in mind when selecting the best wood router for beginner are power, motor speed, handles, and flexibility.
These characteristics will determine how easy your woodworking process will be. You do need to keep in mind that depending on your woodworking needs, they will change.
According to these requirements, we believe that the Bosch 1617EVSPK Fixed Base Router And Plunge Router Combo. It has a respectable motor with 2.25 HP, enough to go as high as 25000 rpm.
There is also the fact that it can freely change between fixed base mode and plunge mode.
We believe that the Makita RT0701CX7 Compact Router Kit is also a good choice if you are constrained by a budget. With an affordable price, it offers a maximum speed of 30000 rpm, enough to shred through any hardwood.