How to Select a Woodworking Router

A woodworking router is a versatile and indispensable tool that every woodworker should have in their arsenal. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced craftsman, this powerful tool can help you create intricate designs, smooth edges, and precise cuts in your woodworking projects.

But with so many options available in the market, how do you select the right woodworking router for your needs? In this article, we will explore the different types of woodworking routers, discuss key factors to consider when choosing one, and provide helpful tips on making an informed decision.

Woodworking routers come in various shapes and sizes, each designed for specific tasks and applications. Understanding the different types available will enable you to choose a router that best suits your needs. Additionally, assessing your woodworking requirements is crucial before making a purchase.

Are you primarily going to be working on small-scale projects or larger ones? Do you need a router that offers both power and speed? By considering these factors early on, you can ensure that the router you select will meet all your project demands.

One of the most important factors to consider when choosing a woodworking router is its power and speed capabilities. Different projects require varying levels of power and speed control, so it is essential to find a router that can deliver both efficiently.

A higher horsepower allows for easier cutting through dense materials, while variable speed settings offer greater control over the depth of cut. By understanding these key elements, you can make an informed decision about which features are necessary for your woodworking projects.

Understanding the Different Types of Woodworking Routers Available

Woodworking routers are essential tools for any woodworker, allowing them to create intricate designs, smooth edges, and precise cuts. Understanding the different types of woodworking routers available is crucial in order to select the right tool for your specific needs and projects.

There are three main types of woodworking routers: fixed-base routers, plunge routers, and combo routers. Fixed-base routers are the most common type and are ideal for tasks that require a high level of precision and control. They are fixed in position with the depth of cut set before use, making them perfect for tasks such as routing mortises or creating decorative edges.

Plunge routers, on the other hand, allow the user to adjust the depth of cut while in use. This makes them more versatile than fixed-base routers as they can be used for tasks such as cutting grooves or dadoes. The ability to plunge the router into the workpiece also makes it easier to make cuts in the middle of a piece without having to start from an edge.

Lastly, combo routers combine both fixed-base and plunge capabilities into one tool. These routers offer greater versatility as they can be used in either fixed or plunge mode depending on the task at hand. However, they may not offer the same level of precision as dedicated fixed-base or plunge routers.

Fixed-Base RoutersPerfect for tasks requiring precision and control
Plunge RoutersAllows adjustment of depth while in use
Combo RoutersCombines both fixed-base and plunge capabilities

When selecting a woodworking router, it is important to assess your specific needs and the projects you will be working on. Consider factors such as the size and type of wood you will be working with, as well as the complexity of the cuts you will be making. This will help determine whether a fixed-base, plunge, or combo router is best suited for your woodworking needs.

Additionally, consider the power and speed of the router. Power is typically measured in horsepower (HP) and determines how efficiently the router can cut through different types of wood. Higher horsepower routers are better suited for heavy-duty tasks and hardwoods, while lower horsepower routers are suitable for lighter work on softer woods.

Speed, measured in revolutions per minute (RPM), determines how fast the bit spins. Higher RPMs allow for smoother cuts but can increase the risk of burning or chipping fragile woods. Lower RPMs are better suited for working with delicate materials.

By understanding the different types of woodworking routers available and considering your specific needs, you can make an informed decision when selecting a woodworking router that is both efficient and effective for your projects.

Assessing Your Woodworking Needs

When it comes to selecting the right woodworking router for your projects, it is crucial to assess your woodworking needs. By understanding the specific requirements of your projects, you can choose a router that will best suit your needs and deliver optimal results. Here are some key factors to consider when assessing your woodworking needs:

  1. Types of Woodworking Projects: Consider the types of projects you will be working on regularly. Are you primarily working on small intricate designs or larger furniture pieces? Different routers are designed with varying capabilities and features to handle different project sizes and complexities.
  2. Frequency of Use: Think about how often you plan to use the router. If woodworking is a hobby or occasional activity for you, then a less powerful and more affordable router might be sufficient. However, if you have regular and heavy-duty woodworking tasks, investing in a more powerful and durable router would be wise.
  3. Woodworking Skill Level: Your level of expertise in woodworking also plays a role in selecting the right router. Beginners may find it beneficial to start with a simpler and user-friendly model that offers basic functionalities. As your skills improve, you can upgrade to more advanced routers with additional features.
Type of RouterFeaturesProjects Suitable For
Fixed Base RouterStable depth adjustments, great for edge workTrimming edges, cutting mortises, grooves
Plunge RouterAllows plunging cuts into wood at varying depthsCreating dadoes, fluting, template routing
CNC RouterComputer-controlled precision and automation capabilitiesCarving intricate designs, precise cutting and shaping

Remember that the right router for your projects will ultimately depend on your specific needs and preferences. It is important to thoroughly research and compare different models and seek recommendations from experienced woodworkers to make an informed decision. By doing so, you can select a woodworking router that will enhance your craftsmanship and help you achieve outstanding results in your woodworking endeavors.

Key Factors to Consider When Choosing a Woodworking Router

When choosing a woodworking router, one of the key factors to consider is the power and speed of the machine. This is important because it directly affects the performance and versatility of the router in various woodworking tasks.


The power of a woodworking router is determined by its motor rating, typically measured in horsepower (HP). The higher the horsepower, the more powerful the router will be. A more powerful router can handle tougher materials and larger bits with ease. It also allows for smoother cutting and reduces the likelihood of burning or chipping the wood.

It’s important to note that there are different levels of power required for different woodworking tasks. For basic routing tasks such as trimming edges or making grooves, a router with a lower horsepower may be sufficient. However, if you plan on using larger bits or working with harder woods, a higher horsepower router will give you more control and efficiency.

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The speed of a woodworking router refers to how fast the bit rotates during operation and is measured in revolutions per minute (RPM). Most routers have variable speed controls that allow you to adjust the RPM based on your specific needs.

For general routing tasks, a range of 8,000 to 24,000 RPM is usually sufficient. Lower speeds are suitable for cutting through thicker materials or when using larger diameter bits, while higher speeds are ideal for finer details or when using smaller diameter bits.

When considering speed, it’s important to keep in mind that higher RPMs generate more heat and vibration. Excessive heat can damage both the router bit and the wood being worked on. Therefore, it’s essential to select a router with good speed control options that allow you to choose an appropriate speed for each task.

Features and Accessories

When selecting a woodworking router, it is important to consider the features and accessories that come with the tool. These additional components can greatly enhance and improve your woodworking projects, so it is crucial to understand what matters and what doesn’t when it comes to features and accessories.

One feature that is essential in a woodworking router is the variable speed control. This allows you to adjust the speed of the router depending on the type of wood you are working with and the specific task at hand.

Having this control over speed enables you to achieve precise cuts and results, as different woods require different cutting speeds for optimal performance. Look for routers that offer a wide range of speed options so you can have flexibility in your woodworking projects.

Another important feature to consider is a built-in dust collection system. Woodworking can be messy, and dust particles can be detrimental not only to your health but also to the accuracy of your cuts. A dust collection system helps to keep your workspace clean by capturing and removing dust particles as you work, improving visibility and reducing cleanup time.

Some routers come with a built-in dust collection port or attachment, while others may require an additional purchase. Regardless, having a way to manage dust should be a top priority when selecting a woodworking router.

In terms of accessories, one of the most valuable additions you can have is a router table. A router table provides stability and support for your wood pieces as you work with the router, resulting in more precise cuts and better control over your projects. It also frees up both hands so you can focus solely on guiding the wood instead of having to hold onto the router as well.

Additionally, using a router table allows for more versatile routing techniques such as edge molding or creating intricate designs. Consider investing in a quality router table if precision and efficiency are important factors in your woodworking endeavors.

  1. Variable speed control
  2. Built-in dust collection system
  1. Router table for stability and support during routing

By understanding what features and accessories matter and what doesn’t, you can make a more informed decision when selecting a woodworking router. Remember to consider your specific woodworking needs and projects, as well as your budget, when deciding which features and accessories are necessary for you. With the right combination of features and accessories, your woodworking router can become an invaluable tool in your workshop.

Brand Comparison

When it comes to selecting a woodworking router, one important consideration is the brand. Different brands offer various features and levels of quality, so it’s essential to understand the pros and cons of each before making a decision.

One top woodworking router brand is Dewalt. Known for its durability and reliability, Dewalt routers are often favored by professional woodworkers. They offer a wide range of options, including both plunge routers and fixed-base routers. One of the main advantages of Dewalt routers is their powerful motors, which provide consistent performance even with heavy use. However, some woodworkers find that Dewalt routers can be quite heavy and cumbersome to handle.

Another popular brand in the woodworking world is Bosch. Bosch routers are known for their precision and ease of use. Many woodworkers appreciate the ergonomic design and comfortable grip that Bosch routers offer. Additionally, Bosch routers typically have variable speed settings, allowing users to customize their cutting depth and speed to match the specific requirements of their projects. On the downside, some individuals have reported issues with the power switch on certain models of Bosch routers.

Makita is yet another reputable brand in the woodworking industry. Makita routers are known for their versatility and high-quality construction. Many woodworkers particularly appreciate the smooth operation and quiet performance of Makita routers. These machines often come with advanced features such as electronic speed control, which helps maintain constant speeds under varying loads. Some people do find that Makita routers may be on the pricier side compared to other brands.

In summary, when comparing different woodworking router brands, it’s crucial to consider factors such as durability, motor power, weight, ease of use, and price point. Ultimately, selecting a trusted brand that aligns with your specific needs and preferences will ensure a successful woodworking experience.

Budgeting for Your Woodworking Router Purchase

When it comes to selecting a woodworking router, budgeting is a crucial factor. Woodworking routers can vary significantly in price, so it’s important to have a clear understanding of your budget and how much you are willing to spend. By setting a budget, you can narrow down your options and focus on finding the best value for your money.

The first step in budgeting for your woodworking router purchase is determining how much you can afford to spend. Consider factors such as your woodworking experience level, the frequency with which you will be using the router, and the complexity of the projects you will be working on. If you are just starting out or only plan to use the router occasionally, it may not make sense to invest in an expensive high-end model.

Next, research the price range for woodworking routers that meet your needs. Take note of the features and capabilities offered by different models within your budget range. Comparing prices and features will help you determine what constitutes a good value for money. Remember that price isn’t everything – be sure to consider quality, durability, and customer reviews when making your decision.

In addition to the initial cost of the woodworking router, also consider any additional expenses you may have. For example, some routers may require specific accessories or bits that need to be purchased separately. Take these costs into account when setting your budget.

Ultimately, finding the best value for money when purchasing a woodworking router involves considering both price and quality. By carefully researching options within your budget range and evaluating customer reviews and feedback, you can ensure that you get the most bang for your buck while still investing in a reliable and high-performing tool.

With proper budgeting and consideration of value for money, you can feel confident in selecting a woodworking router that meets all of your needs without breaking the bank.

Exploring Online Reviews

Online reviews can be a valuable resource when it comes to determining whether a woodworking router is worth the investment. By reading reviews from other woodworkers who have used the router, you can gain insight into its performance, durability, and overall quality. However, it’s important to approach online reviews with a critical eye and consider a few factors before making your decision.

Look for Reliable Sources

When exploring online reviews, it’s crucial to seek out reliable sources. Look for reputable woodworking websites or forums where experienced woodworkers share their insights and experiences. These sources often have a community of knowledgeable individuals who can provide honest and unbiased feedback on different routers.

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Consider the Overall Consensus

Instead of focusing solely on one or two reviews, consider the overall consensus among reviewers. If multiple people are consistently praising or criticizing a particular router for the same reasons, it’s likely an accurate representation of its strengths and weaknesses.

Evaluate the Reviewers’ Backgrounds

Take into account the backgrounds and expertise of the reviewers. Woodworkers with years of experience may have more credibility when discussing routers compared to beginners who may not have as much knowledge or skill to accurately assess their performance. Pay attention to those whose opinions align with your own woodworking objectives and level of expertise.

Balance Positive and Negative Reviews

When reading online reviews, it’s important to balance both positive and negative feedback about a woodworking router. This will give you a comprehensive understanding of its pros and cons, allowing you to make an informed decision based on your specific needs and preferences.

Maintenance and Upkeep

A woodworking router is a valuable tool for any woodworker, and proper maintenance and upkeep are essential to ensure its longevity. By following some simple tips, you can extend the lifespan of your woodworking router and keep it in optimal condition for years to come.

  1. Cleaning: Regularly cleaning your woodworking router is crucial to prevent dust and debris buildup that can affect its performance. Use a soft brush or compressed air to remove any sawdust or particles from the motor housing, base plate, and collet area. Be sure to unplug the router before cleaning and avoid using water or strong chemicals that may damage the components.
  2. Lubrication: Proper lubrication is vital for smooth operation and preventing wear in the moving parts of your woodworking router. Consult the manufacturer’s instructions for guidance on which lubricant to use and how often to apply it. Typically, lubricating the motor bearings, depth adjustment mechanism, and plunge base will help maintain their efficiency.
  3. Bit Maintenance: The router bit is an important component that requires regular maintenance. Inspect the bit before each use for any signs of damage or dullness. Dull bits can cause uneven cuts or burn marks on your workpiece. If necessary, sharpen or replace the bit according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Additionally, be sure to clean any resin build-up on the bit after each use.
  4. Storage: Proper storage is crucial to protect your woodworking router when not in use. Store it in a dry environment away from extreme temperatures and moisture that could potentially damage its components. Consider using a dedicated case or storing it in a cabinet with padding to provide added protection against accidental bumps or falls.

By incorporating these essential maintenance tips into your routine, you can effectively extend the lifespan of your woodworking router and keep it operating at its best. Remember to consult your router’s user manual for specific maintenance guidelines provided by the manufacturer as proper care may differ depending on the model.

Additionally, regular inspection and servicing by a professional can help identify any potential issues before they become major problems. A well-maintained router will not only last longer but also provide consistent and high-quality results for your woodworking projects.


In conclusion, selecting the perfect woodworking router for your needs requires careful consideration and research. By understanding the different types of routers available and assessing your own woodworking needs, you can narrow down your options and choose a router that is best suited for your projects.

Power and speed are key factors to consider when choosing a woodworking router. The power of the router determines its ability to handle tough materials and make clean cuts, while the variable speed control allows for greater precision and versatility in different tasks. By finding a balance between power and speed, you can ensure that your router is capable of handling a wide range of woodworking projects.

When evaluating features and accessories, it is important to focus on what matters most to you. Consider whether you need features such as dust collection, micro-adjustments, or easy bit changing systems based on the type of work you typically do.

Accessories like guide bushings or edge guides can also enhance the accuracy of your cuts. By prioritizing the features that will benefit you the most, you can find a router that meets your specific requirements without unnecessary additions that may drive up the cost.

Researching top woodworking router brands and their pros and cons can provide valuable insights into durability, performance, and customer satisfaction. Reading online reviews from reputable sources as well as feedback from other woodworkers can help in determining if a particular router is worth the investment.

Lastly, proper maintenance and upkeep are essential for extending the lifespan of your woodworking router. Regularly cleaning out dust and debris, lubricating moving parts, and storing it in a safe place when not in use can greatly contribute to its longevity.

By carefully considering all these aspects – understanding different types of routers, assessing your needs, power/speed considerations, features/accessories evaluation brand comparison/reviews – you will be able to make an informed decision and select the perfect woodworking router that meets both your current project requirements as well as future ones. With the right tool by your side, you can truly unleash your creativity and achieve exceptional results in your woodworking endeavors.

Frequently Asked Questions

What to look for when buying a woodworking router?

When buying a woodworking router, there are several factors to consider. Firstly, it is important to look for a router with sufficient power. A higher horsepower allows the tool to handle larger and more demanding cuts. Secondly, consider the speed control options available. Variable speed settings enable you to adjust the router’s RPM (revolutions per minute) according to the specific task or material being worked on.

Additionally, examine the ease of use and ergonomic features offered by the router. Look for comfortable handles and intuitive controls that will make your woodworking projects more enjoyable and efficient. Lastly, pay attention to the versatility of the router. Ensure that it can accommodate different bits and has the necessary features for both handheld and table-mounted applications.

How big of a router do I need for woodworking?

The size of a woodworking router depends on the type of projects you plan to undertake. If you primarily work on smaller scale tasks such as making intricate designs or joining smaller pieces together, a compact or trim router might be suitable for you. These routers are lightweight and easier to maneuver in tight spaces but have a lower horsepower which limits their capability for heavy-duty tasks.

On the other hand, if you regularly tackle larger woodworking projects such as shaping large boards or creating deep grooves, a full-size plunge or fixed-base router would be more appropriate. These routers usually offer more power and stability, allowing you to handle bigger cuts with ease.

Which wood router is best for me?

Choosing the best wood router depends on your specific needs and preferences as a woodworker. Consider whether you require a plunge or fixed-base router based on your typical applications – plunging routers are better suited for tasks like carving while fixed-base routers excel at edging and profiling workpieces smoothly. Furthermore, think about whether you need additional features like soft-start mechanisms that gradually increase speed instead of starting abruptly or electronic feedback circuitry that maintains consistent speeds under different loads.

Research reputable brands known for producing reliable routers with good track records – reading customer reviews can provide valuable insights. It may also be helpful to consult with fellow woodworkers, watch product demonstrations, or visit a woodworking supply store to get hands-on experience with different routers before making your final decision.

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