Wood routers are impressive tools that cut and shape wood with a rapidly rotating bit that extends down vertically from the base of the tool.
We researched the most popular wood router kits available today, evaluating horsepower, agility, ease of use, and overall value. Our top pick, the Bosch 1617EVSPK Wood Router Tool Combo Kit, is durable, versatile, and affordable.
Here are the best value router kits for your home workshop.
Best Overall: Bosch 1617EVSPK Wood Router Combo Kit
Easily adjusted depth control
Very smooth plunge action
Precision centering for use with templates
No integrated work light
What do buyers say? 88% of 3,600+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 5 stars.
There's no need to choose between a wood router with a fixed base or plunge base, or between a router with a 1/4-inch collet chuck or 1/2-inch collet chuck when you can simply purchase the Bosch 1617EVSPK Wood Router Combo Kit and get all of the above. But that isn't where the features of our top choice stop. There are quite a few other things to love about this wood router.
Sturdy construction is just one of the things we like about this tool. Built of strong aluminum with easy-to-grasp, sturdy wood handles on the fixed base and soft-grip handles on the plunge base, this is a carpentry must-have that will stand up to project after project. It's 12-amp, 2-horsepower motor isn't the most powerful you'll find, but it's more than adequate for the majority of DIY projects you are likely to undertake, and you'll appreciate the adjustable speed dial with settings from 8,000 to 25,000 rpm.
The router's Constant Response Circuitry starts the tool up smooth and easy, and then maintains constant speed while you work for extra control when making difficult or fine cuts. Plus, the depth indicator and bit-height adjustment system are easy to see and adjust, helping you fine-tune your work.
Whether you plan on using this router to cut and style trim, build furniture with perfectly cut joints, add decorative cuts to wood, or cut multiple pieces of wood using a template, you'll appreciate its smooth and versatile performance, relatively quiet operation, and accurate settings.
Best Value: Skil RT1322-00 Variable Speed Combo Router
Electronic speed adjustment
Does not include a case
A good wood router can be expensive, but that doesn't mean there aren't bargains to be found that offer high performance at a reasonable price. The Skil RT1322-00 is one such tool. This tool has a 14-amp, 2.5-horsepower motor, includes both a plunge-base and fixed-base, and comes with both 1/4-inch and 1/2-inch collet chucks. It even has an LCD display that determines the optimal speed setting for you after you enter the material being cut, its diameter, and the base you are using, and then shows you the speed level as you work. The variable speed ranges from 10,000 to 25,000 rpm.
Like many more expensive routers, this one has soft-start for better control, and electronic feedback that helps keep the speed steady while you work. Plus, it has three incorporated LED lights to illuminate the bit area, three coarse settings for depth plus micro-depth adjustment for fine tuning, and even a safety light that turns on when the tool is connected to a power source.
Best Cordless: DEWALT DCW600B Cordless Compact Router
Excellent performance for small jobs
20-volt battery can run down quickly with extended use
Cut the cord but keep the power with DEWALT's DCW600B Cordless Compact Router. Compact routers, also called palm routers, are a bit smaller than the usual router, making them ideal for situations where you need to carry the tool to your work, rather than cutting on a tabletop.
This fixed-base router runs off any DEWALT 20-volt battery or install the DEWALT 60-volt FLEXVOLT battery for up to 8 times the run length from the 1.5-horsepower motor. Note that the tool does not include the battery, however, you'll need to purchase that separately if you don't already own one.
This sturdy router has a brushless motor with soft-start performance that helps keep your cuts precise and accurate. The variable speed motor adjusts from 16,000 to 25,500 rpm and a depth adjustment ring makes it easy to set the height of the bit. It has a 1/4-inch collet chuck, so it is a great choice for detailed or lightweight-to-moderate jobs, but not the right tool for heavy-duty projects. Two LED built-in lights help you visualize your cuts as you work
Best Fixed-Base: RIDGID R22002 11-Amp Fixed-Base Router
Easily attaches to router table if desired
Not as easy to change bits as many other routers
Cut through even hard wood with ease using the RIDGID R22002 Fixed-Base Router. It has an 11-amp, 2-horsepower motor with a soft start for perfect control from start to finish, whatever your project. The 1/2-inch collet chuck can handle heavy-duty bits, and the spindle lock makes it a breeze to change bits when desired. The micro-depth adjustment system lets you pinpoint just how deep you want your cuts to go, keeping your work as precise as possible.
The body of the tool is magnesium, and it has soft handles that minimize vibration while keeping your grip steady. The variable speed motor can go as fast as 23,000, so you can adjust as needed based on the material you are cutting and the precision required for your task. This is an excellent addition to the workshop of any carpenter or woodworker, whether professional or enthusiastic hobbyist.
Best Plunge-Base: Bosch MRP23EVS 15-Amp Electronic Plunge-Base Router
3-inch depth capacity
Excellent power and precision
Handful of complaints about plunge adjustment sticking
If your carpentry projects involve a lot of grooves or other cuts that rely on carefully calculated cutting depths, a plunge-base router is the best choice for you. And the Bosch MRP23EVS Electronic Router is tops among the many available choices. This 15-amp, 2.3-horsepower router has plenty of power and durable construction that tackles woodworking projects with ease. You'll appreciate the smooth plunge action that makes it easy to accurately position the bit, as well as the micro-fine depth adjustment, as well as Bosch's Constant Response Circuitry that maintains an even speed throughout the cut.
The router includes both a 1/4-inch and 1/2-inch collet chuck, so you can choose which best suits your project. The variable speed settings stretch from 10,000 to 25,000 rpm. A built-in, always-on LED light illuminates the bit so you can easily see what you are cutting. The tool has a soft-start, reduced-torque start to help keep your cuts as accurate as possible.
Best Palm Router: Techtronic Industries Ryobi P601 ONE+ 18-Volt Cordless Trim Router
Very reasonable price
Good battery life
Light and easy to use
Only one speed setting
If you just need a compact, simple router for cutting trim and similar lightweight jobs, then the Ryobi P601 ONE+ is a great choice for your workshop. This cordless trim router runs off an 18-volt Ryobi battery (note, the battery is sold separately if you don't already own one) and has a fixed base for easy cutting of edges and trim. Its aluminum base is sturdy and keeps the tool from feeling wobbly while you work, while the rubber-coated grip helps you keep a firm hold on the router, even if your hands are a bit sweaty.
There's no variable speed control on this basic router; it runs at 29,000 rpm. It does allow you to adjust the cutting depth, however, with micro-adjustments for fine-tuning your settings. The tool has a 1/4-inch collet chuck and a built-in work light to illuminate the bit area. All in all, this is a fine tool if you only want a basic router at a reasonable price for simple carpentry tasks.
Best for DIY Projects: Makita RT0701CX3 Compact Router Kit with 3 Bases
Tilt and offset bases for specialty cuts
Reasonably priced combo kit
Few complaints about difficulty in adjusting depth
Depth capacity not as deep as many others
If you like to have flexibility to tackle a wide range of DIY projects, then you'll appreciate the Makita RT0701CX3, which is a compact, corded router that includes three bases instead of the usual one or two. You get a plunge base that lets you adjust the depth from 0 to 1-3/8 inches, a tilt base for making cuts at an angle from -30 to 45 degrees, and an offset base for making tough, close-to-the-edge cuts in spaces as tight as 3/4-inch from the wall. The tool has a 6.5-amp, 1-1/4-horsepower motor and a 1/4-inch collet chuck.
The router also offers soft-start for precision and electronic speed control to maintain an even speed while you work. Although compact, the tool is built for durability, is easy to use and adjust, and powerful enough for most projects a DIYer is likely to choose, such as cutting grooves, dados, or inlays. One thing it lacks, however, is a built-in work light.
Best for Power: Makita RP2301FC 3.25 Horsepower Plunge Router
Very powerful motor
Superior depth capacity
Very smooth, precise performance
If you use your router for professional carpentry or woodworking, are a very avid hobbyist, or simply plan on taking on a major carpentry project, then you need power and durability. And that's just what you'll get with the Makita RP2301FC Plunge Router, which has a 15-amp, 3.25-horsepower motor that runs variable speeds from 9,000 to 22,000 rpm. Here's a router that's built to last, with sturdy construction and plenty of great features.
This is a plunge-base router, with depth adjustments up to 2-3/4 inches; that's more than most routers offer. It comes with both a 1/4-inch and 1/2-inch collet chuck, and has a soft-start function, electronic speed control, and an electric brake. It's designed for easy adjustments of all types, and its rubberized grips make it easy to hold while you work, even through long routing sessions.
Best for Detailed Work: RIDGID R2401 5.5-Amp Fixed-Base Compact Router
Includes both round and square bases
Light and easy to use
Some complaints that bits are difficult to change
The RIDGID R2401 is a great router for detailed yet lightweight tasks such as cutting trim, cutting edges, making grooves, or similar tasks. This is a fixed-base router with a 5.5-amp, 1.5-horsepower motor and a 1/4-inch collet chuck. The variable speed ranges from 20,000 to 30,000 rpm. It comes with both a round and a square base for extra versatility.
Like larger, more expensive routers, this one has a soft-start function for better control, a micro-adjust dial for precise depth settings, a built-in work light, and a spindle lock to make changing the bits easy. It can make cuts up to 1-7/16 inches deep. Although this is not a large, powerful router that can handle heavy-duty jobs or lengthy work sessions, it's a great choice if you are looking for a small router for equally small or lightweight carpentry or woodworking tasks.
What to Look for in a Wood Router Kit
There are two standard types of wood routers, known as fixed-base and plunge-base routers. Whether a fixed-base or plunge-base product is better depends on the needs and experience of the user. Fixed-base routers are the more common option because they tend to require less skill, and they are frequently listed for a lower price than plunge-base routers. These routers are ideal for reproducing identical cuts because the depth of the blade is locked into place before any cutting occurs, allowing multiple pieces to be cut at the exact same setting.
Plunge-base routers give the user more freedom over the depth and appearance of the cut because they have a spring mechanism that must be compressed by pushing downward to plunge the blade into the material, making it easier to cut grooves and slots. Just keep in mind that these routers do tend to have a higher price associated with them.
Some router combo kits include both types of bases. This makes them very versatile. Note also that fixed-base does not mean that the tool's based is fixed in position on the workbench; it merely means that the tool has a locked depth of blade.
The collet on a wood router refers to the opening on the chuck that holds bits in place during use, and so determines the shank size of the bits you can use with the tool. The two standard sizes for wood router collets are 1/4 inch or 1/2 inch. Routers with 1/4-inch collets are only suitable for use on light-duty or precision projects because the bits are significantly smaller and less durable than 1/2-inch bits.
To take on medium- or heavy-duty woodworking projects, consider using a wood router that has a 1/2-inch collet. These large bits can endure longer periods of use and are not as likely to break as 1/4-inch bits. It should also be noted that there are wood routers with 1/2-inch collets that also come with 1/4-inch collet adapters, giving you the option to choose the best bit for the project.
It's important to consider the horsepower (HP) of a wood router because this measurement is a primary indicator of the tool's power and torque. Typically, wood routers can range in horsepower from just 3/4 horsepower for light-duty models to over 3 horsepower for heavy-duty models that are popular in professional woodworking shops.
Light-duty options are good for creating decorative baseboards and trim because they can effectively remove thin layers of wood without an issue. Medium-duty wood routers typically have a horsepower rating between 1.5 to 2 horsepower and are suited to a wide variety of tasks. Heavy-duty routers are great for larger projects, like creating an intricate headboard for a bed or building a dresser, though the power of these tools may be difficult for inexperienced users to handle.
What is a wood router?
A wood router is a type of power tool that has a flat base and a rotating bit that extends downwards beyond the base and into the board being cut. The flat base is positioned securely atop the board, and then the user carefully moves the tool along the material being cut.
What does a wood router do?
Wood routers are a type of tool that has been designed to make precise cuts into woodworking projects. This can include grooves, slots, dowel holes, decorative surface cuts, curving or rounded shapes, and more.
How is a wood router used?
You can use a wood router for many different projects like making cabinets or designing decorative moldings. The adjustable blade depth and a high degree of maneuverability make these tools ideal for cutting decorative edges, detailed patterns, and grooves that would otherwise be difficult to achieve. There are also many templates available that help the woodworker follow a pattern or design while cutting.
How do you use a wood router?
To use a router, first secure the material you will be working on and choose an appropriate bit to put into the router. Place the bit into the collet and tighten it to secure it in the router. With the bit and material ready to go, plug the router in and position it near the edge of the wood that you want to cut or groove. Activate the router bit and slowly move the bit into the material. Continue cutting to achieve the desired look and make sure that the bit is no longer rotating before lifting the router away from the material. These are the basic steps for how to use a router, but more detailed instructions are available.
Do you push or pull a router?
Rather than thinking of pushing or pulling motions, it's best to place your focus on the direction you should move your wood router kit. To maintain control, always move against the rotation of the bit. For instance, if your bit is rotating clockwise, move from right to left when cutting.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was written by Michelle Ullman, the tool expert for The Spruce. She has extensive experience not only in writing about all things related to the home, but also in carrying out various DIY projects, including landscaping, painting, flooring, wallpapering, furniture makeovers, and simple repairs around the house and yard.
For this roundup, she considered dozens of wood routers, evaluating each for versatility, power, ease of use, and accuracy. She also considered feedback from customers, both positive and negative.
Additional research for this article was provided by Timothy Dale, a home improvement expert specializing in many topics, including plumbing, construction, and product recommendations. He has more than ten years of experience in the home restoration industry.