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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 Value: Bosch 1617EVS Router Kit
In terms of value, the Bosch 1617EVSPK router kit provides an impressive combination of quality engineering and performance at an affordable price. The variable-speed motor on the 1617EVSPK starts smoothly and performs well when under a load. It performs quite well when used in the fixed base, either by hand or a router table. However, the 1617EVSPK really excels when used in the plunge router base.
Best Electric: DeWalt DW618PK Router Kit
The DeWalt DW618PK Router Kit is a very solid entry into their line of professional woodworking power tools. Its powerful motor starts smoothly and is strong enough to handle nearly any routing task you could ask. There are some features, like the unusual height adjustment ring, that separate the DW618PK from other routers in this class.
Best Combo Kit: Hitachi KM12VC Combo Router Kit
Hitachi's entry into the combo router kit market, the KM12VC, is the lowest-priced router on this list. It boasts features, such as a hard-sided carrying case and a smooth 2-1/4 HP router. Plus, it's covered by a 5-year warranty. However, the KM12VC is missing some of the thoughtful features found on many of the models above, making this unit a viable choice only for budget-conscious router-kit shoppers.
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.
The collet on a wood router refers to the opening for the bits that must be tightened to ensure that the cutting bits are secure before the router can be used. Collets are typically made for cutting bits with a diameter of either 1/4 inch or 1/2 inch. Routers with smaller 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 will often 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 extend downwards beyond the base. The flat base should be positioned on top of the material, while the rotating bit is used to make precise, detailed cuts and grooves in the edges of the target material.
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 several 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.
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.
Why Trust The Spruce?
Additional research for this article is 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.