May 4, 2021

Wood Router Buying Guide

What is a wood router?

A wood router is a powerful tool with a flat base and a rotating blade used to cut patterns and designs on multiple pieces of wood. No matter the type of wood you are working on, at some point, you are going to need a router. It may be challenging to choose the type of router you want to use for a specific job. 

However, you need to pay attention to the features and what you need to do with the router. You may go for a wood router with a Combination kit for versatility. With a combination kit, you switch between a plunge base and a fixed base. That is economical by buying a 2-in-1 wood router. You can base your decision on a specific project or design.

Type of wood routers

Fixed Base Router

It has a stationary base, and you have to set a specific depth before you start cutting. That makes it consistent. I advise beginners to go for the fixed base router since it excels in edge cutting and straight-line cuts.

Plunge router

A plunge router has a base loaded with springs. You are allowed to change the bit depth when cutting your material. That is done by unlocking the release system and moving the base inwards and outwards. 

Uses for a wood router

  • Cut patterns
  • Make designs
  • Grooves
  • Cut dadoes and rabbets

What to look for in a wood router

Speed

There are wood routers with a fixed speed option and versatile routers with a speed variance that comes with adjustments. What determines the speed range is the type of operation and the type of wood. As much as you have control over your speed, safety precautions are necessary. 

Motor size

Wood routers have different sizes of motors. Palm routers have 1 hp or lower. They are compact-sized and used for trimming, slot cutting, and decorative inlays. They use 1/4inch shank bits.

Mid-sized routers range from 1-3/4 to 2-1/4hp. They are for panel cutting and circle cutting and compatible with ¼ and ½ inch shank bits. 

The full-size routers range from 3hp to 31/4hp. It is used for CNC operations. It is annoying for small projects. 

Base options

There is a wide range of bases that are on wood routers. A fixed base is the standard base that has handles. You mount it on a router table since they are limited to edge routing applications. The plunge base is ideal for blind grooves and dado cuts. It has multiple depth stop settings with micro-adjustments that you tune to your preferences. The D-handle base has a knob and a D-shaped handle with a pistol-grip control and a locking On/Off trigger power switch.

Compatibility

You may be looking for a router compatible with multiple accessories for convenience. Accessories make your woodworking life bearable and enjoyable. Router tables allow you to have comfort, control, and consistency. Mounting your wood router on a table is easy. Electronic motor feedback maintains a constant speed. 

A micro-fine depth adjustment feature makes small and precise cuts. Handles make the handling experience comfortable. The Soft-start does not make the router jump out of your hands. Speed variance gives you control over speed control. 

Size

The type of router depends on the tasks you have to cover. DIY tasks attract a small router, and heavy tasks require a heavy-duty router. The laminate router is compact and powerful. It is ideal for small profiling bits. You use it to soften sharp edges, cut hinge mortises and box grooves. The medium-sized router has two models, namely: one-handed and two-handed models. The full-sized router is for big and challenging jobs. It has more power and size. 

Ergonomic Design An ergonomic design is more appealing. Power and size are important factors that determine ergonomics. There are tall handles that offer a comfortable grip, and many wood routers have different types of handles. Power The amount of power can be determined by the number of horsepowers connected to the motor. If you use a variable speed motor, you can control your router with the speed adjustment lever. You can also adjust your router. The thicker shank bits allow for better performance in harder wood or metals.

Warranty The manufacturer’s warranty may include things like a two-year warranty and a one-year limited warranty. You must consider it when purchasing one. It gives you peace of mind. You do not have to worry about buying a router that has a short lifespan. 

Portability

A portable wood router is ideal for doing carvings, cutting small pieces, or handling different materials. 

What size of the wood router should you buy?

The size of the router you should buy depends on the type of cuts you intend to run, space used for the operation, size of wood material, and budget. 

What features should you look for?

Speed

When you are using a router that comes with speed variance, you control your speed. You increase speed and slow down depending on the material you are working on. A fixed-speed router is ideal when using small bits. 

Comfort

Routers with handles give you comfort when handling the tool. That increases your hours of work and relieves you from pain. 

Dust collection system

Clogging of dust inside your router slows down the cutting process. For maximum production, a router that comes with a vacuum port keeps your router functioning, the environment clean, and the user safe from dust-related diseases. Consider the dust extraction ports on the power tools.

Collet diameter

Bits are of importance due to the function they serve. They maintain stability and produce less chatter. I advise you to go for a router that accepts ¼ and ½ inch bits. 

Horsepower

The size of the horsepower determines the power of your router. I urge you to go for 2HP or more.

Accessories for a wood router

Router table

The router table brings your router closer. The router is secured, and there are various types of tables to consider. There is the table model and freestanding router. The chances are high that a router with a table has a fence system. That makes your cuts clean since the fence guides your wood piece and ensures precise cuts. 

Handles

The Ryobi R1631K Router has two ergonomic handles that give you a comfortable grip (Source). The handles are attached to the base. They give you a strain-free experience, and you do not have to experience backaches and joint pains. That makes a DIY lifestyle bearable. It also has a LED light that increases visibility. That makes the tool produce precise and professional quality cuts.

Soft-start

The Dewalt router (DWP611PK) has a Soft-start motor with full-time electronic feedback. You have control over the speed throughout the cutting process. The Soft-start feature prevents the engine from jerking. That makes it a safety feature. 

Micro-fine depth adjustment

The Bosch Router tool (PR20EVS) has a fast and accurate depth adjustment feature that allows you to make macro and micro adjustments. It has a quick clamp system with an easy adjustment of your motor. The 5.6Amp router motor produces a speed variance of 16,000 to 35,000 rotations per minute (Source). 

Safety tips

  • Use both hands to hold the router until it stops working.
  • Wear safety goggles and hearing protection.
  • Before making adjustments or change bits, switch off the power supply.
  • Secure the bits after mounting.
  • Secure stock.
  • Keep the cords clear of the cutting area.
  • Balance the router.
  • Maintain safe cutting speeds.
  • Test the router on a scrap.

Maintenance

  • Before the operation, check out for damaged parts and plug them into a power source.
  • Check the cables since they have to stay clear from the cutting area.
  • Check your blade if it is secured and sharp.
  • Check the cable for damages.
  • Get rid of sawdust before the router clogs.
  • Vacuum tubes have to stay clean.
  • Use the proper screws.
  • Cleaning the router is essential.
  • Worn parts need a replacement.
  • Maintain the sharpness of your blades.
  • Your parts need regular lubrication. 
David D. Hughes

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