There are a lot of different brands and setups for routers, so here's a useful review to help you choose.
One of the most valuable tools you can own for woodworking is the router and there's no end to the ways it can be useful for every project. But what kind of router is going to give the best bang for the buck?
Here are a list of 6 things to look for when buying a router from this article from woodmagazine.com:
1. Ample power to run any bit, even the largest panel-raisers.
Once you dial in the correct speed, it's vital that the router maintain that speed during the cut. Using a phototachometer, we evaluated each model's ability to do that while routing raised panels. None dropped more than 1,500 rpm, with all but one varying only a few hundred rpm once into the cut.
2. A variable-speed motor with soft-start and electronic feedback for maintaining speed under load.
Slow speeds work better for big bits, and most routers' low speeds bottom out at 8,000 or 10,000 rpm. But one router's lowest speed was 12,000 rpm. Although it did not create a problem in our tests, we still prefer slower speeds when routing woods prone to burning or tear-out.
3. Good balance and features for handheld fixed-depth routing.
Big or small, fixed base or plunge, you'll appreciate a router that adjusts up and down quickly for fixed-depth routing. Among the fixed bases in the kits, we prefer a rack-and-pinion adjuster, shown top right, best because it has a quick release for coarse adjustments and a fine-adjustment knob.
4. Smooth, easy-to-use plunge action and features.
All of the tested routers plunged smoothly without side-to-side play. We prefer locks that you depress to plunge and return to locked when released, shown right, as opposed to those that stay in plunge mode, locking only when you push the lever.
5. Through-the-base bit-height adjustability for router-table use.
Switching any of the three dedicated plunge routers in our test from handheld use to the router table and back typically requires more work than with the multibase kits. For kits, you can attach the fixed base permanently to the table and simply swap the motor into the plunge base for handheld work.
When installing any of the routers in a table, you want the access hole for the height-adjustment tool closer to the front of the table where the fence won't cover it. But sometimes an upfront height-adjustment access hole dictates that other router controls, such as the variable-speed dial, power switch, or base lock, be located toward the back of the table where it can be difficult to see or operate.
6. Helpful included accessories: edge guide, dust-collection attachments, multiple subbases with different-size openings, guide-bushing holder or adapter, subbase centering cone, and a carrying case or bag for storage.
If you can buy only one router, make it a multibase kit. The powerful Bosch MRC23EVS proved to be a versatile, feature-packed router kit with lots of accessories, topping our six-category showdown and earning Top Tool honors.
Now what routers make the best of all the features above? And do you want a plunge router or a multi-base setup? The article suggests that multi-base routers are the most versatile and easiest to move between a router table and free hand use.
Check the article at woodmagazine.com to see complete reviews of 9 routers and which one they think is the best overall.
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