How to Select the Best Wood Router?

Wood routers are fast becoming a popular woodworking tool due to the level of versatility on offer. Used to rout or hollow out the face of wood or plastic, they are largely used in the creation of cabinetry.

There are several kinds of wood routers for sale, and it can take plenty of research to find one that will suit your particular needs. For example, some are on a fixed base with a D handle, while others can plunge or are fixed.

When the time comes to select the best wood router for the money, this buying guide will become invaluable. Within it we’ve listed and reviewed several wood router types, all which enable you to carry out woodworking tasks with relative ease.


Work Type

In order to choose the right router for your work type, you need to focus on function. What are you trying to achieve? Wood routers come in various shapes and sizes and manufacturers produce different brands and models to suit a range of markets. Therefore, you need to know what you’re looking for.

If you need to soften sharp edges, a compact and small trim router could be all you need. They can cut hinges and handle small profiling tasks as well.

If you require something with a bit more power and versatility, a fixed-base or plunge-style router will tick all the boxes. They can handle large profile cuts, dovetailing and most tasks required in a workshop or place of business.

A plunge router can be used on a range of cutting depths with the handles positioned near the bottom of the base, while the fixed-base router can handle general profiling and other cutting operations. The best part is, they are versatile in the respect that you can attach them to router tables.

If you’re a professional, a CNC router is perfect for handling large-scale projects. They can be operated via a computer program.



Routers work at incredible speeds and one small mistake can end up with severe damage to hand and other body parts. Whether you’re an experienced woodworker or you’re just starting out, it’s vital that you pay attention to the task at hand and take note of potential hazards.

Your manufacturer’s guide will include basic safety information for problem-free use, but we’ve included additional tips below:

  • Keep the workpiece secure. Ensure it’s clamped down securely to your work table or bench.
  • Keep your hands and fingers away from the bit.
  • Unplug the router before you make adjustments.
  • Inspect your chosen bit to ensure it’s free from imperfections before installing it.
  • Always wear eye and ear protection.
  • Never start the router with the workpiece touching the bit.
  • Always feed the workpiece against the rotation of the bit.
  • Never force a workpiece through the router.
  • Large-edge profiling should be completed in several passes, rather than just one.
  • Pay attention to the bit capacity of any hand router to ensure it’s suitable for freehand use.
  • Take care with small workpieces to ensure your hands don’t come into contact with the bit.



There are plenty of quality routers on the market but not all represent good buying. Some lack power, others lack features, and not all will prove to be effective in comparison to the cost. Therefore, it will do no harm to find out what features are a must for your particular project.

Power is quite important, and this feature should be the first thing you consider. Does it have enough horsepower to complete your project? If you’re cutting hardwood, you will need at least 1-3 HP.

The controls are equally as important. Some routers feature two handles which offer more stability, while others have the common D-shaped handle. Are the buttons well located? Is it easy to turn off without moving from your position? These are things to be on the lookout for before you get your wallet out.

Variable speed and a soft start function are also very popular. If the router you’re looking to purchase doesn’t have these functions, consider looking at one that does. Variable speed reduces the risk of burning wood and gives you more control with different varieties of wood.



Many people can make the mistake of choosing the cheapest wood router without paying attention to the features. The problem is, not all are capable of carrying out every task.

The easiest way to burn a router motor out is by expecting it to complete tasks that are far beyond its capabilities. This can include cutting hardwood with a basic, low horsepower motor, or choosing the wrong bit size.

If you expect to always be working on large workpieces, consider buying a router with a larger motor. This can extend its lifespan.



Just like your vehicle, your power tools require maintenance. And, just like your vehicle, failure to undertake regular maintenance is one way to see your machine break down. Therefore, it’s vital that before and after each use, you check your machine for wear and tear and fix any problems as they arise.

You need to:

  • Check the blades and sharpen the edges to continue getting high-quality cuts.
  • Wax the base of the tool.
  • Check the brushes you can access and replace any that are damaged.
  • Maintain the collet by cleaning off dirt, debris, and by giving it a solvent bath on a regular basis.
  • Ensure all parts are properly aligned.
  • Lubricate all moving parts on a regular basis.



The sky’s the limit when it comes to choosing the best wood router for the money. You can opt for a low-end fixed-base router with no accessories for as little as $50, or you can splash out on something with high-end features and pay up to $500.

However, for professionals in need of a decent industrial CNC router, you can easily pay up to $5,000. The tools themselves can fall into this price range when you buy online, however, you can also get the best deal when you choose to include accessories and router tables.


5 Available Wood Router Types on the Market


Plunge Router

Plunge routers are considered to be a safer alternative to other routers for sale. Their electric motor is attached to a prig base, and this offers woodworkers the luxury of being able to plunge the bit directly into the center of any workpiece.

This can normally not be achieved with other routers. The blade of a plunge router is also retractable which enables them to be safer than other options.

If you are interested in this type of wood router, you would love to read this full buying guide on how to select the best plunge router for the money including reviews & comparison.

Pros & Cons


  • It’s far easier to carry out template routing with a plunge router.
  • Unlike fixed-base routers, you can adjust the cutting depth while you’re using the tool.
  • You can move the tool vertically.
  • They are very versatile.
  • You have more control with two handles.


  • On average they cost more than fixed-base routers.
  • They can be harder to control if you’re new to woodworking.
  • You can’t use them with a fixed table base which can restrict your workpiece capacity.


Professional and experienced woodworkers often choose to use a plunge router due to the flexibility and versatility on offer. They are used for both template and freehand jobs and are far more stable than many fixed-base routers.


Carrying out maintenance on a plunge router is simple, straightforward and takes no time at all to complete.

You simply need to:

  • Keep the tool clean and free of debris.
  • Ensure the plunge posts are clean so dust does not become embedded in bearing surfaces.
  • Keep the router bits sharp as dull routers make poor cuts.
  • Adjust and inspect all moving components on a regular basis.
  • Check and replace motor brushes as these wear out over time.


Plunge routers can be purchased as a bare tool, with a range of accessories, or even with a router table as well. Therefore, you can expect to pay between $92 to $920 for a top-rated plunge wood router.



Fixed-Base Router

Fixed-base routers are a good option for beginners and woodworkers with basic routing requirements. They are easier to use than other routers and perform well with straight line accuracy and edge-cutting performance.

Pros & Cons


  • They are the most affordable wood router on the market.
  • They are very effective for edge sharpening.
  • They are compact, therefore they are easier to handle and move.
  • They can be used with a router table.
  • They are very simple to use.


  • They only have a fixed depth so they aren’t suitable for gouging.
  • They are not as versatile as plunge routers.


Fixed-base routers are mainly used for jobs that require a fixed-depth cut. The depth cannot be changed throughout the cut, so they are commonly used in basic woodworking tasks, rather than those with more complex cuts required. They can’t overcut or gouge wood either.


Similar to the upkeep of a plunge router, a fixed-base routing machine doesn’t require much effort to keep it performing at its best.

All you need to do is:

  • Clean the machine with a damp cloth.
  • Ensure all electrical cables are in good condition.
  • Keep the engine air openings free of dust, oil, dirt, and grime.
  • Lubricate all moving parts on a regular basis.
  • Replace the carbon brushes as and when necessary.


Because fixed-base wood routers are far more basic than other routers on the market, they do come with a lower price tag. Be prepared to pay between $120 and $360 when you buy online.



Trim Router

Trim routers are the “baby brothers” of standard wood routers and are used by hobbyists and professionals alike.

While they don’t stand up to the big boys in terms of power and versatility, they are proving to be popular for those small and finicky tasks that are hard to do effectively with a larger wood router.

They can flush-trim laminate, undertake veneer edge banding with ease, and do a good job with solid wood edging as well.

If you are interested in this type of wood router, you would love to read this full buying guide on how to select the best trim router for the money including reviews & comparison.

Pros & Cons


  • For their size, they can do quite a lot.
  • They are very affordable.


  • They aren’t as powerful as other routers.
  • They are restricted to smaller tasks.


Trim routers are used for trimming, flushing, jointing, rounding edges, chamfering, routing grooves, dovetails and so much more.

While they were traditionally manufactured for trimming laminate such as Formica, they are now easily considered a miniature wood router. The only thing holding them back from being on-par with a wood router is their size.


Maintenance on this very small tool is straightforward. However, failure to undertake these vital steps for upkeep can result in the premature death of your trim router.

That is why you should always:

  • Wipe the trim router clean after each use.
  • Blow out the motor vents to prevent them from building up with dust and debris.
  • Wipe the collet and bits with a light oil to reduce the risk of rust.
  • Replace the carbon brushes when the trim router isn’t working as it should. If your tool is under warranty, it pays to have a technician carry this out as doing it yourself can void the warranty.


When trim routers first hit the market, they were the most basic tool you could buy within the router family. Therefore it made perfect sense that they were also the cheapest.

However, as modifications were made and it became a smaller version of a router, the price steadily increased.

You can now easily pay between $35 and $535 for a trim router. The higher the price tag, the more you can do with the tool.



CNC Router

CNC (computer numerically controlled) routers are commonplace in workshops where wood, composites, steel, plastic, and foam needs to be cut with precision.

They are a computer-controlled cutting machine and can essentially play the part of many tools such as a panel saw, spindle molder and a boring machine.

If you are interested in this type of wood router, you would love to read this full buying guide on how to select the best CNC router for the money including reviews & comparison.

Pros & Cons


  • They are far more precise than a human-operated wood router would be.
  • They can make exact replicas of items in record time – a job that would take a person far longer.
  • You can use CAD programs to design parts which are then created effectively with the machine.


  • They are very expensive to purchase.
  • They require a lot of maintenance.


CNC routers are used in industrial and professional settings to create large quantities of particular parts. Each part can be made to exact measurements, and the time to produce something out of wood, metal, foam or plastic is reduced.

They are controlled by a computer and offer precision that’s just not possible with a hand-held router.


Although CNC routers are great pieces of machinery that can carry out woodworking tasks in a quarter of the time a human can, they do require a lot of maintenance.

It’s important for both not voiding the warranty and the health of your machine to undertake regular maintenance.

A full, detailed instruction manual will arrive with your machine, with tips such as:

  • Using an air blower to remove dust from all areas, especially the bearings.
  • Changing the pneumatic filters as well as those in the control box and vacuum pumps.
  • Lubricating all bearings, pumps and oscillating knives.
  • Checking the air pressure on a regular basis. In most cases, it should be 80 PSI.


The price for a top-rated CNC router can vary, but for such a high-tech piece of equipment, it pays to get the best regardless of the price. Check out the features in comparison to the cost and budget for between $2,500 and $5,000.



Rotary Tool

A rotary tool is a handheld device that works in a similar manner to a router. They are suitable for a range of tasks and use different attachments to achieve different results in wood.

Woodworkers with small projects are more likely to use a rotary tool as they work better on small workpieces than larger routers.

If you are interested in this type of wood router, you would love to read this full buying guide on how to select the best rotary tool for the money including reviews & comparison.

Pros & Cons


  • They are very versatile.
  • You can use a range of attachments with them.
  • They are very affordable.
  • They’re lightweight.


  • They are limited to small projects as they don’t have the power to work on large workpieces.


The options are endless for what a rotary tool can do. With the right attachments, it can polish metal, engrave designs, cut, shape, etch and sand wood, and work with plastic and fiberglass as well. It’s a very functional tool and many woodworkers own one.


Maintenance is very straightforward with a rotary tool and many woodworkers appreciate the simplicity. You simply need to make sure all attachments are in good working order, check the circular blade for damage, and ensure the tool is free of debris.


Oddly enough, the price bracket for a rotary tool varies greatly. For a basic, low-end model you can pay as little as $10, but for a high-end tool with plenty of power, you can pay as much as $600.


Where to Buy Wood Router?

Wood routers are some of the most versatile woodworking tools anyone can own, however, they can also be expensive if you don’t know where to look. In order to get the best deal, it pays to look for your new router on Amazon. The cost is often far lower than in a physical store and you are also offered the convenience of having it shipped to your door.


Leading Wood Router Brands and Manufacturers

    • Bosch
    • DeWALT
    • Porter Cable
    • Makita
    • Hitachi


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