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Best Wood Routers for the Money in 2018

Woodworking for either profession or hobby requires the use of the best tools. One of these is the router tool. But which is the best wood routers for the money?

There is a myriad of products out there, praised for their reliability or popular for their low prices. Choosing the right one is tricky, but luckily I’m here to help. 

Here's a list of Best Wood Routers for the Money in 2018

During my years of practice, I’ve used multiple routers, testing their reliability and performance.

Wondering which I liked best? I’ve put up a list of the five best routers for the money. But there are a few other things you should know before buying.

Types of Routers

Routers come in multiple styles and sizes, ideal for occasional users or passionate professionals.

  • Palm routers: Are compact tools with motors up to 1 horsepower. Their compact size ensures an incredible performance, and they are ideal for trimming, cutting edges, slot cutting, dovetailing, and other precision work. However, the small 1/4-inch shank size makes these routers unsuitable for large applications.
  • Mid-size routers: Are slightly more powerful than the palm routers and powered by motors up to 2.25 horsepower. These tools typically accept bits between ¼ and ½ inches and come as single tools or combination kits. Most DIYers and professionals prefer the routers in this class.
  • Large routers: These are the workhorses of the family designed to output between 3 and 3.25 horsepower. They are designed for production use and CNC operations. Due to their massive size, they are quite cumbersome to use and not quite popular between the average woodworkers.

Router Base Style

A thing to decide before choosing the type of router is the style of base you most like. There are three options to choose from.

  • Fixed base routers: Are the standard models; they come with fixed handles or knobs that allow you to hold the router and guide it along the workpiece. More often than not, these bases can be mounted to a router table, although these models are limited to edge routing applications. These models often have quick depth adjustments.
  • Plunge base router: Is perhaps the most versatile style. This style of router serves all applications a fixed base serves plus operations that require plunging operations of the bit into the wood. These bases are ideal for dado cuts, fluting, bling grooves, and multiple other operations. The base also offers multiple depth settings with fine-tuned micro-adjustments.
  • D-handle base: Is similar to the palm base but instead of knobs or handles it comes with a knob and a D-shaped handle which provides a better control of the on/off trigger. Other than this, the base serves the same purposes as a fixed base.

How to Choose a Router

Besides all the above, there are a few other variables to consider before investing in a wood router.

1. Variable Speed

This is typically unavailable on the palm size routers, but most mid-size and full-size tools come with variable speeds. These are important if you want to use the same router with multiple styles of bits, as some cuts benefit from higher speeds.

2. Electronic Feedback

This feature may be called differently by the various brands, but technically it means the router lets you monitor the motor load. Knowing this number is important if you need to adjust the torque to fit different outputs, allowing you to focus more on the cutting technique than on the fines adjustments to bring to the machine.

3. Soft Start

Another important feature is the soft start which starts your machine gradually instead of allowing it to blast full speed. This because starting at full speed could cause the router to jerk in your hands, putting an injury hazard and even becoming potentially life-threatening. The soft start, on the other hand, provides a gentle acceleration of the router to full speed, minimizing all risks.

Top 5 Best Wood Routers for the Money in 2018


1. DEWALT DWP611

DEWALT DWP611

Highlights

  • 1.25 horsepower motor
  • Variable speed control
  • Dual LED light
  • Adjustment ring
  • Soft start

Powerful

The DEWALT DWP611 is one of the most reliable palm routers on the market, nonetheless one of the most popular. Powered by a 1.25 horsepower motor, the tool withstands multiple applications and is ideal for medium-duty DIY and contractor use.

Variable Speed

Ideal to use for multiple applications, this router comes with a variable speed control which enables to optimize the speed for multiple applications. Together with the soft start motor and full-electronic feedback, this workhorse is suitable for the most various tasks.

Overall Assessment

Perfect for multiple applications, easy to use, and easy to control, this palm router is ideal for hobbyists and beginners. The tool withstands multiple workshop applications and is ideal for cutting dovetails and trims.

DEWALT DWP611 Video Review


2. Makita RT0701C

Makita RT0701C

Highlights

  • Variable speed control
  • Smooth depth adjustment
  • Comfortable grip
  • Soft start
  • Industry-standard template guides

Variable Speed

Ideal for home and commercial applications, the Makita RT0701C boasts a variable speed control dial which ranges from 10,000 to 30,000 revolutions per minute. This generous speed range makes it easy to match the speed to the application.

Easy to Adjust

Perfect to use in industrial settings; this router is easy to adjust. It comes with a smooth rack-and-pinion system for fine depth adjustments and a quick release cam lock which also enables quicker adjustments. The electronic speed control also ensures an easy monitoring of the speed load for safer operation.

Overall Assessment

Like all Makita tools, the RT0701C model is known for its reliability. This router comes with best-in-class features and has an attractive price, being a great option for amateurs and contractors alike. The soft start and ergonomic design can only add up to the value of this product.

Makita RT0701C Video Review


3. PORTER-CABLE 690LR

PORTER-CABLE 690LR

Highlights

  • 1.75 horsepower motor
  • 27,500 RPM
  • Aluminum motor housing
  • Cam-lock lever
  • Micrometer depth adjustment

Single Speed

Less suitable for multiple tasks but ideal for basic woodwork applications, this single-speed palm router spins at a speed of 27,500 revolutions per minute and is powered by a reliable 11-Amp, 1.75 horsepower motor.

Precision Cutting

Engineered for precision, the PORTER-CABLE 690LR comes with cam-lock levers which enable a coarse height adjustment and a micrometer depth adjuster designed to deliver accurate 1/128 inches cuts.

Overall Assessment

This single-speed router is a great alternative to a variable speed tool if you mostly need it for one type of cuts and want to save some money on the purchase. Ergonomic to maneuver and reliable, this could be a good starter tool for a hobbyist.

PORTER-CABLE 690LR Video Review


Bosch 12 Amp

Highlights

  • Advanced speed control
  • Rugged aluminum housing
  • Money-back guarantee
  • Self-releasing collets
  • Fixed-based depth range

Power

Constructed for heavy-duty applications, the Bosch 1617EVS is one of the most powerful woodworking routers on the market. This machine is powered by a reliable 12-Amp motor which outputs a working power of 2.25 horsepower.

Advanced Speed Control

This consistent function allows woodworkers to monitor and maintain the desired cutting speed for as long as needed. The generous cutting speed range goes from 8,000 to 25,000 revolutions per minute, making this tool ideal to use for most tasks.

Overall Assessment

Convenient and easy to use for most applications, the Bosch 1617EVS impresses with outstanding reliability. This tool provides a fixed base depth range of 1-5/8 inches and a height of 11.625 inches. It is easy to maneuver and easy to adjust to the requirements. Undoubtedly, one of the best routers for the money.

BOSCH 1617 EVS  Video Review


5. WEN 6033

WEN 6033

Highlights

  • Woodworking kit
  • Compatible with multiple router bits
  • Hard-shelled carrying case
  • Cutting centering pin
  • Fence scale

Router Bit Compatibility

Designed with versatility in mind and ideal to use by most woodworkers, the WEN 6033 is compatible with a wide variety of bits with shanks of either ¼ or ½ inches. The plunge depth of up to 2-3/8 inches adds even more versatility, making this tool ideal for most cutting tasks.

Complete Kit

The palm router comes complete with a multi-function straight-edge fence, a circle-cutting centering pin, a template guide, a dust collection duct, and a fence scale, all enclosed in a high-value rigid carrying case.

Overall Assessment

Reliable wood router completed with accessories brings all you could wish from a best-in-class pick. The router is powered by a reliable 15-Amp motor and provides a variable speed between 8,000 and 23,000 revolutions per minute. Combined with the 7-stop turret adjustments and the plunge depth, the WEN 6033 can truly withstand all demands.

WEN 6033 Video Review


Conclusion

Whether you’re a contractor or an amateur woodworker, finding the best router for the money is a must. There are various types to choose from, various base styles, and various bits to consider. Perhaps you have noticed the most popular models are the palm routers, and now you even know which are some of your best options. All you have to do is find the right tool for you and enjoy working.


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