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Getting The Job Done Right
By: Darion Robinson
Nothing quite comes close to the wood router when it comes to versatility in a woodworking shop.
In almost every shop you turn to, you’ll find wood routers being used to do things such as profiling edges, trimming wood flat, shaping the wood, and even cutting in lays. Most people, however, tend to associate them with the cutting of grooves and rebates.
Shaping wood, drilling holes, and cutting traditional joints are not so mainstream especially if you are new to the tool. Well, you’re in luck either way because today we’ll be looking at eight of the best wood routers to help you achieve more in your woodworking shop.
DeWalt is a widely known brand and especially for producing quality tools. The DeWalt DWP611PK Variable Speed Wood-Router Combo Kit is one of them, and for many reasons too. It comes in a compact design that feels great in your hands and a clear sub-base which makes detail jobs painfully easy.
Its dual LED lights offer you better visibility at all times regardless of the lighting levels in your workshop. To top it off, it is moderately priced too, and this makes it ideal for DIY enthusiasts who are just starting off or even pros who need a quick wood router to get the job done.
First off, the DWP611PK is a soft-starting motor meaning that it maintains a high level of safety even in situations that are accidental.
The DWP611PK has speeds ranging from 16,000-27,000 RPM with 16,000 RPM being its no-load speed. Variable speed control means that you can use the wood router in different applications that require varied speeds.
The DWP611PK’s aluminum motor housing not only makes it lighter, but durable too.
This allows the DWP611PK to offer you more work surface contact and thereby giving you better control over the machine.
If power was one of the determiners in your selection of a wood router, then the PORTER-CABLE 690LR would surely be a good pick. It is a hidden gem for most woodworkers despite its compact design and modern look. It packs a precision machined aluminum motor housing and a base.
On top of that, it can deliver a maximum RPM of 27,500 making it desirable among many woodworkers. 1.75HP makes it sufficiently powerful to handle plenty of tasks that you throw at it. In addition to all that, it is among the wood routers that are dust sealed. This means you can rely on it to last long.
It is vital to stress the importance of dust-sealed switches and a sealed ball bearing construction. When any amount of dust goes in a section of your wood router where it was not destined to go, your wood router’s efficiency automatically drops.
Precision almost always requires some level of comfort, and the PORTER-CABLE 690LR offers you both of these. Wood routers that disregard the users comfort tend to cause gradual damage to their muscles as they strain a lot when you are in an uncomfortable position.
This feature allows for easier bit removal after you are done using the machine. It might seem insignificant, but if you’re working on multiple pieces that require you to change your bits every now and often, this can be a time saver.
You’re probably looking for a Makita RT0701CX7 if you wanted something super cheap but still wanted it to have the look and feel of a powerful wood router. While its build quality is close to that of Bosch routers, the Makita RT0701CX7 is equally made of aluminum, but it scratches easily.
That’s not to say that the wood router is not ergonomic though. Using the Makita RT0701CX7 would be a walk in the park as far as basic usability goes. However, when you want some extra features that would have perhaps helped you achieve slightly more unique tasks, the Makita RT0701CX7 may fall short.
Variable Speed Control Dial
The Makita RT0701CX7 has a very large RPM range of 10,000 – 30,000 making it one of the fastest wood routers around. With this kind of allowance, you can easily match the speed of the router depending on where you were using the tool
There’s a difference between variable speed control and electronic speed control. On the Makita RT0701CX7, electronic speed control helps in maintaining a constant speed of the wood router even when under load.
This helps keep the Makita RT0701CX7 durable. Despite the ease of scratching, the router’s internal components would always be protected
In addition, the Makita RT0701CX7 also comes with:
The Bosch 1617EVSPK is a moderately sized router with plenty to offer contrary to what you might expect on first look. Its 12-amp motor, for instance, is capable of giving you power for almost any kind of job you need.
Its versatility extends just beyond plunge cuts and edge forming as it can equally help you with slot cutting and laminate trimming. Other than that, user-friendliness is something that Bosch really thought about on the Bosch 1617EVSPK. Its controls allow you to run the router at a constant speed so that you can dedicate your focus on the job and not on the activation trigger.
Compared to Bosch, DeWalt, and Makita, Triton’s TRA001 might not get the credit it deserves because of being overshadowed. However, The Triton TRA001 is surprisingly user friendly and easy to maintain even for newbies in the wood routing field.
Apart from having just three buttons which makes is super easy to use, this wood router can also be adjusted using a single wrench which you might already have lying somewhere in your workshop. Pricewise though, the Triton TRA001 might scare away a few people as it is not one of the cheapest options around despite being a less popular brand in wood routing.
Comfort was taken a notch higher on the Triton TRA001 as it features two durable handles with each of them containing rubberized material at the top. This prevents your hands from occasionally sliding off the router as you will have a better grip
It allows you to choose the perfect speed for any cutter type. This can prolong the life of your wood router.
They reduce the intake of dust from the environment into the motor casing especially when mounted in an upside-down position in a router table.
This allows for easier bit adjustment especially when table mounted.
The fully enclosed guarding on the Triton TRA001 ensures maximum protection from the cut zone. The router also provides you a quick access to change worn out brushes.
The TackLife Plunge and Fixed Base Wood Router is yet another one that offers a very wide RPM range of between 10,000 – 30,000 RPM. In addition, this wood router comes with a bunch of different wrenches that are optimized for adding and removal of bits which are not so easy to remove at times.
Some users have also reported that bits often got stuck in the chuck and they had to spend some time getting them out. Other than that, it does come with plenty of features that you could find useful especially if you were looking for something inexpensive.
The TackLife Plunge features a 0.8HP motor with a 6-speed variable control dial. As with other wood routers, variable speed control is useful in situations where you intend to cut various types of materials using the wood router.
Comfort is important when using your wood router for long periods, and that is why the TackLife Plunge comes with the auxiliary handle which greatly reduces fatigue in one hand operations.
Dust collection is even easier with the TackLife Plunge thanks to its vacuum dust collection port to which you can attach either a vacuum cleaner, a dust collection system, or a dust bag. This saves you tons of time especially if you use the wood router for long hours.
The Ridgid R2401 is a corded wood router that is compact, feature-packed, and affordable at the same time. It comes with a refined adjustment dial which enable you to choose different depths of your cuts.
In addition to that, it is worth mentioning that the bit housing is made from lightweight aluminum which is not only durable, but tough too. While most of the other parts of the wood router are made of plastic, the overall build of the wood router is decent. The main drawback is that the body of the tool lets in quite some large amount of dust which if left unchecked can cause damage.
Comfort is not negotiable when dealing with power tools such as wood routers, and that is why the Ridgid R2401 comes with overmold grips.
There are instances where you need to remove the motor from the base, and with the Ridgid R2401’s quick release lever, this will be one of the easiest things you’ll have to do.
The variable speed option in the Rigid R2401 enables you to easily adjust the speed depending on the type of material you are working with or where you are using the wood router.
They illuminate your work area and enhance your visibility.
Gradual start of the motor makes the Ridgid R2401 safer to use as the full power of the wood router will only be realized a short while after the router has been running.
That’s not all too. Its rubber coated handles were designed with long working hours in mind, and this is why they remain comfortable. The inclusion of a carrying case equally makes things interesting as there are popular brands like DeWalt that at times do not include carrying cases.
Wood routers are really simple and straightforward in most cases, but there are one or two things that you should always consider before purchasing one. This does not only cover the types of decorative flutings that you’d get from a particular drill, but it also covers the ease of use and comfort levels that you should expect.
Generally, wood routers come in three general forms. These are:
The distinguishing factor between all the three is size with the palm router being the smallest and the full-sized router being the largest of the three. With size comes ease of transportation. This means that if you intend to use your wood router in one location, then it would be a good idea to get a full-sized feature-packed wood router. Palm routers are great for contractors since they offer mobility.
You’ll probably be spending hours with a wood router in your hand especially if you need to nail a perfect groove or rebate. Wood routers that are uncomfortable to handle over long periods will eventually be harmful to your health.
Discomfort usually comes with bad side effects such as muscle tension which would then result to inflammation if left unchecked. Since the process is gradual in most cases, it is easy to develop chronic conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
While it’s easy for many people to disregard this, the availability of a dust port is not merely for keeping your workspace tidy alone. It also ensures you work in a healthy environment too. Dust is never great for your respiratory system as it could easily lead to health complications.
The availability of a dust port ensures that dust is safely channeled to your dust collection system which keeps your workshop tidy and ensures you breathe dust-free air.
Wood routers with the slow start feature usually prevent injuries since they always turn on at a low RPM and gradually pick up speed. This is helpful for accidental situations where the wood router gets turned on by mistake and in a very risky environment. With the slow start feature, it is much more difficult for a wood router to cause as much damage as it would have if this feature was not present.
Other considerations you should think about include:
By Darion Robinson
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