The top five brands for wood routers are Bosch, Makita, DeWALT, Porter Cable, and Ryobi. This article will discuss information about each brand and help you decide which wood router is the right one for you. For a new wood router user, a router with variable speeds is a good feature to have. You also probably do not need a plunge router if you are just starting out.
One of the best ways to understand which product is right for you is to visit Amazon.com. Their customer reviews are often priceless to the uncertain buyer. DeWALT and Porter Cable had the best overall reviews at about 4 and a half stars out of 5. Ryobi had the lowest price out of all five brands, but also had very few reviews to go by (and, as always, I only recommend them if you are not using it frequently). If you have any specific concerns about the router, you can search through customer reviews to find out if others experienced anything similar to your concerns. For example: Some of the Amazon customer reviews mentioned that the Bosch routers had unstable or undesirable base plates, I personally have not had these issues with my laminate router (a Bosch)and friggin love it. Other reviews said that the Makita Routers were very quiet, though it probably doesn’t matter ‘cause as soon as you put the bit to the wood it screams no matter what model you have.
The magazine “Family Handyman” featured a special November 2013 issue on routers, with a photo of a router and the words “Tool Special: The best new routers” on the front page. Inside, it included reviews on Porter-Cable, DeWALT, and Ryobi routers. The reviews state that the router by Porter-Cable is simple, dependable and has been a pro favorite for decades. However, it does not have some of the pro-grade features that others include (such as table height adjustment). The reviews also state that the DeWALT 11 amp plunge and fixed base kit is heavy duty and well-engineered overall. Similar to the Porter-Cable router, it also lacks some desired features such as the height adjustment. Lastly, the Ryobi plunge base router has a great low price, but it lacks the removable base and makes bit changes more difficult. Based on this information, it would be best to decide which features are most important to getting your specific job done and choose a router that fits those needs.
Many buyers will be focused on their budget. If you are considering your budget, this bulleted list should help you decide which router is right for you.
Typical Price Range of Each Brand:
- Variable Speed, 12 amp 2 ¼ horsepower (HP) router kits: $170 – $190.
- Variable Speed Plunge Base, 15 amp, 3 ¼ horsepower routers: $320.
- 1 ¼ horsepower, Variable Speed Compact routers: $100-$180.
- 3-1/4 HP, Plunge Variable Speed Routers: $300.
- 1.25 HP (No Variable Speed) Compact Routers: $118-$150
- 2-1/4 HP, Variable Speed Routers: $180-$200
- 5 speed (Variable speed), 3-1/4 HP Plunge Router: $300-$370
- 1-1/2 HP (No Variable Speed) Router Kits: $50-$65
- Factory-Reconditioned 2HP, Plunge Routers: $70-$85
Features of Routers
If you are learning how to use a router, you want to start off with a lower speed. If you start off with a speed that is too high, you can run the risk of letting it get away from you. This can be a safety issue and also a work quality issue. You can then use a higher speed after you have gotten used to the router. Another benefit to variable speeds is that it is essential for big bits, because it is not safe to use big bits at full speed (Handyman, 2013). Since variable speeds do not usually cost extra, it is best to get routers with that feature.
You may also wonder: fixed-base or plunge? Most wood workers don’t end up using their plunge routers often. They are more likely to use their fixed-base routers. Fortunately, most manufacturers sell combo kits that include both a fixed base and a plunge base. Be sure to check the totals before you buy. Sometimes, the extra kit cost can be more than an entire second router.
Another feature you may require is an easy access way to power it on. Most woodworkers (myself included) prefer triggers over switches so that they are able to turn the routers on and off without actually letting go of the handle. (A switch is preferable if you mount your router to a table).