Best Wood Router for Beginners: Our Top 5 Recommendations

New to woodworking and searching for the best wood router for beginners? As one of the most versatile tools, a quality wood router deserves a spot in your tool shed. From cutting, trimming, shaping, carving, recessing to even re-creating patterns, there is nothing that a wood router cannot do.

But as someone new to the world of wood routers, the plethora of options now available in the market can be very daunting. I understand the jeopardy too well as I, too, was once a novice struggling to make a decision. But unlike me, you won’t be required to spend hours on the internet or consult with the pros to pick the best.

To make things easier for you, I present our top 5 wood routers that are perfect for DIY woodworking beginners. Before getting to our list of recommendations, check out what goes into choosing a beginner wood router-

How to Select the Best Wood Router for Beginners?

As you are new to wood routers, it’d be great to focus on models with simple functionality and features. Take a look at some of the factors most critical to your wood router purchase as a beginner-

Wood Router Classification

As with most power tools, wood routers are available in multiple configurations, namely palm routers, mid-size routers, and full-size routers. Palm routers are compact in size and generally ideal for edge forming, hinge mortising, slot cutting, trimming, decorative inlays, small dovetailing, and window cutouts.

Mid-size routers are popular among DIYers for their compact build and versatility. Apart from all the tasks that palm routers can perform, mid-side routers can also be used for cutting panels, circle cutting, template design work, and larger dovetailing.

Full-size routers are primarily used for full-fledged production purposes. They are mostly used for CNC operations or attached to router tables for commercial projects. Due to their size, they are not the most convenient choice for basic everyday household use. 

Wood Router Base Type

Wood routers can be divided into three categories- Fix base, plunge, and multiple base. As the name suggests, a fixed base router allows you to use the round-over bit up to a fixed depth. This makes it an excellent choice for cutting straight lines and edges.

As you are just starting with woodworking, I’d recommend you to start with some basic and simple projects. A fixed base router thus becomes an excellent recommendation for you.

But if complex projects and skillful cuts are your thing, a plunge router is the way to go. You can change the bit depth between a cut and also safely cut into the center of the wood with these routers.

Unable to decide between a fixed base and plunge router? Get the best of both worlds with a multiple base wood router that comes with fix and plunge bases.

Wood Router Horsepower

The power at which a wood router operates is also an important consideration. Every router has a sustained HP and peak HP. The sustained HP is the power at which the power tool operates throughout use, while peak HP is what the tool achieves for a brief period.

The horsepower of basic routers can range anywhere between 1 HP to 2 HP. Advanced models, mostly of plunger type, can go as high as 3.5 HP. If you only want to use the router for basic edging and cutting tasks, a model with a lower HP should suffice.

Wood Router Collet Size

You can find routers in ½-inch and ¼-inch collet sizes. This indicates the bit shank size they can be used with. The ½-inch collet size routers are considered more versatile as the bit shanks of this size are available in bigger diameters. But this again is something desired for bigger and more complex projects.

Moreover, there are now models that come with adapters to switch between bits. If you are just starting with a router, I’d not really recommend such advanced models.

Here are our top 5 recommendations-

Makita RT0701C 1-1/4 HP Compact Router

With features like variable speed control, soft start, and quick release cam lock, this palm-sized wood router from Makita is a top choice for beginners. It features a heavy-duty motor that generates a maximum HP of 1-1/4, making it an excellent choice for home projects. The double-insulated housing of the motor is made from aluminum for enhanced durability.

The speed control dial allows you to adjust the speed from 10,000 to 30,000 RPM for different applications. It is a fixed base router that accepts all the standard guide templates. Moreover, the base is removable to make it compatible with other bases.

Top Features

  • Compact and ergonomic palm-sized fixed base router
  • Variable speed control from 10,000 to 30,000 RPM
  • Quick-release cam lock for easy depth adjustments and base replacement
  • Soft start for smoother start-ups
  • 1-1/4 HP motor is ideal for home projects
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Bosch 1617EVSPK Wood Router Tool Combo Kit

If a versatile beginner wood router is what you need, it doesn’t get better than this 1617EVSPK Wood Router Tool Combo Kit from Bosch. The mid-size wood router with fixed and plunge base compatibility is an excellent choice for a wide range of applications, such as plunging, slot cutting, dovetail cutting, laminate trimming, and more.

It features a 2.25 HP motor with constant response circuitry to ensure maximum speed and control. The Bosch router also comes with ½” and ¼” collet chucks to make it compatible with all the industry-standard shanks.

Top Features

  • Mid-sized multiple base wood router
  • Solid aluminium build
  • Maximum motor power of up to 2.5 HP
  • Constant response circuitry to maintain speed throughout the cut
  • Wooden handles and soft-grip handles for improved comfort and control
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DEWALT Router DW616, 1-3/4 HP

DEWALT is one of the most reputable names in the power tool industry. Its DW616 fixed base router is a perfect example of the brand’s excellence in delivering heavy-duty and innovative products. The router features a 1-3/4 HP motor to provide powerful cuts no matter what your woodworking project is. For precise adjustments, it also has a micro-fine depth adjustment ring.

The router also features a steel motor cam lock, allowing you to adjust the depth and change bases without any additional tools. To ensure improved accuracy, the product also comes with a sub-base concentricity gauge.  

Top Features

  • Mid-sized fixed base wood router
  • 1-3/4 HP motor for smooth routing
  • Adjustable steel motor cam lock for easy adjustments and base replacements
  • Motor housing is nickel plated for enhanced durability
  • Dust-sealed switch to further boost the lifespan
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Bosch Colt Router Tool PR20EVS

The Colt Palm Router PR20EVS from Bosch is another great option for beginners who want to purchase a fixed base router. It features a 1.0 HP variable speed motor with speeds ranging from 16,000 to 35,000 RPM. The router offers a straight edge guide for leading the router and also features an angled cord exit to ensure that the cord is always away from the working area.

The router base is made from aluminum, and there are support pockets for fingers to offer improved stability. Its depth adjustment system allows micro and macro adjustment, and the unique clamp system ensures that you can easily move or adjust the router between bases.

Top Features

  • Palm-sized fixed base wood router
  • Variable speed motor with speed ranging from 16,000 to 35,000 RPM
  • Aluminum base for added durability
  • Quick clamp system to easily adjust and move the router
  • Can be used with bits of up to 1-5/16 inches in diameter
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WEN RT6033 Plunge Woodworking Router Kit

Buyers looking for a pocket-friendly plunge wood router can consider purchasing this WEN RT6033 Woodworking Router Kit. It features a powerful variable speed motor with speeds ranging from 8,000 to 23,000 RPM. The base of the router locks in the downward position for improved functionality as a plunge base or fixed base router.

The WEN router is compatible with ¼” and ½” bits and plunging depth of up to 1-3/8 inches. For enhanced precision, it features a 7-stop turret system which allows easy micro and macro adjustments. A hard-shell carrying case is also included with the product.

Top Features

  • Mid-sized plunge base wood router
  • Variable speed motor with speed ranging from 8,000 to 23,000 RPM
  • 7-stop turret system for easy adjustments
  • Can be used with ¼” and ½” bits
  • Comes with a hard-shell case
Click below to compare prices and check availability

Choosing the Best Wood Router for Beginner

There you go! Here is a list of the top 5 wood routers ideal for someone new to wood routing. We hope that these recommendations and the information above will help you save loads of time and enable you to make the right buying decision.

Before buying, ensure that you thoroughly check out all the features of the wood router. Also, before you start using the router, it is wise to go through the instructions manual of the product.

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