Top 5 Best Routers for Table Mounting – Expert Reviews
A routing table gives you more flexibility for woodworking projects, allowing you to perform tasks that would otherwise be impossible. With the best router, your table can become an essential part of your shop or garage.
The following five options offer the best combination of features for handling everything from dovetailing to panel cutting and design work.
Bosch 1617EVS Wood Router Tool Kit – Top All-Around Router with Variable Speed
The Bosch 1617EVS is the top choice for its dependability and overall value. It has a durable design with a rugged aluminum base and delivers decent power for a palm router.
The 1617EVS has a 2.25-horsepower, 12-amp motor. This is more powerful compared to some of the other routers in the same price range and powerful enough for cutting through most hardwoods. It can hold up to heavy-duty tasks for short periods.
The router has a fixed base and includes a microfine bit-depth adjustment built into the base. It has an overall cutting depth of 1-inch and adjusts in 1/64-inch increments.
Ease of Use
To make life easier when operating the router, it includes a variable speed motor. The dial on the outer shell of the router allows you to easily increase or decrease the speed. The motor has a range of 8,000 to 25,000 RPM.
Unfortunately, changing bits is not easy. You need to remove the motor or reach under the table. Both options are inconvenient compared to using a router with a spindle lock and extended collar.
Despite the inconvenience, the Bosch 1617EVs remains a top choice for its design and user control. It has large hardwood handles for a comfortable grip on the router.
- Durable design and construction for years of use
- Includes variable speed control for personalized cutting
- Comes with soft start to keep the router from jerking out of position
- The motor is relatively powerful for its price range, helping to cut through denser materials
- Changing bits is a chore, as the router does not include an extended collar
- Not equipped with a spindle lock, requiring two wrenches for changing bits
DEWALT Router, Fixed Base, 1-3/4-HP – Best Router for Quick and Easy Bit Changes
The DEWALT Router comes with a light-duty motor and fixed base at an affordable price, but the main benefit is the design that allows for quick and easy bit changes.
The DW616 router comes with a 1.75-horsepower, 11-amp motor. It can cut through most types of wood without any issues, but may get stuck on hardwoods.
The motor is housed in a die-cast aluminum base, designed for durability and rugged use. With the dust-sealed switch, the motor is also protected against dust ingestion.
Ease of Use
The DW616 fixed base router includes a tool-free motor lock for adjusting the depth and changing bases without needing any tools. It also has a detachable cord-set, which can be switched out with a separate motor pack.
The motor has a quick release latch, making it easier to remove when changing the bits. The spindle lock also makes it aid in the process of changing router bits. You simply press the button and use a single wrench to loosen the collet.
Surprisingly, this router does not come equipped with variable speed control. However, it does include a soft start to keep the motor from instantly reaching its full 1.75-horsepower capacity.
- Changing bits is quick and easy thanks to the spindle lock
- This is one of the more affordable options for a quality fixed-base router
- Includes comfortable rubber handles
- The compact design creates a low center of gravity, providing greater balance
- The horsepower is at the lower end of the average range for mid-size routers
- Does not come with variable speed control for adjusting the power
DEWALT Router Fixed/Plunge Base Kit – Best Budget Router Combo Set
The DEWALT base kit comes with a 1.25-horsepower motor and separate bases. Thanks to the low price, it is the best overall choice for those with a tight budget.
The DEWALT fixed/plunge base kit has a compact motor with a rugged outer shell and aluminum casing.
The plunge base includes large rubber handles and an adjustment rod while the fixed base comes with an extended sub-base to create more contact with the work surface.
Keep in mind that this wood router has a smaller motor. The 1.25-horsepower motor may not deliver the power needed to cut through hardwoods. This is on the lower end of the scale for mid-sized routers.
Ease of Use
The DEWALT router is a convenient option due to its compact size and spindle lock. While you still need to reach under the table to change router bits, the motor slides out of the base easily.
With the fixed base, you can also easily adjust the cutting depth. The adjustment knob allows you to precisely set the depth to within 1/64-inch. However, this feature is only available on the fixed base.
The router includes dual LEDs. The LEDs help illuminate your cutting path for greater visibility.
- The router includes an LED for clearer visual when cutting
- Includes the soft-start feature to keep the motor from instantly reaching full speed
- Changing bits is easy due to the spindle lock and easily removable motor
- The 1.25 horsepower motor may not work well on tough woods
- The adjustment rod requires manual measurement, making it more difficult to precisely adjust the cutting depth
Triton TRA001 3-1/4 HP Dual Mode Precision Plunge Router – Best Plunge Router Loaded with Features
The Triton is a step up from the mid-range routers from recognizable brands such as Bosch and DEWALT. It offers a wide range of features to make this tool more convenient to operate, including precise depth adjustment.
With the Triton TRA001, you get a plunge-base router that easily locks to use it as a fixed-based router. This makes it one of the more versatile options, as you can use plunge or fixed modes without needing to remove a motor and place it in a separate base. To switch operating modes, you simply flip a switch.
The Triton includes a 3.25-horsepower, 15-amp motor, allowing you to cut through the toughest woods. It also has a soft start and variable speed control for managing the powerful motor.
Ease of Use
This router really stands out for its ease of use when changing bits. It has an extended collar and spindle lock, allowing you to change router bits from above the table. The Triton TRA001 dual-mode router works well as a fixed-base or plunge-base router. With the micro winder adjustment knob, you can maintain a precise cutting depth even when using it as a plunge router.
Cleaning up is also easier, thanks to the side air vents and plastic dust guard. The air vents keep dust from collecting in the motor casings while the guard directs debris toward your vacuum hose.
- Includes a spindle lock and extended collar for changing the bits above the table
- One of the few options with above the table adjustments for the cutting depth
- Offers precise adjustments when using as a fixed-based router or plunge-base router
- Offers variable speed, soft start, side air vents, and a plastic guard
- The cost may place this out of reach for some hobbyists
- Not everyone needs a mid-sized router with this much power
BONUS – Bosch 1617EVS Wood Router Tool Combo Kit – Best Value for a Router Set
With the Bosch Combo Kit, you get the best overall pick with both types of bases. The kit includes the 1617EVSPK mid-sized router with a fixed base and plunge base.
The fixed base is the same fixed base found on the top pick, featuring large wood knobs for easier control. The plunge base provides deeper cutting depth, with a range of two inches. It also includes large rubber handles instead of the wood knobs.
Both bases feature aluminum material for greater durability and small plastic guards to protect against flying debris. The router should hold up to repeated use thanks to the durable design.
It is also backed by several warranties and guarantees. It comes with a 30-day, money-back guarantee, one-year limited warranty, and a one-year service protection plan.
Ease of Use
Operating the router with either base is easy. The motor includes soft start and variable speed, giving you more control over the power.
The main drawbacks appear when trying to change bits. As the router does not include a spindle lock or extended collar, you need to remove the motor from the base to change bits. Unfortunately, the motor does not slide in and out of the base easily. These are minor issues unless you frequently need to change bits.
- Includes a fixed base and plunge base, providing more versatility
- The durable aluminum body is lightweight and built to last
- Includes a small chip deflector to help manage debris
- Does not include a spindle lock or extended collar for easier bit changes
- The motor does not easily slide in and out of the base
Buyer’s Guide – How to Choose a Router for a Router Table
Wood routers come in many different sizes and styles, from compact trim routers to powerful full-size routers.
While many DIY woodworkers choose to mount a full-sized router to their tables, a mid-sized router is more versatile. These tools can handle everything a palm router can do, along with larger tasks typically assigned to a full-sized router.
Compared to a full-sized router, a mid-sized router is more affordable and can handle many of the same tasks. However, you still need to consider a few other features to find the right option:
- Base style
- Variable speed
- Soft start
- Electronic feedback circuitry
- Collet size
- Above the table adjustment
- Spindle lock
- Dust collection
- Safety interlocks
- The overall durability and build quality
Routers typically come with a fixed base or plunge base. However, a few companies also produce routers with D-handle bases.
The fixed base is the standard base found on most routers. With a fixed router, the router bit does not protrude past the cut depth that you set. A plunge router allows you to plunge the router bit into the surface, cutting up to the preset depth that you set.
Fixed base and plunge base routers typically have knobs on each side and holes for mounting to a router table. The D-handle base replaces one of the knobs with a D-shaped handle, providing a pistol-grip control.
Fixed Versus Plunge
Fixed base routers are often lighter and easier to operate compared to plunge base routers. Woodworkers often prefer this style for edging tasks, such as dovetailing. However, the router bit is fixed, making it difficult to cut into the material from above without mounting to a table.
These routers also typically include precise adjustments for setting the cutting depth. A few of the routers reviewed above allow you to set the depth in 1/64th-inch increments.
A plunge base router allows you to plunge the router bit into the material from above when making interior cuts. This design makes it easier to cut fluting, grooves, and decorative inlays. You can also lock the router in a fixed position, using the plunge-style router as a fixed-base router.
Fixed Router Pros:
- Easy to operate
- Precise cutting depths
Plunge Router Pros:
- Easier to make interior cuts
- Locks into a fixed position
Experienced woodworkers often advise novices to start with a plunge router. It can lock into a fixed position for edging and handle interior cuts.
Combination Router Kits
If you do not want to choose between fixed bases and plunge bases, combination kits provide a cost-effective solution. These kits come with a wood router and both bases.
With both bases, you have the option of mounting one to your router table and using the other for handheld tasks. When you switch tasks, simply swap the motor to the other base.
Variable speed allows you to adjust the power delivered to the motor. This is a useful feature, as not all tasks require full power.
For example, when working with larger bits, you may need to reduce the speed. Smaller router bits tend to provide cleaner cuts at higher speeds. With the variable speed control, you can twist a dial to increase or decrease the speed.
Soft start keeps the router from instantly reaching its maximum power after turning it on. Without a soft start, the router kicks to life at full speed and noise, which is often startling. This may also cause the router to jerk out of position when using it unmounted.
Soft start adds a small pause after you power it up. The router then gradually increases its power until it reaches the preset speed setting.
Electronic Feedback Circuitry
If the router comes equipped with a soft start, it likely includes electronic feedback circuitry (EFC). The circuitry allows the router to adjust the torque to match the load.
Changes in the friction or density of the workpiece can cause the motor to overexert itself or speed up. For example, you may hit a knot in the wood causing the bit to work harder to cut through the material. This increases the risk of shorting the motor.
EFC adjusts the torque to help deliver a smoother cutting experience. It makes it easier to achieve even lines, even when the depth and thickness of the workpiece varies.
Most routers come with both 1/4-inch or 1/2-inch collets. Mid-sized routers are more likely to have 1/2-inch collets and adapters for accepting 1/4-inch shank bits.
The collet size is not a major concern unless you plan on working with smaller or larger bits.
Hand routers typically deliver 1.5 to 3.5 horsepower and 3 to 15 amps. More power helps when cutting through tougher or denser woods.
If you select a router with 12 to 15 amps of power, ensure that it has a variable speed option. Less power is helpful for light-duty tasks, such as cutting inlays.
Above the Table Adjustment
Above the table adjustment is a useful feature after mounting the router. With a typical router, you need to reach under the table to manually adjust the cutting depth. It is an awkward and inconvenient process.
To provide above the table adjustment, some routers come equipped with a knob or handle that extends above the table. Several designs feature a wrench or turnkey that you insert into the router from above the table to adjust the height.
Along with above the table height adjustment, you may find routers with extended collets. You can reach an extended collet above the table. Without this feature, you often need to unlock the motor and fumble around below the table.
A spindle lock is another feature that makes changing bits a little easier. Most routers require you to use two wrenches.
You use one wrench to hold the motor shaft and another to loosen or tighten the collet. If the collet is not extended, this task becomes even more difficult.
Routers equipped with a spindle lock allow you to change the bit with one wrench. You press a button to engage a spring-loaded pin that holds the motor shaft.
Cutting through wood generates dust and some routers include solutions to help collect or direct it. The most common dust collection feature is a plastic guard or shroud that fits around the base. The guard directs the dust toward your shop-vac.
Unfortunately, most routers do not include any type of plastic guard for dust collection. You typically need to purchase a separate router hood.
A safety interlock is an additional feature found only on select routers. Many woodworkers use foot pedals for switching the power to the router. If you accidentally hit the foot pedal while changing a bit, you may injure yourself.
The safety interlock keeps the router from turning on when the spindle lock pin is currently engaged. Basically, it prevents the motor from starting when you are changing bits.
Overall Durability and Build Quality
If you want a router that you can rely on for years to come, look for products from trusted companies. Budget tools made with inferior parts and a lack of quality control tend to break down faster.
Cheaper products also feel less stable and secure. When you work with motors turning at thousands of revolutions per minute, safety is essential. You should not have to worry about the router malfunctioning mid-use.
A router is a useful tool, allowing you to add bevels, rounded edges, and other decorative cuts to your woodworking projects. If you want the best results, it helps to have the best router.
To find a router that includes all the features discussed, including quality craftsmanship, consider going with one of the five options reviewed.
There is an option to suit any budget, from the low-priced DEWALT DW616 to the Bosch 1617EVS.
The Bosch 1617EVS is a top pick for its durable design that should offer reliable performance for years to come. With the DW616, you get a convenient router with useful features for quickly changing bits or adjusting the cutting depth.
Both options come with fixed bases. However, DEWALT and Bosch also sell versions of these routers as kits that come with a fixed base and plunge base. You get more versatility and great value.
If those options do not provide the power you need for your routing table, the Triton TRA001 has you covered. It includes a 3-horsepower, 15-amp motor. It is a plunge base router, but includes a lock for using it as a fixed-base router.
Think about which features matter most for your woodworking projects and then select the router that meets your specific needs.