Tools

Best Compact Router

When it comes to shaping and woodworking, you can’t go wrong with the DEWALT DWP611 1.25 HP Max Torque Variable Speed Compact Router as the best compact router for all your industrial or hobbyist applications. With its durable 1.25 horsepower motor, variable speed and its dual LEDs, you’ll be able to work smoothly and supervise what you are doing in full detail, all in an affordable price.

dewaltdwt
Jen’s Top Pick: DEWALT DWP611 1.25 HP Max Torque Variable Speed Compact Router

As the best compact router on our list, the DEWALT DWP611 has a 1.25 HP max torque and runs smoothly with variable speed control, making your woodworking life easier. In addition to that, the motor is soft starting and maintains speed throughout the operation. A sturdy built keeps this router in highlight – its 1.25 hp motor is highly durable and built for tough industry applications. It also allows for 1/64 inch depth on the adjustment ring.

To keep the worker more informed of the current working material even at darker situations, the dual LEDs help you see better on whatever you are working on. The clear sub base also adds on work visibility, so you can easily monitor your wood trimming. The hearty and honest price makes it an affordable compact router that you’d want to buy.

Meanwhile, if you’d like an entire set of compact routing tools at a slightly higher price, the Makita RT0701CX7 1-1/4 HP Compact Router Kit which is a kit that includes 1 fixed base that is suitable for industrial operations, has a soft startup feature, variable RPM speed control, fine adjustment and easy to operate rack and pinion system. This is a step further in the compact router game, bearing a 10,000 to 30,000 RPM variable speed control so you have better flexibility for any different material you are working on. To make things easier when it comes to the actual operation, its rack and pinion has smooth depth adjustment settings. For a better accessibility, its lock system has a quick release feature to help user feel at ease while working. Maintaining its finesse while even on load, its constant speed is kept because of its electronic speed control. It also has a smooth startup using its soft-start feature and comes with an industry standard compliant sub-base, so it’s not so hard to find anything to fit it.

When it comes to changing bits, you will be able to do it with ease because of its flat top design that is highly durable. In addition, the router is also double insulated and the slim design gives better control of the machine and operation. The router’s base insert is non-marring and highly durable to protect the material you are working on. Product includes 1/4 inch collet, plunge base and straight guide.

But going to a smaller, cheaper router, you would definitely want the Makita RT0701C 1-1/4 HP Compact Router as a budget pick. Having an easy and smooth rack and pinion system, it works much like our step-up pick but without the base and other features. If you want a smaller, cheaper but still effective compact router then look no further than this. It is a highly affordable but functional tool, with a rack and pinion movement that is smooth to adjust and operate. Choose from a variable speed from 10,000 to 30,000 RPM. It is topped off with industry compliant template guides can be used for the base.

Even under work load, the compact router maintains speed even under load pressure due to its electronic speed control. The product’s overall slim design aims to help the user gain better control of the operation or whatever material is being worked on. Adding to its features, the cam lock system allows easy adjustment for depth and base

The Makita RT0701C also as a soft start feature, much like its expensive counterpart. The motor is made from heavy duty aluminum, which makes it sturdy and efficient, running at at 6.5 amps of power and 120 V. Overall, if you are not too particular with big compact routers and just want something to help you out, or something for beginners then this little beast will do the trick.

Table of Contents

A Little Background

Woodworking always involved having to chisel out and fine finish or make smooth edges that must be carved out or trimmed by the proper tools. Back in the early days, woodworkers only relied on manual tools, which were not too efficient when it comes to mass producing a lot all in one go, especially if you are looking forward to not wasting more time on something that is more of a commercial value rather than art, such as furniture. This is where wood routers come in handy.

A wood router (not to be confused with computer routers) is a tool that works like a spinning drill. However, instead of drilling holes, it trims edges; hence other similar tools are called “laminated trimmers”. It is able to make smooth edges, bevels and stylized corners to give more spice and definition to certain woodwork such as furniture, chairs, tables, cabinets, drawers, and roughly anything that needs a classy finish.

Router bits can come in a variety of shapes and sizes for different purposes. For edge trimming:

  • Chamfer is a straight downward shape
  • Cove is like a scooped, convex part
  • Rabbeting is a 90 degree angle L-shaped scoop
  • Round Over is simply a smooth, concave shape
  • Roman Ogree is a stylized double curve trim, much like what you see on classic cabinet and furniture edges
  • Beading is similar to Roman Ogree but a concave

For mortising or middle trimming:

  • V-Grove is shaped like a V
  • Round noise is a big round scoop
  • Dado is a big square scoop
  • Dovetail is a trapezoidal scoop

Routers also come in a variety of types – from table mounted to compact ones, which is the most used nowadays. All these router types allow for different woodwork applications that make smoothing and finishing furniture and other wood products easier whether it’s on mass production or for the sake of art and hobby.

All in all, routers are the best and most efficient way to get the job done on any woodwork task, especially if you or the client looks forward to industry standard or at least a uniform smoothing operation close to perfection.

How We Picked

The criteria that we based upon when choosing the best compact router are the following:
Does it have a variable speed? Normally, compact routers should have a variable speed along the lines of 8,000 to 30,000 RPM or so. Without a variable speed, it would not function well with smaller pieces of woodwork material and it will exhaust the router too much if it exerts effort on something that doesn’t require too much speed.

Can different sizes of bits be fitted to it? You should know if it is compatible with a lot of router bits that you have or know, so that you won’t regret buying it. This is especially the case if you like to work artistically or meet industry demands using a variety of router bits.

Is it energy-efficient? A compact router should be able to power up at its best and still maintain a tolerable amount of energy consumption. This is why it is compact – it should be able to work with less electricity required.

Does it have constant speed to maintain a smooth operation even on work load? Part of a router’s job is to keep a steady trim without messing up with uneven surfaces. It must have an electronic speed control to maintain a constant workflow.

Is work visibility enhanced with this router? Having a clear router base and sub-base is preferable to keep your eyes on whatever you are working on, and to ensure that there aren’t too much problems with it.

Are the bases and bits easily changed? One thing that most woodworkers often complain on other models is that they can’t fit certain sizes of bits and furthermore, bit changing becomes a hassle to them. A quick base change and easy bit changing system must be present within the router.

Is the price all worth it? Does it have all the great features for its price? Make sure you know what you pay for.

Does the warranty last long enough for the product’s worth? Most have 1 to 2 years warranty and some can even have as long as 5 years. Also do ask about what the warranty covers.

Last, but not the least, did it receive good reviews from Amazon? Take note of the average rating, weigh in the pros and cons, and know if the price value is all the worth for the compact router.

Our Pick

dewaltdwt
Jen’s Top Pick: DEWALT DWP611 1.25 HP Max Torque Variable Speed Compact Router

Having a 1.25 HP Max Torque, the DEWALT runs with variable speed control and the motor is soft starting – the compact router maintains speed throughout the operation. Its motor is highly durable and built for tough industry applications so you can rest assure this will be useful in the workplace or even at your home garage. It allows for 1/64 inch depth on the adjustment ring and the very convenient dual LEDs help you see better on whatever you are working on. Aside from that, the clear sub base also adds on work visibility.

The DEWALT compact router includes an extended 8 slot collet (1/4 inch) as well as a d-shaped sub-base for stable and flat edge running. It is truly a well-built and durable machine for a compact router and it also makes use of a spindle lock for convenience. The product dimensions of this router are 7.3 in x 5.6 in x 11.5 in and weighs 5.6 lbs. Having a 3 year limited warranty, the DEWALT comes with a wrench and user’s manual.

Who Else Likes It?

Whether you are woodworking in the industry, for a company, for a local shop or just as a hobby – you will definitely benefit from the DEWALT DWP611 1.25 HP Max Torque Variable Speed Compact Router with LED’s. The amazing features outright balances its price and you won’t be disappointed, since it can not only perform at its best, but is proven to be very durable thanks to the testimonies from the buyer reviews.

Flaws but Not Dealbrakers

It does have a few small flaws. For instance, it can be only changed by removing motor, but this not a big dealbreaker. It might also be better if it comes with a carrying case. There is also a slightly awkward base width design, but it can be worked around.

Step-up Pick

makitarouterkit
Step-up Pick: Makita RT0701CX7 1-1/4 HP Compact Router Kit

If you want a step-up pick with more features then you should try the Makita RT0701CX7 1-1/4 HP Compact Router Kit. It is meant for heavier industrial work.

With a fairly large 10,000 to 30,000 RPM variable speed control, its rack and pinion has smooth depth adjustment settings and along with it is a lock system that has a quick release feature to help user feel at ease while working on whatever is being trimmed. In addition to that, the router’s constant speed is kept because of its electronic speed control and the machine’s smooth startup using its soft-start feature will definitely put you at ease in its operation.

Bearing an industry standard compliant sub-base, you can simply change bits with ease because of its flat top design that is highly durable. With the whole router being double insulated, it makes an overall great tool for door hinges and dovetailing – the machine’s base is designed with high visibility in mind.

The plunge base has up to 1 3/8 inch depth capacity and for those who are concerned with the depth scale – it is quite easy to read. The shank router bits are sized for 1/4 inch. The Makita RT0701CX7’s slim design gives better control of the machine and operation
Having a base insert that is non-marring and highly durable to protect the material you are working on, the package of the product includes a 1/4 inch collet, plunge base, straight guide, wrench 13, tilt base set and spanner wrench. With a 1 year warranty, this powerful compact router kit combines power, accuracy, durability and user comfort.

Budget Pick

makitacompact
Budget Pick: Makita RT0701C 1-1/4 HP Compact Router

For the less budgeted woodworker, you may opt for the Makita RT0701C 1-1/4 HP Compact Router, a cheap yet effective compact router to use.

The rack and pinion movement is smooth to adjust and operate for anything and with a variable speed from 10,000 to 30,000 RPM, it’s a good buy. It also takes pride on the fact that industry compliant template guides can be used for the base. The machine maintains speed even under load pressure due to its electronic speed control.

Ergonomically shaped with a slim design to help the user gain better control of whatever material is being worked on, the Makita RT0701C has a cam lock system allows easy adjustment for depth and base and even has a soft start feature – which is ideal for better woodwork operation. In addition, durability is at its finest as the motor is made from heavy duty aluminum and runs at 6.5 amps of power and 120 V.

The package of the router includes 1/4 inch collet, 13 mm wrench, 22 mm wrench and a straight guide. With a quickly removable base and install plunge, offset or tilt base, this compact router is great for smaller profiling and other mini jobs, with the depth scales being very easy to read. In addition to its aluminum finish, the compact router is double insulated and the flat top design aids in quickly changing bits and is highly durable. Bearing dimensions of 6 in x 10 in x 8 in, it weighs 6 pounds so it’s a balanced and practical solution for edge trimming.

Small, Portable and Great for Small Jobs

portercablecompactrouter
Porter-Cable 450 1.25 HP Compact Router

Are you ready to trim some edges but want a smaller router to do the task? The Porter-Cable 450 1.25 HP Compact Router should be able to help you out. Its 1.25 hp motor is durable and also includes clamping mechanism and depth ring for better locking, coming in with a 1/64 inch depth adjustment ring. Like most portable compact routers, it also has a safe soft start feature and what’s more, the motor speed maintains constant throughout the operation.

It has a pretty good weight of only 5.4 lbs and measures 11.2 in x 7.1 in x 5.4 in dimensions. Having a voltage of 120 V, it is equipped with a 4 inch base. Sadly, this portable compact router only has a 27,000 RPM fixed speed so it’s not for wider operations. Nonetheless, it is perfect for smaller trimming jobs and is under a 2 year warranty.

Wide Variable Speed Range

boschvariablespeed
Bosch 1617EVSPK 12 Amp 2-1/4-Horsepower Plunge and Fixed Base Variable Speed Router Kit

For a good and wide range of variable speed, you can turn to the Bosch 1617EVSPK 12 Amp 2-1/4-Horsepower Plunge and Fixed Base Variable Speed Router Kit, having a variable speed from 8,000 to 25,000 RPM. The machine comes with 1/4 inch and 1/2 inch collets and has overall dimensions of 6.2 in x 19.5 in x 14.5 in, weighing in at 19.5 lbs.

Equipped with a soft start feature, it has an EVS motor and is made from sturdy aluminum construction so expect it to last for a long time. Having included fixed and plunge base chip shields, it also has a fixed base with wooden handles that have soft grip feature for plunge base. When you order the product, it comes with a rugged carrying case, chip shields, as well as a t-handle adjustment wrench (hex height), collet chucks, other wrenches, fixed and plunge bases. The Bosch 1617EVSPK is under 1 year warranty (including service protection plan) and they also have a 30 day money back guarantee program.

Dual Mode, Easy Switch from Plunge to Fixed-Base

tritondualmode
Triton TRA001 3-1/4 HP Dual Mode Precision Plunge Router

The Triton TRA001 3-1/4 HP Dual Mode Precision Plunge Router is a pretty good model if you absolutely need an easy switch – the dual mode allows quick change from plunge to fixed base router with single button operation and rack and pinion. This machine features direct reading and has a 3 stage turret for precision depth cutting. Being equipped with a fine depth adjustment with the use of a micro winder within the plunge mode, almost all cutter types are accommodated because of its variable speed. Like most models we have here, it has a soft start feature.

The air vents are solid and reduces dust and debris getting into the motor, which is important with woodworking so that it does not interrupt the quality of your machine. It also has an automatic spindle lock for quick bit change and is built with a sturdy base. The TRA001 runs at 2,400 watts and with a motor power of 3.25 hp. Having a plunge range of up to 68 mm or 2.6 in, it also has a 1/4 inch reducer and 1/2 inch collet included. Adding to that, the cut zone is protected with an enclosed guarding and its fence is multi-function and well built for handheld cutting. The TRA001’s product dimensions of 10.2 in x 12.9 in x 11.4 in, weighs 13 lbs and is under a 1 year warranty.

Less Noise Compact Router

hitachirouter
Hitachi KM12VC 11 Amp 2-1/4-Horsepower Plunge and Fixed Base Variable Speed Router Kit

If you absolutely must stay quieter in your workshop then Hitachi KM12VC 11 Amp 2-1/4-Horsepower Plunge and Fixed Base Variable Speed Router Kit might be the one for you. Available in plunge and no-plunge, it easily maintains constant speed and RPM throughout load and operation. The motor is 11 amp and is 2-stage and it runs on max 2 1/4 hp. It is proud to have a79.5 dB noise level which makes it quieter than most compact routers.

Coming along with with 1/2 inch and 1/4 inch collets, it has a variable speed range of 8,000 to 24,000 RPM (no load) and can do up to 2.6 inch plunge stroke. With a fixed base weight of 7.3 pounds and plunge base weight of 9.9 pounds, it is in green color, having 4 in x 22.2 in x 15 in dimensions with 120 V. An ergonomic and comfortable design due to its light weight, it gladly accepts guide bushings. The motor comes with collet chucks, fixed and plunge bases, 7 template guides, various wrenches (10 mm, 23 mm, 4 mm hex bar, 16 mm), case, sub-base, 10 hex socket bolts, centering gauge and lock nut. This feature-packed router comes with a 5 year warranty.

Has Effective Dust Collection Feature

dewaltdustcollection
DEWALT DW618PKB 2-1/4 HP EVS Fixed Base/Plunge Router Combo Kit with Soft Start

The DEWALT DW618PKB 2-1/4 HP EVS Fixed Base/Plunge Router Combo Kit with Soft Start is perfect for keeping the workshop clean as possible. Built with a 12 amp motor, it has a depth adjustment that allows for 1/64 inch for precision, equipped with a max 2 1/4 hp motor at 120 V. The dust collection system collects 95% of the debris and keeps the bit highly visible throughout the operation and the machine’s steel motor is highly adjustable with the base change and depth. It can do up to 8,000 to 24,000 RPM variable speed. Like most compact routers, it runs at constant speed due to its electronic speed.

Built with a heavy duty die-cast aluminum base, the collets have 8 slots and the machine’s turret stop is adjustable. The package of the product includes 1/4 inch and 1/2 inch collets, vacuum adapter, sub base with large hole, carry bag, fixed and plunge bases and motor pack. It has an 18.4 lbs weight, dimensions of 21.9 in x 6.9 in x 12.6 in and 3 years warranty (limited).

Gradual Start System

blackdeckerplunge
Black & Decker RP250 10-Amp 2-1/4-Inch Variable Speed Plunge Router

The Black & Decker RP250 10-Amp 2-1/4-Inch Variable Speed Plunge Router has a gradual start for high precision and control over whatever material you are working on. It is relatively cheap compared to other compact routers and runs on a 10 amp motor. Very suitable for decorative cutting, this small but useful router comes with 1/4 inch collet, edge guide (adjustable) and wrench. Having 11.9 in x 11.5 in x 6.6 in dimensions, it weighs 10.9 lbs and has 8,000 to 27,000 RPM variable speed running at 120 V. Because of its price and features, it is only suitable for mild, hobbyist use and not recommended for industrial or heavy use. It is under a 2 year warranty.

Palm Grip Router with Variable Speed

boschpalmgrip
Bosch PR20EVSK Colt Palm Grip 5.6 Amp 1-Horsepower Fixed-Base Variable-Speed Router

With a 15,000 to 35,000 RPM variable speed, the Bosch PR20EVSK is a palm grip compact router that has a 5.6 amp motor which runs at 1 hp. It includes pockets for finger support, making it user-friendly and an easy depth adjustment system. Also having a soft start feature and maintains constant speed even under load, this machine has a max diameter of 1 5/16 inches and uses a quick lock system.
Being made from sturdy aluminum construction, it has a soft grip for easy handling of the router and the material you are working on. It also includes spindle lock for easy bit change and it runs on120 V and 750 watts. The package includes collet, shaft and collet wrenches, straight edge guide, fixed base, user’s manual and router case. It weighs 11.8 lbs and with 15 in x 13 in x 8 in dimensions. It is under a 1 year warranty (replacement or repair).

The Competition

Other compact routers not only don’t have variable speed, but also are not too durable compared to what we have reviewed here. Some of them are also too pricey for their little features.

Other Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How important is having a compact router?
A: According to this comprehensive guide from Woodworkers Guild of America , you can use it for a variety of operations, such as flush trimming, inlaying, roundovers, mortising and especially if you are working on table projects. Compact routers may be small but when it comes down to it, their portability does the job well if you only intend to handle small but precise work.

In addition, this article from Wood Router Center spells out one by one all of the great advantages of owning a compact router for your woodwork. For instance, it gives versatility, a more efficient work yield, diversity, flexibility, and be able to work with various shapes and patterns unlike in traditional means. Strength, speed and stability makes a wood router all the more important on any woodworking shop.

Q: Any maintenance tips on compact routers?
A: This article from The Wood Whisperer shows a comprehensive guide on how to clean blades and router bits. Cleaning agents and concentrated cleaners are recommended, as well as thorough and regular lubrication to keep them sharp and functional.

Wrapping It Up

As a whole, we give kudos to the WEN 4208 8-Inch 5 Speed Drill Press as our best compact router simply because it’s an effective tool when it comes down to woodworking. Having neat features such as variable speed range and LED lights for better visibility makes edge trimming all worth the price.

Leave a Comment

+1
Tweet
Share
Share
Pin