Five quick tips for a better woodworking router purchase

tips for a better woodworking router

No matter what woodworking project you are working on, there is a good chance that it will call for at least one operation that utilizes a woodworking router. 

A woodworking router is versatile for making cutouts, duplicates from a pattern, sharp edges, cut joints, decorative surface cuts, and more. There are many types of woodworking tools: palm router, fixed-based router, plunge base router, D-handle base router, handheld router, and sometimes carpenter tools. A router for woodworking has become one of the quintessential tools of any other modern woodshop.

woodworking router tips.
Image Source: YouTube

With so many routers available, sometimes it’s challenging to select the one that’s right for you. By knowing a few essential tips, we hope to provide the information needed to make your decision a little easier. We believe the selection process should be application-based. All the routers look much like the uninitiated, but the difference is in the details, and the details make all the difference. This article sets out the various factors to take sensible decisions when purchasing the best router for woodworking.

woodworking router
Image Source: Bob Vila

Purchasing checklist

  • What is your intended use?
  • Will the router be used mainly in hand? 
  • Are the collets of good quality? 
  • Does the collect plunge through the router base?
  • Is there a fine height adjuster built-in? Available as an accessory?
  • Are the handles and switches simple easy to use?
  • Is the base enough for most of the cutters you are likely to use?
  • Is there a good range of guide bushes?
  • Is the dust extractor spout supplied as standard? Is it easy to attach and detach?
  • Is the woodworking router you would like to buy is in your budget?
router
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HERE ARE YOUR 5 QUICK TIPS!

First, ask yourself what you want to do with a router woodworking tool? If your main interest is toy-making or small boxes, you will not want a cumbersome heavyweight. Conversely, if you are working commercially, making kitchen cabinets, fitted wardrobes, etc., the lightweight DIY models won’t help. So, let’s check out!

Examine the motor speed

Some routers offer single-speed operation, while the most versatile routers are equipped with variable-speed or multi-speed adjustments. The ability to adjust the speed range based on the bit diameter, type of operation being done and species of wood being machined will increase the quality of work and ensure a safe work environment. In addition, you get the great benefit of a ‘soft start’ when you switch on. Therefore, I would not consider a single-speed model with a heavy-duty woodworking router bought for general use.

Examine the motor speed
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Checking the power, switch, and handles

It would help if you had adequate power to meet your specified woodworking goals, but the benefit of high power has to be set against the disadvantage of using a heavy router for handwork. If, however, you plan to do much work with a router mounted in a table, the more power, the better because routers tend to be worked much harder on a table. 

Wood Router
Image Source: The Spruce Crafts

The simpler the switch, the better. Switches that cannot be locked in the ‘ON’ position create handheld operations and table routing problems.

Handles are all the better for being just that without carrying the switch, the plunge lock, or both.

Wood Router Tools
Image Source: The Home Depot

Discover base styles 

In many ways, The style of the base that is selected is just as important as the size of the motor that goes along with it. With several styles available, choose the one that depends on the projects or operations you plan on undertaking. For heavy-duty work, especially in a router table, the larger the base aperture, the better to allow through and to give good visibility when working.

Wood Rouer
Image Source: Wonkee Donkee Trend

Ensure best collet and plunge depth

The best collets are precision made from tempered steel and taper to fit into a tapered motor shaft. Heavy-duty routers have ½ inch collets. Those with the best-engineered type tend to offer corresponding collets for smaller shank sizes; those with poorer type tend to offer reducing sleeves for narrower-shank cutters. Unfortunately, this is not efficient as the proper collet.

How to use wood router
Image Source: The Spruce Crafts

A few routers allow the collet to be plunged through the router base, and their ‘plunge depth’ simply tells you how far the router body travels up and down on the plunge legs. If the collet can be plunged to touch the benchtop, you can’t complain. Anything more profound than this is a bonus, but anything much shorter could create problems with some operations.

best wood router
Image Source: The Architect’s Guide

Special note: Stay within budget

If you anticipate the need for utilizing multiple bases, keep in mind that most manufacturers offer combination kits that incorporate a fixed base and a plunge base in one prepackaged kit. In addition, some companies have expensive woodworking routers that maybe will not be within your budget. However, this is an excellent option because you are essentially getting two routers for woodworking at a much lower price than buying two separate routers.

woodworking tps for router
Image Source: The Spruce Crafts

As you review your options, one more thing to keep in mind is the compatibility of aftermarket accessories available for the router you are looking at. While most manufacturers will offer essential accessories like edge guides router bushings dust collection attachments, and universal subbases advanced accessories like router lifts router plates and template guides are wisely available but are brand-specific.

OUR FINAL WARNING- Due to the high degree of functionality, routers have been addictive, so don’t be surprised if you end up with two or three routers.

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