11 Best Wood Routers – Plunge and Fixed Base (2020)

Our top Pick: The Bosch 1617EVSPK



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Our pick for the best wood router is the Bosch 1617EVSPK. It’s a tried and tested model that offers both plunge and fixed based versatility to cover all routing needs.

When selecting a router, you can choose between two options:

  • A plunge router
  • A fixed base router

A plunge router allows you to apply downward pressure on the router to increase and decrease the depth of the cut. Most have ‘stops’ at different depths, allowing you to set the depth then do your cut with downward pressure on the router.

Plunge routers are great for cutting grooves that …

The downside of a plunge router is that they’re not usually compatible with router tables. This is because they don’t work upside down, and they often do not have the required predrilled holes on the router plate required for attaching a router to a router table. There are, of course, some notable exceptions.

A fixed base router doesn’t allow the same amount of freedom to alternate your depths. You’ll usually have to stop your router, set the depth manually, then start again. However, the big benefit of a fixed base router is that it will usually fit into a router table with ease.

Overall, if you only get one router, we’d lean toward a plunge and fixed base router combo set. With these, you get the best of both worlds.

If you get a plunge router and want to use it on a router table, you could consider getting a router lift to place on your router table, as many router lifts can house a plunge router’s motor without trouble. You’ll need to check compatibility first, or simply check out our router lift guide for a compatibility table.

For more on buyers’ considerations check out our buyers guide at the end of this article.

Best Routers for Woodworking

But with the basics out of the way, here’s our review of the best wood routers on the market today:

  • Best Overall: Bosch 1617EVSPK – Plunge & Fixed Base Combo
  • Best Cordless Wood Router: Milwaukee M18 FUEL 2723-20
  • Makita RF1101KIT2 – Plunge & Fixed Base Combo
  • Milwaukee 5616-20
  • Makita RT0701C – Fixed Base Only
  • Metabo M12VC HPT – Fixed Base Router
  • Triton TRA001 – Plunge Router
  • Porter-Cable 892 – Fixed Base Only
  • Dewalt 616 – Fixed Base Only
  • Dewalt DW618PKB – Plunge & Fixed Base Combo
  • SKIL RT1323-00 – Fixed Base Only

Best Wood Routers with Plunge and Fixed Bases

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Router

Quick Review

Our Rating

1. Bosch 1617EVSPK – Plunge & Fixed Base ComboThe Bosch 1617 EVS router is a tried and tested model that offers both plunge and fixed based versatility to cover all routing needs. (Check Today’s Price on Amazon)

9.5/10

2. Milwaukee M18 FUEL 2723-20The high-end, Milwaukee M18 is a pro level router that has some unique features that a professional contractor would truly appreciate. (Check Today’s Price on Amazon)

9.5/10

3. Makita RF1101KIT2 – Plunge & Fixed Base ComboGet this router if you want a powerful, yet quiet and smooth router ideal for both home workshops and for use on the jobsite. (Check Today’s Price on Amazon)

9/10

4.Milwaukee 5616-20A lot of routers are similarly designed when it comes to ergonomics, the Milwaukee 5616-20 takes it a step further for the easiest to handle router on the market. (Check Today’s Price on Amazon)

9/10

5. Makita RT0701C – Fixed Base OnlyIf you need a lightweight, portable and versatile router for easy handling and jobs on smaller stock then the Makita RT0701C is an excellent routing tool. (Check Today’s Price on Amazon)

9/10

6. Metabo M12VC HPT – Fixed Base RouterThe Metabo M12VC is known to be a quiet, precise and ergonomic router. (Check Today’s Price on Amazon)

8.5/10

7. Triton TRA001 – Plunge RouterThis is a powerful and versatile plunge router. You can also easily table mount it for added versatility of use if required. (Check Today’s Price on Amazon)

8.5/10

8.

Porter-Cable 892 – Fixed Base OnlyPorter-Cable has long been a market leader when it comes to routing tools and the PC 892 model is a solid product that is often favored by most contractors. (Check Today’s Price on Amazon)

8.5/10

9.Dewalt 616 – Fixed Base OnlyThis is a ‘best in class’ router when it comes to control and balance. But, it’s fixed base only – no plunge feature. (Check Today’s Price on Amazon)

8.5/10

10.Dewalt DW618PKB – Plunge & Fixed Base ComboThis product is a heavy-duty router that is manufactured to look and feel both solid and durable with die-cast aluminum bases and solid steel components. (Check Today’s Price on Amazon)

8/10

11.SKIL RT1323-00 – Fixed Base OnlyThis is a basic and modern routing tool that’s ideal for first time buyers. (Check Today’s Price on Amazon)

7.5/10

Full Reviews of the Best Wood Routers

1. Bosch 1617EVSPK – Plunge & Fixed Base Combo

Quick Review: The Bosch 1617 EVS router is a tried and tested model that offers both plunge and fixed based versatility to cover all routing needs.


  • Our Rating: 9.5/10
  • 2 ¼ Peak Horsepower
  • 12 Amp Motor
  • Plunge & Fixed Base Combo

We all know that Bosch manufactures reliable and jobsite ready tools for almost any woodworking use. The 1617 EVS router is no different and is one of the most commonly used routers on the market.

The soft start with variable speeds allows for 8000 – 25000 RPM and the 2-¼ horsepower motor is easily powerful enough to handle most woodworking jobs.

This model is quick and easy to change between a fixed or plunge base. The locking clamp opens up, you simply press in a tab and the router unit comes out effortlessly.

best punge routerChris Says: “The Bosch 1617EVSPK is intuitively designed, versatile and powerful. What’s not to like? We personally love the idea of this one as a daily-use router for our shop.”

You’ll also find the power cord can connect from the left or the right (or front to back depending on how you look at it) side allowing you to comfortably switch which hand you use for much safer routing.

A simple to use micro-adjustment knob takes the hassle out of coarse adjustments and gives you plenty of control and precision to effortlessly set the coarse height.

Another nice feature is that when table mounted, a t-handle tool can be used to still easily make those micro-adjustments to the coarse height, just make sure the collar lock is in the open position.

Compatible router tables and router lifts: A benefit of this model is its compatibility with major router lifts and router tables (when in fixed base mode). Compatible router lifts include the JessEm Mast-R-Lift, Kreg PRS5000, JessEm Rout-R-Lift, Rockler Pro and Rockler FX.

It is also compatible with major router tables including the Skil RAS900, Bosch RA1181, RA1171, Kreg PRS1045 & PRS2100 (drill your own holes) and GoPlus FM31495 (universal clamp).

Pros

Cons

Micro-Adjustments: The easy to use micro-adjustment knob makes height changes quick and effortless.

Tool-free Changes: The tool-free locking clamp allows you to change between a plunge or fixed base in only a few seconds.

Well Manufactured: This router is certainly not new to the market and the initial design and manufacture quality has seen this become one of the most used and reviewed routers available.

Misleading: The product description and box state that you get a ½” and ¼” collet however many have claimed to only receive the ½”.

2. Milwaukee M18 FUEL 2723-20

Quick Review: The high-end, Milwaukee M18 is a pro level router that has some unique features that a professional contractor would truly appreciate.


  • Our Rating: 9.5/10
  • Cordless – Requires M18 Battery (sold separately)
  • 1 ¼ Peak Horsepower
  • Fixed Base Only

A cordless router? Yes, Milwaukee is known for their powerful cordless tools in the M18 range and the router is a very welcome addition. You won’t find many cordless routers due to the high power requirements so this is a truly pro level router.

If you are looking for increased accuracy, this product finally features an LED lighting system to give a clear view of the workspace and bit, something professionals have wanted for years.

The brushless motor and Redlink PLUS intelligence allows for power that matches a corded router with the technology (protected for overloads and overheating) for tool longevity.

best fixed base routerChris Says: “We really like that this model is cordless. While its peak HP is lower than many on this list and it’s fixed-base only, the fact it’s cordless really won us over.”

Variable speeds of 10,000 – 31,000 RPM is one of the best in class for maximum control with all bits and types of wood stock and the micro depth adjustments of 1/64” is incredibly easy to use.

This is one of the best contractor routers on the market for handheld use and if you are already working with the Milwaukee M18 range, it should be a no-brainer purchase.

One thing to keep in mind is that most major router lifts and tables do not explicitly state compatibility with this router.

Pros

Cons

Portability: A cordless router is ideal for jobsite use and you are no longer restricted to the workshop.

Dual LED Lighting: The LED lighting gives maximum visibility of the router bit and workspace for increased accuracy.

Variable Speeds: 10,000 – 31,000 RPM is one of the best in class for a large variety in routing needs.

Contractor Ready: This tool is made with contractors in mind with efficient and ergonomic changes really making an advancement on the older router designs.

Battery Not Included: If you are already making use of the M18 range this won’t be an issue but if not, this will add to the initial cost of this product.

3. Makita RF1101KIT2 – Plunge & Fixed Base Combo

Quick Review: Get this router if you want a powerful, yet quiet and smooth router ideal for both home workshops and for use on the jobsite.


  • Our Rating: 9/10
  • 2 ¼ Peak Horsepower
  • 11 Amp Motor
  • Plunge & Fixed Base Combo

The Makita RF1101KIT2 is a professional grade router that is both smooth and satisfying to use.

Ergonomics have definitely been a key feature with this product and the plunge lock lever is conveniently located for operation whilst the variable speed dial is clearly visual and quick to use.

This router is one of the smoothest routers on the market which is surprising considering the powerful motor. The soft start feature contributes to the smoothness of use but also the well positioned controls allow for ergonomic handling.

The powerful 2-¼ HP, 11 Amp motor is one of the quietest in class making the tool easy on the ears whilst still packing power for tackling large jobs.

Chris Says: “This tool has a lot of great features however we feel that the upper end price might be too much for some budgets which is the only thing that holds us back from rating it higher.”

Compatibility with router tables and router lifts: This model is not compatible with many major router lifts. If you want to pair it with a router lift, consider the Rockler Pro Router Lift which explicitly states it’s compatible.

However, it should be compatible with major router tables including the Skil RAS900, Bosch RA1181, RA1171, Kreg PRS1045 & PRS2100 (drill your own holes) and GoPlus FM31495 (universal clamp).

Pros

Cons

Ergonomic Controls: A visual and easily located variable speed dial works nicely with the conveniently located plunger lock level.

 Satisfying Use: This tool runs smoothly and is also surprisingly quiet given the powerful motor. The best way to describe using this tool is definitely satisfying.

 Long Tool Life: The ball bearing manufacturing gives this tool a longer life for more value for money (which offsets the premium price).

Premium Price: The Makita RF1101KIT2 is a premium priced tool that might be out of some hobbyist (or professional) woodworkers’ price range.

Top Heavy: This router is quite top heavy and therefore not as easy to control as those with a lower center of gravity design.

4. Milwaukee 5616-20

Quick Review: A lot of routers are similarly designed when it comes to ergonomics, the Milwaukee 5616-20 takes it a step further for the easiest to handle router on the market.


  • Our Rating: 9/10
  • 2 ¼ Amp Motor
  • 13 Amp Motor
  • Fixed Base Only

Right off the bat we need to point out the enhanced ergonomics with this router. it features the oversized rubber handles for a comfortable and controlled grip however, this product goes one step further with a rubber grip and hand strap attached to the motor casing.

This combination of simple additions means that you have maximum control and comfort over this router regardless of your routing angle or stock.

A push button allows for quick depth adjustments if you are doing freehand work or you can use the more accurate micro-adjustment knob for precision based work. The included T-bar tool also allows for above the table adjustment.

Chris Says: “The powerful 13 Amp, 2-¼ HP motor will easily handle most jobs and is one of the best all-round routers on the market. We feel the Milwaukee 5616-20 would serve both contractors and hobbyists well.”

Compatibility with router tables and router lifts: This model is not compatible with many major router lifts. If you want to pair it with a router lift, consider a ‘universal’ router lift such as the JessEm Mast-R-Lift or Kreg PRS5000.

However, it should be compatible with major router tables including the Skil RAS900, Bosch RA1181, RA1171, Kreg PRS1045 & PRS2100 (drill your own holes) and GoPlus FM31495 (universal clamp).

Pros

Cons

Rubber Hand Grip: This very simple feature with the hand strap gives a greatly increased control over this tool.

Depth Adjustment: Three way depth adjustment allows for either speed or precision depending on the task.

Powerful: The 13 Amp, 2-¼ HP motor is one of the most powerful in this class allowing for smooth and powerful routing.

Power Switch Cover: The power switch does not have a dust cover making it susceptible to breaking over time.

5. Makita RT0701C – Fixed Base Only

Quick Review: If you need a lightweight, portable and versatile router for easy handling and jobs on smaller stock then the Makita RT0701C is an excellent routing tool.


  • Our Rating: 9/10
  • 1 ¼ Peak Horsepower
  • 6 ½ Amp Motor
  • Fixed Base Only

Lightweight, portability and versatility are the three features that stand out with this router and even more importantly, the Makita RT0701C is incredibly affordable for all of the features that it packs.

Something we first need to point out is that this isn’t the most powerful router on the market and only comes with a ¼” collet so keep that in mind if you work with large stock and need something more powerful to do the job.

This router weighs in at only 4 lbs with a slim and ergonomic design meaning that you have maximum precision and control during use.

A rack and pinion adjustment system allows for smooth and fine depth adjustment whilst an easy to read dial makes this depth adjustment fast and seamless.

This is a handheld tool for precision however it still packs sufficient power (though not as much as some others on the market). The 1-½ HP motor supports variable speeds of 10,000 – 30,000 RPM for use with a wide range of bits and the soft start offers a smooth and controlled start regardless of the power requirements.

One thing to keep in mind is that most major router lifts and tables do not explicitly state compatibility with this router.

Pros

Cons

Lightweight: Weighing in at only 4 lbs means you can control this tool with ease for precision work.

Price: An affordable and incredibly versatile tool that is perfect for contractor detailing work or larger hobbyist home projects.

Precision: This handheld tool allows for precision routing for fine, detailing work.

¼” Collet Only: This product only comes with a ¼” collet and not the additional ½” collet that many others on this list include.

Power: The 1-¼ HP, 6-½ Amp motor is not the most powerful so this is better suited to working with smaller stock.

6. Metabo M12VC HPT – Fixed Base Router

Quick Review: The Metabo M12VC is known to be a quiet, precise and ergonomic router.


  • Our Rating: 5/10
  • 2 ¼ Peak Horsepower
  • 12 Amp Motor
  • Fixed Base Only

The Metabo (formerly Hitachi) M12VC fixed base router is a well balanced router that is a no-frills model (comes with minimal accessories in the box) but has more than enough features to suit most routing needs.

This router is light enough to move around with ease whilst also being heavy enough for stability, this evenly balanced design makes it incredibly easy to handle this tool.

This is a surprisingly low cost, mid-range router that packs a powerful 2-¼ HP, 11 Amp motor for powerful, accurate and more importantly affordable routing.

Along with Makita, the Metabo M12VC is one of the quietest routers on the market with peak noise levels of only 79.5dB.

It might be quite basic in design and function but make no mistake, Metabo produces high quality products at affordable costs and this router will cover all your mid-range needs and is ideal for both hobbyist woodworkers and contractors alike.

One thing to keep in mind is that most major router lifts and tables do not explicitly state compatibility with this router.

Pros

Cons

Weight Balance: The weight balance and distribution on this router means it is really easy to handle whilst still being stable during use.

Low Cost: For a mid range router the Metabo HTP comes with a very affordable price range which will satisfy the needs of many home workshops.

Quiet: With decibels reaching only 79.5dB during use, this is one of the quietest routers available in this power bracket.

No-Frills: It’s quite a basic model so don’t be surprised by that when unboxing it.

Additional Tools Required: This doesn’t come with any adjustable wrenches for bits and therefore you’ll need the right tools before you can use it the first time.

7. Triton TRA001 – Plunge Router

Quick Review: This is a powerful and versatile plunge router. You can also easily table mount it for added versatility of use if required.


  • Our Rating: 8.5/10
  • 3 ¼ Peak Horsepower
  • Plunge Base Only

The Triton TRA001 is a dual function, powerful plunge router. The 3-¼ HP means you can tackle difficult workpieces while the soft start and variable speed allow for both power and control with this router. 

The dual mount feature of this product allows for use as a plunge router or it can be table mounted for added versatility of use.

You’re also getting an added safety feature with this router as the safety switch shutter locks into place during bit changes to prevent any accidental power-on.

Adjustments are incredibly easy with this model, the collet and bit adjustment lock into position when in the fully plunged position meaning you only require one wrench for bit changes which is an effortless process.

The rack and pinion adjusting system give 3 different ways to adjust the height/depth making it simple to get highly accurate and locked in depths for precise work. A push button, twist handle or micro winder all allow for the height to be changed as quickly or as accurately as you require.

One thing to keep in mind is that most major router lifts and tables do not explicitly state compatibility with this router.

Pros

Cons

Minimized Dust: Side air vents minimize the amount of dust intake into the motor casing.

Safety: The safety switch shutter locks closed during bit changes to prevent accidental power-on.

3 Way Adjustments: 3 different ways to adjust the height mean you have the flexibility to operate with speed or accuracy depending on the type of work you are doing.

Stiff Fence: The fence is very stiff and stubborn when attaching. It’s good for security when routing but it’s a lot of effort to adjust and attach. (Consider just getting an after market router table fence from our list of the best router table fences).

8. Porter-Cable 892 – Fixed Base Only

Quick Review: Porter-Cable has long been a market leader when it comes to routing tools and the PC 892 model is a solid product that is often favored by most contractors.


  • Our Rating: 8.5/10
  • 2 ¼ Peak Horsepower
  • 12 Amp Motor
  • Fixed Base Only

The PC 892 is a revamped model from the previous series of routers and comes with modern features many contractors will love.

The 2-¼ HP motor supplies variable speeds of 10,000 – 23,000 RPM for ease of use with most sized bits. The slow start function combines with the electronic variable speeds for maximum control during all routing jobs.

Speed of adjustments are also key with this tool, in just seconds you can release the motor, change the bit and lock the spindle. The spindle lock is particularly useful for time efficiencies as this feature utilizes single wrench adjustments.

The only point to note is that the 3/16” hex socket used to make above the table adjustments is unfortunately sold separately so keep this in mind when costing the product (and your budget) up.

The dual-position switch on this motor is something we particularly like in terms of attention to finer details. This convenient positioning of the power switch allows you to shut down the tool with both hands still on the handles in order to still maintain full control of the tool.

Rubber grip handles, the dual-position power switch and single wrench spindle lock all make for an ergonomic and quick to use router.

Compatible router tables and router lifts: A benefit of this model is its compatibility with major router lifts and router tables (when in fixed base mode). Compatible router lifts include the JessEm Mast-R-Lift, Kreg PRS5000, JessEm Rout-R-Lift, Rockler Pro and Rockler FX.

It is also compatible with major router tables including the Skil RAS900, Bosch RA1181, RA1171, Kreg PRS1045 & PRS2100 (drill your own holes) and GoPlus FM31495 (universal clamp).

Pros

Cons

Dual Power Switch: A cut off switch that’s located in two convenient positions allows for quick power off whilst maintaining control of the tool.

Warranty: A 3-year warranty gives full peace of mind with this tool that makes it ideal for contractors who will really put it to the test on a daily basis.

Ergonomic: The rubber grip handles and dual-position power switch allow for maximum control whilst a single wrench spindle lock system combined with clasp release motor allows for speed of adjustments.

Key Components Sold Separately: The hex socket and 75301 kit for above the table adjustments are sold separately.

Horsepower: In this price range there are other products that are more powerful if that’s what you are looking for in a router.

9. Dewalt 616 – Fixed Base Only

Quick Review: This is a ‘best in class’ router when it comes to control and balance. But, it’s fixed base only – no plunge feature.


  • Our Rating: 8.5/10
  • 1 ¾ Peak Horsepower
  • 11 Amp Motor
  • Fixed Base only

The Dewalt 616 router might not be the most powerful motor on the market but what you are getting with this router is increased control, balance and accuracy during use.

Large, overgrip rubber handles are incredibly ergonomic in design and allow for maximum comfort during use whilst the low centre of gravity means that this tool is one of the easiest to control during use.

Chris Says: “When you walk into others’ shops, you’ll often see a Dewalt 616 or 618 model on their shelf. These routers are wildly popular and, as a bonus, are compatible with a very wide range of router tables and router lifts.”

The right or left switch and cord location make this tool easy to operate from all angles and the micro-adjustment ring adjusts vertically as well to ensure the power/cord placement is always constant.

If you are looking for a comfortable and easy to use router then this product is worth a good hard look.

Compatible router tables and router lifts: A benefit of this model is its compatibility with major router lifts including the JessEm Mast-R-Lift, Kreg PRS5000, JessEm Rout-R-Lift, Rockler Pro and Rockler FX.

It is also compatible with major router tables including the Skil RAS900, Bosch RA1181, RA1171, Kreg PRS1045 & PRS2100 (drill your own holes) and GoPlus FM31495 (universal clamp).

Pros

Cons

Ergonomic: Large rubber handles and a lower motor center of gravity makes this tool incredibly easy to control during use.

Versatile: The right and left switch and cordset combined with a micro-adjustment depth ring that also works vertical means that your positioning is always constant.

Highly Rated: This is one of the highest rated routers on the market with very few users finding faults with the product.

Micro Adjustment Ring: The micro-adjustment ring for depth is not as easy to use as the more common micro-adjustment knob.

Sub-Base Concentricity Gauge: This item is not included as the description states.

10. Dewalt DW618PKB – Plunge & Fixed Base Combo

Quick Review: This product is a heavy-duty router that is manufactured to look and feel both solid and durable with die-cast aluminum bases and solid steel components.


  • Our Rating: 8/10
  • 2 ¼ Peak Horsepower
  • 12 Amp Motor
  • Plunge & Fixed Base Combo

The Dewalt DW618PKB is a solid and heavy-duty router featuring a soft start, multi-base combo pack and a 2-¼ HP motor.

This combination product features both a fixed and plunge base and the build quality is excellent with most parts made from solid steel or aluminum for added durability and making this a heavy-duty tool. The ½” and ¼” collets also allow for added versatility in use. 

The dust collection on this router collects 95% dust allowing for clear visibility of the bit at all times for accurate work.

The ergonomic rubber handles are both comfortable and allow the user to generate maximum force and control whilst still maintaining a central balance and center of gravity over the tool.

Chris Says: “Here’s the router set for true Dewalt fans – and we know there’s plenty of you out there (we are, too!). If you’re rusted onto Dewalt and want a fixed base, plunge router combo, take a good hard look at this one.”

It’s worth pointing out that we have heard some people complain about parts of this tool breaking easily which is quite surprising, most parts are designed to be heavy-duty and it’s unlike Dewalt to produce a ‘flimsy’ product so we are giving them the benefit of the doubt with this product.

Compatible router tables and router lifts: A benefit of this model is its compatibility with major router lifts and router tables (when in fixed base mode). Compatible router lifts include the JessEm Mast-R-Lift, Kreg PRS5000, JessEm Rout-R-Lift, Rockler Pro and Rockler FX.

It is also compatible with major router tables including the Skil RAS900, Bosch RA1181, RA1171, Kreg PRS1045 & PRS2100 (drill your own holes) and GoPlus FM31495 (universal clamp).

Pros

Cons

Dust Collection: The dust collection on the ring collects 95% dust allowing for clear visibility of the bit at all times.

Ergonomic: The rubber handles and low center of gravity allow for maximum comfort and control during use.

Heavy-Duty: The die-cast aluminum bases are complemented by solid steel locking attachments and components for a solid look and build quality.

Dewalt Specific Power Adaptor: The power cord has a non-universal fit meaning you need to use Dewalt specific replacement parts if needed.

Quality Control: Some people have reported this tool breaking after only a short period of use which is very uncommon in most Dewalt products.

11. SKIL RT1323-00 – Fixed Base Only

Quick Review: This is a basic and modern routing tool that’s ideal for first time buyers.


  • Our Rating: 7.5/10
  • 2 Peak Horsepower
  • 10 Amp Motor
  • Fixed Base Only

The Skil RT1323-00 fixed base router is an ideal tool for first time buyers and those that are relatively new to routing.

The no-frills tool is highly rated and has all the basic/modern functions that will help ease you into routing with minimal effort. Soft start and variable speed functions help keep control with speeds of 10,000 – 25,000 RPM.

A built-in vacuum port is a great feature for keeping your bit vision clear through dust extraction, particularly for those that are yet to make their own dust extraction system.

The three coarse depth setting adjustment is not as simple or efficient to use as some other routers however, the micro-adjustment knob means that you can dial in your adjustment with accuracy despite this.

Chris Says: “Overall, we feel this is a highly quality product that is reliable and has all the basic features that we’d want to tackle most routing jobs. The fact it’s not explicitly compatible with major router tables does give us pause.”

One thing to keep in mind is that most major router lifts and tables do not explicitly state compatibility with this router.

Pros

Cons

Live Tool Indicator: A light up indicator shows when the tool is live to prevent accidental start ups.

Built-in Vacuum Port: The built-in vacuum port helps with dust extractions and keeps your bit vision clear during work.

Ease Of Use: The live tool indicator, soft start and ergonomic handle design means this tool is incredibly easy to use even for complete beginners.

Confusing Specs: The speed variations are 10,000 – 25,000 RPM so don’t be confused when you see some product descriptions state 0 – 25,000 RPM like we’ve seen.

Depth Adjustment: Not as simple or efficient as some other models though the micro-adjustment knob does help.

What to Look for in a Wood Router

Fixed Base vs Plunge Base

A fixed base router has one huge advantage: it will (likely) fit with many common router tables. If we were to be getting a router that we know we will be mounting on a table, we’d probably choose a fixed base router personally. But a plunge router has its own great advantage: you can control and adjust the depth of your cuts very easily. So, if we were to be using the router primarily by hand, we’d lean toward a plunge router.

Then there’s the great advantage you could get from buying a combo router set where you can swap it out between fixed and plunge base, meaning you can get the best of both worlds.

Compatibility with Router Tables

This is one of the hardest things to get your head around. In the reviews above, we’ve listed compatibility with several of the most common and best router tables on the market today. But if you’re really leaning toward getting a router specifically for a table, you might want to check out our detailed post on the best routers for table mounting. Just be aware that some routers are much harder to mount on tables than others. In particular, if you’ve got a particularly wide one or a plunge router where the motor cannot be removed from the base and placed in a router lift, then you might find table mounting very difficult.

Similarly, if you’ve bought a palm router (see our review of the best compact router tools), you might need to mount it in a router lift as palm routers are often incompatible with router table plates. Our pick for the best router lift is the Jess-Em Mast-R Lift II, which has a near universal fit.

Power, Soft Start and Electronic Variable Speed

The first thing to be aware of when it comes to power is routers advertise max horsepower, not constant horsepower. So, if you get a 2 HP router, it’s not always going to be giving that consistency of power. Overall, expect peak horsepower of somewhere between 1.5 and 3 HP for a regular router, but lower for a trim router (if you’re interested in a trim router, see our review of the best palm routers).

Soft start and electronic variable speed (EVS) are two more essentials we look for in a router.

‘Soft start’ means it’ll take a few seconds for your router to reach its maximum power and speed. This minimizes the torque on startup, lowers the chances of the router from ripping out of your hands, and decreases wear on the router itself.

Many routers these days have EVS, meaning you can control the rotation speed of the router bit. If we’re working on material that burns easily, we like to lower the speed to get optimal results.

Micro-Adjustable Depth

The ability to adjust the depth of your groove with ease is important to us. With a plunge router, you often can micro adjust the stop points to swap out between them easily. Many other routers have dials for micro-adjustments with ease. We really like these micro-adjustment dials because they allow for enhanced precision. Overall, most routers these days have really good quality and fast micro-adjusters. 

Easy Bit Change

Changing the bit can be a real pain. Some tools require two wrenches, others allow for tool-free changes. Keep your eye on the bit change mechanism and how easy or difficult it appears to make your bit changes.

Safety Note

Routers are inherently dangerous. Make sure you follow the instructions on the router that you buy, and get training on how to use it. We’ve reviewed the features of several example routers here, but we cannot provide personalized advice on which routers are safer for you and your circumstances – that’s something you’ll need to have a think about before making your own purchase for your circumstances.

Final Thoughts

Thanks for stopping by and checking our review of the best wood routers in the plunge and fixed based categories. On balance, we’d get the Bosch 1617EVSPK if we were to buy a new router today. We like that it comes with both plunge and fixed base options and is compatible with many router tables. On balance, its great reputation and reliability won us over.

Don’t forget that this review has provided examples for our circumstances only, and doesn’t constitute advice professional or otherwise for your circumstances. We encourage you to do your own research and make an informed decision.

Good luck!

Cheers,
Simon & Chris