The Best Wood Routers of 2024

Last updated: June 25, 2024

The wood router remains a must-have tool for carpenters, joiners, and DIY enthusiasts alike. Its versatility makes it a powerhouse for shaping wood, cutting intricate designs, and tackling joinery tasks. Paired with the right router bits, it can even fill the gap for some missing tools in your workshop.

The good news is that wood router technology keeps evolving. In 2024, manufacturers continue to innovate, offering features like variable-speed dials for precision control, ergonomic handles for enhanced comfort, and even interchangeable bases that expand functionality. While these advancements make routing tasks easier and more efficient, they can also lead to some confusion when choosing the right router for your needs.

This blog post will be your guide to navigating the world of wood routers in 2024. We’ll explore the different types available, highlight key considerations when making your purchase, and unveil our top picks for the best wood routers of the year.


What are routers used for?

Before exploring the different router options, let’s delve into what they do. A wood router is a handheld power tool designed for shaping and sculpting wood. Its primary function is to carve out precise grooves, channels, or cavities within your workpiece. While wood is the most common material, routers can also be used on plastic, MDF, and even some metals with appropriate router bits.

The true strength of a wood router lies in its versatility. Thanks to a wide range of interchangeable bits, these tools can transform a simple board into a piece of art. Imagine crafting intricate designs, edging details, or creating perfect joinery – all achievable with the right router and bit combination.

Some of the most common uses of routers include:

These are just a few of the most common examples, but with the right router bit, you can tackle a huge variety of woodworking jobs around the workshop and construction site!


Types Of Wood Routers

As mentioned, there are several different types of routers you can get – with the most common being plunge routers and fixed-base routers.

These differ in how they are operated, and their capabilities, however it’s important to remember that some newer models feature interchangeable bases that allow you to change from fixed to plunge base – giving you the best of both worlds!

Plunge Routers

DeWalt plunge router being used on a wooden surface

Living up to its name, the plunge router allows you to control the cutting depth by plunging the bit straight down into the workpiece. This functionality resembles a drill press, offering exceptional precision. Imagine carving intricate details or crafting precise grooves – a plunge router makes it possible!

Here’s where the magic happens: The central section of the router, housing the bit, travels down two spring-loaded guide rods. You can pre-set the plunge depth, ensuring the router only cuts to that specific measurement. This controlled depth control translates to two key benefits:

However, plunge routers do come with a caveat. Their adjustable base can take some time to master, especially for beginners. Additionally, they may have a slightly higher price tag compared to fixed-base routers. But for those seeking ultimate control and precise cuts, the plunge router’s capabilities are well worth considering.

Fixed Base Routers

Milwaukee fixed base trim router being used on a wooden workpiece

Fixed base routers, as you might expect, have a completely fixed base and cutting depth.The base and cutting depth are fixed, making it ideal for precise cuts at a consistent depth. Think of it as a specialized tool for clean and uniform routing.

While this might seem limiting at first glance, fixed-base routers have some distinct advantages:

However, the fixed depth also means these routers can’t handle plunge cuts, where you need to start the bit from above the material. While less versatile than plunge routers, fixed-base routers excel in specific tasks where precision and control are paramount.


What to look for in a router

When looking for a router, there are a number of aspects you should take into consideration, in addition to your available budget. Some of the most important factors include:

  • Collet Size – the diameter of the collet, which holds the router bit
  • Power Supply – how the machine is powered, typically batteries or mains
  • Base type – the type of base which sits on the material, providing stability
  • Variable speed control – allows for varying speed settings for different applications
  • Accessories – provide extra functionality such as dust extraction or better stability

The collet size of your router will determine the size of router bit you can use with the machine. In the UK you have two standard sizes: 1/2″ and 1/4″. Larger sized collets are less prone to slipping and are better for making larger, heavier duty cuts. Smaller sized collets allow for more precise work and finer detailing.

Power supply is a very important factor to consider. If your project requires you to work far from any wall sockets, then a cordless router powered by removeable batteries is your safest bet. If you have easy access to a wall socket however, corded options provide more power at a lower price point.

The most suitable base type for you will depend entirely on what you’ll be using the router for. Make sure to do your research, or get a model with interchangeable bases for more flexibility!

If you’re working with larger collets then variable speed control is a must. Large router bits spin more slowly and if you do not adjust your speed when needed, you risk splitting the wood. Most modern routers include this feature as standard.

Don’t forget to consider any additional accessories you may need. Dust extraction adaptors can help to keep the workplace clean and safe, and mounting feet can help to keep the machine secure and stable.


Our Top Picks

From handheld palm routers, to corded plunge router kits, these are our top picks of the best and most popular wood routers of 2024!


Makita DRT50ZX4 LXT 18V Brushless 1/4″ Router (Body Only)

The Makita DRT50 18V LXT Router is equipped with an efficient brushless motor that eliminates carbon brushes, allowing the motor to run cooler and more efficiently for longer life. This results in up to 50% longer run time, increased power and speed, and longer tool life.

  • Voltage: 18V
  • No-load speed: 10,000 – 30,000rpm
  • Plunge Capacity: 40mm
  • Weight: 2.1kg
  • Collet Capacity:  6 mm, 8 mm / 1/4″, 3/8″

DeWalt D26204K 1/4in Premium Plunge & Fixed Base Combi Router 900W 230V

The DeWalt D26204K is a Premium 1/4 inch plunge and fixed base variable speed combination router with full wave electronic speed control with feedback which ensures the selected speed is maintained under any load for a consistent finish in all grades of timber, aluminium and plastics.

  • Voltage: 230V
  • No-load speed: 16,000 – 27,000rpm
  • Plunge Capacity: 55mm
  • Weight: 2.9kg
  • Collet Capacity: 1/4″ or 8mm

Milwaukee M18 FTR-0X Fuel 18V Trim Router

The Milwaukee M18 FTR-0X offers unprecedented levels of power in a lightweight cordless package. Using Milwaukee’s REDLINK PLUS intelligence system with the REDLITHIUM-ION M18 battery system provides incredible runtime and performance, as well as a range of handy features like a variable speed dial, activate braking, and dual LED worklights.

  • Voltage: 18V
  • No-load speed: 10,000 – 31,000rpm
  • Plunge Capacity: 50mm
  • Weight: 3.6kg
  • Collet Capacity: 6mm, 6.35mm

Hikoki M3612DAJ2Z 36V Brushless 1/2″ Router

If you’re looking for maximum runtime, then the Hikoki M3612DA/JPZ is a great option. Powered by Hikoki’s MultiVolt battery technology, this machine offers fantastic performance and increased runtime, rivalling corded models. It also features a newly improved design with easier depth adjustment, convenient lock-on switch, and integrated dust collection.

  • Voltage: 18/36V
  • No-load speed: 11,000 – 25,000rpm
  • Plunge Capacity: 50mm
  • Weight: 5.8kg
  • Collet Capacity: 6mm, 8mm, 12mm

Trend T7EK 1/2″ Variable Speed Router 240V

Corded wood routers like the Trend T7EK offer consistent, reliable cutting performance, whilst eliminating the need for battery changes or charging. Suitable for precise and heavy-duty cuts, it includes a micro adustable side fence, as well as sliding cheeks for better safety and cutting accuracy. An excellent addition to any woodworker’s tool kit.

  • Power Input: 2100W
  • No-load speed: 11,500 – 28,000rpm,
  • Plunge Capacity: 50mm
  • Weight: 4.5kg
  • Collet Capacity: 1/2″

Router Bits & Accessories

Without the bit, a wood router would essentially be useless! Luckily there are a wide selection of router bits available, designed to be used for a variety of woodworking tasks including grooves, mouldings and trimmings in materials like softwood, hardwood, plywood, MDF and more! Constructed from dependable materials like tungsten carbide, these router bits are available in a selection of different sizes and pack options.

Wood routers are also compatible with a range of different accessories that help provide additional functionality and safety. Some of the most common router accessories include:


FAQs

What safety equipment should be worn when using a router?

Using the correct safety equipment is extremely important when operating any woodworking power tool, due to the harmful dust and wood chips that are produced.

When working with a wood router you should always make sure to wear the right PPE, most importantly safety glasses, hearing protection, and a dust mask or respirator. Depending on the project, you may also want to wear cut resistant gloves, and steel toe boots.

How do I keep my router in good condition?

Keeping your wood router in good condition is easy – just make sure to follow a few important steps:

How do I change router bits?

The method of changing the router bit differs slightly depending on the model, but most are similar.

Note: ALWAYS make sure the machine is powered off and disconnected before changing bits.

  1. Use an adjustable wrench to remove the plunge base and access the collet nut
  2. Loate the spindle lock lever and lock the spindle in place
  3. Use a wrench to loosen the collet nut counterclockwise until the router bit slides out
  4. Insert the new router bit all the way into the collet nut until it stops
  5. With the spindle still locked, use the wrench to fully tighten the nut clockwise
  6. Reattach the plunge base back onto the motor housing and clamp
  7. Inspect the router bit and test it works properly

We hope that this guide has helped provide a better understanding of how wood routers work and what to consider when buying one.

Make sure to tune in to our blog for regular buying guides, tool reviews, news and more!