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What Woodworking Router Do I Need? a clear types overview

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A router is an increasingly important tool in any modern woodworking workshop. This power tool allows you to make cuts and joints much faster than you could with hand tools. Switching to a woodworking router is thus a wise decision. However, with so many woodworking router types on the market, it can be difficult to choose the one that is best for you. So, you’re probably wondering, “What woodworking router do I need?”

It is sufficient to investigate two important factors to determine which woodworking router you require. The first step is to determine what type of motor is required for the work you intend to do. Furthermore, you should consider whether you will require a fixed base or a plunge base. Only after you’ve determined this can you compare the various brands based on their properties.

This article contains all of the information you need to choose the right woodworking router types as well as the base you need for the jobs you want to do in your woodworking workshop to help you make an informed decision. If you found this article while searching for it, you’ll have the answer to the question “What woodworking router do I need?” in minutes.

What is a woodworking router?

Before diving into this blog to give a clear answer to your question what woodworking router do I need, it is good to understand what exactly is meant by a woodworking router. That is why I will briefly outline what a woodworking router is below, and you will also be able to discover what this powerful tool can be used for later in this article.

A router is a power tool that drives a cutting bit at speeds up to 35000RPm.
The flat base of the router slides over the wooden surface, with the rotating blade protruding beyond the base.
With this rotating blade, it is possible to hollow out or retouch certain parts in the workpiece.
The distance at which the rotating blade protrudes is variable and will therefore determine the depth of the recesses.

Routers can be used in three different ways. Either these power tools can be hand-held,
hung upside down in router tables, or mounted on a computer-controlled CNC machine.
Due to the different types of router bits, which have different finishes, the router is seen as one of the most versatile tools in the woodworking workshop. In addition to wood, you can also process plastics with the woodworking router.

What is a woodworking router used for?

Cutting Easy Dadoes

A dado is a slot or trench used to support shelves in a bookcase or cabinet invisibly. A dado is the strongest way to attach shelves; it is cut with a straight bit on a router. The tool makes it simple to cut the two most common types of dadoes: a through dado, which runs through both edges of a surface, leaving the ends open, and a stopped, or blind, dado, which ends before one or both cuts meet the surface’s edge.

Shaping Stylish Molding

Decorative moldings are the most interesting thing a router can create. Using various bits, you can create everything from simple rounded moldings to more elaborate Roman ogee or beaded patterns for doors, windows, baseboards, or chair rails. By combining different router bits, you can create beautiful and one-of-a-kind moldings. To know more about the most used router bits, I recommend you to check out my article “5 Most Important Must-Have Router Bits For DIYers | Best Buy Guide”

Re-Creating Patterns

Routers are capable of cutting patterns, grooves, and designs across multiple pieces of wood. For example, if you have a broken table or other piece of wood, you can use the router to “trace” the original piece’s outline and re-create it as many times as you like. Routers can also be used to trace intricate designs or lettering on flat pieces of wood.

Making Perfect Edges

It can be difficult to cut a clean and smooth edge on a narrow piece of wood, but a router can consistently produce a nicely finished edge. Routers are used to make straight and curved edge cuts that are even and level, and they can replicate those cuts across multiple pieces of wood.

Carving Out Clean Rabbets

A rabbet is a recess or groove cut into the edge of wood that is commonly found on the back edge of a cabinet or the sides of a bookcase. Rabbets can also be used to make door and casement window jambs, and they can be combined with a dado to form a strong joint. Most routers are compatible with a variety of rabbet bits, which cut the grooves to the desired width.
To know the difference between rabbets, dados and grooves, please read my article “Rabbet Vs Dado Vs Groove (What’s What & How To Make Them)

Recessing Door Hinges

Routers with jigs can be used to cut space for recessed door hinges or lock faceplates. Recessed hardware provides a more finished look and smoother operation. With a router, you can do these kinds of jobs much faster than you could do them by hand. When you need to make a lot of recessed door hinges, the router will be a huge time saver.

What woodworking router do i need?

There is a wide range of woodworking router types offered by different brands. Features will differ depending on the brand. For example, there are woodworking routers that work with one speed, while the most versatile routers are equipped with variable-speed or multi-speed adjustments.

If you have been following my website and YouTube channel for a while, you will have noticed that I work with a Makita 3709. This router with a fixed base can only run at one fixed speed. In some cases, for example, when I work on birchwood, this can be disadvantageous. Due to the fixed high speed, the birchwood will burn faster. However, burn spots formed by router bits depend on other properties than just speed, you can read all about it in my article “Why Is My Router Bit Burning The Wood? (+ 3 Simple Fixes)

Properties are a good basis for making a comparison once you have decided which type of woodworking router you need. If you ask yourself: what woodworking router do I need, you should first look at the router classifications and base styles. That’s what you’ll discover below.

Router Classifications

Palm Routers

These woodworking router types, which typically have 1 HP or less, are small in size but deliver impressive performance. Trimming, hinge cutouts, edge molding, slotting, small-scale dovetail cutouts, window cutouts, and decorative inlays are all possible with palm burs. 1/4 cup “or 6 mm shank bits Because of the restriction of only using 1/4 “These cutters, which have a shank diameter of 6 mm, are not suitable for larger milling operations.

What Woodworking Router Do I Need_ - Palm router Makita
What Woodworking Router Do I NeedPalm router Makita
What Woodworking Router Do I Need_ - Palm router Ridgid
What Woodworking Router Do I NeedPalm router Ridgid

Mid-Size Routers

These routers, which range in power from 1-3/4 HP to 2-1/4 HP, are the most popular size in the lineup due to their versatility and ease of use. Medium routers can perform all of the operations that Palm Routers can, as well as large-scale dovetail editing, panel cutting, template design, and circle cutting. These routers accept bits with 1/4″ or 6mm shanks and 1/2″ or 12mm shanks and are frequently available with multiple bases, as I’ll explain later in this article.

What Woodworking Router Do I Need_ - Mid size router DeWalt
What Woodworking Router Do I NeedMid-size router DeWalt
What Woodworking Router Do I Need_ - Mid size router Bosch
What Woodworking Router Do I NeedMid-size router Bosch

Full-Size Routers

These routers are the router family’s workhorses. These routers are intended for production use and are typically rated from 3 HP to 3-1/4 HP. These routers are frequently employed in milling tables or CNC operations. Because of their size, these routers can be difficult to use in everyday handheld operations. For this type of router, only router bits with shanks of 1/2″ or 12 mm can be used.

What Woodworking Router Do I Need_ - Full size router Makita
What Woodworking Router Do I NeedFull size router Makita
What Woodworking Router Do I Need_ - Full size router Milwaukee
What Woodworking Router Do I NeedFull size router Milwaukee

Base Styles

The base style chosen is, in many ways, just as important as the size of the woodworking router’s motor. When you’ve decided which type of woodworking router is best for your projects, the next step is to choose the right base. That is what you will learn in this section of the article.

Fixed Base

What Woodworking Router Do I Need_ - Fixed base
What Woodworking Router Do I NeedFixed base

The first is the fixed base, also known as the standard base. These bases are typically equipped with fixed handles or knobs on either side of the base to hold and guide the router. While these bases can be mounted on a router table, they are only useful for edge routing. When the depth is set, it cannot be changed while using the woodworking router. This type of base is also ideal for operations that require guide bushings, such as dovetail and box joints. This style base is frequently equipped with a quickly adjustable ring style depth setting.

Plunge Base

What Woodworking Router Do I Need_ - Plunge base
What Woodworking Router Do I NeedPlunge base

This style is far more versatile because it can be used for any operation that requires a fixed base, as well as operations that require the bit to be inserted into the wood away from an edge. These bases are perfect for blind grooving, ribbing, dado cuts, and tap hole operations. The motor moves up and down on machined spring-loaded columns in this style foundation’s mechanics. Typically, a dive base has multiple depth stop settings with micro-adjustments that can be fine-tuned to your exact specifications.

What woodworking router do I need – Conclusion

By investigating which type of motor is best for your jobs, as well as whether your woodworking router should have a fixed base or a plunge base, you can easily make a selection between the many woodworking router types that are offered. Once you have found the most ideal machine for your workshop, you can compare the features of the different brands and find the perfect woodworking router for your workshop. By reading this article you know exactly the answer to your question “what woodworking router do I need”.

In my opinion, you can’t go wrong with buying a palm router. These can be used very widely for all kinds of tasks. I use the palm router for a lot of tasks and really couldn’t live without it. Earlier, I made an article about how to choose the perfect palm router. I am convinced that this article will help you very well with your choice, so be sure to click through to the article “Compare & Find The Perfect Palm Router | Top 5 Best Buy Guide

In addition to the many articles, on this website, you will find a whole series that is only about woodworking routers. You can find this list here. Don’t miss these articles.


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I hope this information answers your question, what woodworking router do I need, and that this blog inspires you.

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Christophe, founder of Christofix.com
Woodworking | DIY | Home decoration

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