When it comes to woodworking tools, a lot of novices like to pick the most heavy-duty tools. Incidentally, a lot of them are also the most expensive ones. But if you think about it, that’s really not the right approach. Unless you’re Barney Stinson (from How I Met Your Mother), bigger is not always better.
When it comes to routers, you get to pick between freehand routers and those with a table mount. Professionals often opt for the latter. And when you’re looking to buy one of these, it’s not about making an arbitrary choice but to pick one that suits the kind of projects at hand.
Most routers are easy to mount on a table upwards but some approach it from below the table. The latter models need the insert plate to have an extra hole so that you can reach and operate the router safely.
What Is a Table Router For?
This is a machine like any other woodworking tool with a vertical spindle that spins anywhere from 3,000-24,000 rotations per minute (RPM). They are extremely useful when making cabinets and save a lot of time and effort.
A good one will always give you options to adjust so that your job is made easy. Here are some factors to keep in mind when buying one.
How to Pick a Good One?
There are quite a few good models in the market since woodworkers started to realize how advantageous these machines are. Among all of them, here’s how to pick the one that is most useful in your line of work.
- Table Size: This is perhaps the most important factor. The table is the workspace where you will use the router. Most standard table routers come with 26 x 12 inches or 24 x14 inches. This is a case of bigger is better so that you can move freely and get more done.
- Frequency of Use: If you are going to make small-scale furniture for personal use, you are likely to use it only occasionally. So, you will be okay buying a non-durable router.
But if you’re a professional carpenter, you want to get a model that offers more durability and flexibility and functions admirably for a long time.
- Compatibility: You can buy the router and the table separately. In that case, you want to check the compatibility of both items. Router tables typically come with a list. Of course, you could also buy the router and the table from the same brand and they would be perfectly compatible.
- Corded or Cordless: This is about ease of reach. Cords are pretty much the game changers in professional woodwork. Electric routers with a cord obviously have limited reach and for that reason alone, cordless routers are more convenient. So, you have a large working space, you want to get a cordless router.
- Warranty: When you’re doing heavy-duty work for professional projects, you want to make sure that with all the wear and tear, your tools are covered for warranty. Most routers come with a one-year warranty and if you reach for the stars, you can get a machine with a five-year warranty.
Whether you have a very durable router with a table mount or an average one for home projects, there are certain best practices that will see you through the finish line, time and time again.
You can get a machine in any size, color and specialty but you have to take good care of it. Here are a couple of tips to help you out.
- The power connection has to be from a safe outlet so that the machine can handle surges efficiently.
- Routers that are lightweight are likely to get hot quickly. If you’re getting one of those, time yourself and make sure the machine gets adequate breaks so that it doesn’t tap out in the middle of a project. You can also get a cooling oil for the same purpose so that you can keep going like an energizer bunny without breaks.
- Once you’re done working, wipe out the particles and dust accumulated on the too.
The Top Choices in the Market
As mentioned above, you will find routers with a table mount in different sizes, capacities and colors. Here’s a compilation of the best machines out there for you.
This is one of the best combos in the market. You can check with anyone. That’s because Dewalt has perfected the manufacture of routers for woodwork. This is an improved version that focuses on precision.
That comes from its highly capable motor with impressive torque. It is a great choice for those who want designing options and smooth cutting. You get a choice of speeds that can be adjusted according to the task at hand. The blades are high in quality and offer the accuracy you need.
It also has LED lights as a specialty which keep you in direct view of the piece you’re working on. It helps keep mistakes at a minimum if not eliminate them entirely. It is a quiet machine that can handle some serious loads.
- Motor power is an admirable 1.25 horsepower meant to work on tough applications.
- Comes with a speed control feature that can be optimized for different applications. Speed ranges from 16,000-27,000 RPM.
- There is a soft-start feature with electronic feedback that helps maintain speed while you’re cutting.
- Dual LEDs ensure maximum visibility.
- Fixed-base adjustment ring makes sure the bit depth can be controlled to 1/64 inch.
- Comes with a spindle-lock button and multiple shaft-lock detents that can handle large and low pressures equally along with smooth bit changes.
- For a fixed-base option, there is a clamping mechanism that keeps the motor in place.
- Base can be removed easily thanks to the spring-loaded release tabs.
- Can change the motor from fixed base to plunge base easily.
- Rubber handles are over-molded to provide a good grip for the plunge base option.
- With a standard base, you get 1.5 inches of depth travel and it’s 2 inches for plunge base.
- Motor housing and the base are made of aluminum which makes it durable.
- The platform for plunge-base is stable which works for heavy-duty applications.
- Comes with an extended 8 slot with a collet that’s ¼ inch to increase surface contact with the router bit. It also ensures a tighter grip.
- Durable construction
- Adjustable speed
- Better grip
- Three-year warranty
- Easy to handle because it is lightweight
- Aluminum construction can be risky if you have sweaty palms
- Its plastic case is disliked by some users
Here is another product from Dewalt that has a powerful motor equipped with a soft start feature. It is also a fixed base and plunge router that can take down a tough piece of hardwood at an adjustable speed.
That makes depth adjustments really fast and easy. You can change the bits and the base rather easily. It also has a dust collection option which not only makes visibility easy but also helps with maintenance.
- Comes with a powerful 2-¼ horsepower motor.
- Allows for 12-amp variable speeds ranging from 8,000-24,000 RPM.
- Has full feedback control and soft start that reduces start-up torque and gives you more control.
- Depth-adjustment ring allows 1/64-inch increments and can be adjusted vertically.
- Base changes and depth adjustment are made easier with the cam lock on the steel motor.
- Promises 95 percent dust collection and allows better visibility.
- Comes with quick-release latches that made removing the motor pack easy and quick.
- Has a detachable cord set.
- Brass bushings that focus on precision and guild rods that are made of case-hardened steel make the operations accurate.
- Single-wrench bit changes are made easy with the spindle lock button.
- The sub-base makes it more durable and works well with standard guide bushings.
- Overmolded handles made of rubber provide better grip and the low center of gravity makes it comfortable to use.
- Comes with a dust-sealed switch.
- Base is made of aluminum and the motor housing is coated with nickel.
- Has eight slotted collets that ensure retention and automatically get rid of frozen bits.
- Adjustable turret stops make plunge cuts smoother.
- Depth adjustment on the plunge base is 5/128 inch per turn.
- Durable construction
- Lightweight and easy to handle
- Comes with three years of warranty
- The lack of grip because of the aluminum can be uncomfortable.
This is a variable speed router that is known for power and precision. It provides a soft grip on your palm and has an ergonomic design. This one is easier to use than some of the larger routers because of its soft grip and ample power.
It is a good tool for tasks like to put roundovers, mortising and slot cutting. Like all good routers, this one also comes with variable speed control but it also has constant response circuitry that helps you maintain speed when you’re dealing with heavy-load applications. There is micro and macro fine-depth adjustment with a ¼-inch collet chuck.
- Palm router has a 1-horsepower motor with 5.6-amp variable speed control that ranges from 16,000-35,000 RPM.
- There is a straight-edge guide to help with finesse the piece you’re working on up to 2⅝ inches from the edge.
- There’s also an angled cord exit so that you can keep the cord out of your work area.
- The fixed base of the router is made of rugged aluminum that is durable, precise and solid.
- Comes with finger support pockets that keep it stable. That’s extra helpful when working on edges.
- The depth adjustment is precise and fast.
- The adjustment system has a quick clamp system so that the motor can be moved or adjusted from base to base easily.
- The fixed base can take bits up to 15/16 inches in diameter.
- You can use two wrenches at a time or the spindle lock with one wrench thanks to the bit changing system on this one.
- Come with a quick clamp lever system
- Bases can be changed easily
- Durable construction
- Does not heat up
- No dust cover on the power switch
- Not cordless
This router is all about precision and performance while keeping the router compact. It has decent horsepower and is meant for a variety of applications. It also has variable speed control with a dial.
It has electronic speed control with a smooth start up so that you can control the speed under different loads. The motor housing is made of heavy-duty aluminum and is doubly insulated.
There is a smooth rack and pinion depth adjustment system that makes it easy to read the depth scales. It has a quick-release cam lock that makes installing or removing the base easy. You will also have better visibility.
The design is ergonomic and slim. It is lightweight and has a flat top which makes changing bits easy. The shaft lock is efficient and comes with a 1/4-inch shank router bits.
- Motor is a decent 1-1/4 horsepower and the variable speed ranges from 10,000-30,000 RPM.
- Precision can be achieved with the smooth rack-and-pinion depth adjustment system.
- The body of the router is ergonomic, compact and slim which makes it comfortable to use and easy to control.
- The quick-release cam lock system makes depth adjustments and base removal easy.
- Can efficiently maintain speed thanks to the electronic speed control.
- Comes with industry-standard template guides for fixed base.
- The design is such that visibility is high.
- Motor housing is made of solid heavy-duty aluminum.
- Durable construction
- Cost-effective tool
- One year warranty
- Accurate and easy to maneuver
- Not meant for heavy-duty applications
The Bottom Line
A router with a table mounting is a good investment because it saves a lot of manual effort which in return saves a lot of time.
The cuts can be made with precision and the construction of all the models mentioned above is solid. Some are for home use while some can handle professional loads. So, take your pick.