Wood Routers: How to decide on just one - Part 7

Let's look at some of the other features you need to keep in mind while deciding on which wood working tool router is best for you. Remember, each wood worker has their own way of doing things. Each one has their preferences and dislikes. This applies to you as well. In addition, each feature you add to a wood router also adds cost. You need to keep this in mind, especially if you have a tight budget at the time you're buying. So take a bit of time and consider if each feature fits in well with your personal style and what impact it will have on your budget.

Here are a few feature guidelines that can also help pretty much anyone narrow down their choices, including:

Important features to consider when buying a wood working router tool.

  • Power: Get as much as you need and can afford but be sure to get at least what you need. 1 HP to 2 HP are needed for hardwood cuts. Higher HP models will hold up better for heavier usage and materials.
  • Controls: When it comes to tools, being able to hang on to a tool while adjusting and manipulating it is vital. Start with, how easy it is to access and adjust the controls? Are they positioned so that you can keep both hands on the router yet still turn it off when you finish a cut? This is a safety consideration. Along similar lines, what types of handles does the wood router have? It's a matter of opinion, but many wood workers consider the D-handle as the best overall options for control and usability. If this is what you like, then having controls inside a D-handle would be best. I, personally, like the traditional two handle configuration. But, that might be because that's what I started with and feel comfortable with. Finally, look for safety switches and a lockable 'on' feature. Wood routing takes smooth continuous strokes. A lock for the on switch really helps with this.
  • Future Needs: Consider future needs such as table mounting and look for features that will meet those needs. For instance having the height adjustment available from the 'top' when you mount your wood router in a table. Two stage height adjustment and large access hole on the base are 'must haves' for a table mounted unit.
  • Other features: basics for a wood working router like soft start and variable speed control may or may not be necessary but are worth looking for. Soft start mitigates the torque you feel when the router motor first starts by ramping up the RPMs. Variable speed is important for avoiding burns on woods of various densities. You also need variable speed to lower the RPMs as the diameter of your router bit increases. Look for collets that are made of tempered steel and make sure those collets are easily accessible. Consider 'guide bushings' which are used on the router base to cut patterns or for use in a jig. They are a good idea to have and can make many jobs much easier. Remember, with bushings you must find ones that match existing standards, such as the Porter-Cable bushings, if you don't want to get locked into just what that manufacturer has available.

In closing, no matter what you wind up buying, so long as it works for you and meets your needs you should be happy for years to come. With visions of wood stock and sawdust flying I foresee many projects flowing out of your shop or garage, and your faithful wood router will be there for them all!

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