Without question, the router is one of the most versatile power tools in a woodworking shop. It can joint edges; cut joinery (dadoes, rabbets, splines, mortises); and trim laminates and edge banding. And a router will shape the edges and ends of a workpiece in nearly any profile. However, no single type of router performs best for every woodworking task--or for every woodworker.
No wonder readers so frequently ask us, "What type of router should I buy?" Simple question--but not so simple to answer. Why? Because the answer depends on the type and complexity of the tasks you want to perform with the tool; how often you perform them; the materials you use; and, of course, your wallet. In this article, we'll give you the lowdown so you can decide what style and power class of router best fits your needs.
Meet the family
Before you can settle on a specific router, you need to first decide from among four types: fixed-base, plunge, combination kit, or laminate trimmer. And if it seems that you need more than one, buy the most versatile type--a plunge router--and add the other later. Learn more details about each type of router when you read the article.
Deal makers and breakers
Although a basic motor-with-handles router was the norm a decade or two ago, today's woodworker demands more features. Enhancements, such as soft-start, variable-speed motors and self-releasing collets, make routers more versatile and easier to use. So, once you choose a type of router, decide how much you need each of these features:
- Variable speed
- Electronic speed control
- Soft start
- Dust collection
Learn more about choosing a router, including a "road map" that will guide you through the router forest to find the right machine for the way you work, when you pick up the June/July 2006 issue of WOOD magazine and turn to page 48. Or you can download the article for only $4.95.