Best Wood Routers in UK
Of all the woodworking tools available, a router is probably one of the most versatile. Most wood workers, even beginners, realize the value of having a router, and many have more than one. However, with all the different types available it isn’t always easy to determine which one is best for you. We’re going to consider a number of the features that you should be considering such as router power ratings and variable speed, router bit size, accurate depth setting with fine adjustment control and whether you should be considering a Fixed Base Router or a Plunge Router.
What is A Wood Router?
A router is a woodworking tool used to rout out an area in a piece of wood. It is able to cut grooves, edge molding, and chamfer or radius the edge of a piece of wood. It is also used for mortise and tenons, dowel joints, tongue and groove joints, box joints, and dovetails. The size and shape of the router bit and the depth relevant to the base determine the shape of cut that is created.
Consisting of a base, this houses a vertically mounted motor with a collet on the end of its shaft. The bit is mounted to the collet and is adjustable to allow protrusion through an opening in a flat sole plate, usually via adjusting the motor-mounting height. Control of the router is derived from a handle or knob on each side of the device.
Points to consider before buying a wood router
Woodworkers have it easy these days with new advances in power tool technology. Wood routers are lighter and more accurate today than ten years ago. In this article we will review the top sellers and the latest technology providing you with information so you can compare the best wood routers.
Routers can be divided into into three main types; large, mid-size and for detail and trim. Within the large and mid-sized models there are two variations, plunge and fixed base.
To determine the right model for your projects we can have a look at the types of routers and what they are designed to do.
Large routers are best used on a router table since they are fairly heavy and cumbersome to maneuver by hand. The motors are usually about 3 HP and are designed to be used with the larger bits that remove a lot of wood easily, for example raised panel bits. Variable speed motors are a must since this allows you to cut back on speed as you move to larger bit sizes.
These medium sized routers are the most versatile and can be considered an all purpose tool. Motors sizes will range from 1-1/2 to 2-1/4 HP and they can be used with a wide variety of bits. These routers are designed to be comfortably used by hand or can also be mounted to a table.
Trim routers are small and compact in design with motors powered by 1 HP or less. Trim routers are equipped with a 1/4 inch collet and are only compatible with smaller bits that will remove a minimal amount of wood at a time. Their small size and light weight makes them very easy to use for trim and detail projects by hand but don’t have the necessary power to be used in conjunction with a router table.
Types of Base
Fixed-Base V.S. Plunge-Base Wood Routers
The two basic types of wood routers are plunge and fixed. With a fixed-base router, the cut depth is set before the tool is turned on. The plunge-base router has stops that allow the extent of the plunge to be gauged. In each case, the bit cuts its way in, although the bit used in a plunge base must be shaped so it bores into the wood when lowered. Since the base is usually removable on a fixed base router this makes it easier to change the bits. You will find fixed base is well suited for projects such as beading or template work .
The plunge base routers allow the motor to slide up and down along two guides. With the motor locked on the base a level lock controls the depth of the bit. Plunge routers are best for grooves, mortises, template pattern work, stopped dadoes, and through cuts. However, the drawbacks are it’s top heavy and the handles are harder to adjust and maneuver. The fixed-base routers are preferred for their compact designs and ease of use. The main advantage of a plunge router over a fixed base is that it allows the motor to achieve the correct speed prior to making your cut. The bit can be lowered into the stock allowing cuts to be made that are in the center of the stock.
Variable speed is recommended since this feature allows you to reduce the RPM’s of the bit. Because as the size of the bit increases the more wood is removed and therefore the bit should revolve more slowly. This convenient feature will allow you to use a full range of bits effectively and safely.
When looking at routers, one of the important feature to look for is the horsepower rating of the motor. Motors range from heavy-duty, 3-1/2 hp 12 Amp units down to 1.0 hp 5 Amp machines and the more powerful the motor, the tougher the jobs you can take on – routing smoothly through the toughest hardwoods or pushing some bigger 1/2-inch shank bits through the stock. The downside of course is the size and weight of the more powerful routers.
Router bit size
The bit shank size of the router is another important factor in deciding on a router. The two most common bit shank sizes are 1/4″ and 1/2″ and you should consider the projects you want to complete and the availability of bit sizes you need for these projects. The most common shank size is 1/2″ and you will find a much larger selection of bits available in the 1/2″ size and you will also find that some of the more specialist bits (mainly used by professionals) only come in 1/2″. Luckily, many routers these days come with both 1/4-inch and 1/2-inch collets so you’ve got all the bases covered.
A soft start motor is another important feature you should look for – in addition to easier handling on start-up, it results in reduced strain and wear and tear on the motor itself, leading to longer motor life.
Routers will produce a lot of dust, and having a router equipped with a vacuum port will to save you a lot of cleaning up and and keep the residue from your eyes and nose while working, this feature is available on most newer models.
You will likely find an interchangeable collet an advantage so you can easily use both 1/2 & 1/4 inch shank bits. A soft start mechanism which allows the motor comes up to speed gradually will extend the life of your motor if you regularly use larger bits.