Since you now have all the details on the top 10 models available on the market and know how to properly compare two models and decide which one is the best and, most importantly, which one is best fit for your needs, it’s time to look at some other buying considerations that may appear when shopping for a router.
After all, making an informed purchase is the main thing that matters and since different tools are destined for different needs and jobs, you just need to keep some things in mind and deciding will be very easy.
Before jumping into buying considerations and the different details that make one router better than the other, let’s first establish what are the types of routers available on the market.
The smallest routers available, they’re typically less powerful and most of them have a fixed base available. They’re mostly addressed for edging wood and if you’ve never operated a router before, it’s best to start with such a device.
As the name suggests, this category of tools is a bit bigger than the trim routers but smaller than the full-sized ones. You can do a lot more with them than with a trim router like cutting some patterns, making some impregnations, and you can even mount them on a table for more complicated designs.
The big guys that usually have more than 2 horsepower, these are tools that should definitely not be handled by beginners. They tend to be quite heavy and in case you’re not familiar with the way they work, accidents can happen. Both plunge base and fixed base full-size routers are excellent when mounted on a router table.
Features of the Routers
Now that we established the main types of wood routers out there, it’s time to see what you need to buy based on their features and functionalities they offer.
Since you never operated such a device before, you definitely need one that has the Soft Start function activated. This makes the router start very slowly so it will prevent any accidents from wrong handling and, at the same time, it will give you time to get used to its power before reaching high speeds.
Power of the Motor
Measured in horsepower, the power is a very important thing and it’s a good idea to check it out when you decide to buy a wood router. The highest rated routers usually have 2 horsepower or above which means a lot of torque and these are usually used for cutting a lot of wood and harder essences as well. If what you need to cut is lighter, you can just pick something under the 2 horsepower mark and it will get the job done.
The ability to vary the speed of the wood router is very important, especially if you’re at the beginning of using such a tool. It helps a lot when you need to cut different types of wood because some essences can get burnt if a too high RPM is chosen. In order to adjust the RPM speed to the material you are cutting, you need an adjustable router and you will find necessary speeds in the manual of the router or online.
There are two major types of bases for the wood routers, you have the fixed base and the plunging one. If you just want to edge wood or draw a small pattern on it, a fixed base will do the trick. But if you want to go deeper or even penetrate the wood, you will need a plunging base connected to your router. Luckily, most of the modern routers will offer you both base types at what can be considered a decent price.
Different Types of Grip
This might not be a top priority for you thinking that it’s a handle and it will do its job. Well, what if you have to cut for hours in a row? The handles can be really hard on your wrists and hands and here’s a great set of grips will help a lot. Not only with going easy on your hands but it will also improve precision quite a lot. Remember, the grip is not there only so that you can hold the router but to be able to operate it as you desire as well.
Getting the Right Router for Yourself
Since we’ve been through everything there is to know about different types of routers, their size, functions, bases, and whatnot, it’s time to see how exactly you can choose the proper router depending on your needs.
Before you get started, define exactly what is that you need to do with it. For example, if you want to build an entire room, you will need a totally different tool than if you just want to cut some wood or clean it up a bit. If we’re talking about making an edge on a piece of wood, you definitely need to go with a trim router since it’s what they are designed to do and there is no need to spend a lot of money on something bigger and heavier if you don’t need it.
If you want to run some grooves, for example, you will need a router with a plunge base and you should go with something more powerful, like a full-sized router. Another important aspect is what you will be cutting because if you need variable speed, you need to look for a router that offers this setting.
If you ever used tools before, you are familiar with the fact that the final cost is rarely the cost of the tool itself. You will most probably need all sorts of accessories and wood routers make no exception from the rule. Here are a couple of the most-used accessories you should consider buying when you decide on a router, to make sure they’re compatible.
The number of different bits a router can use is extremely high, mostly because there is one for each application. For example, there are bits of different sizes, there are bits for grooving or some that are specialized in making edges and patterns.
If you have a serious project going on, you might consider buying a table as well. These are available in a lot of sizes and shapes but it’s important to respect the budget. A table will allow you to mount the router on it, inverted, giving you the ability to maneuver the wood more efficiently and obtain far more complex shapes.
Guides and Jigsaw
Whenever you need to make precision cuts, you will need jigsaw and cuts in the vast majority of cases. You will usually find good-quality pieces in the same place you buy your router from. Guides will help keep the edges straight and well-finished.
Wood Router Maintenance Tips
If you’re not sure how to use a wood router, you should really take a look at a manual they come with as this will teach you some proper rules about operating the devices and their maintenance. It’s obvious that being a mechanical device, the wood routers will require a certain amount of care in order to keep them in top shape and always give you the same great results.
Inspect Your Router Regularly
Every time you use the router, before getting to it, make sure to take a close look at its elements and check for any damage or parts that come loose. You should check the blades and if you spot any kind of damage, these need to be replaced on the spot. In case the blade is a bit lose, use the wrench to fix it back into position as that will cause damage to your router and project.
Then move to the cables and make sure that they’re not presenting any damage. In case you find any damage, it’s better to replace it entirely even if that often means taking your router to a service.
Clean the Router Regularly
Just as an inspection is mandatory before using the router, as soon as your job is done and you are ready to call it a day, remember that you need to clean the router first. Nowadays, the process is very simple as you can use a pressurized air can – which can be found in any hardware or even IT store – and push out all the dust. If you notice there’s a lot of dust inside the router, you can go as far as to unscrew it to make sure you do a proper cleaning job. Leaving your router dirty for too much time will lead to clogging and overheating.
When cleaning the router, you need to make sure that you clean the collet as well. As a part that holds the blade in place, it’s important to make sure it’s clean and working properly. You need to be very neglecting with your collect in order for it to break or let the blade lose, however, the opposite can happen quite fast and your blade might get stuck there.
Maintain Blades Sharpness
In the manual, you will find complete instructions on how to sharpen the blades of your router. In case you do this and consider they’re still not doing a proper job, perhaps it is time to replace them.
Lubrication Is Vital
Since it has a lot of moving parts, a very important step in maintaining your wood router in top shape implies lubrication of all the moving parts. Start with the blades and the mechanism that is surrounding them. The best method of application is applying the grease on a piece of cloth and then lubricating the desired parts. A bit of rust prevention spray won’t do any harm either as you might encounter corrosion at some time.
Store the Router Properly
Last but not least, your wood router needs to be safely and correctly stored. You will need to keep it away from dust, humidity or dirt. The best idea is to always keep it in the container it came with and place it in a room that is also heated during the colder months so that you prevent rusting.