The best woodworking tools do not always come in big packages. Sometimes, they are as small and portable as a compact router. Don’t underestimate this compact tool though because it can accomplish a variety of applications including cut decorative edges, fixed edges that are crooked and create profiles for joints. We made the work easier for you and looked for the compact routers that have the best features. Stick around to find out which ones we recommend.
Best Compact Router Reviews for 2020
You absolutely can’t go wrong with these compact routers:
- Bosch Colt Electronic Variable Speed Palm Router
- Dewalt DWP611 Variable Speed Compact Router
- Makita RT0701 Compact Router
- Enertwist Variable Speed Soft Start Palm Router Kit
- Makita XTR01Z Brushless Cordless Compact Router
Here are the things you should know about these compact routers:
1. Bosch Colt Electronic Variable Speed Palm Router
Bosch has successfully combined precision and power in this handy tool. It delivers versatility as well as its 1.0 HP and 5.6 amps of motor can handle a variety of tasks. Get the most out of its versatility with its variable speed setting of 16,000 to 35,000 RPM. Simply change the variable speed dial found at the top of the tool if you want to change the setting.
It might be a compact tool, but no way does it skimp on features. At the top of the features is its Constant Response Circuitry that ensures users get consistent speed settings. It automatically determines how heavy the load is in order to determine the best speed setting that will work. It has a soft start function as well to reduce jarring when set at a high torque at startup.
Built to last, this compact router will not get damaged easily, thanks to its aluminum construction.
Its depth adjustment system is one of the best out there. You can do both micro and macro adjustments, to get the precise depth you are looking for.
Maneuvering this tool is easier. There are finger pockets that provide support to your fingers while using it. You get better control over it, especially when you are trimming down edges.
The fixed base has a higher bit capacity. You can use bits with up to 1 5/16 inch of diameter.
It has a good load monitoring function. The Constant Response Circuitry determines what speed is needed to correspond with the load to achieve the best and the most consistent performance.
Adjusting the motor is easier. It has a clamp system that makes quick work of moving the motor from one base to another.
This is one of the most ergonomic routers out there, even in the compact niche. The handles are specifically designed to fit the palms well.
Simply turn the spindle lock and then use a wrench to make changing bits easier.
Its cord won’t ever get in the way. It is angled in such a way that it automatically positions away.
Setup is fast and easy.
There were those who wished the base is clear, so they can see their work area better.
2. Dewalt DWP611 Variable Speed Compact Router
With a slightly more powerful 1-1/4 HP motor, this might be a better choice for tougher jobs compared to the previous one. The difference in power might be negligible to hobbyists but professionals might find this a better-performing tool. Get the right speed setting as it can be adjusted to work within the 16,000 – 27,000 RPM speed.
With only 4.1 lbs. of weight, it is a compact and lightweight too that you should find easy to bring from one workstation to another. It also comes complete with the basic functions in compact routers you can find in others such as a soft start feature and an adjustment ring. It does have a clear base as well as integrated dual LEDs for optimum visibility.
True to its purpose, it is a compact router that you can use with just one hand. It is also lightweight enough to bring with you no matter where you go.
The manufacturer includes a 3-year limited warranty with your purchase.
The built-in LED lights are a nifty feature. You can see what you are working on better.
It has a more effective bit contact compared to other routers, even the bigger ones. That means you can get a firmer grip on it. It also eliminates too much vibration.
What makes this different from the others is its sub-base that has a D shape.
Many people said they subjected this tool to a lot of hardships, but this still remained intact.
Some said that for trimming it is slightly big. It is still easy to maneuver though but if you are used to a smaller router for trimming, you might find this a bit clunky.
3. Makita RT0701 Compact Router
A compact router with the same power as the previous one is this one from Makita. You can expect the same performance and still enjoy a compact design that is easy to transport and use. It accommodates a variety of applications as you can change its variable speed dial. It can go as slow as 10,000 RPM to as high as 30,000 RPM. Find the right speed that will match its intended application. With its Electronic Speed Control, you can be assured that this handy tool will maintain just the right speed no matter what the load is, so you can get the most consistent results.
This tool features double insulation, so no dirt can get inside it. The motor housing is made from aluminum material making this resistant to all sorts of damages. Weighing only 3.9 lbs., it is hard to top its lightweight benefits.
This is built to last. Double insulation plus aluminum housing, this has non-marring benefits that ensure your unit will last for a long time.
It features a shaft lock system that makes way for more seamless bit changes.
The design is highly ergonomic. You can hold and maneuver it with one hand only. It fits palms perfectly as well.
The rack-and-pinion depth adjustment system is one of the best. It allows you to make more accurate adjustments in depth.
You can get a 1-year warranty.
This is one of the most complete kits out there. Aside from the plunge base, you will also get an edge guide.
It is so easy to set up. You have everything you need, so you can get started in using it right after unboxing it.
The body is also very compact. It isn’t at all bulky like some compact routers.
It is lacking in an adapter to use the basic template guides out there.
4. Enertwist Variable Speed Soft Start Palm Router Kit
About half the price of the previous models, this one from a relatively unknown brand is a sterling choice for budget-conscious woodworkers and hobbyists. With its 1.25 HP, it can still deliver a lot of power. Its 10,000 to 32,000 RPM also gets a multitude of applications done.
The motor housing is made from a heavy-duty cast aluminum material in order to withstand the damage that is inflicted through daily use. One thing that you can find this compact router that you can’t find in others is its overload stalling protection feature.
It can meet even the toughest wood working demands, thanks to its comparatively powerful motor.
For a compact router with a sturdy build and loaded with features, it is cheaper. It can be a great entry-level compact router for beginners or for hobbyists out there.
You can find a lot of basic features in here such as soft start motor, variable speed setting and electric constant response. All these things contribute to its easy operations.
The overload protection comes handy as it prevents the unit from stalling. It also prevents it from burning.
You can get precise cuts all the time. Its integrated rack-and-pinion depth setting is one of the most accurate out there.
It is truly lightweight.
For its size, it comes with a lot of power.
There were those who said this might not work with aluminum metal milling work.
5. Makita XTR01Z Brushless Cordless Compact Router
Why stop at compact? Why not get a cordless and a brushless one like this choice from Makita? Because there is no cumbersome cord, it is easier to use. Don’t worry about losing battery power quickly because the brushless motor gives it up 50% more efficiency.
It still packs a punch when it comes to power and speed. Its variable speed setting can go from 10,000 to 30,000 RPM. Controlled by an electronic speed control, you get the exact power and speed you need for the job you are working on.
Aside from the fact that it is portable with its cordless function, this unit also boasts of a slim design. It has an ergonomic shape that makes it easier to grip and maneuver on your work table. The rubberized grip comes handy when your hands are sweaty.
You can see your work area easily, thanks to its integrated dual LED lights. You can work even in low-light conditions.
The aluminum housing makes this resistant to impact and external damages.
A lot of users commend its versatility. They were able to use this to do the work of a bigger router and did not have issues with it at all.
It comes with a dust collector attachment and many users said it actually worked well. There have been routers before with dust collector systems that did not really work.
The battery life is fairly good.
You can match it with a plunge, offset or a tilt base.
There were those who found this too tall. They also did not like how top-heavy it is.
The Verdict: Which Compact Router Should You Get?
We suggest assessing your preferences and needs first, so you can single out the compact router that best fits your needs.
Most User-Friendly: Bosch Colt Electronic Variable Speed Palm Router. This has received a lot of rave reviews because of how easy and simple it is to use. Bosch added features that ensure this becomes a user-friendly tool anyone can utilize. With its efficiency, power and precision, you will be hard-pressed to find something as ideal that is in the same price range.
Packs a Lot of Power: Dewalt DWP611 Variable Speed Compact Router. Compact does not mean it is lacking in power. This tool proves that. It delivers a lot of power, so you can get those more demanding trimming jobs done with little to no issues. It has a good price as well for all the useful features you are getting. This is definitely a compact router that will last you for a long time.
Most Durable: Makita RT0701 Compact Router. The manufacturer put a lot of thought to its build. It is sturdily built, and it also prevents dust from getting inside it. We are certain you are looking for a compact router that will serve you for a long time. This is a good candidate for that.
Most Affordable: Enertwist Variable Speed Soft Start Palm Router Kit. Don’t hesitate to get this. It might be the cheapest but nothing about it speaks of how inexpensive it is. It has a good build and it gets the job done. It has a lot of accuracy which makes this a reliable tool to have around.
Most Portable Choice: Makita XTR01Z Brushless Cordless Compact Router. If you like portability on top of compact functions, get this one from Makita. It is a cordless router that runs on batteries but still does a great job in doing the work of bigger routers. You won’t regret buying this if only because of how easy it is to use.
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