Best Compact / Trim Router of 2020 – Top Choices for Woodworkers

Best Compact Router

Let me share an insight into my experience when I first heard about compact routers; my first reaction was why would anyone purchase this if they have a full-fledged router already in their workshop. But I had an epiphany, the manufacturers and designers would be on something after all, and after some contemplation, I realized that was its size and less cumbersome, which makes it unique and innovative. So I do my extensive research on the Best compact router and finally got one.

 So in this buying guide, we will look at some of the best compact routers across categories to augment your routing experience. 

 

Prices and images pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

  1. DEWALT DWP611 Compact Router

DEWALT Router, Fixed Base, Variable Speed, 1-1/4-HP Max Torque (DWP611)

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This is the perfect marriage between the ergonomically design and durability; if you want a lighter weight and substantial trim router for your workshop, this is the ideal product as it has so many noticeable features like Dual LED and clear sub-base having D-shape for clear visibility during hand-held routing.

It has variable speed setting ranging from 16000- 27000 RPM which can be monitor and regulate as per your needs also it has soft starting motor has electronic speed control feature which maintains the speed when encountering different resistance which supports in change between different kinds woods and reduces the risk of twisting and helps you in making sophisticated cuts with ease.

Besides, it has a powerful 1.25hp motor, which is a handful for more complex applications that can be transitioned easily between fixed and plunge bases, and it also comes with combo kits, and it has three years limited warranty.

Pros
  • Durable motor for complex application
  • Variable speed control enables them to be optimized for changing woods
  • Soft starting motor reduces the risk of twisting, which is essential for safety
  • Sub Base has D Shape which is unique in design
  • Three years limited warranty with your purchase
Cons
  • Slightly big for trimming might find difficulty while gripping it
  • Lack of availability of hard cases

      2. Makita RT0701C Compact Router

Makita RT0701C 1-1/4 HP Compact Router

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In simple terms, Makita compact router is suitable if you want a slim and ergonomically designed body for control and accuracy, and its weighting only 3.9 easy to carry and it’s one of the best palm router, which helps in a firm grip and excellent control while trimming which is fantastic.

Due to its variable speed control system, which ranges from 10,000 RPM to 30,000 RPM, enables you to accommodates various applications and match their speed, its electronic speed control maintains constant speed during operation.

Its noticeable feature is its quick-release cam lock system for easy depth adjustments, which means you can make exact cuts as you want to make it. It has a double insulated powerful aluminum motor, which is durable and due to its double insulation, so dirt can go inside it.

What kept this model second on the list is due to its non-compatibility of its plunge base with standard templates and have to buy separate adapter for making it compatible though the regular base incompatible another thing which is mentioned to note is that it comes with only three preset depth stops in plunge base as some products have five as compared to this.

Pros
  • The powerful aluminum motor, which is durable and double insulation, prevents dirt from going inside it.
  • Variable speed up to a maximum of 30,000 RPM enables to be matched with the speed of different applications
  • Its Quick-release cam lock system for easy depth adjustments
  • Soft starting motor for smooth startups and safety
  • One year limited warranty with your purchase
Cons
  • Non-inclusion of LED’s light for clear visibility
  • Non-Compatibility of its plunge base on standard templates

    3. Bosch Colt PR20EVS Compact Router

Bosch Router Tool, Colt 1-Horsepower 5.6 Amp Electronic Variable-Speed Palm Router PR20EVS

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This palm router is simply a champ. It comes with 1hp motor, which isn’t overwhelming but isn’t weak either and powerful enough to take a 1/4″ bite with a 1-1/4″ core box bit in maple, ash, and other softwoods and also it can handle a 5/16 ogee in treated pine in one pass.

The palm grip fits your hand pretty well, and the base has an imprint for using your thumb as a guide, which provides a firm hold. It’s excellent that it comes with two real wrenches one for the shaft and another one for the nut rather than a stamped piece of steel that you can replace.

The power cord is about a foot long and made with a soft material not weak, which doesn’t get also tangled. It comes one-year limited warranty, which is fantastic.

The only downside of this compact router is not having a plunge base; this small router with plunge base would be excellent for doing inlay work and stringing if Bosch comes with it soon.

Pros
  • Having 12 variable speed dial to adjust the speed
  • For precision and precise depth, it has a macro and micro-fine depth adjustment system
  • It has a spindle lock and two wrenches to making changing of applications more accessible
  • It has Constant Response technology monitors and maintains speed under load
  • One year limited warranty with your purchase
Cons
  • Non-Compatibility of its plunge base for inlay work is a significant setback
  • The straight edge guide is available but has to be purchased separately
  • Sub-Base is a little bit blur due to the non-availability of LED lights

 4. Porter-Cable 450 Compact Router

Porter-Cable 450 1.25 HP Compact Router

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Porter-cable’s compact router is an exciting option as it is easy to hold with one hand and ample power for laminate and woodworking as it is perfect for rounding over and cove cuts.

The exceptional feature is its Compatibility as its kit came with a fixed base and plunge base, allowing the motor to switch between the bases for configuration flexibility.

It’s aluminum motor and base construction provides long term durability and having 1.25HP motor delivers the power to meet the most robust applications. Its Large, low-pressure spindle lock button allows for comfortable but single wrench bit changes.

Its Depth ring and clamping mechanism combine to ensure motor remains locked in position, and adjustment ring enables controlled bit depth changes to with-in 1/64.

Pros
  • Having Compatibility with fixed base and plunge base for providing flexibility
  • Having a proper base plate for the template collar rings for doing door and jamb dapping
  • Comfortable to hold in one hand due to its lightweight
  • It’s better for gripping for the extended 8 slot ¼” collet
  • 2-year warranty with your purchase
Cons
  • It has 27,000 rpm speed is fixed, making it difficult for jobs that require less power
  • D- base not included and should be bought separately for fine edge work

 5. MasterWorks Tool’s Avid Power MW104 Compact Router

6.5-Amp 1.25 HP Compact Router with Fixed Base, 5 Trim Router Bits, Variable Speed, Edge Guide, Roller Guide and Dust Hood, Avid Power MW104

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Every once in a while, you buy something inexpensive you use it, and you almost feel like you stole it same goes for this product like having a kit with more attachments than the other kits and have two pair of gloves included in it for safety purpose as this might heat-up while operating.

Furthermore, it comes with a lot of accessories like vacuum attachment and dust hood, 3/8 collet, and two edge guides, which are included in it and have a box of router bits, moreover its accessories are interchangeable with other brands too which is stand out benefit of this product.

It has features like Dual LED Lights to illuminates the dark working area, and its smooth rack-and-pinion depth adjustment system provides precise depth adjustment.

The variable speed control dial allows users to choose a more appropriate speed for different applications.

Pros
  • Its kit has more attachments than the other products in this family
  • Dual LED light for illumination of the working area
  • Variable speed control dial to adjust speed for different applications accordingly
  • Compatible with other router brand’s bit
  • Rubber hood for a clean workspace
  • -year warranty with your purchase
Cons
  • Runs louder and will feel more vibration at higher speed as compared to other products
  • The fit and finish of the base are a little rough
  • TIt overheats very quickly

Factors to Consider Before Buying the Best Trim / Compact Router-  Buying Guide

In the past, trim routers were tools designed for a single carpentry task trimming countertop laminate. Recently, however, manufacturers have responded to user feedback with features that make these tools more versatile and easier to use.

The best trim routers in this new crop are perfectly suited to a variety of furniture-making tasks: rounding over and chamfering edges, routing hinge mortises, flush-trimming veneer, and edge banding, routing cavities for inlay, and more. Their small size and lightweight make them agile, so they are easy to move around corners an along curves and to balance on edges and narrow parts like legs.

They can be used one-handed, which means you can fly around a workpiece, holding the router and easing the edges with one hand while holding and repositioning the workpiece with the other. There are a lot of new models on the market, and choosing one is difficult if you can’t get them all in the shop and try them So now, let’s dig deep into the factors to consider before making the purchase, which may impact your decision in buying the specific product as you need.

  • Adjustable Bit Height

Bit height should be easy to adjust. Trim routers are used for small work, where a bit that is a few thousandths of an inch too deep can spell disaster. Bit-height changes should be uncomplicated and accurate and simpler design gets the job done as in below picture the lead screw on the Makita Palm router controls all bit-height adjustments.

Makita Palm router

The twist is good too. When using the fixed base on the Porter-Cable (below) and its close relative, the DeWalt, all height adjustments are made by releasing a locking lever and then turning the motor in the base, another system that works very well.

Porter-Cable

  • The Clear View for Easy Routing

When routing mortises for inlay or hinges, you need to stay within the layout lines, so visibility is key. A base with a large cut out and clear sub-base, like the DeWalt’s, creates the perfect window, letting you see exactly what you’re routing and gives you a clear picture of the application. (See the below image)

Porter-Cable router

But in Porter cable they have a tunnel vision as the base on the Porter-Cable offers a great view of the bit up high, but the sub-base is opaque and has a small opening, so it is very difficult to see what the bit is routing and does not give clear visibility of it. (Refer below image)

Porter Cable

Our Recommendation

There are a lot of options for compact routers in diverse price ranges. The wide disparity in prices also leads to some significant differences when it comes to real-world performances. Our pick of the lot would be DEWALT DWP611 Compact Router due to its outstanding Compatibility with a fixed base and plunge base and ergonomically design and durability and clear visibility of its base and sub base.

All the other items are likewise the best each category they feature. Depending on your needs, they are the ideal choice for you.

All I can assure you is you won’t regret it if you pick from the products under review. I now leave you to select the best compact router of your choice.

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