I'm thinking about buy my 1st router. I would be using for general wood working. I.e cutting out slots, finishing off edges, mainly trying to learn. The question is what features, characteristics and quality should a beginner look for? Thanks everyone.

  • I think this is likely to generate opinion-based Answers (if you get any at all given how quiet this SE has become) so it may be closed for that reason. But for my money I'd get a mid-range plunge router with more than one collet that has good reviews. Hard to go wrong with one of those and they're much more versatile and useful than mini routers, which are basically just for trimming and light grooving tasks (both of which all larger routers can do). Where are you based by the way? Will you be buying in person from a bricks-and-mortar or ordering online?
    – Graphus
    Jul 27, 2017 at 15:35
  • @graphus, im in the s.f bay area. Most likely will go to a store to get my hands on the router and get a fell. But tje information is a help. Thanks
    – cano
    Jul 27, 2017 at 15:39
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    Unfortunately, "what is the best _____" is always more likely to generate opinion-based answers, but asking what features are available and the practical considerations for each would generate more useful answers.
    – rob
    Jul 27, 2017 at 15:56
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    Just to expand on Graphus's comment, there is no reason to get a fixed-base router unless you're planning on immediately and permanently mounting it in a router table. Plunge routers are much more versatile. This consideration rules out trim routers. Jul 27, 2017 at 17:56
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    This question could possibly be reopened if, instead of asking which is the best router, you changed it to ask what are the characteristics and qualities of a router that you should look for in a quality tool. Jul 27, 2017 at 23:44

1 Answer 1

  • Plunge base - Does the base have the ability to raise and lower the router with hand pressure? This allows accurate plunge cuts for things like stopped grooves and mortises.
  • Power - Does the router have enough power to do bigger cuts? For an all-purpose hand router I'd look for a minimum of 2 hp. Less than that will limit what you can do, particularly in hardwoods.
  • Build Quality - How much play is there in the plunge pillars? How well does the depth adjustment lock? There are a number of things that can cause inaccuracy to creep into your work.
  • Ergonomics - How does it feel in your hands? Is the power switch easy to reach from the handles? Is the base large enough to be stable?
  • Other Features
    • Does it come with variety of collet diameters? (1/2", 1/4" or other common in your country)
    • Does it have soft-start / speed adjust / constant torque electronics?
    • How easy is the bit change mechanism (ratcheting is better than locking pin is better than two-wrench)?
    • Does it have dust collection ports?
    • Can it accept guide bushings?
    • Can it be mounted into the table ? (and how to rig depth adjustment mechanism)

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