Routers hold a rotating cutter in a perfect right angle to a flat reference surface. The cutter is generally called a bit, and the reference surface is called the base. They can do decorative edge profiles, joinery and pattern work. They are rated in horse power and commonly available from 1/2 to 3 HP. Smaller routers called laminate trimmers are designed to trim the overhang edge laminate that has been contact cemented to a substrate. Laminate trimmers do not have a large enough motor for general routing, and heat accumulation will damage the motor if they are used that way.

The bits are attached to the router in a collet held in place with a collet nut. 1/4” and 1/2” are the 2 US sizes. It would be good to select a router that comes with both size collets. Other accessories include an edge guide, a plunge base, and a router table. All will expand the capacity of what you will be able to do; they can be added as you become more familiar with using the tool. All brand bits will fit in all brand routers, so you have a lot of flexibility with this tool.

Depth of cut is controlled by moving the motor up and down in the base. This involves some dial type adjustment mechanism and a wing nut or lever to clamp the base & motor in the desired position. Some routers have fine tune or micro adjust, it’s helpful but not essential.

Routers operate with very high RPM to compensate for a small diameter cutter. Electric woodwork tools with rotating cutters contact the wood in a series of closely spaced arcs to achieve a straight result. The high RPM of a router is needed due to the small circumference of most bits. Slowing down the feed rate does not necessarily give you a better cut, because the high RPM will cause burn marks on the wood. The high RPM gives them a gyroscope type of feel, so they tend to stay on track during operation. Electronic Variable Speed Routers are available, think of these as a normal speed router that can be slowed down for bigger applications like large diameter bits and dense tropical hardwoods.

A basic 1 to 1-1/2 HP router is a good entry level tool. It will do most jobs and not be too unwieldy. Check to see if it comes with both 1/4” and 1/2” collets and to see if the manufacturer offers an edge guide that will probably be sold as an accessory.

CPO is America's Leading
Online Power Tool Retailer

Fast Shipping


Easy Returns


Trusted Since 2004

Since 2004

#1 Reconditioned Tool Destination

#1 Reconditioned
Tool Destination