Wood Router Reviews: Which is the Best Plunge Router in the UK?
For the woodworker, the electric wood router is an essential piece of advanced woodworking kit that can be used to make a whole host of complicated cuts, both decorative and non-decorative, in wood or plastic. Wood routers come in a few different shapes and sizes but the most common one is the hand-held plunge router. In these wood router reviews, we first look at the characteristics that are important when buying a plunge router, followed by more detailed analysis of the best plunge routers that are available on the UK market today.
Things to look for in a Woodworking Router
Router (collet) Size: This is usually given in inches and refers to the shank size of bits that the router will accept. The most common sizes of router bit shanks are 1/2-inch (1/2") and 1/4-inch (1/4"), although bits also come in metric form, usually 6mm, 8mm, 10mm or 12mm. Some routers, referred to as "1/2-inch routers", accommodate collets for both 1/4" and 1/2" shanks (as well as some metric sizes), while other routers, referred to as "1/4-inch routers", only accept 1/4" shanks (and also usually 6mm and 8mm shanks). It is easier and cheaper to get router bits that fit the 1/2-inch routers than it is for 1/4-inch routers. In addition, many longer and larger router bits are only available in the 1/2" shank form, which require a bigger more powerful router to operate them successfully. However, for many jobs, router bits are available in both large and small shank sizes. So why go for a larger shank size, if a smaller one can do the same job? In general, larger bits cause less vibration when cutting and often produce a smoother cut.
Power: The power of an electric router (given in Watts) goes hand-in-hand with the maximum size of router bit that it is able to accept and the maximum depth of cut the power router is able to make. Typically, routers with wattages of less than 1500W will not accept the bigger router bits that have a 1/2-inch shank. These lower powered routers are for lighter work and more precision cutting. Routers that accept 1/2-inch-shanked router bits will have enough power to handle just about anything you can throw at them.
Router-Table Compatibility: A common desire amongst more experienced plunge router users is to be able to install the router inverted into a table, a la router table, which imparts upon the humble plunge router a host of new woodworking capabilities. Most plunge routers are not designed to be installed into a router table, but that does not mean that they cannot be used as such with a bit of jerry-rigging. One of the characteristics with many hand-held routers is the presence of a "dead-man's" power switch that needs to be kept depressed in order to work the router. This is a useful safety feature that ensures the router is only running when the operator is in full control of it but hinders the use of the machine in a router table. One of the tricks to getting around this is to use a cable tie to 'tie' down the power switch when used as part of a router table.
Plunge Travel: This is the maximum movement down (usually given in mm) that the router bit can travel. Obviously, the greater the degree of plunge travel, the greater the depth to which the router bit can sink into the workpiece, and the more versatile the router. However, don't assume that plunge travel equals plunge depth into the workpiece, as this will depend on the overall length of the router bit used and the degree to which it is level with the base plate of the router in the rest position.
Router Weight: The best wood router weight to aim for is a balance between the need for some weight to make the router more stable while at the same time keeping the weight to a level that still makes it comfortable to handle.
Soft-start: Some electric routers have a soft-start feature which means that when the machine is first turned on, it does not immediately ramp up to its set speed, but instead more gradually accelerates to the desired speed. This is not absolutely necessary as the router bit is not normally in contact with the workpiece when it is first turned on, however, the incorporation of soft-start makes the router much more comfortable to handle and is generally safer as it is less likely to jerk out of the operator's hands on power up.
Variable Speed: Some routers provide the ability to vary the speed at which the spindle turns. This gives the operator more control over his or her cutting action, allowing it to be used more accurately in different types of wood and plastic.
Popular 1/4-Inch Plunge Routers
(If you are located in the US, then check out what the popular wood routers are in the US)
|Power||No Load Speed|
|Dewalt D26204K||1/4"||900W||16K - 27K||2.9 kg||88 dB|
|Trend T5EB||1/4"||1000W||9K - 27K||3.3 kg||94 dB|
|1020W||11.5K - 34K||3.8 kg||103 dB|
|1200W||up to 22K||--||--|
|CLARKE CR1C||6.35 mm**|
|1200W||13.7K - 30K||4 kg||97 dB|
|Black+Decker KW900E-GB||6 mm|
|1200W||8K - 27K||3.6 kg||106 dB|
|Bosch POF 1200 AE||1/4"|
|1200W||11K - 28K||3.4 kg||106 dB|
|FERM PRM1015||6 mm|
|1300W||9K - 30K||3.57 kg||98.9 dB|
|Bosch POF 1400 ACE||1/4"|
|1400W||11K - 28K||3.5 kg||106 dB|
|Makita RP0900X||1/4" |
|--||27K||2.7 kg||100 dB|
|Power||No Load Speed|
** 6.35mm = 1/4"
1/4-inch Wood Router Reviews
In the following plunge router reviews, we look more closely at the 1/4-inch machines that are popular with consumers in the UK, while further down the page, we review the 1/2-inch plunge routers in more depth.
Bosch POF 1200 AE Plunge Router Review
The Bosch POF 1200 AE is one of the best 1/4-inch plunge routers available in the UK for the DIY-routing newbie. It has been well designed, making it easy to change the router bits and bushings, and is perfectly balanced for ease of use. It has plenty of power with a variable speed setting and can chew through any type of wood in no time. It is well-built and accurate up to approximately ±0.5mm in depth, which is usually sufficient for any woodworking job.
However, for the more experienced DIY-er or trade professional, the Bosch POF 1200 AE does lack a few essential features. These include a lack of a fine adjustment to position the depth of the cut with more accuracy, and the inability to accept 1/2" router bits for more serious routing jobs (it comes with collets for router bits with shanks of 1/4", 6mm, and 8mm). For those hoping to fit the Bosch POF 1200 AE into a router table, it should also be noted that it has a "dead-man's switch" for a power button so it cannot be easily used in a router table without a bit of jerry-rigging.
The Bosch POF 1200 AE also suffers from a couple of other design oversights, for instance, the lever for locking the router at a certain depth is quite stiff and not for the delicately-fingered, however, the plus side of this is that the router depth is very securely locked into position. Users will also find that the plunge action can be much stiffer than expected especially when first starting out and a little elbow grease is required to sink the router bit. Alternatively, a little bit of WD40 applied to the sliding mechanism can go a long way to making the plunge action more comfortable.
Although the 1200 AE is a 'Bosch', it is not actually made in Germany as one might expect but made in...guess where..yup...good old C.H.I.N.A., which is a bit disappointing considering we've come to expect Bosch to be made by the Germans. However, the machine is still a well-built machine, and as expected, up to the Bosch standard, so there is no need to fret about quality. Overall, a good starter machine for the DIY-ing novice.
Bosch POF 1400 ACE Plunge Router Review
The Bosch POF 1400 ACE is the next step up from the smaller 1200 AE described above, and is just as robust and just as well-designed. It has all the features of the 1200 AE plus a couple of other bonuses.
The standout differences of the 1400 ACE compared with the 1200 AE is its more powerful 1400W motor and a fine depth adjustment mechanism for more accurate depth setting, plus a storage case for when the router is not in use or being transported. It also has a soft-start motor and an integral LED light that illuminates the working area, although the light only comes on when the motor is running and the dust extractor insert, if used, gets in the way of the added clarity provided by the light.
Unfortunately, the 1400 ACE also shows some of the same inadequacies of the 1200 AE, namely it still does not take 1/2"-shanked router bits, coming only with collets for 1/4", 6mm and 8mm shanks, making it a lighter work precision-type tool, rather than for heavier work like routing kitchen counters where larger cutting bits are usually desired. Once again, like the 1200 AE, the plunge lever lock and the plunge action itself also requires some serious hand and arm strength.
Popular 1/2-Inch Plunge Routers
(If you are located in the US, then check out what the popular wood routers are in the US)
|Power||No Load Speed|
|1010W||8K - 21K||5 kg||100.8 dB|
|1400W||8K - 21K||6.2 kg||95.1 dB|
|1500W||6K - 26K||5.3 kg||98 dB|
|1600W||6K - 26K||5.6 kg||--|
|Bosch GOF 1600CE||1/2"|
|1600W||10K - 25K||5.8 kg||97 dB|
|1800W||9K - 27K||5.18 kg||98.1 dB|
|1800W||up to 33K||--||--|
|2000W||8K - 22K||5.3 kg||--|
|2000W||8K - 20K||5.1 kg||100 dB|
|2050W||6K - 24K||5.65 kg||103.4 dB|
|Makita RP2301FCXK/2||1/2"||2100W||9K - 22K||6.1 kg||98 dB|
|2400W||8K - 21K||7.7 kg||100.8 dB|
|Power||No Load Speed|
1/2-inch Wood Router Reviews
In the following plunge router reviews, we look more closely at the 1/2-inch machines that are popular with consumers in the UK.
VonHaus 1600W Plunge Router Review
The 1600 Watt plunge router from VonHaus is good value if you are building a tool collection, or if you need a router for a short-term project. It's not the most potent ½ inch plunge router on the market, but it has enough power for most DIY jobs.
VonHaus has built a reputation for quality equipment at a budget price. The 1600W plunge router is no exception. It offers a good blend of features that are suitable for most tasks while maintaining a reasonable cost. There are a few high-end features it lacks, but one can usually work around those.
Like most wood routers, the plunge base lets you start in the middle of a board rather than requiring you to cut a path from the edge to the centre. The router has 50mm of plunge travel and, like the motor, it's adequate for most jobs, but not best in class. However, it does include a fine adjustment dial so that you can exercise considerable control over the cut depth.
With a weight of 5.6 kg, it's heavy enough to be stable but not so heavy that it's tiring to operate. This is an excellent router to use if you are learning woodworking; the weight is about where it should be for a 1600 Watt router. Like other ½ inch routers, it comes with both ¼ and ½ inch collets so that one can use either size of bit. The ability to use both bit sizes is convenient.
There is a lot to like in this machine. Like most ½ inch routers, the motor is variable speed. Whether you are working softwood and need high speed to stop splintering, or need a slower RPM for hard lumber, this router can accommodate.
The VonHaus 1600 Watt router also has a soft start feature that is not always found on entry-level routers. The soft-start means that, when you pull the switch to start it, the bit doesn't immediately start running at full speed. It takes a moment to ramp up. The soft-start prevents the router from bucking or jerking as the bit begins turning. Since a big jerk can mar your work, the soft-start protects your valuable piece from damage.
Unlike some other competitor router models, the VonHaus machine has a lock-on power switch, making this router fully capable of working inverted in a router table if the user is so inclined. Using a router table makes it easy to get repeatable cuts, especially when cutting straight lines.
Overall, it is a sturdy router that's well made. The quality isn't best-in-class, but it is enough for most tasks. Unfortunately, VonHaus doesn't make any spare parts for this router. The lack of parts means that if the machine breaks down, it is difficult to repair. When it fails, your best choice is likely going to be to throw it away and buy a new one.
However, perhaps the biggest drawback of the VonHaus 1600W router is the lack of guide bushes for working with kitchen worktops. The guide bushes supplied with the router are not the right type most often needed, and VonHaus does not make them as an add-on, either. Some owners have resorted to taping on a universal guide bush, but that solution is not always adequate. It works in a pinch, though it is challenging to get maximum precision with this solution. If you plan on making lots of worktop jig cuts with the router, a different model will work better for you.
The other drawback to this router is the lack of a carry case for transport and storage. If you do most of your work in a workshop, the absence of a case isn't a big deal. If you plan to take the router to job sites, you may need to get a separate case.
This router is an excellent entry-level tool, or to serve as a second router for a pro. It does not have the power and deep plunge of other routers in this class but makes up for that in other ways. It has the soft-start, and variable speed features that many routers at this price point lack.
The lack of appropriate guide bushes and a travel case are a concern, but only if you foresee lots of jig cutting or lots of travel. If you have other plans, this is ultimately a terrific router at a pleasing price.
Bosch GOF 1600CE Plunge Router Review
The Bosch GOF 1600CE router has a reasonably powerful 1600W electric motor with soft start and variable speed adjustment from 10,000 to 25,000 RPM that allows it to tackle most routing jobs with elegance. Its ergonomics are well-designed with handles that are particularly comfortable for the operator, and with a Dead man's power switch that is conveniently incorporated into the handle, making activation of the machine a safe and easy prospect.
The Bosch GOF 1600CE has a plunge depth of 76mm which is at the upper end for a router of this size, and a well-designed fine adjustment mechanism that is a pleasure to use. The Bosch router also incorporates its own LED lighting to illuminate the work surface, as well as a spindle lock and a flat housing cover, which allows it to be easily balanced upside down with the spindle held in place when it comes time to change the router bit. The router power tool comes with two collets allowing the machine to accept both 1/4-inch and 1/2-inch shanked router bits, and a number of other accessories for routing work.
Overall, if you have the money to spend on a professional machine like the Bosch GOF 1600CE, you will certainly not be disappointed as you will be getting one of the best 1/2-inch wood routers on the market today.
Hitachi M12VE/J6 Plunge Router Review
The Hitachi M12VE is a well-built 1/2” wood router that houses a powerful 2000W motor with variable speed control that runs spindle rotation anywhere from 8000 RPM up to 22,000 RPM. The router comes with collets for both 1/4” and 1/2” bit shanks permitting a wide selection of router bits to be used with this Hitachi router.
The plunging mechanism on the Hitachi M12VE slides easily and smoothly unlike many budget level wood routers which are often stiffer and plunge less readily. The router is relatively lightweight and is less noisy compared to other competitor routers in its category class. Other neat features include adjustable handles for maximum user comfort and thoughtful design that makes it relatively easy to integrate it into a router table.
However it is not all perfect with the Hitachi M12VE wood router as it lacks a couple of sought-after features that are present on other competitor machines, including a user-friendly plunge depth micro-adjustment mechanism (a couple of screws that can be adjusted with a screwdriver are used instead). The Hitachi M12VE router also lacks a dust collection system preventing it from connecting to an external vacuum to ensure that the cutting point does not become obscured by debris.
One other notable issue some users of the Hitachi M12VE router have flagged is that router bits can sometimes be difficult to remove from the collet after routing, on occasion necessitating the use of more extreme methods of extracting the bits (such as pliers), and sometimes damaging the bits in the process. Some users have clarified the need to fully unscrew the nut that holds the bit within the collet, but this appears to be only a partial solution, working for some users and not others.
Overall, the Hitachi M12VE router is a high-quality power router produced by a well-known power tool company and which is liked by many-an-owner. It does however exhibit one or two minor drawbacks that need to be taken into account before purchasing.
Silverline 264895 Plunge Router Review
The Silverline 264895 woodworking router is a Chinese-built generic that is almost identical to some other plunge routers from different retail companies. It has a solid body and a powerful 1500W motor with seven speed settings that can handle even tough jobs like kitchen countertops, and comes with collets that accept up to 1/2" shank bits (it comes with 1/2", 1/4", 6mm, 8mm, and 12mm collets). In addition, it also comes with a parallel guide, a roller guide, a circle guide, a template guide, the chuck spanner, spare carbons for the motor, a dust extraction port and a measurement bar.
Similar to more expensive plunge routers, the Silverline router operates with a soft-start, which prevents the machine from suddenly jerking into action when starting up. The machine even comes with a fine depth adjustment, once again something that is usually the preserve of more expensive machines.
Like many-a-plunge router, the springs that facilitate resistance to the plunge motion are quite stiff, making it difficult for less-abled bodied persons to control the depth of the cut very easily, however, with a bit of router power tool hacking, these can be replaced with softer springs sourced from most hardware stores if need be.
On the negative side, the Silverline 264895 is a little roughly-built, lacking the exquisite aesthetics of more expensive bigger brand-name routers. Indeed, as fans of Silverline tools have come to expect, quality control can sometimes be lacking, and the 264895 plunge router is no different, sometimes coming with parts that fail to meet the expected tolerance requirements for a router. For instance, it has been noted that the squareness of the base relative to the bit-holding spindle can sometimes be outside of normal tolerances, producing cuts that are not sufficiently square. In addition, some of the parts used in the machine are made of low-quality plastic (like the fine adjustment knob) making them easily cracked or damaged (a common theme when users have tightened up screws on the machine), so extra care needs to be taken when handling the router to preserve its intended lifespan. Finally, some of the accessories that come with the router have not been designed to an optimal standard, for instance, the 30mm guide bush only has a couple of millimetres of depth to it making it difficult to use without taking extreme care that it does not ride over the guide hole.
Overall, the Silverline 264895 is packed with lots of features but quality-wise, it is not a professional wood router but one that is cheap and cheerful and best suited for the light DIY user who is meticulous in the care of his or her power tools.
Silverline 124799 Plunge Router Review
The Silverline Silverstorm 124799 is a powerful 2050W machine that is built with economy in mind. This means that the 124799 is a very capable and full-featured machine but in which corners have been cut on quality in order to keep its price low - which is truly the case when compared to the prices of other routers of similar power. The 124799 has a fine depth adjustment, variable speed control and a soft-start, and comes with 5 different collets (1/4", 1/2", 8mm, 10mm, and 12mm), two different guide bushes, parallel, circular and roller guides as well as a measurement bar all within a reasonable-quality plastic case. However, the good news stops there. The build of the machine is not up to the standard of competitor professional machines, with reports that some of the plastic controls can break off if they are not handled with great care. The plunge mechanism can also be a little temperamental, jamming if pressure is not applied evenly across the router when plunging. These negatives lead us to conclude that, although the Silverline 124799 has many of the features of professional machines, it is better-suited for light DIY work and will likely not stand up to the test of time of regular professional use. So if you are looking for a powerful professional-like router to carry out the occasional DIY job and without breaking the bank, then the Silverline 124799 will likely fit your needs.
The Triton Plunge Routers Review
Triton has a line of hand-held wood routers with some very well-thought out features built into their design. All of its electric routers have variable speed with soft-start, fine depth adjustment, an automatic spindle lock, a spring-loaded depth calibration and depth stop, and 'quick fit pins' for attachment of a multi-function fence.
Unusually for a hand-held router, the Triton routers are also all designed to be easily incorporated into a router table, with the most notable features being the above-the-table bit change and an above-the-table height winder for fine control of the depth setting. The height adjustment is a particularly loved feature since it allows for exquisitely fine control over depth setting when installed below a router table. Using a Triton router within a Triton router table, such as the Triton RSA300 Router Stand, or the more recent Triton router table module and Workcentre, makes using a router table even more pleasurable as the router installation into the router table is a breeze.
Safety has also taken a front seat on Triton routers with an automatic spindle lock that engages only when the power switch cover is closed and the router is fully depressed a.k.a. 'bit-changing mode'. In addition, the power switch shutter also locks shut when the router is in bit-changing mode so that there is no chance of the router being accidentally switched on. The cutting area is surrounded by plastic shielding to protect the user from flying debris and dust, however, this does mean that the operator almost has no choice but to use a dust extraction system with the router otherwise the dust will rapidly accumulate on the protective shields and obscure the cutting action.
Triton Router JOF001
The Triton JOF001 is the smallest and least powerful of the Triton line-up with its 1010W of power, however, it takes a 1/2" shank, unusual for a router of this size. Unlike its bigger siblings, it does not have a rack & pinion for depth setting but rather the standard spring-loaded plunge action not unlike other brands of hand-held router, although it still has the fine depth adjustment mechanism.
Triton Routers MOF001 and the TRA001
The Triton MOF001 is the sibling in the middle of the Triton line-up. It has 1400W of power and although it is a 1/2" router it only comes with a 1/4" collet and a 8mm collet when you buy it in the UK, making it necessary to purchase a 1/2" collet separately if you want to use larger bits. The Triton TRA001, on the other hand, has a hefty 2400W of power, more than enough for any woodworking job, and does come with 1/2" bit collet (and a 12mm one). Both the MOF001 and the TRA001 can be used as either a standard plunge router or as a rack and pinion depth-adjusted router through the push of a button. Once in rack and pinion mode, the depth of the router is controlled by depressing a clutch and winding the handle up or down to the general depth required, with the fine depth adjustment and depth lock still working as before.
Overall, any one of the Triton routers is an excellent all-round purchase and at an exceptionally good price point. Compared to their power-equivalent competitors, these wood routers are great value for money and thus are currently some of the best 1/2-inch plunge routers (and currently our favourites) on the UK market today.
Makita RP2301FCXK/2 Plunge Router Review
The Makita RP2301FCXK/2 router is a top quality 1/2-inch professional plunge router liked by almost everyone who purchases it. It has a powerful 2100W motor with a variable speed setting, soft start and runs on 240V (the ‘/2’ at the end of the Makita 'RP2301FCXK/2' router model number signifies that it is compatible with 240V whereas ‘/1’ indicates compatibility with 110V). The Makita router also has electronic speed control that prevents the motor from slowing down under load unless abnormal pressure is applied in which case the machine reduces power to protect the motor from overheating.
Overall build quality on the Makita RP2301FCXK/2 router is set to a very high standard with some standout features that give the machine a feel of a very professional tool. One particularly nice build feature is the plunge action mechanism which is not the usual spring-based system but rather a linear ball bearing mechanism that makes plunging action on the router very smooth and an absolute pleasure to use. Another example of excellent build quality is in the design of the fan intake which has been designed to take a tortuous path in order to minimise the ingress of sawdust into the machine.
Like a lot of handheld routers, the Makita machine can also be installed in a router table. One feature that makes it particularly compatible for such use is the presence of a lock on mechanism on the power switch. The power switch on handheld routers is always difficult to access when inverted in a router table, so being able to lock the power switch in the on position is particularly useful. Of course, an alternative mechanism of safely switching the router on and off needs to be arranged if the router table itself has not being designed to accommodate this function.
One final positive point to note is that the Makita router comes in a well designed plastic carry case that has ample enough room for the electric tool’s power cable, which is not always the case with other less reputable routers. The carry case also has a number of designated spaces for router cutting bits and the odd bushing, although these all have to be purchased separately.
Of course no power tool is perfect (yet!), and the Makita RP2301FCXK/2 router does have a couple of minor drawbacks to be aware of. First of all, the machine is quite heavy at 6.1 kg, but not overly so for its class, however this does mean that it cannot be used easily for light routing work where a smaller lighter router would be more appropriate. Another minor negative with the Makita router is that, although an accessory exists that can be attached to the machine for dust collection via a vacuum system, the accessory adapter itself is optional and needs to be purchased separately. In fact, a number of other important accessories have also been designed for the router but almost all of which require the owner to shell out more cash rather than being included as part of the power tool’s package. The only accessory included with the machine is the straight guide.
Overall, the Makita RP2301FCXK/2 router is an excellent professional and powerful router that has been well-designed and built to a high standard, something not unusual for Makita Power Tools. However, one has to pay a relatively high price for the privilege of owning such a high quality machine, with even more money needed to be spent on accessories as well as high quality tool bits in order to maximise the full potential of what this machine can do. Therefore, only if you are a regular-routing tradesman or semi-professional DIYer and you have the money to spend, do we recommend this top notch router.
DeWalt DW625EKT Plunge Router Review
The DW625EKT is DeWalt’s contribution to the 1/2” router category. Unsurprisingly for this premium power tool company, the DW625EKT is an expensive tool but with a lot of good features. First and foremost, it comes with collets for both 1/4” and 1/2” router bits, particularly useful if you are already using a 1/4” router and have a selection of router bits that you would like to use in the DeWalt router as well. It has a powerful 2000W motor with electronic speed control meaning that the speed of the motor will be maintained no matter how tough a wood you throw at it or if one overdoes the hand pressure when routing. The DeWalt motor also has soft start to prevent any inadvertent movement at start up, important both for safety as well as for routing accuracy. The motor speed itself can also be adjusted anywhere from 8,000 to 20,000 RPM using a dial at the top of the machine, useful for setting the ideal cutting speed for the material being cut.
With all this power and functionality, it is perhaps a little surprising that the machine is one of the lighter 1/2” routers available, coming in at only 5.1 kg, which although still a hefty amount is relatively low for a machine that does some heavy duty routing. Plunge depth on the DW625EKT is a massive 80mm, one of the highest available on routers for the consumer market, allowing for some of the largest router bits to be used on the machine as well as producing some of the deepest cuts. The plunge columns are made of a phosphor bronze, an alloy that has a very low level of friction making the plunging action on the DW625EKT very smooth.
The DeWalt router also comes with all the other typical features commonly found on routers, such as a spindle lock to prevent the spindle from turning when changing a router bit, and a dust extraction adaptor for attachment to a vacuum system. The tool and its accessories are all contained and carried within DeWalt’s proprietary carry case system known as TSTAK. Unfortunately, the case's internal moulding for the DW625EKT is not as well designed as we would have liked as some of the router accessories tend to move within the case.
Overall, the DeWalt DW625EKT is a very good precision router as one might expect from a premium power tool company and given the cost of the machine. Although it is not a router to turn away from and diehard fans of DeWalt tools will likely be happy with it, overall build quality could be slightly better especially when compared to similar priced premium routers from other well-established power tool brands.