Best Compact Router Reviews In 2020 | Reviewed by Experts Woodworker

Top 10 Best Compact Router Reviews

Router can be your best mate in the world of woodworking, they say. But, it can be the worst mate as well if you don’t pick a great one.

It can be a bit tough to rout out a decent compact router unless you have a guide to help you out. So, here we have thought to provide you with a guide having the best compact router reviews and other factors to be taken into consideration.

Compact Router Reviews

Top 10 List Best Compact Router

We have listed the Best Compact Router above but if you want to know details of each product; please scroll below and explore them.

DEWALT has earned a lot of positive responses in different compact router reviews due to this particular model.

It features 1.25 HP motor that is solid enough to provide you with power. As a result, you can use different cutters on different applications.

You will also have variable speed control with no load speed ranging from 16,000 rpm to 27,000 rpm to offer smooth operation. It helps allow for bit speed optimization while you work with materials of different hardness.

Its soft start motor also is a big plus. There will be full-time electronic feedback that will maintain motor speed during the cutting operation. Not only that, it will also offer smooth start while reducing tremble.

Another great feature is its dual LED lights and clear sub base to make sure you get a great visibility in low light condition.

As for the base, you will get two. One is the fixed and the other is plunge. While fixed base offers easy depth adjustment by moving up and down, plunge one offers accurate depth setting with fine-tune adjustment rod while allowing for deep penetration through the wood.

The only issue here is that you may feel depth adjustment on the plunge base a bit messy. It makes you feel hard to adjust cutting depths within precise tolerances.

You will also be able to change single wrench bit comfortably thanks to low-pressure spindle lock and shaft-lock button.

With this router, you can also transition motor easily and quickly between plunge and fixed bases.

Pros

  • Powerful to make precise and smooth cuts.
  • Offers variable speed and control.
  • Comes with fixed and plunge bases.
  • Motor transitions easily and quickly between plunge and fixed bases.
  • Dual LED lights and clear sub base offers great visibility in lowlight condition.
  • Soft start motor maintains motor speed, reduces tremble and offers soft starts.

Cons

  • Screws are of low quality.
  • Depth adjustment on the plunge base makes it difficult to adjust cutting depths.
  • Sealed rocker switch is a bit tough to turn on and off.

PR20EVSK by Bosch has stood out well among the other rivals in different compact router reviews.

The highlighting part is that it features edge guide that makes it ideal to perform variety of customized jobs such as woodwork, dovetailing, mortising hinges, trimming laminated flooring. The con is that the edge guide is prone to move around a lot making it somewhat a bit useless.

However, the router incorporates big power in a compact package to provide you with maximum precision and extended comfort with 5.6 AMP or 1 HP motor.

The motor spins at a variable speed from 16,000 rpm to 35,000 rpm making it function smoothly.

It also features a soft-start that helps reduce startup torque while ensuring less tremble and speed increments during operation.

You will also love to adjust the depth simply with the router. All you have to do is aligning and lowering the motor and then locking the router in line with clamping level. There will be a shaft lock button so you can change the base easily and quickly. The only downside is that it may not lock properly.

However, it comes with a solid aluminum fixed base that lets you adjust the depth while moving the router up and down. Since the base has wheel at its back, you will find micro-fine adjustment equally easy.

Some of the users wished for a built-in light, but that is not a very big con.

Pros

  • Powerful to make precise and smooth cuts.
  • Offers variable speed and control.
  • Comes with edge guide to offer accurate positioning of dadoes and inlays.
  • Comes with fixed base.
  • Soft start motor maintains motor speed, reduces tremble and offers soft starts.
  • Micro-fine adjustment is super easy because of the wheel at the back of the base.

Cons

  • Edge guide tends to move around a lot.
  • No built-in light.
  • The shaft lock button does not lock properly.

This is another router by DEWALT that were found to be loved by users in several compact router reviews.

Just like the other model, it too comes with 1.25 HP motor to offer powerful performance and meet the toughest applications. The motor will run at variable speed from 16,000rpm to 35,000rpm with no load speed providing you with smooth operation.

Talking more of the motor, it also features soft start so that it can maintain motor speed through the cuts with full time electronic feedback.

Plus, the router has dual LED light and clear sub base to ensure visibility in operation. Although, the light may seem a bit under powered, but that should not be a big concern.

You will also get an adjustment ring that allows for controlled bit depth alterations within 1/64 inches.

Not only that, you it also features a low-pressure spindle lock button to let you change the single wrench bit with comfort. However, the shaft lock button may not clamp tight at certain times so it can be a small con.

However, the router combines clamping mechanism and depth ring so that it can enable the motor to stay locked in place.

You will also find it very easy to change or remove the base quick because of its spring loaded release tabs.

There is a power button that can be a bit tough for you to push since it has been stated to be stiff by many users.

Pros

  • Powerful to make precise and smooth cuts.
  • Soft start motor maintains motor speed, reduces tremble and offers soft starts.
  • Offers variable speed and control.
  • Comes with fixed base.
  • Comes with dual LED lights and clear sub base for offering visibility
  • Clamping mechanism and depth ring combined for the motor to stay locked in place.

Cons

  • The power button is not easy to push.
  • The lock may not clamp tight properly.
  • The lights feel a bit underpowered.

After exploring a lot of compact router reviews,  1617EVS by Bosch is another model that caught our attention.

With its 2.25 HP or 12 amp motor, it is able to handle the toughest routing jobs even though the model is compact.

Moreover, the motor runs at variable speed ranging from 8,000 RPM to 25,000 RPM letting you get the job done with ease. There will be a dial that let you set your preferred optimum speed for the woodwork operations. You will also find 1617EVS maintaining a constant speed all through the cut with its inbuilt constant response circuitry. As a result, you can enjoy accurate plus clean results with its advanced speed control technology.

The soft start feature makes the motor lessen torque on start up so you can have a smoother transition and easier handling. Moreover, it also ensures less trembling to give you the comfort you want.

Its design can adapt to enable you to work with cord and switch on the right or left so you can have improved accuracy and consistency. Not only that, it will also provide you with confidence knowing that the motor will never rotate while you adjust the depth.

The kit comes with all the necessary components for routing such as mounting hardware, height-adjustment wrench, chip shield, drop-forged wrenches, 1/2 inch and 1/4 inch collets. With 1/2 inch collet, it has been found that the bit gets stuck requiring you some efforts and tools to break the bit loose, which can be a con. Also, you may find the bit changing a bit cumbersome because of its requirement of two wrenches.

The router includes a fixed base that comes with threaded holes to mount to the router table. And since there will be advanced bit adjustment system, you will love to adjust the height conveniently.

Not only that, it will also let you move motor between two bases quick and tool-less thanks to its quick clamp system.

The handles can be a little slippery, so this can be a bit inconvenient for you.

Pros

  • Powerful to make precise and smooth cuts.
  • Offers variable speed and control.
  • Soft start motor maintains motor speed, reduces tremble and offers soft starts.
  • Advanced bit adjustment system lets you adjust the bit height conveniently.
  • Motor can be moved between two bases quick and tool-less.
  • Motor will not rotate during depth adjustment.

Cons

  • Requirement of two wrenches makes the bit changing cumbersome.
  • Bit can get stuck with 1/2-inch collet.
  • Handles can be a little slippery.

Makita also earned love from their customer with their best compact router model coming in the form of RT0701CX7.

It features powerful 1 to 1/4 HP motor to provide you with power-packed performance. The motor runs at variable speed control ranging from 10,000 RPM to 30,000 RPM enabling you to match the speed with application.

You will also love its Soft start that offers smooth startups while ensuring quiet operation, reduced tremble and decent speed increments. Not only that, it also features electronic speed control that helps maintain control speed under load.

Besides, the router features easy-to-read depth scales and smooth fine depth adjustment system to let you enjoy optimum accurate settings.

There will be quick release cam lock system that makes the base changes and depth adjustments a breeze.

The issue is that you may lose your settings when adjusting the depth which can be a big con. Another issue is that when you press the clamp down, you may find it hard to hold the selected depth setting.

However, it has fixed base that goes very well with different template guides so you can be provided with flexibility. Besides, the router also lets you remove the base quickly so you can install other ones with ease.

Additionally, it comes with a shaft lock that lets you change the bits quickly and easily. Not only that, you will also have a durable flat top for more privilege during bit changes.

However, since the router does not have LED lights, it may not offer decent visibility of the cutters while you do freehand cuts.

Pros

  • Powerful to make precise and smooth cuts.
  • Soft start motor maintains motor speed, reduces tremble and offers soft starts.
  • Offers variable speed and control.
  • Quick release cam lock system for easy base changes and depth adjustments.
  • Comes with fixed base.
  • Shaft lock offers easy and quick bits changes.

Cons

  • Lose of current settings while adjusting depth.
  • Tough to hold selected depth settings when pressing the clamp down.
  • Low visibility of the cutter during free hand cuts.

Another similar entry by Makita. It is especially popular for providing you with three bases, naming plunge, tilt and an offset base.

The plunge base comes with 1-3/8 inches depth capacity to offer easier penetration through the material. Its fine depth adjustment is easy to use coming with three preset depth stops to provide you with extra accuracy. There will also be detachable plastic shield that will help in protecting you from different dust and debris. Not only that, it also comes with sub-base that accepts template guides to offer more flexibility.

The tilt base offers cuts at different angles ranging from -30 degree to 45 degree. It also works great with different profiles while you use the same bit. Plus, the base will be great for trimming thin materials as well as laminated boards.

The offset base offers cutting at hard to reach areas and corners. It is great for bath and kitchen sink or counter top cutouts.

Besides offering three bases, it comes with powerful motor with 1.25 HP motor. It runs with variable speed between 10,000 to 30,000 RPM with a dial to offer optimum speed and solid performance.

The soft start feature will also be there to offer smooth startups, reduced tremble and noiseless operation. Just like the previous one, it also comes with electronic speed control.

Moreover, you can also expect accurate settings because of its easy-to-read depth scales and smooth fine depth-adjustment system. Speaking of the system, it somewhat disappoints a little since you can lose settings during making the adjustments.

However, the router features quick release cam lock system to make it easy to change base and adjust depths.

There will be a shaft lock as well so you can change the bits easily and securely. Many users complained that the bits need to be re-tightened frequently since they come out loose. So, that can be inconvenient for you.

Besides, another issue is that the window size is small. So, you will need to take the base off to change bits which is pretty a hassle.

Pros

  • Comes with three bases.
  • Soft start motor maintains motor speed, reduces tremble and offers soft starts
  • Powerful to make precise and smooth cuts.
  • Offers variable speed and control.
  • Quick release cam lock system for easy base changes and depth adjustments.
  • Shaft lock offers easy and quick bits changes.

Cons

  • Small window size.
  • Poor depth adjustment system.
  • Bits come out lose frequently.

When it comes to positive compact router reviews, 450 PK by Porter-cable dominates the market.

The router features aluminum 1.25 HP motor that boasts to provide you with power but many users felt that it should have more horsepower to use big sized cutters. So, this can be a small disappointment.

Besides, the router comes with soft start feature that has a full-time electronic feedback. It maintains speed of the motor even under loads of heavier materials’removal. The soft start also helps reduce twist so you can have better precision and control.

You will get both fixed and plunge bases that handle a wide range of projects with ease. The fixed one comes with 4-inch sub-base that works with universal template guides which is a big plus. Meanwhile, the 6-pound plunge base comes with ease of maneuverability because ofits lightness. It offers a smoother stroke to provide you with added control.

Its patent depth adjustment ring offers easy depth-setting and controlled bit-depth changes within 1/64 inch. However, the only issue is that it is limited to best small router sized bit heads unless you take the base plate out. The good news is, removing the base plate will remove the issue as well.

Moreover, it comes with a low-pressure spindle lock-button with 12-position that does the job of increasing accuracy amazingly while changing the bit.

You will also get to enjoy ideal bit contact thanks to the extended 8-slot 1/4 inch collect that can be adjusted easily.

Plus, its quick release tabs will be also be present to offer simple base release even with both the bases.

But one little con is that you cannot use it on a router table that limits its uses.

Pros

  • Soft start motor helps reduce tremble and twist.
  • Comes with fixed and plunge bases.
  • Depth adjustment ring offers easy depth-setting and controlled bit-depth changes.
  • Low-pressure spindle lock-button adds accuracy.
  • Easy adjustable collet.
  • Quick release tabs for easy base release.

Cons

  • Horsepower should be increased for big sized cutters.
  • Limited to small sized bit heads.
  • Not for using on router table.

450 by Power cable is another best compact router that deserves to be in the list of compact router reviews.

It features solid 1.25 HP motor making it deliver power so that you can do the woodwork smoothly.

The variable speed is absent since it comes with fixed speed at 27,000 RPM. So, this can be a visible drawback.

However, the motor has soft start features that helps in maintaining speed all through the cuts with its full time electronic feedback.

It also features adjustment ring that provides you with depth-setting plus controlled bit-depth changes within 1/64 inch. Some of the users wanted to have a big enough case for holding bits since the brand did not include one. But, that should not be a big deal.

450 combines clamping mechanism and depth ring that helps in triggering the motor so it stays locked in place.

You will also get to enjoy single wrench bit changes because of its low-pressure spindle lock button design.

Pros

  • Soft start features helps in maintaining speed all through the cuts.
  • Clamping mechanism and depth ring combined for the motor to stay locked in place.
  • Depth adjustment ring offers easy depth-setting and controlled bit-depth changes
  • Single wrench bit changes offered by spindle lock button design.
  • Powerful motor to offer smooth operation.

Cons

  • Should have included a bigger case.
  • Fixed speed.

Most of the compact router reviews claim that the users feel incomplete for the absence of an LED light even if it is great without it. But with Ridgid R2410, you don’t feel that.

It comes with an LED light that will illuminate the work site so that it adds more visibility to help you out. Moreover, the lighted plug is an extra touch that also helps you in finding out live tools.

The over molded grip has been stated to be the best feature. It conforms to the hand that can make you feel enough comfortable to hold for longer time.

The router runs with 5.5 amps motor featuring no load speed ranging from 20,000 rpm to 30,000 rpm to perform flawlessly. It’s smooth functioning can make you do the woodworking job with precision.

You will also get to enjoy consistent precision and speed on the basis of the work and material, thanks to the electronic feedback.

The router furthermore features square and round bases that don’t only add convenience but versatility as well. While the square offers perfect straight edge to cut the flutes without any issue, the round one enables the router to follow pin guides more accurately without losing course. 

Moreover, the router features an easy access micro adjust dial that lets you control depth while you will also have spindle lock for bit alterations. Albeit, minor adjustment felt a bit awkward as per the users but that did not disappoint them.

R2401 comes equipped with a quick release lever so that you can remove the motor from the base with ease. In addition, it features no-mar top that comes with an over mold to avoid surface marring.

However, some of the users felt it a little unsafe since the bits kept coming out loosening, so it is recommended to check the product beforehand.

Pros

  • LED light helps bright work site while the light plug helps identify tools.
  • Enough power to offer smooth operation.
  • Over molded grip offers comfort and control.
  • Electronic feedback provides you with consistent speed.
  • Comes with round and square bases.

Cons

  • Making adjustment can be a little awkward.
  • Bits may come out loose.

Avid Power MW104 also deserves to be in the list of compact router reviews because of its powerful performance.

It comes with 1.25 HP and 6.5 amp motor that deliver an ample of power for different trimming and routing jobs.

There will be a dial that features variable speed control making the motor run from 10,000 rpm to 32,000 rpm to offer perfect speed for different projects.

You will also love to have a smooth depth adjustment system that makes sure you get accurate performance while working.

The router features dual LED lights that help illuminate the work site but may disappoint you since they will not be very bright.

There will also be quick lock system to provide you with convenient base changes and depth adjustments. However, the locking mechanism does have some areas of improvement as per the users, but that should not be a big deal.

The router offers rubber-covered base so it can protect the surface when in use. You will also love the dust hood that helps remove dust to give you a cleaner working space.

The best part is that you will get an edge guide so you can perform different customized jobs easily.

Pros

  • Powerful motor offers smooth operation.
  • Variable speed control.
  • Dust hood offers dust removal.
  • Edge guide offers customized job operation.
  • Base helps protect work surface.

Cons

  • LED light should be more bright.
  • Adjustments have more areas of improvement.

Buying Guide: 

Power and speed:

The power of best compact router is measured in HP that is short for horsepower. It’s no doubt that you would like to get a compact router comparison that will have decent horsepower. With an ideal power, you can have torque necessary for running different kinds of cutters. Make sure that you get a product that comes in 1 or 2 HP power.

Plus, you should also have a product that features a range of speed. It will enable you to account for hardness and density of different materials. Maximum speed may not always be the optimum option. Meanwhile, lower speed can struggle with some wood materials.

Key plays a vital role in ability to use variable speed that helps in coping with a variety of hardwoods and softwoods easily. However, the router will function differently in different hardness of materials.

Performance and handling:

You may want a product that will be enough versatile to handle a wider range of projects. Make sure that you weigh up the ergonomics and size of the router. Also check the build quality and weight so you can determine the suitability of the router for your requirements.

Below has highlighted some factors that you can consider:

Depth adjustment: Such setting will let you control your cuts so it can adapt to the task. Altering the bit or cutter height will determine how deep it can cut through materials. Make sure that you get a cutter that will be easy to replace since it will make handling more convenient.

Weight: Compact router will usually be lighter in weight. So, they will be easier to handle as well.You may find most of the reasonable weights in the range 3.5 pounds to 4.5 pounds when it comes to compact-sized router.

Grip: You should also check the way machine handles when looking for a compact router. If you get a good grip, then you will get to enjoy precision and comfort.

Other Features: 

Electronic speed control: Speed control allows for precision by letting you have a speed on the basis of the tasks at hand and the surfaces that you are working on.

Removable dust shields: A removable dust shield offers protection from different debris and airborne sawdust.

Easy base replacement orremoval: Make sure that the router features a shaft lock. It allows for quicker and easier base change.

Cam lock system with quick release: Cam lock system is one of the most handy features as well.If you wish for an-easier base changes and a smooth depth adjustment, then this feature helps do the job.

LED lights: LED lights help in directing and enhancing visibility while you are on routing-duty. Some of the models include the feature into the kit while some of them don’t. However, you can buy the lights separately if the latter is the case.

Soft-start feature: Soft start helps provide you with incremental speed increase as well as lesser trembling starts. With such feature, you can get to do routing job with ease.

Accessories: 

Bases:The compact router base refers to the plane that rests against the material you work with. You will get a variety of bases when it comes to their types. The most common ones are:

  • Fixed base is one of the most common types that can move up and down in the base so that depth can be adjusted.
  • Plunge base is easy to adjust when you work and lets you penetrate deeply into the woods. They also work great while making cuts in the mid of a material.
  • Tilted base offers angled routing. Router may come with interchangeable bases or it may incorporate only one base.
  • Offset base is ideal for hard to reach area.

Bits: Router bits one of the most essential components that comes in different shapes.The bit help-sin determining the cut types you can make in the woods.

Dust collection: Make sure that you add a dust-collection adapter to your cart. Such adapter screws into the router and helps in collecting and holding dust such as wood chips or grains.

Edge guides: Look for edge guide that is constructed with steel material. It will offer accurate positioning of dadoes and inlays. Also check if the edge guides can mount quick to a fixed base router.

Frequently Asked Questions: 

Q1. What is the best compact router?

I have a list for you top 10 lists the best compact router, I hope you can easily take one of them. I discourse all top 10 lists in my full article and which is better for expert’s woodworker. You can check in my full article and choose one of them easily.

Q2. What is the best small compact router?

Best Compact Router at first Makita RT0701CX3 1-1/4 HP Router, second Bosch Colt Palm Grip PR20EVSK 3rd DEWALT Router, Fixed Base DWP611 4th PORTER-CABLE 450PK 1.25 HP Compact Router, 5th Ridgid R2401 Laminate Trim

Q3. What is the best compact router for a beginner?

Best compact router for a beginner, top 5 lists for you 1st DEWALT Router Fixed/Plunge Base Kit 2rd DEWALT Router, Fixed Base DWP611 3th Bosch 16 17EVS Wood Router Tool Kit 4th Makita RT0701CX7 1-1/4 HP Router 5th PORTER-CABLE 450PK 1.25 HP Compact Router

Final Notes

I hope this article helps you to choose the Best Compact Router. If you want a tool that will help your smart work and saving you time then a Compact router makes a great choice. I explained my full Compact Router Review article , it can help you to make a decision.
We have highlighted both the positive and negative sides of each of the best Compact routers so that you get a clear picture of the tool.