How Much Is a Wood Router? [Explained!]

A wood router is a versatile power tool used for cutting various edges and patterns into wood. With the right bits, it can cut decorative edges, joints, holes, slots, and recesses. Routers allow woodworkers to add detail and personality to their projects.

When purchasing a router, an important consideration is how much to budget for this tool. Routers range hugely in price, from inexpensive models under $100 to professional-grade routers over $500. The right router for you depends on your needs, usage frequency, and budget.

This comprehensive guide will discuss the factors affecting wood router costs and provide price ranges for different types and sizes. Read on to learn how much to expect to spend on a quality wood router.

Key Takeaways

The wide range of routers and features makes buying decisions complex. Keep these tips in mind when determining your budget:

  • Closely match the router capabilities and quality to your needs and skill level. Overbuying can lead to wasted money.
  • Prioritize horsepower, plunge vs fixed base, bit changing method, and precision adjustment system based on your workflow.
  • Buy the highest quality router you can reasonably afford for long term durability. Cheaper routers have more plastic parts that wear out.
  • High-end professional models offer ideal performance, features and durability. Buying used can make these accessible to limited budgets.
  • Consider starting with a moderately priced router around $150-250 and upgrading later as your skills progress.

With the right choice, a quality wood router should provide years of reliable service for all your woodworking routing needs. Carefully assessing your needs and budget will lead you to the ideal value.

Key Factors Affecting Router Costs

Several key factors impact the price of wood routers, including:

Motor Power

The motor horsepower (HP) affects both power and precision. More powerful motors cost more but allow for deeper, smoother cuts.

  • Small routers: 1 to 1-3/4 HP – For light duty trimming and detailing. Cost $100-$200.
  • Mid-size routers: 2 to 2-1/4 HP – For general routing tasks. Cost $200-$300.
  • Large routers: 3 to 3-1/4 HP – For heavy duty cutting and shaping. Cost $350+

Bit Changing System

How the router allows you to change bits influences convenience and speed.

  • Single wrench – Most basic method. Involves manually loosening the collet nut.
  • Spindle lock – Allows you to lock the spindle with a button when changing bits.
  • Tool-free – Most convenient but pricier systems that allow quick bit changes without tools.

Variable Speed

Adjustable speed settings from around 10,000 to 25,000 RPM allow optimal speed control for different materials and bit sizes. This fine speed tuning costs more but helps achieve cleaner results.

Soft Start

Soft start slowly ramps up the motor to avoid jerking at startup. This feature reduces wear on the motor and improves control. It adds to the cost but is worth it for precision work.

Precision Depth Adjustment

Accurate depth control is essential for consistent results. More expensive routers allow precise micro-adjustments.

Plunge Base vs Fixed Base

  • Plunge bases allow the bit to be plunged downward during operation for stopped cuts and precision. This versatility comes at a higher cost.
  • Fixed bases only allow preset depth adjustments. While more affordable, they lack the flexibility of plunge routers.

Cordless Capability

Cordless routers provide enhanced mobility and ease of use but at a significantly higher cost.

Types of Wood Routers

There are several types of routers available that are designed for different applications:

Benchtop/Stationary Routers

As the name implies, these larger routers are designed to be secured in a router table or work station.

  • Cost range: $150 – $500+
  • Motor power: 3 to 5 HP
  • Key features: Precise depth adjustment, large table mounting holes, above table bit changing capabilities. Ideal for table routing, larger projects, and heavy duty use.

Plunge Routers

These feature a plunge base that allows the motor to slide up and down while locked at specific depths. This allows stopped cuts and precision control.

  • Cost range: $170 – $500
  • Motor power: 1-1/4 to 3-1/4 HP
  • Key features: Plunge base, soft start, variable speed, depth turret. Designed for freehand use and versatility.

Fixed/Standard Base Routers

In these routers, the motor is fixed in position. Depth is preset manually. Lower cost but less flexible than plunge routers.

  • Cost range: $80 – $250
  • Motor power: 1-3/4 to 2-1/4 HP
  • Key features: Preset depth levels. Good for beginners on a budget.

Compact/Trim Routers

Lightweight and compact for handling detail work. Limited in depth capacity.

  • Cost range: $100 – $250
  • Motor power: 1 to 2 HP
  • Key features: Small size, rounded bases suited for flush trimming and edging. Lower power rating.

Combo Kits

These include both a fixed and plunge base to provide versatility in one package.

  • Cost range: $170 – $350
  • Motor power: 1-1/4 to 2-1/4 HP
  • Key features: Combination plunger and fixed bases, soft start, variable speed. Added convenience at an increased cost.

Cost Ranges by Brand

Router prices also vary based on the brand and quality of construction. Here are average price ranges for both Consumer/DIY and Professional models from the major manufacturers:

Consumer/DIY Brands

  • DEWALT: $120 – $200
  • Bosch: $100 – $250
  • Craftsman: $80 – $180
  • Ryobi: $80 – $150
  • Skil: $60 – $120
  • Porter-Cable: $140 – $280
  • Hitachi: $90 – $240

Professional Brands

  • Festool: $260 – $640
  • Makita: $258 – $352
  • Milwaukee: $152 – $504
  • Whiteside: $159 – $299
  • JessEm: $180 – $500

As shown, professional-grade routers generally cost $150 to $300+ more than comparable consumer models. Investing in pro-level quality ensures durability, precision, and features like advanced depth adjustment systems.

Key Considerations By Price Range

The following are the key types of routers and features typical at different price points:

Under $100

At this low price point, expect very basic functionality:

  • Compact trim routers
  • Fixed bases
  • 1 to 1-1/4 HP motors
  • Single wrench bit change
  • Lack advanced features

$100 – $200

In this range look for:

  • Standard fixed or plunge bases
  • 1-1/4 to 2-HP motors
  • Spindle lock bit change
  • May lack variable speed or soft start

$200 – $300

Expect more power, versatility and features:

  • 2 to 2-1/4 HP motors
  • Plunge, fixed or combo kits
  • Variable speed
  • Soft start
  • Advanced bit retention systems

$300 – $500

Professional-grade performance and precision:

  • 2-1/4 to 3-1/4 HP motors
  • Precision plunge bases
  • Micro depth adjustments
  • Advanced bit changing systems
  • Heavy duty construction

Over $500

Top of the line for demanding users:

  • 3+ HP motors
  • High torque and horsepower
  • Heavy duty metal components
  • Maximum precision and control
  • Advanced features like dedicated dust collection

Recommended Models By Price Range

Based on performance, quality, and value, here are some of the top recommended routers at different price points:

Under $100

  • Skil 1817 Fixed Base Router – $89
  • Craftsman 17543 Fixed Base Compact Router – $99

$100 – $200

  • DeWALT DWP611 Compact Router – $169
  • Bosch 1617EVSPK Combo Kit – $199
  • Porter-Cable 892 2-1/4 HP Plunge Router – $137

$200 – $300

  • Festool OF 1400 EQ Plunge Router – $234
  • Makita RT0701CX7 1-1/4 HP Compact Router Kit – $199
  • DeWALT DW618PKB 2-1/4 HP Plunge & Fixed Base Router Kit – $219

$300 – $500

  • Festool OF 2200EB Plunge Router – $469
  • Milwaukee 5625-20 3-1/4 HP Router – $354
  • Bosch MRP23EVS Plunge Router – $320

Over $500

  • Festool OF1400 EBQ Plunge Router – $745
  • Makita RP2301FC 3-1/4 HP Plunge Router – $540
  • Milwaukee 5619-29 3-1/4 HP Variable Speed Router – $529

Features to Look for By Budget

Use this guide to prioritize the key features to look for based on your budget:

Under $150

Focus on:

  • Fixed bases – More affordable but offer less flexibility
  • 1 to 1-3/4 HP motors – Capable for lighter routing work
  • Spindle lock – Convenient bit changing
  • No variable speed – Look for single speed around 25,000 RPM

$150 – $250

Key upgrades:

  • Plunge bases – Allow stopped cuts
  • 1-3/4 to 2 HP motors – Handle thicker stock
  • Variable speed – Better speed control

$250 – $400

Enhanced power and precision:

  • 2 to 2-1/4 HP motors
  • Soft start – Improves handling
  • Micro-adjust depth – More depth precision
  • Higher build quality – For durability

Over $400

Premium professional features:

  • 2-1/4 to 3+ HP motors
  • Advanced bit retention – For fast changes
  • Precision plunge system
  • Heavy duty metal components
  • Above table adjustment – For table mounting

Prioritize power, precision adjustments, bit changing convenience, and durability for your needs and budget.

Buying Second Hand Can Save on Costs

If trying to get the most value on a limited budget, buying a used professional-grade router can be a smart option.

Sites like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and eBay frequently have quality used routers at significant discounts. Look for brands like Porter-Cable, Bosch, Festool, Dewalt, Milwaukee at 50% or more off retail.

Inspect condition closely and confirm accessories/base plates are included. Buying second hand comes with some risk so thoroughly test before purchasing. But the savings on pro models can be substantial.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the cheapest router you can buy?

The absolute cheapest routers cost around $50-60 but are only recommended for very light duty use. Better budget options are in the $80-120 range from brands like Skil, Ryobi, Craftsman and Bosch.

Is an expensive router worth it?

More expensive routers from brands like Festool and Milwaukee offer excellent power, precision and features. For an avid woodworker, the productivity and quality gains of pro routers make them a worthwhile investment.

What can I do with a cheap router?

Inexpensive routers under $100 are suitable for simpler tasks like rounding over edges, light trimming, and basic routing. Avoid intense loads or fine joinery work.

How much router do I need as a beginner?

As a beginner, a moderately priced fixed or plunge router in the 1 to 2 HP range provides enough capability to learn on. Avoid overbuying top of the line models until you progress.

Should I buy refurbished/used routers?

Buying refurbished or used can be a great way to get pro-level routers at discount prices. Inspect condition closely and ensure all accessories are included. Test thoroughly before purchase.

What router offers the best value for money?

Routers in the $150 to $300 range from brands like DeWALT, Makita, Bosch and Porter Cable offer excellent performance, durability and features for the money. They provide the best overall value.

How much does it cost to have a router professionally serviced/repaired?

Router repair costs typically range from $50 – $150 on average. Simple brushes or bearing replacements may be $50-75 while bigger motor or switch repairs could be up to $150 plus parts.