|Bosch||Horsepower / Amps||RPM Range ||Max Plunge Depth||Raw Power Test ||Weight|
|1619EVS||3-1/4 / 15||8,000-21,000||2-9/16 inches||Fair–stalled out some||13.2 pounds|
Although it has some positives, this tool was handicapped by low reserve power and plunge-accuracy problems.
Performance: The plunge mechanism allows too much play. To ensure accurate cutting, you must lock the stop rod to support the loose side of the router–for every cut. Otherwise the bit will tilt in the cut as you push down on the handles. This is a big performance compromise. Testers did not like the auto-locking lever that you must hold down to plunge the router; it adds a step and increases hand strain.
Power: Lower than most–stalls when pushed.
Ergonomics: The rubber-grip handles are the most comfortable, and the switch and the plunge-lock lever can be operated with both hands remaining on the handles.
Features: Lacks a positive lock for the depth-stop rod. Has a plunge-spring lockout for easier router-table use.
Accessories: 1/4-inch collet, fine-adjust knob, template guide holder, vac attachment, sturdy wrench.
Bosch Power Tools
|DeWalt||Horsepower / Amps||RPM Range ||Max Plunge Depth||Raw Power Test ||Weight |
|DW625||3 / 15||8,000-22,000||2-7/16 inches||Poor||11.2 pounds|
This router was largely outclassed in feel, features, and power, and it failed to impress us throughout the testing. Seems a bit dated.
Performance: The best thing about the DW625 is its smooth plunging action.
Power: Really bogged down under load compared with its competitors. It cut the slowest–but at least it didn't stall out. Note the lower horsepower rating.
Ergonomics: The straight-up handles are much less comfortable than angled ones and reduce the feeling of control. One tester commented that to hold the vertical handles more easily, he had to hunch down to keep from twisting his wrists. The switch–but not the plunge-lock lever–can be operated with both hands remaining on the handles.
Features: The fit and finish were the worst of any tool's, and a few parts came damaged and misassembled. Lacks a positive lock for the depth-stop rod.
Accessories: 1/4-inch collet, vac attachment, decent wrench.
DeWalt Industrial Tools
|Festool||Horsepower / Amps||RPM Range ||Max Plunge Depth||Raw Power Test ||Weight|
|OF2200EB+||3-1/4 / 18||10,000-22,000||3-1/8 inches||Excellent||17.2 pounds|
Our winner is a great example of what can be accomplished when a company sets out to make the very best and money is no object. The smoothest, strongest, most user-friendly router in the bunch; also by far the most expensive.
Performance: Superb adjusting, plunging, locking, and cutting capacity.
Power: UL won't approve a standard cord on anything over 15 amps, so the 2,200-
watt, 18-amp rating must be for peak-draw moments only. However, we couldn't slow it down; it has great power in reserve for those tough jobs–think mini-shaper.
Ergonomics: A heavy tool. The comfortable handles have a trigger and a plunge-lock knob that keep both hands on the tool. And the handles are skewed on the base to allow a more natural stance when used with a fence.
Features: Has a positive depth-stop lock, an electric brake, and the only two-column plunge lock.
Accessories: Base insert, bottom-mounted dust-collection cup, and sturdy wrench in a stackable case.
|Freud||Horsepower / Amps||RPM Range ||Max Plunge Depth||Raw Power Test ||Weight|
|FT2200VCEP||3-1/4 / 15||8,000-22,500||2-9/16 inches||Good||12.2 pounds|
This is a really solid tool with a lot of nice features, at a price that makes it a notable bargain.
Performance: Smooth plunging action and great general operation. The clear plastic shield in front sometimes directs chips up into the user's face, but it's easily removed. The fine-adjust knob vibrated down its threaded shaft and limited the plunge return height unless it was twisted firmly to its highest position.
Ergonomics: The skinny handles could use some rubber grips to make them easier to hold on to; they're especially slick when covered in sawdust. The switch and the plunge-lock lever can be operated with both hands remaining on the handles, but the spring-loaded lever smacks your fingers when you release it.
Features: Lacks a positive lock for the depth-stop rod.
Accessories: Fence, 1/4-inch collet, vac attachment, stamped wrench.
|Freud||Horsepower / Amps||RPM Range ||Max Plunge Depth||Raw Power Test ||Weight|
|FT3000VCE||3-1/4 / 15||8,000-21,000||2-1/2 inches||Good||13.6 pounds|
A strong third-place tool with great feel, performance, and features. Has extra features that make it especially suited for a router table. A bit less accurate than some of the other routers.
Performance: Plunging action is smooth but allows a slight amount of play. For critical cuts, use the stop-rod lock to help stabilize the head.
Power: Strong power; just below the top tier.
Ergonomics: Nice handles with rubber grips. The switch and the plunge-lock lever can be operated with both hands remaining on the handles, but the lever crowds your hand when it's in the unlocked position.
Features: The subbase wasn't totally flat and seems to be made out of a softer plastic than others. Has a positive lock for the depth-stop rod. The only tool with through-the-base spindle lock and height-adjustment access specific to router-table use.
Accessories: 1/4-inch collet, fine-adjust knob, vac attachment, stamped wrench.
Note: The first router we received was defective–always question a bad unit.
|Hitachi||Horsepower / Amps||RPM Range ||Max Plunge Depth||Raw Power Test ||Weight|
|M12V2||3-1/4 / 15||8,000-22,000||2-9/16 inches||Excellent||13.9 pounds|
With its handy features and super power, the M12V2 would have been nearer the top of our list if it had smoother plunge action. Great power for the price.
Performance: The plunge action is sticky in general, and plunging with one side
of the base overhanging the work is very difficult. The columns might wear smoother over time, but we need them to work well right from the start.
Power: Top-rated power.
Ergonomics: Nice rubber-grip handles. The plunge-lock lever can be operated with both hands remaining on the handles, but the switch requires a bit of a reach.
Features: The speed-selector dial is in an awkward place. Being at the ready right by your thumb may seem ideal, but when your fingers crawl over the top of the handle to reach the plunge-lock lever, they can easily move the dial. Has a positive lock for the depth-stop rod.
Accessories: Fence, 1/4-inch collet, fine-adjust knob, template guide base insert and centering tool, template guide, vac attachment, stamped wrench.
Hitachi Power Tools
|Makita||Horsepower / Amps||RPM Range ||Max Plunge Depth||Raw Power Test ||Weight |
|3612C||3-1/4 / 15|| 9,000-23,000||2-3/8 inches||Excellent||13.2 pounds|
This second-place tool was a down-to-earth favorite of the testers, with the power and feel to back up its rank. Offers the bare-bones performance you need and nothing extra.
Performance: Smooth plunge action and a lightning-fast motor brake. The brake allows the tool to be set down sooner after a cut and adds an element of safety.
Power: Top-rated power, but heed the warning in the manual that this powerful motor will overheat if run too long at a low speed setting.
Ergonomics: The switch can be operated with both hands remaining on the handles. But the plunge-lock lever is small and hard to operate without removing one hand from a handle.
Features: Lacks a positive lock for the depth-stop rod. The fine-adjust knob seems like an afterthought; it won't stop unscrewing at the end of the threaded adjustment rod, and backing it out all the way separates the motor from the base. The knob also makes it hard to tell where the plunge return height is set.
Accessories: 1/4-inch collet insert, stamped wrench.
|Porter-Cable||Horsepower / Amps||RPM Range ||Max Plunge Depth||Raw Power Test ||Weight|
|7539||3-1/4 / 15|| 10,000-21,000||3 inches||Fair–stalled the most||17.3 pounds|
Its heft and price don't reflect this massive router's power and capabilities. The tool seems dated and clunky and in need of a design overhaul.
Performance: The plunge action is smooth enough, but the spring cannot raise the tool's head, so you have to manually lift it. The auto-
locking plunge-lock lever adds a step to each cut and was not appreciated.
Power: For its size, weight, and reputation, this router had surprisingly little power in reserve. It would cut just fine–and then stall suddenly when pushed a little harder.
Ergonomics: The tool has generous, full-hand grips, but the sharp corners that the bottom of your hands push against are uncomfortable and truly anti-ergonomic. The switch and the plunge-lock lever can be operated with both hands remaining on the handles.
Features: The only unit without a fine-adjust feature or a spindle lock for changing bits. Has a positive lock for the depth-stop rod.
Accessories: Two stamped wrenches. Optional fine-adjust knob is available.
|Rockwell||Horsepower / Amps||RPM Range ||Max Plunge Depth||Raw Power Test ||Weight|
|RK5057K||3 / 15 ||11,000-28,000||2-3/16 inches||Good||10 pounds|
Smaller and lighter than the others, the RK5057K seemed a little outclassed; its details and features put it at the lower end for pro use.
Performance: The plunge mechanism has too much play, letting the bit tilt in the cut and reducing accuracy. This reinforces our hunch that this simple tool is for a less-demanding market.
Power: With decent, midrange power, the tool held its own against bigger routers from bigger brands. This was surprising given its smaller horsepower rating.
Ergonomics: The small size, low center of gravity, and nice rubber-grip handles give the router a great feel. The switch can be operated with both hands remaining on the handles, but to use the plunge-lock lever, one hand must come partway off a handle.
Features: Has a positive lock for the depth-stop rod, but the aluminum rod is loose-fitting and easily dented by the locking bolt.
Accessories: Fence, template guide, top and bottom vac attachments, stamped wrench, plastic case.
Rockwell Power Tools
|Triton||Horsepower / Amps||RPM Range ||Max Plunge Depth||Raw Power Test ||Weight|
|TRA001||3-1/4 / 15||8,000-21,000||2-5/8 inches||Fair-Good||13.5 pounds|
This tool has appealing features but the least comfortable feel of all routers tested. It's probably best used in a router table, and has special features for this use.
Performance: Steady plunge action, but notches on the column keep it from feeling smooth. Plastic shields on the base direct dust into the user's face, so at least one needs to be removed.
Power: On the lower end.
Ergonomics: Round handles mounted too high make for a top-heavy, tippy feel, and the round knob design lacks the stabilizing wrist control provided by oblong handles.
The switch and the plunge-lock lever can be operated with both hands on the handles.
Features: A unique second plunge mode lowers the router in small increments as one knob is rotated. You can use the controls in either hand; this is the only tool without a definite front or back. Has a positive lock for the depth-stop rod.
For router-table use, the plunge spring can be removed, and the base and spindle lock click into a position that allows easy bit changes above the table.
Accessories: Fence, 1/4-inch collet insert, vac attachment, stamped wrench.
Triton Workshop Systems