Best Wood Router of 2018
The evolution of the wood router, like the evolution of all power tools, gives us more choice than ever before, with more power and precision, all at a lesser cost. There has never been a better time to purchase a new wood router, and the only issue that the consumer usually faces, is how to know which brand names and models are most likely to satisfy their needs. Tools Around The House have gathered ten of the best products available, in our detailed wood router reviews, so that you can make the best choice.
Top 10 Comparison Chart For Wood Routers
Using a combination of user reviews from sites like Amazon, combined with expert knowledge, and a sprinkling of common sense, Tools Around The House brings to you the best wood routers available right now, with specifications and helpful information for each.
We have tried to include a variety of models, of different power levels, types, and price ranges, but only models that have been proven to be worthy (through either expert scrutiny, user reviews, or both). Where we have included combination sets, it is worth noting that the fixed-base or plunge versions are usually available separately. If the combination set is high quality, then the individual products will be also.
With this table, and the full wood router reviews below, you will have everything that you need to pick the perfect wood working tool.
|Dewalt DWP611PK||Combo||1.25HP||Durable and ergonomic, LED lights, compact, variable speed, top rated wood router||4.8 out of 5 stars|
|View Lowest Price|
|Porter-Cable 7518 Speedmatic||Fixed-base||15 Amp, 3.25 HP||5-speed, very powerful, soft-start motor, suitable for heavy work||4.7 out of 5 stars143 reviews||View Lowest Price|
|Porter-Cable 690LR||Fixed-base||11 Amp, 1.75HP||Durable, precise, many bits available, solid option||4.5 out of 5 stars254 reviews||View Lowest Price|
|Bosch 1617EVSPK||Combo||12Amp, 2.25HP||Variable speed, soft start, easy to switch bases, best seller, ¼ and ½ inch collet.||4.6 out of 5 stars|
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|Hitachi M12VC||Fixed-base||11 Amp, 2.25HP||Variable speed, electronic feedback |
control, quiet, easy to use
|4.3 out of 5 stars182 reviews||View Lowest Price|
|Dewalt DW618PK||Combo||12 Amp, 2.25HP||Heavy duty, variable speed, dust collection, precision depth, 3-year warranty||4.6 out of 5 stars225 reviews||View Lowest Price|
|Makita RP2301FC||Fixed-base||3.25HP||Variable speed, lots of power, smooth plunge and great depth range, LED lights, and more||4.5 out of 5 stars30 reviews||View Lowest Price|
|Bosch PR20EVSK Colt||Fixed-base||5.6 Amp, 1HP||Compact and powerful, edge guide, variable speed, great value, |
plunge base available
|4.4 out of 5 stars|
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|Black & Decker RP250||Fixed-base||10 Amp||Variable speed, gradual start, decent power, very good value||4.4 out of 5 stars144 reviews||View Lowest Price|
|Dewalt DW621||Fixed-base||2HP||Variable speed, soft start, dust collection, |
variable collets, durable and powerful
|4.2 out of 5 stars49 reviews||View Lowest Price|
What Does A Wood Router Do?
A wood router is a profound and versatile tool, and one that every joiner will be familiar with. They allows for woodworking of the highest stature, in rapid time, and are used for cutting and shaping wood, decorative effects, edges, joints, and much more. In fact, if you have a router that is up for the job, and you have the right router jigs and bits to go with it, there is little that you can't do, other than the assembly.
Some of the techniques and results you can accomplish using a wood router include edge routing, dadoes, rabbets, and patterns and decorations of all varieties. Plunge routers are almost limitless, and the amount of attachments, jogs, and bits available, make the wood router the most versatile and essential tool for any woodwork, from cabinets and doors, to boats and sculptures.
Whether you are a professional joiner, or a DIY lover, you will want at least one wood router for your tool collection, if not several.
Fixed-Base or Plunge Routers?
There are two types of wood router: fixed-base wood routers, and plunge routers.
Fixed base routers can take care of edges and grooves, dadoes, and rabbets. They consist of a motor, base, and handles, and may come with a host of features. The base is stationary, and is set to a certain height before the cut begins.
They tend to be less expensive, and easier to use than plunge routers, but you cannot cut in the middle of wood, or adjust the height in the middle of a cut. Fixed-base routers can also be more readily attached, and used in combination with a router table, for even safer and more efficient woodworking.
The plunge router can do everything that the fixed-base router can do, and more. The height of the cut can be adjusted mid-flow, allowing for you to “plunge” the cut, and create specific grooves and designs. You can also safely start in the middle of the wood with a plunge wood router. Plunge bases are spring loaded, and act almost like suspension. Overall, this allows for much more versatility. You can do practically anything within the realms of your imagination with these.
The cost of this extra functionality is the price, weight, and the inability to attach plunge routers to a router table.
Or Combination Wood Routers...
If you had to choose out of a fixed-base or plunge router, then it would depend on exactly what you wanted. Tradesmen often find that they mostly require only the simpler fixed-base wood router, but that they occasionally need a plunge router for specific handheld jobs, where internal cutting is required.
It was not long until the market caught up with the need for an all-in-one design. The combination wood router now rules the world of woodworking, and has one motor than can be changed over to either a fixed-base, or a router base, depending on what is needed. This gives the joiner or DIY enthusiast all of the benefits of both types of router.
If you know you only need a certain type, for example a fixed-base, then there are still many on the market that serve that one function. Likewise with the plunge. If you want both, then the combination router should be your product of choice.
Wood Router Reviews
With the wood router reviews in the table above, you will have some idea of solid options; products that will not let you down, and which can perform most of the functions which you are likely to require. However, it is not all about user reviews, when it comes to knowing the best wood router for you. Some are designed with a specific purpose in mind, some have features that allow them to excel in certain wood working areas, and sometimes a less powerful model is more than enough for your needs.
Here are some more details of each product, to bring you closer to your perfect wood router. For ease, the products are presented categorically, so that you can look for the type that you want.
Best Fixed-Base Wood Routers
Bosch PR20EVSK Colt
It is compact, lightweight at only three pounds, and it has the power to deal with most of your router needs. The Bosch Colt should not be underestimated for its size. Professionals may also want to own a full size, full power router, but this model offers something that the larger ones can't; ultimate control.
The Colt can be operated easily using one hand, has variable speed from 16,000 to 35,000RPM (a very high speed considering its power), with easy access controls, and the depth can be easily adjusted, and even micro-adjusted. The 1-HP motor is the most powerful that is available for a small router.
The intelligent and durable design make the Bosch PR20EVSK one of the finest on the market for DIY heads and professionals alike, and at a price of under $100 it is of immense value for money.
Average reviews give the Colt 4.2/5 over a huge sample of 275. Users have complained that the height adjustment can be difficult, and that the shaft-lock button is badly designed. Others say that they have never had this problem, and that consulting the instructions soon solves this. The product has a one year warranty. Here is what one reviewer on Amazon had to say:
“I have been using my new Colt router for a month now and it is a wonderful addition to my shop. I have a large bench mounted router, but this tool is now being used more often than the more powerful cousin. It is so easy to route edges, especially for rounding over or using the flush cut router bit. Put the box or other item you want to route on a pad made for holding the work and just cut away. The Colt is very easy to control.”
Porter-Cable 690 L-R
The Porter-Cable 690 are some of the best wood routers out there, evidenced by the fact that they are extremely popular in wood working businesses. They are durable, sturdy, and they get the job done well. Porter-Cable are well known for keeping it simple, and focusing on the quality of the product, so you can expect to see a lack of features to some extent, made up for by the sheer reliability and precision of the model.
The 690 L-R is a recent addition to the line-up, and comes with a powerful 1.75HP motor, capable of producing 27,500 RPM. This is more than enough power for most wood working jobs, and the ergonomic design make it comfortable to use during long work hours, or during your big DIY jobs at home. Being a popular brand, there are many bits and jogs available, and the collet system is easy to operate.
New to the L-R version is the cam-lock lever, which allows for very easy height adjustment. Micro- height adjustments can be made that are accurate to within 1/128 of an inch, a sure sign of why Porter- Cable are well known as an industry standard. The durable design is backed up by a three-year limited warranty, and a one-year free service contract. Plunge bases are also available, and are known to be of good quality.
If user reviews can tell us anything, then the 690 L-R is definitely up there as one of the best wood routers, with a rating of 4.5/5 over 206 customer reviews. At only $123, it is a steal! One review had this to say:
“Walk through any production cabinetmaking or woodworking shop and you'll probably see 7 out of 10 workers using Porter Cable 690 routers. Most pro woodworkers own several (one guy in my shop owns 23, but he's not normal), and have them equipped with the most commonly used bits and production set-ups. Durable, capable, and simple in concept and design, the 690 is hard to beat.”
Porter Cable 7518 Speedmatic
The Porter-Cable 7518 is very like its little brother the 690 in a lot of ways. It is durable, cuts accurately, and is designed and manufactured by a brand that you know you can trust. What makes this wood router different, beside the 15 Amp motor, is the 5-speed variable setting, which runs from 10,000 to 21,000RPM.
This allows you to adapt the speed depending on the application at hand, and gives you a wide range of cutting diameters and router bits to choose from. The router bits are easily interchangeable via the auto- release collet system. The motor features a soft start-up, and the motor maintains a constant speed when under load. The Porter-Cable 7518 is capable of even heavy duty cuts, with the toughest of wood.
It is true that the Speedmatic costs a considerable amount more than our other fixed-base picks, but it is a model that will suit the serious handyman, and is exceptional when used with a table. Comes with a one-year warranty. It has a sturdy 4.6/5 rating, with 123 reviews. Here is what one user has to say:
“I was very surprised to see the 7518 getting anything but 5-star reviews. I have had mine for five years and had nothing but marvelous experiences with it. It has more power than you're ever going to need, has a soft start that's a very nice feature, variable speeds which come in handy at times, and it's pretty much bullet-proof. What's not to like?”
In our wood router reviews, we try to make sure every product we include has a purpose. The Hitachi is perfect for the DIY enthusiast, or semi-pro joiner who is looking for a model that allows for the most comfortable and easy of uses, with no maintenance, and no pain of repairing and replacing. Simply put, the Hitachi is the newbie tool of our review table, but that does not mean it cannot deliver a professional finish; it means that its ergonomic design, and hassle free build make it extremely accessible.
With a 2.25HP motor, the Hitachi packs a punch, but you will not feel it, because the M12VC has the lowest noise and vibration level out of any router of its variety. This also adds to the control, along with the electronic speed control. A plunge base is available, though not included.
The Hitachi M12VC is extremely lightweight, and easy to manage, and can be used for handheld work, as well as being attached to a router table. Reviews are favorable, and the model has a rating of 4.3 for 182 customers. One of them had this to say:
“The first thing that I noticed about this router is how solid it is. The motor is surprisingly hefty for its size. I love the ease at which I can switch from the fixed base to the plunge base. The soft start is smooth and yet powerful. One of the things that made me decide on this Hitachi was the fact that I was constantly seeing it being used in the background of woodworking magazine article photos as well as on the covers and in advertisements for different products related to routers. The base locks are a breeze to use, they hold tight and are easily adjustable.”
Best Plunge Wood Routers
Black & Decker RP250
First of all, please do not think that we have included this model because it is the best wood router out there. It isn't. It is however, an extremely capable plunge router, that come at the ripe old price of around $60. This is absolutely perfect for the hobbyist, or for an amateur wood worker. Anyone who makes a profession of woodworking, should look out for a higher end model.
The Black & Decker RP250, like all plunge routers, allows you to make decorative cuttings from the middle of a piece of wood, and to change depths during cutting for more elaborate woodwork, like cut- outs and inlays. The engine is a fairly powerful 10 Amp, capable of speeds of between 8000, and 27,000 RPM, at a variable speed.
Additional features include the gradual start function, sightline base for greater accuracy during use, a depth scale, and a spindle-lock mechanism for easy bit change.
Reviews are mixed, but generally favorable at 4.2/5 from 92 customers. Various complaints are made about durability and quality, but perhaps these customers are forgetting what they paid for the product? This is a decent plunge router for $65, backed by a two-year warranty. Enough said? Here is what one reviewer thought, and we think this is a balanced opinion of the RP250:
“I've had this router for approximately 12 months now and I am happy with what I paid for. It's not the top of the line, don't be fooled into thinking you're going to get a professional quality 2HP router for $60. Keeping this in mind, I can not complain about this product. I've been using it mostly in a router table configuration and I have had absolutely no problems with it. I am a hobbyist, but I have put this router through it's paces. I have successfully cut up to 1/2" G10/FR4 (fiberglass/epoxy board with comparable density to Al T6061) with this unit, and the only problems I had were the breaking of carbide bits. There is no shortage of power from this 2HP model.”
Okay keen woodworkers and professional joiners, gather round. The DeWalt DW621 is a very capable plunge router that can be used for even the toughest of jobs. A powerful 2HP motor provides all the power that you need, with speeds between 8000 and 24,000RPM. A soft start feature, and a motor that maintains a constant speed under load, allows for more control over this power, and a machine that never overheats.
The quality and durability of the model are renowned, making the DW621 much more building site ready than the Black & Decker shown above. The cost is over $300, but this is the price you pay for a machine that you can rely on while on the job.
The rack & pinion depth adjustment is extremely easy to use, and micro-adjustments allow for an accuracy of 1/128 inches. The design is extremely ergonomic, with a well-located start switch, and plunge lock on the handle. The DeWalt DW621 also comes with ¼ and ½ inch collets for maximum versatility. Another stunning feature, is the dust collection system, which gives greater visibility and much less mess.
This is the plunge router for the pro, but still well within a medium range budget. Ratings are consistently positive at 4/5 over 46 reviews. Could this be one of the best woodworking tools on the market? Here is what one person had to say:
“This router has a number of great features that make it a good choice for hand-held operations. The smooth plunge and easily operated downlock, combined with a reliable depth stop, allow repeated plunge cuts with great accuracy. The soft start won't jerk the tool out of your hand. The included 1/2" and 1/4" collets allow the use of almost any domestic router bits. The through the column dust collection is an innovation, but I have yet to use that feature.”
A massive 3.25HP and 15 Amps of power make the Makita RP2301FC a beast of a machine, suitable for the most heavy duty and professional jobs. This is a model that boasts a whole host of features, along with a durable and ergonomic design that screams quality.
The plunge capacity (that is first and foremost what a plunge router is for) is very wide in the Makita, ranging from 0-2.75 inches, and boasting a smooth action and easy operation, further enhanced by the soft start, and the electronic brake. LED lights increase visibility during work, and you will also notice the ease with which change router bits, using the shaft lock that does not require tools.
Perfect for the carpenter, furniture maker, or craftsman, the Makita RP2301FC is perhaps one of the finest available. Although there are only 23 customer reviews available on Amazon, the model has rated an impressive 4.3/5, and is fresh on the market, coming from a line of successful predecessors. It has recently been reduced to nearly half of its former price, making it a very wise choice right now. Here is what one reviewer had to say:
“So this appears to be the newest 3 & 1/4 HP router from Makita. I ordered the previous which now seems to be discontinued but got this new one instead so here are my first impressions. Its smooth, I really like the trigger grip so you can keep your hands on it at start up. Great start up and break action. The trigger ,which is on the right side grip, has a lock mechanism on it as well if you want to just leave it on to power through a cut. The plunge action seems real nice.. bearings aren’t even broken in yet and the way they roll is so slick. Over all it just feels like a very high quality build.”
Best Combination Wood Routers
As mentioned, the best value purchase if you know that you will use both types of wood router, is the combination sets, that feature one motor compatible with two bases. Often it is possible to find the routers featured in combination sets as individual units, so if you see something you like the look of here, but are sure that you only want a fixed-base model for example, then you may be in luck.
These are the best wood router combination sets available:
The Bosch 1617EVSPK has to be the unspoken champion of the combination wood routers. It is versatile, is fully capable of quality work with either of its bases, and with a recently reduced price of less than $200 it is everything you need, without the headache of expenses.
It is extremely easy to switch between the two bases, without the need for tools. The plunge is smooth and accurate, and the precision of the model is unarguable. A 2.25HP motor provides speeds of between 8000 to 24,000RPM, with variable speed allowing for great control. The soft start and continuous speed motor add to the joy of this all-round beauty of a router.
Durable and capable, the Bosch 1617 has proven itself worthy, and is a number one bestseller on Amazon, being the most popular router purchased, and boasting 4.3/5 over a massive 371 customer reviews. One Bosch combination wood router review said this:
“This is one of my favorite routers. It is extremely versatile and has stood the test of time. The motor runs smooth and router has plenty of power for even the toughest jobs. The stops work perfectly and its nice to have both bases. The bases are tight to switch but that's to be expected for great results. All in all this is a smooth, powerful, and easy to control router that anyone would love to have in their arsenal of tools.”
If the Bosch EVSPK model mentioned above is the best seller, then this is the best rated wood router. It deserves a trophy for its quality – no gimmicks – only fully functional features that add value to the DeWalt design. Coming from a brand name known for their durable and long-lasting design, and high precision models, it is not surprising that the DWP611PK is one of the best wood routers on the market.
Its modest 1.25HP motor provides more than adequate power for its compact size, and both the fixed- base and plunge bases are extremely well made. LED lights help to increase visibility during fixed-base use, while the plunge base features a useful depth scale and marker, with a release-to-lock lever for keeping the desired depth setting. The ergonomic and compact design make this ideal for home use. A more powerful and heavyweight model will be needed if you need a router for heavy duty woodwork.
The customer satisfaction of this product speaks for itself, and the DWP611PK has a massive rating of 4.8 over 263 reviews. One review has this to say:
“I bought the DeWalt 611 for cutting inlay channels and decorative routing in small hardwood keepsake boxes. I have used it, for example, to rout a quatrefoil design in the lid of a small rosewood box. It produced superb results. It is powerful enough to do the job well and yet small and light enough to be very mobile and controllable. The two small LED lights embedded on the underside of the motor housing work very well, providing light right where it is most needed for this type of work. The plunge mechanism is smooth and easy to use and the stops work very well to control the depth. But be aware that this tool can only use 1/4 in. collar router bits. This is not a problem for my type of usage, but if you've got a large investment in 1/2 in. bits, they're useless with this router.”
DeWalt rule the roost a bit when it comes to the high value combination routers that they offer. The DW618PK is the bigger brother to the 611. It can provide a much greater power output, with a 2.25HP motor, producing 12 Amps of smooth power, with the perfect control of the power coming from the soft start to electronic feedback control. This wood router can achieve variable speed of between 8000 and 24,000 RPM.
Precision is guaranteed with the DW618PK, which is capable of micro depth adjustment of 1/64 inches on the fixed-base, and it is also very easy to attach to a router table, with a ring to adjust depth. The motor can be quick released to allow you to switch easily between fixed-base and plunge base, and the plunge base is also very smooth. The dust control takes care of 95 percent of the mess; a feature that many adore.
As you can imagine, the durability of the DeWalt DW618 is as it should be. It is built to last, and DeWalt put their money where their mouth is with a three-year warranty. This is the perfect combination set for the professional, and for anyone who needs a router that is capable of the heaviest of work, but still wants a bargain! Customers speak kind words, and the model boasts a rating of 4.3 over 163 reviews.
“After having this router for about two months now I have been able to completely shop-test it. I recommend this router system to anyone who is looking for a router. The soft start feature is a must(the router does not try to fly out of your hands when turning on or off). The variable speed is perfect for cutting through hard or soft woods, and is easy to control even in the middle of routing. DeWalt has completely designed a universal routing system with the fixed base and the plunge base, switching the motor is easy and completely accurate.”
Factors To Consider When Buying A Wood Router?
There are certain factors that have to be considered when you are looking for the best wood router for your needs. Do not rush in blind. Here are some of the important specifics to think about before making your purchase:
Type Of Router
The type of router that you buy will depend on your needs. The types are explained more thoroughly at the top of this article, but they are fixed-base, plunge, and combination. Most people choose a plunge design if they need to be able to plunge; otherwise a fixed-base may well suffice, and will often be preferable. Combination sets provide great value for anyone who wants quick access to both functions.
Power is an extremely important factor to consider. Wood routers with a HP of 2 or more are generally capable of taking on most heavy work, and can cut cleanly through even tough wood. Larger router bits require more power, and so less powerful models will only be suitable for smaller bits, and light work. Of course, if you only need a wood router for light work, then there is nothing wrong with a 1HP compact router, which have the edge when it comes to handling.
Again, this is only really hugely important if you require a router for professional reasons, or heavy jobs. Single speed routers generally take take small bits, and bigger router bits require a slower speed. Variable speed is a feature of versatility that allows the router to handle a wider range of bits, and therefore more types of woodwork.
Wood router bits come in ¼ inch and ½ inch sizes, and the ½ inch bits generally produce more profound results. The more bits the better, and some rooters take both sizes of collet. They are the most versatile, and that is the name of the game with this tool.
A good design always helps. This is difficult to measure compared to some of the specifications that you have considered, but a look at reviews and ratings can help. A comfortable grip, easy to reach switches, and simple height adjustments all add to the overall experience of using the router, and if you are going to be on the job for hours, this really is a factor that matters.
You can never be fully sure that a tool is going to last for years to come, but a lengthy warranty certainly helps. One year warranty is pretty standard when it comes to wood routers, but some companies, such as DeWalt, tend to offer more generous policies. These extensions are a symbol of the company's faith in the durability of the product.
Features are not all important when it comes to wood routers, as is finely demonstrated by the simple but precise Porter-Cable models, but they never did harm anybody, and some of them add a lot of value to the routers. A dust collection system is a might fine feature, for example, as are LED lights for visibility. Soft start and electronic speed control are almighty fine mechanisms for controlling the more powerful models, while the different methods by which to adjust height, change the base, or change the bit, all contribute to the usability of the router.
The final consideration, as with any tool, is the price. Your budget is your balancing factor. Without one you could simply pick the most powerful, most feature packed model and be on your way. Without it you could have all of the routers, and have one for each function, and one for each day of the week. You must decide what power you actually need, what type you need, what spec you need, and what features you cannot live without – all within your budget.
Wood Router Accessories
In order to make the most out of your wood router, you will need to invest in a number of accessories. Without bits, your wood router won't be capable of anything much. It might shake a little. If you are a professional, you will need an extensive collection of router bits, and amateur woodworkers will want to get to know what they do and don't need for the jobs that they want to do.
Wood Router Bits
Without router bits you won't really get much done at all. You will need at least a few basic bits to get started, and there are thousands available, each serving a specific function for woodworking. They come in ¼ inch or ½ inch shanks, so be sure to check the compatibility of your router. The ½ inch bits tend to be more capable of heavy duty work, and smoothly cutting tough wood. Examples include straight, rabbet, V groove, chamfer, dado, cove, and more. You can find out all about router bits in this article, courtesy of Tools Around The House.
Wood Router Tables and Fences
Router tables are the ultimate accessory for wood routers. They allow you to increase the efficiency, safety, and precision of your woodwork, negating the need to clamp, and allowing you the freedom to create smooth edges and moldings. The wood router sits underneath the table, face-up to allow work.
There are different types of wood router tables, including table-top, and free standing. You can find more information on wood router tables, along with router table reviews in our article here.
Most decent router tables come with a fence that acts as a guide rail for the wood, keeping it secure and stable.
More info on our Best Router Table Reviews Guide.
Router Jigs and Clamps
Router jigs are accessories that allow you to hold the wood in a certain place in order to perform very specific cuts, such as hinge recesses or dovetail joints. It is also possible to purchase clamps in order to provide further security to jigs, or to the wood itself.
Make sure to check out our WoodWorking Tools List guide to get an overview of the most common woodworking tools.
Wood Routing Basics
To ask the question “how do I use a wood router?” is a bit like asking how to use your hands. There are so many functions, so many different ways in which they can be used for woodwork, and so many different router bits that contribute to their function, that the uses are pretty unlimited. The wood router is, after all, considered the most versatile of all woodworking tools.
Here are a few techniques that a beginner might be interested in learning first:
- Perfect Edging: Practice using a router (fixed-base with a table is easiest) to carve out straight edges. Work in thicker, straight wood to build your confidence.
- Decorative Molding: Try out different router bits for different patterns. Run the wood through the router to create any pattern you want. Start with a simple rounded molding.
- Dadoes: These are invisible slots that hold together woodwork, as in shelves or cabinets. Use a straight bit to create these.
- Rabbets: A rabbet is a groove that you cut into wood, usually to form a back edge or side. Combined with a dado they make a strong joint. Different rabbet bits have different widths which you should correspond to the width you require.
- Patterns & Lettering: This is great fun for a beginner. You can take an old piece of wood to practice, and simply carve out letters or patterns.
For much more advice, and great tips and tricks for woodworking, please see our article here, where you can find everything that you need to know to take your work to the next level.
Check out this video for more wood router tips and tricks: