The 9 Best Palm Routers in 2021 – Buying Guide and Reviews

For light-duty work in your woodworking workshop, a palm router, also sometimes known as trim routers, comes in handy for various tasks. They are commonly found in many professional cabinet shops, but amateurs will also find them useful for trimming excess material, a task that can be exhausting if you use a tool that’s larger and heavier.

This carpenter’s best friend performs many other jobs, including shaping boards, cutting hinges, decorating furniture, raising panel doors, making dadoes, and trimming laminate. 

However, there are so many palm routers to choose from, finding the right one can be a challenge. To trim some time off the task, I’ve done the research for you. I investigated all the options and came up with nine that I consider the best. 

That being said, if you need one urgently for your next project, my top pick is the DEWALT 20V Max XR Cordless Router DCW600B. It’s one of the best currently available, so get your wallet out.

If you’re in a hurry to find the best palm router, here’s a quick run down of my picks in 2021:

My Top Picks for Best Router Table

To compile this list, I had to consider and examine several critical factors. The style and type of base, ergonomic design, size of the tool, power, dust removal system, additional features, and how the tool is powered are just a few examples. My research has left me with a list of the following nine top-quality products.

Top Pick – DEWALT 20V Max XR Cordless Palm Router DCW600B

Coming in at #1 is this cordless palm router from DEWALT. The build quality is top-notch, and it has a solid design. Speed and depth adjustments are uncomplicated, and there are numerous other features, which makes it a great tool for a beginner and those with more experience. 

The most obvious money-saving advantage is the brushless motor, which means you don’t have to stress about finding replacement carbon brushes. It also extends runtime and the life of the motor.

This tool’s other features include dual LED lights, a soft-start function, variable speed settings, quick-release tabs on the base, a large button for the spindle lock, and an almost instantaneous motor brake.

There are seven settings on the variable speed control dial, and the motor can spin up to 25,500 RPM. The safety of the tool is improved with the use of a speed brake. 

In addition, you should find the D-shaped subbase very useful as it provides some additional support. It also means you don’t have to be exact when centering on the bit. The flat side works accurately when you use it along straight edges. 

The battery mount’s surface allows the tool to sit flat and stable, even when it’s inverted. This is helpful when it comes to setting the depth of the cut or changing bits.

When it comes to ergonomics, this cordless router’s circumference is a little on the large side. You might find this a problem if your hands are smaller than average. Another issue is that the speed of this model is a little slower than many cordless models. The solution is to be patient when using it.

Max. Speed25500 RPM
Voltage20
Collet Size1/4 inch
Weight3.4 lbs
Warranty3 year

Pros

  • Adjustable speed and depth settings.
  • Good visibility.
  • No need for brush replacement.
  • Electronic speed brake.

Cons

  • Thick diameter can make it awkward to hold.
  • Generally lower power.

This cordless router from DEWALT has some exciting options, making the tool a pleasure to use. The speed is a little slower than many top cordless models and the price a little higher, but such negative details are minor. The tool is solidly designed, effortless, and uncomplicated to use.

To check out prices and make a purchase, follow the link below.

Check Price on Amazon

Top Value Pick – Makita XTR01Z 18V Cordless Router

This cordless router from Makita is a useful, reliable tool, and its characteristics make it a valuable tool for your workshop. The aluminum base and housing make it very durable but at the same time lightweight.

Top of the list of values has to be the 18V battery that helps the motor deliver between 10,000 and 30,000 RPM. No brushes are in the soft start motor, and it has electronic control, which means speed is continuous, even under a variable load.

One of the safety features of this tool is a locking switch. It prevents the router from being turned on accidentally. Precise depth adjustments are make possible quickly and easily because it uses a rack-and-pinion depth adjustment system. Adjustments are made by turning the micro adjust dial.

There is an opaque base, but the work surface is illuminated by two LED lights, which counteracts the lack of visibility. 

One particular issue with this router is that you can’t use it with large round-over bits. To solve this problem, you’d have to use a low angle block plane and put an edge on your piece by hand. Fine-tuning can be done with a sander if necessary.

Max. Speed30000 RPM
Voltage18
Collet Size1/4 & 3/8 inch
Weight4.6 lbs
Warranty3 year

Pros

  • Good value for money.
  • Locking power switch for safety.
  • Electronic control of the motor.
  • Precise depth adjustment.
  • LED illumination.

Cons

  • Not compatible with larger round-over bits.

You’ll find this tool a very functional addition to your workshop with the added advantage that it doesn’t come with a hefty price tag. It’s small, lightweight, but functional, and the battery’s location on the top of the tool makes it feel very balanced. The operation is smooth, and the cuts it produces are exact. 

For more information and to find out prices, click on the link below.

Check Price on Amazon

Top Budget Pick – Goplus Wood Router Tool Combo Kit

If you’re looking for affordability and versatility in a compact router, this model from Goplus ticks the boxes. One thing that makes it stand out from others in my list is that it comes with an additional base. This means you get a plunge base and a standard round base, making the tool dual purpose. 

Underneath the aluminum and nylon housing is a 6.5 amp soft start motor that delivers 1¼ HP. Variable speed control allows you to run the tool at a speed that suits the job at hand. Such qualities are welcome additions, especially when you take into account the low budget price.  

You can run the motor at between 10,000 and an impressive 32,000 RPM. Removing the motor for cleaning is quick and effortless, using a lever release.

A dust cover comes with the tool, which you use to reduce the amount of dust spatter or attach it to a vacuum hose to keep your work surface clean.

Other qualities include external carbon brushes that you can quickly remove when they need replacing. The router has a scale that helps with depth adjustment, and there’s also a trimming guide included in the set. 

Both ⅜” and ¼” chucks are compatible with this tool, which further improves its changeability.

At a shade under 11 pounds, this tool could be considered on the heavy side, especially when you compare it with other routers. This does make it somewhat clumsy to use, and because of the lower power, it sometimes struggles with certain materials. When you use the tool, it pays to be aware of these peculiarities and take extra care.

Max. Speed32000 RPM
Amperage6.5
Collet Size1/4 & 3/8 inch
Weight3.5 lbs
WarrantyN/A

Pros

  • Variable speed control.
  • Fixed and plunge bases
  • The motor is easy to remove.
  • Affordable price.

Cons

  • Struggles with more challenging materials.
  • Heavier and bigger than some other routers.

This tool’s power figures might be lower than some, but it does have plenty of strength and is a breeze to load, unload, and handle. As long as you set it up correctly, the cuts it makes are nice and smooth.

Click the link below for further information.

Check Price on Amazon

Bosch Variable-Speed Palm Router PR20EVS

Bosch has an enviable reputation for the manufacture of power tools, and this compact router is one of the best corded models currently available.

The motor is only 1 HP, but that doesn’t seem to be too much of a disadvantage. It’s more than adequate for using on ash, maple, and several other types of softwood. Treated pine isn’t an issue either. 

The 5.6 amp motor delivers between 16,000 and 35,000 RPM, which is more than adequate for most hardcore jobs. You can accurately adjust the speed using the 12-variable speed dial. Fine depth adjustment is possible using a macro and micro system.

In terms of ergonomics, the router sits comfortably in your hand, and there’s an imprint you use for your thumb to further improve the grip. 

The power cord is around a foot in length and comes out of the tool at an angle. This means you don’t have to worry about it getting in the way while you’re working. 

Changing bits is a walk in the park as two wrenches come with your purchase. Change bits using both of them together or one wrench and a spindle lock. 

After using this tool for a while, some of the components may feel a little flimsy and loose. This can be an issue during prolonged use. It’s therefore essential to keep checking everything is done up tightly.

Max. Speed35000 RPM
Amperage5.6
Collet Size1/4 inch
Weight3.3 lbs
Warranty1 year

Pros

  • Right-angled power cord.
  • Variable speed control.
  • Macro and micro depth adjustment.
  • Durable and strong.

Cons

  • Base and bit screws may come loose.

It might be small, but this router packs a punch. Maximum RPM is 35,000, which means it’s more than capable of handling most jobs you throw at it. There’s some great attention to detail in this compact tool, and the build quality is only slightly let down by some of the components working loose. 

If you want to purchase this tool from Amazon, click on the following link. 

Check Price on Amazon

Milwaukee 2723-20 M18 FUEL Compact Router

One thing that often lets cordless routers down is a lack of power. Not so with the FUEL Compact Router from Milwaukee, as its 1¼ HP motor can deliver between 10,000 and 31,000 RPM. There’s a variable power switch for careful control of the motor, making it easy to match the power to whatever you’re working on. 

Depth adjustment is equally versatile. You make significant adjustments using the macro adjust button, whereas finer adjustments, down to a minimum of 1/64” are made using the subtle adjustment switch. 

Visibility is not an issue because the base has a large piece missing, which allows you to see what you’re working on. To add further illumination, there are two LED lights. 

This is one of the lighter routers on my list, coming in at a shade under 5 pounds. The low weight makes it painless to control and more balanced. The small 4” base also improves stability. 

Plunge and offset bases are compatible with the tool if you want added versatility, but you have to purchase them separately.

The only issue with this tool is that you have to pay extra for a battery, as it’s not included in your purchase. It can be somewhat inconvenient, but the good news is that they are easy to source.

Max. Speed31000 RPM
Voltage18
Collet Size1/4 inch
Weight2.95 lbs
Warranty2 year

Pros

  • LED lights for increased illumination.
  • Compact and cordless.
  • Macro and micro depth adjustment.
  • Great stability.

Cons

  • The battery has to be purchased separately.

This compact router from Milwaukee is well designed and enjoyable to use, even for long periods. The tool is well balanced, bits are undemanding to change, and you can easily see what you’re doing. Speed is simple to adjust using the variable control dial, and there are some other great additional features. 

If you want to make a purchase or need more details, click on the link below.

Check Price on Amazon

Bosch GKF125CEPK Colt Variable-Speed Palm Router Combination Kit

Finding the right accessories can sometimes be challenging, but this combination kit from Bosch includes all you need. Included in the kit are a plunge base, edge guide, and blow-molded case.

It’s a router in the 7 amp, 1¼ HP class, and is more than capable of dealing with all sorts of materials. The motor spins the bits up to a maximum of 35,000 RPM, but you can lower it to a minimum of 16,000 RPM.

If a bit encounters a load, the constant response circuitry in the electronic variable speed control delivers more power to keep RPMs constant.

Characteristics of the tool itself include height adjustment for the fixed base. You control how much a door on the side opens by turning a knob. Macro and micro-adjustments are also possible. 

The tool’s collet area is well-lit using a couple of well-positioned LED lights.

Holding the tool steady and firmly isn’t an issue because there are two pockets on the base where you place your fingers for a firmer one-handed grip.

One niggle is that it heats up when you use it for extended periods. It’s not an overbearing or uncomfortable heat, but gloves might make it more tolerable. Reducing the length of time the tool is in use should also make a difference.

Max. Speed35000 RPM
Amperage7
Collet Size1/4 inch
Weight7 lbs
Warranty1 year

Pros

  • Compact design with added grips.
  • Powerful motor.
  • Fixed and plunge bases.
  • Useful accessories.

Cons

  • Build-up of heat

The Bosch Colt router comes with some useful accessories and is capable of most routing jobs you ask of it. Using it is a cakewalk. It’s comfortable and able to maintain speed under load. You can adjust the fixed base with ease, and the spindle lock allows for fast bit changing. 

Click on the link below for more info or to make your purchase from Amazon. 

Check Price on Amazon

Porter-Cable Compact Fixed and Plunge Combo Kit 450PK

This compact router from Porter-Cable is another model that’s effortless to hold in one hand. The power is also more than ample for woodworking and working with laminate. Woodworking cuts it is particularly good at are cove and rounding over cuts. 

The cast aluminum construction of this router means it’s very durable and lightweight. At the same time, the 1¼ HP motor delivers enough power for most of the applications you want to use it for. Changing bits is quick because of the spindle lock switch that’s not only large but low-pressure. 

Using a fixed cast aluminum fixed base or a plunge base that comes with the router means a whole range of applications are possible. But the Porter Cable compact combo kit lacks in a few departments. There is no variable speed, for example, or additional illumination. 

However, it does have an micro fine adjustment ring you use to change the depth of the bit to within a very precise 1/64”. The plunge base includes an adjustment rod you can use to fine-tune the depth of the cut.

The biggest downside is that the speed is fixed at 27,000 RPM, which can make it challenging to use for jobs that require less power. Overcoming this issue is complicated without using a different tool completely.

Max. Speed27000 RPM
Amperage7
Collet Size1/4 inch
Weight4.1 lbs
Warranty3 year

Pros

  • Plunge and fixed bases provide flexibility.
  • Comfortable to use with one hand.
  • Cutting depth can be adjusted.
  • Soft start option.

Cons

  • Fixed speed.

This may be a corded router, but that doesn’t feel too limiting, thanks to the power cord’s length. Design features such as the aluminum construction and rubber grips make the tool convenient to use and not too much strain on your arms. 

For details and prices, click on the following link.

Check Price on Amazon

PORTER-CABLE Variable Speed Router PCE6435

This tool is marketed as a laminate trimmer, but it’s far more versatile than that. It has qualities that promise excellent performance, control, and precision. 

For improved visibility, the router comes with onboard lighting in the form of LEDs. The speed is adjustable and ranges from 16,000 right up to 35,000 RPM. Providing this power is a 5.6 amp motor. 

Comfort and better handling result from an ergonomically designed tool you can use for small edge forming jobs, most types of trimming, and hinge routing.

There’s no need to fumble around looking for tiny, misplaced buttons to release the motor and adjust the depth. Large locking clips make such tasks less of a chore. The accuracy and height of the bits can be adjusted using the depth rings that are attached.

The only real downside is that it is corded. You can make it more portable by using a correctly fused extendable power cable.

Max. Speed31000 RPM
Amperage5.6
Collet Size1/4 inch
Weight3.7 lbs
Warranty3 year

Pros

  • Comfortable and easy to control.
  • LED illumination.
  • One-handed operation.
  • Large locking clips.

Cons

  • Power cord.

You can use the Porter Cable PCE6435 palm router to cut various materials, for example, wood stocks, plywood, plastic, and laminates. The 5.6 amp motor delivers a tremendous amount of power, thereby ensuring superb performance. For small to heavy routing tasks, this palm router has got you covered. 

For more information about this product, click on the following link.

Check Price on Amazon

Enertwist Compact Router Tool ET-RT-710S

This is a fantastic option if your budget is limited. You get a lot of router bang for your buck. It’s got a 7 amp motor that bangs out 1¼ HP, and speeds between 10,000 – 32,000 are fully adjustable. There’s no problem matching the speed to the project you’re working on.

The motor also has electronic control, which allows for continuous rotation across a range of loads and a soft start function.

Watch this video for a basic explanation of the soft start motor function. 

The durable body of the tool is aluminum, making it durable but not heavy. The tool’s body has a rubberized grip that makes using it for prolonged periods far more agreeable. 

To keep your work area clean of dust, you can use a dust hook to attach to a vacuum. User safety is improved with a function that prevents it from stalling.

One issue with this palm router is that it is much noisier than some of the tools on my list. Ear protectors may be required if you don’t want to damage your hearing.

Max. Speed32000 RPM
Amperage7
Collet Size1/4 & 3/8 inch
Weight6.16 lbs
Warranty1 year

Pros

  • Compact yet powerful.
  • Rubberized grip.
  • Dust removal option.
  • Soft start function.

Cons

  • Louder than some other palm routers.

This is an outstanding budget palm router that packs a serious punch with its durable 1¼ HP motor. There are six variable speeds ranging between 10,000 and 32,000 RPM. It does run on the loud side, but that’s easily remedied with a pair of ear defenders.

Click on the link below for more information about this product.

Check Price on Amazon

Things to Consider When Choosing the Best Palm Router for Your Job

It’s important to weigh up several different factors when choosing the best palm router for your workshop. Which factors are more appropriate depends on the task you’re using the tool for. You can use a palm router for various tasks, including:

  • Duplicating parts
  • Profiling edges
  • Cutting hinge mortises
  • Trimming shelf lipping
  • Cleaning veneer
  • Cutting joinery
  • Mortising inlays
  • Flush cutting plugs
  • Hole drilling
  • Sign making

To help you better understand your options and what you need to look for, whether you’re a beginner or a more experienced woodworker, I’ve created this buyer’s guide. 

Size

The smaller your router, the easier it will be to control, especially when detail is important. For a palm router, anything under 5 pounds will be more comfortable to use. A small router is also easier to carry around and store. 

Power, Speed, and Torque

Two of these are important considerations as they impact on the materials you can cut with your router. However, torque is not so crucial because routers tend not to be judged by their ability to accelerate the bit. We judge them more on their ability to keep a bit spinning at a set speed. Therefore, horsepower is far more critical.

Power

In general, it’s not usual for a palm router to equal its big brother when it comes to power. However, they do pack quite a punch, and more power is always going to be better. It means the router will handle a wider variety of materials, including plywood, and not have to work so hard. 

Engines are commonly measured in horsepower, and the minimum power you should be looking for is no less than 1¼ HP. If you can find a more powerful one, buy it if your budget allows it. 

Speed

When it comes to speed, don’t just focus on a high max speed. A range of speeds that you can adjust is much better for a range of applications. Variable speed dials allow you to match it to the project you’re currently working on. 

Palm routers tend to work at speeds ranging from 10,000 up to 32,000 RPM. 

Ergonomic Design

For woodworking, comfort is critical, especially if you’re using the tool for extended periods. Ideally, it should be able to handle the work and not cause undue discomfort and fatigue.

One quality to look for is a palm router with a flat top. This gives you somewhere to rest your palm that isn’t too awkward.

Base Styles

Routers either have a fixed or a plunge base. Some of the routers in our list have both, which increases usability.

Which base you use depends on the application. A fixed base holds the router in place using knobs. You use it for edge mounting and also mounting onto a router table. 

A plunge base is multi-functional, but for plunging into the wood, this base is the best. You can make a range of different cuts such as fluting, blind grooves, mortising, and dado cuts. 

It’s equally important for the removal of the base to be easy. A simple clip release system works very well as it allows the base to slide off the motor.

Corded/Cordless

Palm routers can be corded or cordless, but which is the best? It depends on what you need to use it for because both options have their pros and cons. 

You don’t have to worry about the battery dying right in the middle of what you’re doing with a corded router. On the flip side, your movement on the board is limited. The same applies to where you can use it. 

Routers that run on batteries have the benefit of unlimited freedom. You can move in any direction you want on the board and use the tool anywhere you need to. On the downside, you run the risk of it running out of power, smack bang in the middle of your project. 

Dust Removal

Dust can cause no end of problems when you’re using a router. It can be a hazard to your health, makes your workshop untidy, and decreases visibility when you’re trying to make precise cuts. 

Most modern routers come equipped with a dust collection system that helps to clear up any waste you create. The most efficient collection system should remove as much as 90% of any dust you produce. 

Additional Features

Some additional features combine to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of a palm router.

Adjustable Bit Height

Woodworkers tend to use palm routers for intricate and small work. Being able to adjust the height of the bit accurately is essential. If a bit is cutting too deep, it could ruin your work. 

Ideally, you should be able to adjust the height of the bit without too much fuss, preferably with as few tools as possible. Adjustments could be made using a lead screw, for example, or with the release of a locking lever that allows you to turn the base.

Spindle Lock

This attribute makes changing bits straightforward. Some models make bit changing very complicated, often because you need to struggle with two wrenches. With a spindle lock, all that’s required is to push, which engages the locking collar.

Work Light

Visibility is critical when you use a router for hinges or mortises for inlay. Staying within a layout line is vital. The base of a router can get in the way if it doesn’t have a clear sub-base or a large cut-out. A work light can further improve visibility.

Soft Start

This is a function that many manufacturers now include in their palm routers. When a power tool starts up, it uses a massive amount of power, making it difficult to hold, and you could drop it. 

A soft start function means the tool starts very slowly after you turn it on. Also, it gradually speeds up to the optimum speed, which helps you keep a firm hold of it. 

Electronic Controls

Palm routers often have to deal with variable loads, which can put a lot of strain on the motor. Such stresses slow the motor down, and you run the risk of getting bogged down, or even worse, damaging the project. 

Electronic control systems allow the tool to detect when there is a heavier load. To counteract the load, it increases the speed of the router. The speed throughout your project thereby remains constant. 

Conclusion

The best palm router for you to buy will depend on what you plan to use it for. If you purchase the right one, you’re more likely to complete your projects efficiently, safely, and correctly. The basic functions of all the palm routers in my list are the same, but intricate nuances make specific models and brands stand out.

The routers I’ve highlighted all come highly recommended, but if you want one that I consider the best of the bunch, I’m going to stick my neck out and push forward the DEWALT 20V Max XR Cordless Router DCW600B

To the table it brings dependable power, a wealth of useful features, and above all, a compact and user-friendly size.

I'm a mechanical engineer by trade but my passions are woodworking, tools and DIY.

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