3 Best Fixed-Base Routers of 2020 – Reviews & Buyer’s Guide
How do you know which fixed base router is right for you? Enough things vary from model-to-model to make it difficult to figure out which ones are good deals and which ones are rip-offs.
This problem is even more difficult when you shop online, because manufacturers aren’t shy about overinflating what their products can do, and it can be hard to get a feel for them from their online descriptions alone.
We think that a well-informed consumer will make a great choice, which is why we’ve assembled this list of reviews of the best fixed base routers of 2020. We also created a buyer’s guide, so if you’ve never shopped for a fixed base router before, you can get up to speed on everything you need to know.
Our 3 Favorites Compared:
|Top Pick||PORTER-CABLE 7518 Speedmatic||
|Best for the Money||DEWALT DW616||
The 3 Best Fixed Base Routers – Reviews 2020:
1. PORTER-CABLE 7518 Speedmatic Fixed-Base Router – Top Pick
The PORTER-CABLE 7518 Speedmatic is a great choice for people who need a very powerful router that could make short work of any project you throw its way. It comes with a 3-1/4-horsepower motor, which is among the most powerful motors you’ll find on the market. That means this model can deal with even the hardest woods without breaking a sweat. It also comes with five speeds, ranging from 10,000 to 21,000 revolutions per minute, which means you have fine control over how the router’s power is applied to the project. However, it comes with soft-start, so there’s little chance you’ll lose control of it on startup.
While it is a bit heavy, it uses a durable aluminum housing, which cuts down on the total weight, while also providing plenty of strength. And, it comes with an auto-release collet, which makes it easy to switch out bits between different stages in a project. However, this model isn’t great for table mounting, since the height settings can be difficult to adjust under the table. Overall, this is one of the best routers on the market, featuring fantastic power and speed settings that make tough jobs easy.
2. DEWALT DW616 Fixed Base Router – Best for the Money
The DEWALT DW616 is a powerful fixed base router that gives you excellent value for the price. It comes with a 1-3/4 hp motor, which is a very powerful motor for a router and gives you the ability to do even the toughest projects in the hardest woods. It comes with a depth adjustment ring that is accurate to 1/64th of an inch. With precision like that, you can always get the exact cut you’re looking for when you use this router. Many fixed base routers don’t come with a toggle switch, but this one features one, which is a nice addition to an already excellent router.
However, this model doesn’t come with variable speed. That’s a shame given how good it is in other areas since adjustable speed would have gone great with the sensitive depth adjustment to create a very precise and modifiable routing experience. It also doesn’t work with bigger bits unless you purchase a larger plate, which means the overall expense goes up. This model can still be a great investment if you’re only planning to work with smaller bits, though, given the price, it could be a great buy for many people.
3. Bosch 1617EVS Fixed-Base Wood Router
The Bosch 1617EVS is a powerful router, but it may not be the right choice for many people. It comes with a 2-1/4 hp motor, which is strong enough to do most jobs without any kind of issue. It’s also very price, as you can make depth changes up to 1/64th of an inch, which allows for very fine adjustment. It also has a clear chip shield, which most routers don’t have. That piece funnels sawdust out the back of the unit and away from you, while also allowing you to see the bit clearly during operation.
Its wooden handles are a pleasure to hold relative to the metal handles found on many routers. They’re a bit more comfortable and won’t wear your hands out as quickly. However, this line of routers has problematic power switches that have a habit of breaking. It’s covered under warranty, but it’s still something that you’d like to see the manufacturer resolve. You can sometimes fix it yourself at home, but that’s a pain you shouldn’t have to deal with. Overall, this is an excellent router, and if it weren’t for the faulty power switches, it would rank higher on our list.
When shopping for a router, you should consider power and ease of use the two most important qualities.
Power is important not only because it gives you the ability to work with tougher woods, which are often some of the more beautiful woods, but also because it speeds up projects on lesser woods without burning them out. If you’re going to be using your router a lot, it makes sense to invest in a model with 2-1/2 or more horsepower, as these models can handle pretty much any kind of wood that you want to use, but they also shave minutes off your project every time. While this might not sound like a lot, it adds up significantly over time.
Ease of use is also important. You can find routers with lots of extra value unrelated to their precision or power. For instance, clear chip shields or bases can make it a lot easier to see what you’re cutting, allowing for greater precision on your part, and can make funnel sawdust away from you, which makes cleanup easier. Also, wooden handles tend to wear you out less than metal handles over the same time period, so if you’re going to be using your router for hours at a time, a model with those handles is worth the investment.
The PORTER-CABLE 7518 Speedmatic is one of the best routers on the market, coming with a powerful motor and multiple speeds that make most projects a breeze. The DEWALT DW616 is a very precise router with a fan-favorite toggle switch that you love using, and if it was natively-compatible with a wider range of bits, it could challenge for first place. The Bosch 1617EVS comes with great handles and a clear chip shield that gives it a lot of value for many buyers.
We hope that our reviews and our buyer’s guide have helped you learn more about fixed-base routers. Armed with this information, you should be able to find the model that’s right for you.