10 Best Fixed Base Routers in 2021 – Reviews & Top Picks
Fixed base routers are a very important tool in the workshop. They allow more accuracy and stability than a plunge router, and they are easy to attach to your routing table. However, with so many brands available, it can be difficult to choose a model that will perform properly and give you the options you need to complete your projects.
We have chosen 10 popular fixed-based routers commonly found in big-name hardware stores to review for you to see how they are different and what features are important. We have also included a short buyer’s guide where we take a close look at these tools to see how they work and what specifications you should look for as you shop.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
|Best Overall||Bosch 1617EVS Electronic Fixed-Base Router||
|Best Value||Avid Power Fixed-Base Wood Router||
|Premium Choice||Milwaukee 5625-20 Fixed Base Variable Speed Router||
|DEWALT DW616 Fixed Base Router||
|Metabo HPT M12VC Fixed Base Router||
The 10 Best Fixed Base Routers – Reviews 2021
1. Bosch 1617EVS Electronic Fixed-Base Router – Best Overall
The Bosch 1617EVS Electronic Fixed-Base Router is our pick for the best overall. It uses a 12-amp motor for superior cutting power, and you can adjust the revolutions per minute (RPM) from 8,000 to 25,000 RPM to suit wood hardness. It also features a soft start mechanism to reduce startup marks and jagged cuts. You can adjust the router’s height from above the table, and a chip shield prevents shavings from spreading around the workshop and has a dust port for connecting a vacuum. You can also look through the shield to easily inspect the routing action.
The Bosch 1617EVS is our favorite choice for a fixed base router, and the only problem that we can mention is that sawdust can build up in the on-off switch, causing it to fail.
2. Avid Power Fixed-Base Wood Router – Best Value
The Avid Power Fixed-Base Wood Router is our pick for the best fixed based router for the money. It uses an 11-amp motor to deliver 25,000 RPM and has comfortable, ergonomically designed handles. It’s simple but powerful and features micro-height adjustment controls for extremely accurate routing. The aluminum housing is lightweight but durable, and the included edge guide will help ensure you get a straight cut.
We found the Avid to be similar in power to our top choice, but the lack of variable speed control and no dust collection method kept us from putting it at the top of our list.
3. Milwaukee 5625-20 Fixed Base Variable Speed Router – Premium Choice
The Milwaukee 5625-20 Fixed Base Variable Speed Router is our premium choice fixed base router. It uses an extremely powerful 15-amp motor to deliver enough torque to cut any wood, and it even handles thick pieces for doors and similar projects. Speed is adjustable from 10,000 to 22,000 RPM, and the soft start for a safer gradual startup and the easy-grip handles make it easy to maneuver the machine as you need to. It has a machined aluminum housing that’s attractive, lightweight, and durable, and you can adjust the router height from above the table. It even features micro-adjustments for extreme accuracy within 1/64 of an inch.
The downside to the Milwaukee 5625-20 is the same as the top model. The on-off switch sits below the table, and sawdust can build up inside, causing it to fail eventually. If you are not mounting it to the table, sawdust in the switch is not a problem.
4. DEWALT DW616 Fixed Base Router
The DEWALT DW616 Fixed Base Router features an 11-amp motor that can create up to 24,500 RPM with plenty of torque to cut any hardwoods. It features a sub-base concentricity gauge that ensures the bit is centered properly, and the tool-free steel motor cam allows you to make depth adjustments and base changes quickly and effortlessly. It features micro-fine depth adjustment that’s accurate to 1/64-inch, and the removable power cord is easy to replace if it begins to wear out.
The downside to the DEWALT DW616 is that there is no soft start like many other models on this list, and it’s a nice feature to have. It’s also a little hard to reach the on-off button when manually operating the router, but it doesn’t collect sawdust when placed under the table like some other models, which is a plus.
5. Metabo HPT M12VC Fixed Base Router
The Metabo HPT M12VC Fixed Base Router is a very low-noise router that produces less than 79.5 decibels (dB) of noise. It uses an 11-amp motor to drive the bit, and you can adjust the speed between 8,000 and 24,000 RPM. Built-in electronic speed control keeps the RPM constant and automatically adjusts under different loads. It also has a 2-stage motor release clamp for fast depth adjustments.
The downside we experienced while using the Metabo HPT M12VC was that it could be difficult to remove the bits once you insert them. They fit tightly, and you can damage the blades or cut yourself trying to pull them out. It also wears out the motor’s brushes fairly quickly, and you will likely need to change them more often than many other models.
6. Makita RF1101 Router
The Makita RF1101 Router features an 11-amp motor with a soft start mechanism of safer and more accurate routing. It has a variable speed that you can adjust between 8,000 and 24,000 RPM to suit any project or type of wood, and the built-in speed control keeps the RPM steady under different loads. All ball-bearing construction helps ensure durability and reduces the noise level significantly. A calibrated depth control ring makes it easy to adjust the depth settings accurately.
The problem with the Makita RF1101 is that the lock lever mechanism didn’t hold tight enough on our model to prevent the router from slipping out of the base when you mount it under the table and could lead to the motor falling on to the floor while it’s running. The second problem we had was that it features black numbers on a black collar for the depth adjustment. These numbers were easy to read when we used it as a handheld router but nearly impossible to see under the table.
7. Skil RT1322-00 Fixed Base Router
The Skil RT1322-00 Fixed Base Router features a very powerful 14-amp motor that can create RPM between 10,000 and 25,000. You can set the speed on an easy to read LCD, and a built-in electronic speed control system maintains the same speed under different loads. It features a soft start mechanism for safer, more accurate routing, and it includes a vacuum port to help remove sawdust. Power indicator LEDs let you know when the machine has power, and ergonomic handles make it easy to maneuver where you need it. It’s very easy to use because you can input the type of wood you are using, and it will suggest the best settings for the project. The included edge guide helps you keep your cuts straight.
The problem we had while using the Skil RT1322-00 Fixed Base Router was that the input pad wasn’t always responsive, making it impossible to control the machine. We had difficulty turning it on and off and setting the speed on many occasions, and it would often change speed when not directed to do so.
8. Ryobi R1631K Fixed Base Router
The Ryobi R1631K Fixed Base Router is an 8.5-amp router that spins at 25,000 RPM and can rout up to 2 inches deep in most woods. It has a clear chip guard to prevent dust from getting everywhere while offering complete visibility of the routing bit. It also has a built-in LED headlamp that lets you get a better view of your work surface, and it is one of our favorite features on this model. It’s easy to adjust the height and the white numbers on a black collar are visible even under the table. The handles are comfortable and allow precise maneuvering. It comes with a convenient storage bag and 3 bits so you can get started immediately.
The downside to the Ryobi R1631K is that there is no soft start nor variable speed adjustment, so you are always stuck with the full 25,000 RPM. The on-off switch is a little small and requires removing one of your hands from the handle to operate. The 8.5-amp motor is a bit underpowered for many hardwoods, and we found that it usually bogged down while routing.
9. Ridgid R22002 Fixed Base Router
The Ridgid R22002 Fixed Base Router features an 11-amp motor with variable speed adjustment that you can set between 10,000 and 25,000 RPM. Built-in electronic speed adjustment helps maintain the same speed under different loads. Two LED headlights illuminate the work surface and make it easier to see the routing bit in low light conditions, and the soft grip handles give you full control over the tool to make precise cuts. Micro-height adjustment allows for highly accurate cuts, and it also includes a dust port for hooking it up to a vacuum.
The Ridgid R22002 is an attractive router, but it tends to bog down despite the 11-amp motor and built-in speed control. It’s also short and doesn’t allow for as much height adjustment as many other models on this list, and it’s extremely difficult to find attachments, like a fence, that fits this model router.
10. Drill Master 68341 Fixed Base Router
The Drill Master 68341 Fixed Base Router is another 11-amp tool that can produce up to 28,000 RPM. A spindle lock makes it easier to change bits, and a micro-depth adjustment dial allows for precise routing. It features an attractive ergonomic design and soft-grip handles for maximum control.
Unfortunately, there are also several problems with the Drill Master 68341 that we experienced while using it. It doesn’t have a lot of power despite the 11-amp motor, and it gets hot fairly quickly. There is no soft start or variable speed, so it’s not as versatile as many other models on this list, and there’s not much height adjustment either. The metal base uses very soft metal that is easy to strip when attaching the router to a table, and the top of the router is curved, so it isn’t easy to hold in place when changing the bits.
This section will look at how the fixed base router works to see what specifications are important to look for while you shop.
What is a Fixed Base Router?
A fixed base router may be confusing to some people because it often has two handles attached to it for moving it over a project’s surface. It’s called a fixed base because it holds the router bit and motor at a fixed depth, unlike a plunging router that can change depth in real-time using a crank handle.
Fixed base routers have handles close to the work surface to allow better control than is possible when using a plunge router, and since you lock in the height, they are often more accurate. Fixed base routers are also commonly attached under a routing table for hands-free operation where you move the wood instead of the tool.
How Does a Fixed Base Router Work?
A router is not that unlike an ordinary drill. It uses an electromagnetic motor to spin a special bit designed to cut channels and grooves along a wood surface instead of simply making a hole. The router sits in a base that allows you to set the depth of the cut accurately and consistently and holds the router at that height as you move over the surface. Some may also allow for angled routing. The base also provides for permanent attachment to a table and facilitates connecting vacuum hoses to remove sawdust.
If you have them available, you can place the router in a different base to suit your needs. Most commonly, woodworkers have one router and both a fixed base and a plunge base. All the models on our list are kits that supply you with a router and a fixed base, so you will need to purchase a compatible plunging base separately if you need one.
The motor size of your router is likely going to be the first thing you consider. We use amps to specify motor size, and more amps equal more power. More amps will give you the torque you need to cut through harder materials and reduce the time required to complete a project. A motor with too little power will bog down, especially on hardwoods creating a rough surface and increasing work time. Underpowered routers will get hot quickly and suffer a shorter lifespan.
We tried to list each model’s amp rating on our list and recommend choosing one with at least 10-amps to provide enough power for most projects.
The number of RPM a router is capable of is the next most important thing to look for when choosing a fixed base router. A higher RPM machine will cut faster, and the surface will be smoother, so we recommend choosing the brand with higher RPM if all other things are equal. However, in many cases, an increased number of RPM is not enough. You will also need the ability to adjust them for the project at hand. We recommend choosing a brand with variable speed when possible.
While we discuss RPM, it’s important to mention a feature that many brands incorporate into the router called a soft start. A tool equipped with a soft start slowly builds speed to the desired RPM while a machine without it instantly jumps to full speed. Immediately jumping to full speed can cause damage to the bit. It can also cause the wood to jump, marring the surface.
We found routers equipped with soft-start much easier to use and recommend choosing a model that provides it, especially if you are new to woodworking.
Another important aspect of the fixed base router is the depth adjustment. Some models will use wrenches to adjust depth, while others will use a convenient collar that you simply need to twist. The collar will be easier to use than the wrenches and is the type we recommend when possible. More importantly, you want to look for a fixed base router that offers micro-height adjustment. This added feature is available on both collar and wrench style routers, and it allows you to set the depth with an accuracy of 1/64 inch. You will need this kind of accuracy for many projects, so it’s best to have it from the start.
We listed the models that provide the user with micro-depth adjustment in our reviews.
When working with a fixed base router, especially indoors, it’s vital to wear a few pieces of safety gear to protect your health.
If you have never used a router before, you will be surprised at how much dust they create. Even if your router has vacuum ports, you will get plenty of dust in the air. We highly recommend wearing a high-quality dust mask at all times when using the router to protect the lungs.
While the risk of flying particles damaging the eye is low while using a router, the sawdust in the air can dry and irritate your eyes, reducing the time you can spend in the shop. A pair of safety goggles can help keep the dust away from your eyes while protecting them from an unlikely flying chip. You’ll want something that seals the eyes from the outside air.
Heavy Duty Gloves
Using your fixed base router in a table, it’s a very good idea to wear a pair of durable work gloves to protect your fingers from accidentally bumping the router bit. Even if you are an experienced woodworker, the router can suddenly change speeds pulling your hand into the blades. It’s best to protect yourself at all times with gloves.
When choosing a fixed base router for your woodshop, we recommend one with a motor rated for at least 10 amps with variable speed and micro-depth adjustment for the most versatility, whether using it by hand or mounting it to a table. Our pick for the best overall is a perfect example. The Bosch 1617EVS Electronic Fixed-Base Router has a 12-amp motor, variable speed between 8,000 and 25,000 RPM, and allows for micro-depth adjustment. If you are looking for something more economical, check out the Avid Power Fixed-Base Wood Router.
We hope you have enjoyed reading over these reviews and buyer’s guide and found them helpful and informative. If we have helped you choose your next tool, please share these 10 best fixed base routers on Facebook and Twitter.
- We also have a guide about: Trim Routers found here.
- 1 A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
- 2 The 10 Best Fixed Base Routers – Reviews 2021
- 2.1 1. Bosch 1617EVS Electronic Fixed-Base Router – Best Overall
- 2.2 2. Avid Power Fixed-Base Wood Router – Best Value
- 2.3 3. Milwaukee 5625-20 Fixed Base Variable Speed Router – Premium Choice
- 2.4 4. DEWALT DW616 Fixed Base Router
- 2.5 5. Metabo HPT M12VC Fixed Base Router
- 2.6 6. Makita RF1101 Router
- 2.7 7. Skil RT1322-00 Fixed Base Router
- 2.8 8. Ryobi R1631K Fixed Base Router
- 2.9 9. Ridgid R22002 Fixed Base Router
- 2.10 10. Drill Master 68341 Fixed Base Router
- 3 Buyer’s Guide
- 4 Conclusion