What is the Best Trim Router? Compact, Handheld Units (2023)

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A trim router is known for its light and compact profile, but most models today aren’t engineered with sufficient power and features to tackle most cutting jobs. 

It can be difficult to find one that’s worth your money, but our pro woodworkers conducted tests to find the best trim routers that are powerful, precise, and versatile.

Premium Option
Makita XTR01Z
Editor’s Choice
DEWALT DWP611
Budget Option
BOSCH PR20EVS
Makita XTR01Z
DEWALT DWP611
BOSCH PR20EVS
• Up to 30,000 RPM
• Cordless
• 4.51 lbs
• 18-volt battery
• Up to 27,000 RPM
• 1.25 HP
• 4.1 lbs
• Fixed Base
• Up to 35,000 RPM
• 1.0 HP
• 3.3 lbs
• Easy bit changing
Premium Option
Makita XTR01Z
Makita XTR01Z
• Up to 30,000 RPM
• Cordless
• 4.51 lbs
• 18-volt battery
Editor’s Choice
DEWALT DWP611
DEWALT DWP611
• Up to 27,000 RPM
• 1.25 HP
• 4.1 lbs
• Fixed Base
Budget Option
BOSCH PR20EVS
BOSCH PR20EVS
• Up to 35,000 RPM
• 1.0 HP
• 3.3 lbs
• Easy bit changing

Reviews of the Top Trim Routers

1. DEWALT Router (DWP611)

The DeWalt DWP611 is one of our top choices for its extensive features packed in a compact, lightweight design. It’s a seven-amp motor capable of producing 1.25 horsepower at speeds between 16,000 and 27,000. Its speed and power make it a reliable workhorse.

What we also like about the DWP611 is it allows you to tailor the operation to your needs. As a bonus, it’s soft and simple to operate. Its 4.1-pound weight makes it easily transportable and manageable. 

You can control the tool more via a molded grip close to the working surface. The LED illumination and a see-through plastic base help to see the area more clearly.

What We Like

What We Don't Like

2. Makita XTR01Z 18V LXT

Like the DeWalt model, the Makita XTR01Z Lithium-Ion Brushless Cordless Compact Router has dependable strength but is also simple to use and precise. The brushless motor powered by an 18-volt battery allows for longer operation times and the ability to adjust the motor speed from 10,000 to 30,000 revolutions per minute. 

This compact router’s housing and base are aluminum to ensure long life. You can see well from it because the tool’s base has two LED lights shining down onto the workspace.

As a safety feature, these cordless tools have a locking switch on the power button that prevents it from being accidentally pressed. 

What We Like

What We Don't Like

3. BOSCH PR20EVS Router Tool, Colt 1-Horsepower

The Bosch PR20EVS or Bosch Colt 1 HP is tough, accurate, and accommodating. As a result of these features, it is a great buy for anyone looking for budget woodworking tools.

This palm router is very powerful for its size. The motor operates between 16,000 and 35,000 revolutions per minute (RPM) and draws 5.6 amps (1 HP).  What we like best about it is it allows you to customize the speed to your needs, regardless of the task.

Despite Bosch’s insistence that it be operated without a router table, you can acquire this complete with a plunge router base for a fair price.

What We Like

What We Don't Like

4. Ridgid R2401 Laminate Trim Router

This powerful laminate trimmer from Ridgid includes some handy extras like its LED lighting providing even illumination across the work surface, plus lights on the plug and the tool letting you know when you have power.

With the help of a release lever, making major modifications or taking out the motor is a breeze. You may make pinpoint adjustments to the depth with the help of the rack and pinion system. 

Additionally, you can modify the bit with a single wrench which is time-saving. The use of a spindle-lock mechanism also makes this a real option. The Ridgid R2401 router also has a very low profile compared to other trim routers.

What We Like

What We Don't Like

5. Porter-Cable PCE6430 4.5-Amp Single Speed

The Porter-Cable PCE6430 packs quite a punch despite its diminutive size; with a motor of 4.5 amps, it can spin at speeds of up to 31,000 RPM. We also like the sturdy aluminum construction base, the tiny size, and the lightweight, making it convenient to carry along. 

Interestingly, you can modify the router’s path depth on both a broad and granular scale. The oversized locking clips make motor removal and depth adjustment much quicker. 

You can also make quick and precise adjustments to the depth with the help of a rotating ring.

What We Like

What We Don't Like

Trim Routers Buyer’s Guide

Power

While trim routers often don’t have as much horsepower as their larger counterparts, it’s feasible for a little router to deliver a significant amount of force. And stronger ones can process a wider range of media with ease.

Thus, when shopping for a trim router, don’t get one with less than 1.25 horsepower [1]. A more potent alternative would be fantastic.

Size and Build

You can have more precise control over smaller routers. Aim for something that weighs less than five pounds and is as compact as possible. 

You can easily move a compact router from one place to another without worrying about tripping over power lines.

Use

Electronic control systems are found in modern routers. They can detect when it’s under a larger strain and respond by increasing its processing speed. A soft start is another feature common in these systems; it helps to ensure a clean first pass when using a router.

Variable loads during routing stress the motor, reducing its speed and increasing the possibility of your project becoming stuck.

Finish Quality

Utilizing a trim router is a good idea because it reduces the likelihood of scratching the surface and wasting material.

When cutting tight corners, a trim router is superior because of its ability to make precise cuts at an angle.

Speed and Depth Adjustment

Don’t focus on top speeds alone. Check for a speed control dial and a selection of speeds. This way, your work pace can be tailored to your current task. Try to find RPM routers with a speed adjustment between 10,000 and 32,000 RPM.

To change the depth, slide the motor upward and downward on the shaft after releasing the collar. It works well for large-scale changes, but a more nuanced mechanism would be preferable. The best routers can make precision adjustments down to 1/64 of an inch.

Removal of the Base

Removing the base shouldn’t be difficult. The best routers have a clip that lets you slide the entire base off the motor. Square, round, and plunger bases are the types compatible with routers.

Bit and Collet Change

It can be inconvenient to make bit adjustments on routers. Changing it requires the application of two wrenches collaborating, preventing you from keeping one hand on the router at all times. 

The best trim routers will have a button to lock the spindle, making bit changes easier with only one wrench. 

Safety Features and Accessories

Many add-ons are available for routers. The most well-liked accessories are lights for the work surface, a vacuum hood or dust cover, edge guides, and external carbon brushes for continuous rotation. Try to find tools that will make your workday easier.

Our experts recommend a router with consistent depth. You should also seek out routers with a safe depth hold, as you can avoid many abandoned projects with it.

Price

The closer a trim router comes in price to a wood router, the more you can expect it to resemble its namesake. If you’re looking for a cheap trim router, you can expect something simple.

Consider purchasing online if you need a newer trim router and want to save money. These may be purchased for a price range of $25 to $535.

Trim Router Techniques

Fluting

You can achieve straight flutes by lining up the router’s fence with the edge of the workpiece. Begin the cut at the far end, and maintain pressure on the barrier before the bit as you route. The straightness of the edge is assumed here.

Rabbeting

Don’t go deeper than 1/8 inch with the bit to avoid overworking the motor. The full depth of the L-shaped groove is achieved by repeatedly passing the fence along its length. 

The depth of a rabbet should not exceed one-third of the total thickness of the board.

Climb cutting

You can completely avoid splintering by pulling your router through the end grain before making the conventional run around the entire material. 

A two-handed grip is recommended since you should expect the tool to try to buck as you use it.

FAQ

How can I use a trim router safely?

Using a trim router safely is as easy as ensuring it is in excellent condition, choosing your bit, and securing it before turning it on. Start by setting the trim router’s base on your work, then bring the bit closer. 

Which should I get, a corded or cordless trim router?

Get a trim router according to your needs. Trim routers that have to be plugged into an outlet must have a cable strung to it from the wall. Similar to a cordless drill, a cordless trim router runs on a manufacturer-supplied battery, allowing for portability without the hassle of a trailing wire.

How do routers and trim routers differ?

You may hold a trim router in one hand, and its small motor makes it ideal for precise, low-volume work, as it fits a 1/4-inch (6.35mm) shank. 

Due to its larger motor size, operating a router requires using both hands. It’s best for longer projects and bits with a 1/2-inch shank.

Can you make plunge cuts with a trim router?

Most trim routers include a plunge base that you can purchase separately. Conventional-base trim routers aren’t designed for plunge cuts like a standard router, but it’s possible to do so. When it’s necessary, tilt the trimmer base and lower it gradually.

Our Top Pick For a Trim Router:
Dewalt Router (DWP611)

After rounds of tests and inspection, we have chosen the Dewalt DWP611 as the best trim router. It has all the best features for a router, including LED lights, variable speed adjustments, a 1-12″ (37mm) plunge stroke, and a soft starting motor. 

What’s nice is that the unit’s base can be purchased alone or as part of a package deal. In addition, it may be used by everyone, from professionals to amateurs.

Robert Johnson is a woodworker who takes joy in sharing his passion for creating to the rest of the world. His brainchild, Sawinery, allowed him to do so as well as connect with other craftsmen. He has since built an enviable workshop for himself and an equally impressive online accomplishment: an extensive resource site serving old timers and novices alike.
Robert Johnson
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