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Palm routers are often called trim routers, and they aren’t seen in many woodworking shops. Still, they are one of the most versatile power tools for woodcutting.
These tools are very lightweight, powerful, and easy to operate, but they’re small enough to fit into places where bulky routers fail. Do you use a palm router to trim laminated plastics? There’s more than palm routers can do.
Many palm routers are identical in price and features, so it’s crucial to note tiny variations in specifications and applications. Overall, this guide should help you choose the right palm router for your workshop and needs.
Best 10 Palm Routers
Dewalt Router Kit (DWP611PK) Best Overall
Makita RT0701C Palm Router Best Performance
Festool 574368 MFK 700 EQ Modular Trim Router Set Best Budget
MLCS 9056 1-HP Rocky Trim Router Easy to Operate
Bosch Colt Palm Grip Router (PR20EVSK) Best Versatile
Makita RT0701CX7 Compact Router Kit Best designed
Bosch PR20EVSPK Fixed/Plunge Base Variable-Speed Router Kit Best Durable
Dewalt Router, Fixed Base, Variable Speed (DWP611) Best in list
Porter-Cable PCE6435 Laminate Trimmer Best Built
Ridgid R2401 Laminate Trim Router Best features
Dewalt Router Kit (DWP611PK)
The extended fixed base works well to offer a smooth cutting experience, and the depth adjustment system lets you quickly figure out what you need from your palm router.
- Compact design
- Quick joining and removable capability
- Variable speed for more control
- Stable and large platform
- Extended durability
- Doesn't include bits
- Requires a robust routing procedure
The Dewalt Router Kit is in the top spot because it’s durable and has a smooth operating system. Overall, it has a 7-amp motor that generates 1.25-horsepower. This Dewalt power tool can handle between 16,000 and 27,000 RPM, so it’s an appropriate plunge router for small and medium tasks.
With that, the variable speed on this Dewalt router lets you control the momentum and get the best cutting experience possible. The base and bit can easily be changed, and there are removable options for the motor pack. Plus, the extended fixed base works well to offer a smooth cutting experience, and the depth adjustment system lets you quickly figure out what you need from your palm router.
The spindle buttons on this Dewalt compact router are larger and don’t require as much pressure to activate. Therefore, it’s comfortable and convenient to change the bits. For quick changes, the shaft locks come with a lock.
What’s more, this Dewalt router uses aluminum for the construction of the base and motor housing, so it’s extremely durable. The substantial platform adds more stability during your work.
In the case of a fixed base, the user quickly removes it because of the spring function and release tabs.
Makita RT0701C Palm Router
It offers a quick cam-lock system and a great base design with more visibility to improve overall handling.
- Slim design for small projects
- Features compact plunge base for easy access to corners
- Easily accessible motor brushes for maintenance
- Soft-start with variable speed control
- No dust shield included
- Motor drops when base is unlocked
- Narrow opening on the fixed base
- Doesn't include LED lights
The Makita RT0701C router provides fantastic performance and accuracy, even though it’s a compact router. This tool is great for accurate routing applications.
Overall, the Makita RT0701C has a good depth adjustment system, and you’re sure to appreciate the depth scales that can be scanned with it. Plus, it offers a quick cam-lock system and a great base design with more visibility to improve overall handling.
You’re sure to appreciate the variable speed control of the Makita RT0701C palm router. It maintains a constant speed, even when under load. Plus, it uses the smooth and soft start-up feature, and you can install other bases as needed.
Festool 574368 MFK 700 EQ Modular Trim Router Set
The Festool brand calibrated its best engineering with this compact router.
- Ideal for trimming narrow stock
- Supports DC and AC electricity
- Advanced dust extraction technology
- Easy to use and portable
- Doesn't perform plunge operations
The powerful Festool Trim Router offers 720 watts of power that can accomplish many jobs, such as trimming, routing, and profiling. You get a detachable cord with variable control speed, as well.
This palm router set can support a wide base vertically and horizontally. Therefore, you have better control when operating a narrow stock or cutting near the edge.
With that, the extended base supports more stability. The Festool brand calibrated its best engineering with this compact router. That way, you get the best craftsmanship ever. You’re sure to be mesmerized by the accurate cutting and trimming.
This router only weighs about 11 pounds, so it’s easy to maneuver and can save you time while you work. Plus, the compact shape ensures that you can store it virtually anywhere.
Overall, this router set features dust extractors to prevent dust buildup in the shop. This helps you have a clean and healthy work area. With that, Festool has always focused on integrating its tools, so you can work seamlessly with this and other brand products.
MLCS 9056 1-HP Rocky Trim Router
For those who want the most portability from a heavy-duty palm router, the MLCS Trim Router is the go-to option.
- Highly portable
- Fantastic grip
- Fits in your palm well
- Includes necessary equipment
- No storage case included
- Auto-depth settings could change
For those who want the most portability from a heavy-duty palm router, the MLCS Trim Router is the go-to option. It features a compact design, a powerful motor, and is lightweight to handle the toughest routing jobs.
The high-performance motor is supported by the variable speed control dial. Plus, this trim router generates up to 30,000 RPM, and you can control it easily with the speed control dial. With that, the motor offers double insulation.
You’re sure to appreciate that you can change bits with one wrench because of the locked spindle button. With that, you can also lock the motor height in place with the adjustable rack and pinion. That way, you’ve got smoothness and more control. Plus, the rubber pad helps you grab your compact router with confidence.
There’s also an edge guide on the appliance, so you can trim narrow stocks and edges with precision. Plus, the brand equipped its router with adjustable flash attachments, so you can adjust the depth easily.
Bosch Colt Palm Grip Router (PR20EVSK)
Bosch might just have the best palm routers right now on the market, especially with the Colt Palm Grip model.
- Convenient to change bits
- User-friendly operation
- Hard to see through the work with the solid base
- Clumsy locking system
Bosch might just have the best palm routers right now on the market, especially with the Colt Palm Grip model. Clearly, there are various variable speed fixed-base routers out there. What makes this one different is the smooth operation, portability, and ability to generate 5.6 amps, even though it’s so lightweight.
The modified back wheels on this compact router allow you to make micro-adjustments effortlessly. Plus, the smooth and slow start ensures that the router uses less torque, which extends the durability and longevity of the machine.
With that, the user manual features a chart to help you understand the different speed dial options and trimming purposes of each gear.
The Bosch brand is known for making user-friendly tools, and this one is the same. You’re sure to be amazed by the easy operation, flexibility, and comfort when using the router. Plus, the spindle locks ensure a one-wrench replacement, but there’s an additional shaft for two-wrench operations, too.
Overall, the top-mounted speed dial is great for control. Plus, this model supports Constant Response Circuitry technology, so you can change speeds to get a tension-free performance. To top it off, it has a rugged aluminum base.
Makita RT0701CX7 Compact Router Kit
You’re sure to appreciate that this router features a plunge base, guide, wrenches, and a 1/4-inch collet.
- Every base interchangeable with the other
- Electronic variable speed control maintains speed when under load
- Features depth adjustment settings
- Designed with variable speed control from one to six (up to 30,000 RPM)
- Soft start feature to minimize torque
- No micro-depth adjustment option
- Requires wrenches to change bits
- Motor drops when base is unlocked
- Doesn't include dust shield
The Makita RT0701CX7 compact router features a powerful motor and offers improved performance. You’re sure to appreciate the variable speed control, which lets you match the speed with your application. Overall, this palm router is a slim-designed power tool that increases control and comfort.
You’re sure to appreciate that this router features a plunge base, guide, wrenches, and a 1/4-inch collet. With that, it has double insulation for more safety, and the depth scales are easy to read.
There’s also a rack and pinion that’s adequate for the depth adjustment system and can be used on longer projects.
The advanced design ensures a precision center so that you can keep your bit on the cut line and achieve perfection.
- Torque-reducing start
- Straightforward operation
- Supports fixed/plunge base
- Soft grip
- Doesn't work with router table
If the previous Bosch palm router set wasn’t up to your standards, you may like the combo router kit. It ensures that you have the best accuracy and routing. Overall, this wood router features an ergonomic design and soft grip to make this compact router one of the best to hold.
While some people get confused by the small size, it can generate enough power to handle large tasks easily. Meanwhile, you’re sure to appreciate the fixed base made of aluminum for more stability. However, the plunge base operation is great, too. You also get release and rod levers for locking to handle micro-adjustments easily.
This set also supports the ability to interchange the bits between two and one wrenches along with your spindle lock. The advanced design ensures a precision center so that you can keep your bit on the cut line and achieve perfection.
There’s also a new clamp system, so you can move from one base to the other effortlessly. Plus, the variable speed knob guides users and makes it convenient to use.
Dewalt Router, Fixed Base, Variable Speed (DWP611)
This one features various applications that allow beginners to perform tough cutting, routing, and trimming jobs with ease.
- Supports electronic feedback
- None so far
The Dewalt Fixed-Base, Variable Speed router is one of the better palm routers out there. This one features various applications that allow beginners to perform tough cutting, routing, and trimming jobs with ease.
Overall, the Dewalt Fixed-base, Variable Speed router has 1.25-horsepower, which is great for completing all types of routing tasks. You’re sure to appreciate that you can change the speed with the dial on this wood router. That way, you can work on specific jobs with ease.
The motor of the Dewalt Router starts up slowly, which is a good thing. That way, you don’t jerk the machine while trying to work. Overall, you get a visible sub-base and LED lights to help you see the routing work.
There are also release tablets that are powered by springs on this compact router. That way, you can quickly and easily remove the base. With that, the spindle lock ensures each wrench changes. To top it off, the base and motor are made using aluminum for more durability.
Porter-Cable PCE6435 Laminate Trimmer
There are depth rings included with the Porter-Cable router, which offers easy, quick, and perfect height adjustments.
- Convenient wrench included
- Easy operating system
- Gets hot fast
The Porter-Cable compact router offers a user-friendly interface and is comfortable and lightweight. That’s why the Porter-Cable brand is the most credited on the market. Overall, it features a rare combination of power and durability to get through various materials, such as wood stock, plywood, and plastic laminate.
You’re sure to appreciate the 5.6-amp motor on the Porter-Cable router because it offers incredible strength and goes up to 30,000 RPM to ensure a fantastic performance. With that, this Porter-Cable router can perform heavy-duty routing tasks, and the fixed-base is made using cast aluminum and great engineering to support more durability.
There are depth rings included with the Porter-Cable router, which offers easy, quick, and perfect height adjustments. Since you can adjust the bit height, you can save plenty of time. Plus, the locking clips on the Porter-Cable brand are bigger than previous versions, so you can release the motor quickly.
Overall, the Porter-Cable fixed-base router weighs 3.7 pounds. Therefore, it’s easy to move it around. Plus, the superior grip ensures that you can hold the machine comfortably and work independently.
Ridgid R2401 Laminate Trim Router
You’re sure to appreciate the LED lights on this tool. Plus, it features a spindle lock option and round/square bases.
- LED lights
- Round and square base included for versatility
- Over-mold grip for more comfort
- Electronic feedback for consistent power/speed
- Spindle lock for easy bit changes
- Produces more noise than other routers
- Batteries not included
Trim routers are highly versatile and useful for any workshop. The Ridgid R2401 trim router features a 5.5-amp permanent magnet motor that offers a variable speed of up to 30,000 RPM. Magnet motors are standard here because they’re less expensive and work great in any compact router.
You’re sure to appreciate the LED lights on this tool. Plus, it features a spindle lock option and round/square bases.
Palm Router Uses
- Palm routers are typically used to router shallow hinges. Full-size routers could wobble, making them hard to balance on a surface. However, you can square up to your edges with a chisel.
- Routers may also help you create decorative inlays. Palm routers reach narrow and tight spaces, so you can use a down-cut or straight bit for more dimension.
- Overall, palm routers are used for butterfly patches. You can use your palm router to remove material before cutting the shape. Trace the pattern and then cut the release in the middle. If you want sharp inside corners, use a chisel.
- The guide rail of a compact router is made from water- and tear-resistant material. It features a reinforced handle and adjustable hooks for more durability. The shoulder strap also offers a quick-release feature with buckles.
- Overall, the fixed-base handles are a great accessory. They install quickly and easily, and you can use them for various routing applications. The two-handle design offers more precision and control.
- On a compact router, a dust extractor can be quite convenient. It’s used for various routing applications and is made of durable plastic.
What’s the RPM Rating?
Revolutions Per Minute or RPM do not determine the speed or quality of the compact router. Instead, it’s a measurement of how many times your drill end spins around in one minute.
The smaller bit of the router has a high RPM rate. You must remember that various router bits work at different speeds. If you don’t, you may not get the right results or could create a dangerous situation for yourself. Most routers spin at rates between 8,000 and 30,000 RPM.
What’s the Horsepower Speed?
The horsepower speed is often abbreviated to HP. This is a crucial factor when rating the performance of your palm router. Most routers on the market have HP of 1 to 1.25. The horsepower is minimal because they’re used for lighter tasks that don’t require a lot of energy.
However, you can find small differences in HP among routers from different brands. The HP could go up to three for a compact router if it performs massive tasks and is full-sized.
How Long Does Its Battery Last?
The running time of your battery on a palm router is estimated in Amps Per Hour. The performance of your compact router depends a lot on the battery.
A larger battery works for longer periods and provides the best performance.
Does It Include a Soft-start Motor?
The soft motor feature on a compact router ensures that you can start your router at slower speeds. That prevents kickback and can be a safety feature in case the machine jerks, and you lose your grip. As you continue working and running the machine, it steadily increases the speed of the motor until it’s running at the full RPMs.
How to Use a Handheld Unit
You should remember that palm routers operate at fast rotational speeds. Any unsupervised or wrong moves can lead to kickback from the compact router.
Overall, you need a firm grip for reliable use. With that, you should follow all safety precautions when using a palm router. These include wearing eye goggles and gloves. Ear protection may also be necessary if the machine is very loud.
Move in the Right Direction
Most woodworkers don’t use palm routers correctly while they move them around. The right direction for operating a compact router is to go against the router bit’s rotation.
This creates the proper friction between the direction you go and the router. Doing this builds pressure that ensures you have complete control.
Use Clean Bits
Regardless of the quality of your compact router or the skills you have, a low router bit could produce bad results. Bits are often made of carbide or HSS. HSS dulls quickly and could burn the wood. Therefore, you may want to invest in carbide tips for your router to get the best results.
Main Uses of a Palm Router
A palm router is quite popular because of its unique features and versatile nature. Routers like this reduce fatigue because you’re not using heavy wood routers and still get the power you need.
Overall, it’s a compact router that can go with you anywhere. This is much better for some than workshop routers that must be mounted to a table.
There are various ways to use your hand router. Primarily, it’s used to create decorative designs, fine edges, and detailed carpentry work. You can also use these routers on other things than woodworking, such as protrusions for joining furniture.
Overall, a palm trimmer or router can handle molding, edging, routing, rounding, rabbeting, and trimming. With that, you can create shapes and patterns in laminates and wood.
Features of a Palm Router
When you purchase a compact router, it’s crucial to make sure it has the features you want. Here are some of the most common to consider:
All palm routers require a way to set your routing depth. If the router gets extended beyond its minimum set depth, it could cause the base to slide. Overall, the base removal ensures that you can reach the collet in the compact router and change the bit easily.
Spindle locks can help you remove or change the spindle with the spindle button. Overall, you push the button to loosen the collet nut. This feature is great for professional router users.
Variable Speed Control
The spindle speeds required for routing metal are less, so variable speed control is useful when working on copper or aluminum.
However, you can use the variable speed control option to work at a speed you’re comfortable with, regardless of whether it’s wood or other materials.
Circular and Square Base
Most routers on the market have rectangular and square bases, which are quite helpful when the router works against a straight edge.
Circular bases aren’t symmetrical in most cases. Therefore, the bits go off-center. If you’re routing a straight edge, the slight rotation of the base could cause the cut to be contorted.
Dust is common for all woodworking shops, but there are various solutions to keep a clean environment in the workshop.
Most routers feature a dust collection attachment that sucks up the dust and accumulates it in one spot. That way, you can easily have a clean workspace and dump the dust out at the end of the task.
In the past, all palm routers used fixed bases, but that feature isn’t always the same in current models. A plunge base could also be helpful for inlay and mortising work.
Before purchasing a router, you must ensure that it comes with the features you want. However, it might have other accessories, such as base plates, dust collection bags, and edge guides.
Palm routers are one of the smallest versions of wood routers out there. They are designed to fit in one hand and have up to 1.25-horsepower, which is quite powerful.
This is a consumer-grade tool that has a small motor and is used for medium- and small-grade trimming, decorative cuts, and intricate joints.
What makes them excellent is their budget-friendly features and maneuverability. A palm router is something you can take with you on job sites and perform the toughest routing jobs. They typically have a good grip.
While they are less expensive, you should focus more on the features you want. These should include:
Ergonomic design, in this case, refers to a pistol-style grip from the router handle. It extends from the router’s base and lets you hold it with confidence and comfort.
Regardless, all models don’t provide you with a smooth and comfortable gripping experience. Therefore, you should try out different models with your hand before buying something. That way, you know what fits you well so that you can work for extended periods without hand cramps.
The adjustments for a subtle depth ensure that you can perform intricate and decorative cuts with ease. Most routers have a depth adjustment system for fine-tuning.
With that, the macro adjustments can be used to quickly change between depths. That way, you can switch between different jobs smoothly.
When you’re searching for a new router, make sure that you focus on the micro- and macro-depth adjustments to ensure a smooth experience while working.
Corded vs. Cordless
Corded models tend to have a more limited reach, but cordless models don’t have that issue. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about the cord placement or movement with your router.
With that, cordless models often use brushless electric motors. They save you battery life, which means you can work longer without having to replace the batteries or let them charge up again.
If you want to cut or trim things precisely with your router, you require an edge guide. This must-have accessory doesn’t come with every model. Therefore, you may wish to think about buying one separately. That can add to the overall cost, so it might be wise to purchase a router that includes an edge guide.
Some routers only support one wrench, but others offer two wrenches. Depending on the type of job you’re doing, it’s crucial to choose the one that meets those requirements.
Overall, there are few variations in the features of routers. However, if you make sure that yours comes with all of these options, you can do just about anything you want!
Having a handheld router in your workshop is crucial for most woodworking professionals. Even if you only do it on the weekends, you have more versatility with this tool in your arsenal! Here are a few more key points to consider when you’re buying the best router possible. They include:
- Most people don’t read the user manual before using the machine. It’s important to go through this guideline because it offers plenty of insight to help you with your routing and trimming tasks. You also learn more about the features and how to use them safely and correctly.
- Since these routers are held in the hand, they don’t feature a large heat-absorbing ability. Therefore, you should try to incorporate breaks into your routing work so that the machine can cool down. Alternatively, you might consider adding cooling oil to the router.
- Though most manufacturers boast that their routers can handle heavy-duty tasks, they’re primarily designed for small and medium jobs. Therefore, you should use your handheld router accordingly so that you don’t damage it or hurt yourself by tackling tasks that it’s not suitable for.
- Be aware that many routers use router bits with 1/4-inch shanks. You can’t use large shanks with a handheld router.
- Dust extraction is an excellent feature. With it, you can keep the work area clean and reduce your risk of inhaling dust. Make sure that this is included or that you have a way to remove dust while you work.
What Are Palm Routers Good For?
Palm routers are great for small woodworking projects. For example, you can shape a square or rectangular table or kitchen cabinet corners. With this router, you can handle regular woodworking, such as shaping corners and cutting small pieces. Sometimes, you could make circular shapes, as well.
However, these routers aren’t suitable for heavy-duty tasks.
Is a Palm Router Similar to a Trim Router?
The functioning system of your palm and trim router is the same. However, the difference here is the size. A trim router is smaller and can only trim short surfaces, whereas a palm router can handle extensive cutting and shaping edges.
However, you should note that you can hold a trim router or palm router in one hand. Some people prefer to use two hands for more stability, balance, and control. It just depends on your skill level and how frequently you shake while working.
Do You Require a Cordless Model?
Yes, you might prefer a cordless router to cut things because you might not have a power source nearby. Think about your workshop and where the outlets are. Then, figure out where you plan to use the router most.
Overall, a corded router is limited as to where it can go unless you use an extension cord. Therefore, it might not be suitable to use a corded model on a large workpiece.
Additionally, a corded router might have the wires get twisted and broken. You also have to ensure that the cord is out of the way so that you don’t cut into it while working.
Some woodworkers prefer to have both cordless and corded models in the workshop. That way, you can choose the right tool based on the job at hand.
What Does an Ergonomic Design Mean?
Overall, an ergonomic design means that it’s easy to hold the tool in your hand. Remember, you might be routing for a few minutes or an hour. Therefore, you must ensure that it has a pistol-like grip that’s easy to hold. That way, you can depress the trigger and activate it without thinking about what you’re doing.
Why Do You Need a Battery?
Cordless models don’t use a cord to get electricity. Therefore, you need a battery to operate the tool. Usually, they last for three to five years, but it depends on how often you use them, how it was made, and the cell type it has.
Overall, you must remember that performance varies based on usage, model, and branding.
It’s best to choose a model that provides you with a rechargeable battery. They last a long time, and you don’t have to add another expense to get a tool that works properly. Generally, a full charge can work for up to 30,000 hours, but this also varies based on how frequently you use it and at what speed.
Woodworkers require the best routers with the highest quality. You’ve learned about various options. Hand routers tend to give you great results and can be easier to use than those on a router table.
You’ve learned about the features necessary for a palm router, and now is the time to discover which one is the best.
When it comes to price and quality, the best palm router is the Dewalt DWP611PK. This plunge router has an 11-amp motor and 1.75 horsepower. You also get a tool-free motor and the ability to make micro-fine adjustments.
At right around 6 pounds, the Dewalt router is lightweight enough to tackle overhead jobs and much more. However, the only caveat here is that it’s a corded router. Therefore, you might find it hard to use it at job sites with no electricity.
Those who require a cordless version may want to go with the Makita RT0701C. You still get a great performance, and the price is quite similar.