It is undeniable that the best palm router is one of, if not the most quintessential tools for a modern woodworking workshop.
No matter what kind of project you are on, there will always be at least one operation requiring its use.
Nevertheless, the number of available palm routers on the market is simply astounding.
To properly pick out a good option among them is already a challenge in itself. That is why we prepared this article for you.
Let dive into it!
Table of Contents
- Factors to Consider When Buying The Best Palm Router
- 5 Best Palm Router Reviews 2021
- Frequently Asked Questions About Palm Router
- How Do You Cut Hinge Mortises With Palm Routers?
- Which Corded or Cordless Palm Router Is Better Option?
- What Does The Palm Router Different From Other Routers?
- Can I Cut A Joinery With My Palm Router?
- How To Profile Edge With A Palm Router?
- How Do I Increase My Router’s Precision?
- How Can I Prevent My Palm Router From Tipping?
Factors to Consider When Buying The Best Palm Router
We have prepared some key features that can make it easier for you to make a decision.
Most of the older routers only let you work at one single speed option. As you can guess, this limitation makes it incredibly hard for woodworkers to achieve high-quality results.
The router speed, after all, differs greatly depending on the operation type, the bit diameter, and even the wood species. There is also the fact that the wrong speed can send pieces of wood flying everywhere.
None of us want that kind of incident in our working environment. These days, some high-tech routers even have speed sensors, which will monitor the speed your bit is spinning at.
The router can then adjust itself accordingly so that it will achieve the ideal speed.
For instance, you make a mistake and start the router at 10000 rpm, but the workpiece has a particularly dense section. Normal routers would just go in and achieve an inconsistent result.
On the other hand, those with speed sensors can boost their speed automatically to make no mistake.
The bit size that a router can handle should also play an incredibly important role in your decision. At the moment, there are two usual bit sizes, ¼ inch and ½ inch.
Our advice is to consider your intended use for the router before deciding on the collet size. 1/4 inch collets are the best fit with light-duty jobs such as milling hinge mortises or edge profiling.
If you force it to work with heavy-duty gigs, it can slow down the project or even break.
On the other hand, 1/2 inch collets are more suitable for timber framing and dense hardwoods in general. They are much sturdier, and the huge surface area makes sure that no slipping will occur.
Routers are inherently dangerous devices, as you can injure yourself easily using them due to the speed they operate at.
A good spindle lock should be able to let you change your bits a whole lot easier. To be more specific, the ideal spindle lock can allow at least two wrench bit changes.
There should be no issue for you to quickly move to a new bit size without a hitch. This feature often is used for the user professional.
Routers are powerful tools that require their users to be in control at all times. You do not want to lose consistent contact with your router, as it is the key to safe handling.
For this reason, you need a grip that can fit comfortably in your hands. The best palm router grip is usually rubberized or wooden, depending on its manufacturer.
In some cases, you can even get handle-mounted switches, which are extremely simple to familiarize yourself with.
You should also look for appropriate contours on the body of your compact router.
Due to their small size, sometimes you will need to use their whole body as a handle. If the contours fit your hand, you can control the router much easier.
The Horsepower tells you how well your trim router can handle dense materials and huge router bits.
Yes, you can make multiple passes and work your way across the edge with all routers. However, it takes quite a bit of time to do so.
This issue is especially vital if you are doing plunge work. At the end of the day, plunging makes a whole lot more friction and resistance than simply dragging it around.
The best palm router horsepower should be somewhere around 1.25 horsepower. If it’s too strong, you will have a hard time controlling it, leading to all kinds of accidents.
On the contrary, if it is too weak, there is no way for you to cut through the dense materials.
The two most used types of base on the market currently are fixed and plunge.
- Fixed Base
The fixed base is the standard form of base for palm routers. They often have fixed handles and knobs on two sides for guiding.
You can mount them onto your router table, but they can only do edge routing applications.
- Plunge Base
A plunge base is capable of everything a fixed base can do and then some.
Its motor moves up and down with the help of machined spring columns. You can use them for dado cuts, fluting, and blind grooves.
Setting the correct depth for a palm router is never an easy task, as it is quite a delicate machine.
If you set it too high, the router does not work. On the contrary, setting it too low and there is a high chance that your cut is too shallow.
The difference between a shallow pass and a deep cut is even more noticeable than you think. There is also the issue of the shape changing depending on your cut depth.
A prime example of this phenomenon is creating a flat-bottomed groove simply by changing a round over bit’s height.
Our recommendation is to find routers that offer clear depth adjustment measurements. With this feature, you can clearly observe the change and make sure that there is no mistake.
Fixed base routers, due to their rigid nature, cannot benefit that much from this feature.
Plunge routers, on the other hand, can make use of a function called depth stop to change their height settings.
Some of them even have a locking mechanism to stabilize after you find the perfect height.
Woodworking is, without any doubt, among the jobs that produce the most dust at the moment. This case is especially true if you use your router to profile an edge.
For this reason, if there is no dust collection feature on your palm router, your workplace will become quite dusty in no time.
A good dust collector should be attached to the side of your palm router. There, it can do its job the best and collect as much dust as possible.
As we have mentioned above, palm routers are delicate devices. Their small sizes and relatively powerful motors mean that they can easily break from their own power.
This risk is especially high when the router just makes contact with the work piece. To limit it, we suggest getting a router that has a soft start function.
This feature will allow your router to gently start working and increase the pace accordingly.
Circular and Square Base
There is a difference between the fixed, plunge bases and the circular, square bases.
The former is to separate the router’s type operation, while the latter is here to tell us what type of bit we should be using.
If you use a circular base and thus, a circular bit, you will notice that the bit can have a lot more friction against a fence.
As a result, when the flat moves a little bit away from the flush, your bit will swing off-track significantly.
The square base does not have this issue. It does not contact the fence as much, so there is less friction. That is why you will see more square bases on the market.
We do want to note that if you have enough experience to use 1 point of the round base as a reference, then the round base is much better.
5 Best Palm Router Reviews 2021
Here are the 5 best options available right now, we hope that they will satisfy you.
1. Bosch GKF125CEN Colt Palm Router
The best option must excel at all aspects, as it must be better than all of its competitors.
It should be easy to use, powerful, convenient, and have a stable consistency. That is exactly what the Bosch GKF125CEN Colt Palm Router promises.
This machine has a respectable 1.25 HP motor that can run with 7.0 amp. As you can guess, it is not the highest number on this list, but it is surely enough to rip through most materials.
You can adjust the speed from 16000 rpm to a maximum of 35000 rpm.
It also has quite a wide bit of capacity, as the fixed base will accept any bit. Of course, there is a requirement of the bit not exceeding 5/16 inches in width.
With this kind of capacity, you can work on many unique projects without having to worry about the machine holding you back.
The constant response circuitry is also quite impressive. This function can monitor the speed of the machine’s under load perfectly.
It will also intervene when necessary by either providing overload protection or soft starts. Your project’s performance will be as consistent as possible.
We do want to note that the depth adjustment locking mechanism left a lot to be desired. You do still have the capability to adjust things finely due to the knurled knob, but it is still quite an oversight.
We are not sure if this issue is due to a defect in design or poor control of quality.
2. Makita RT0701C Compact Router
Most of the palm router users are new to the world of woodworking. As such, it is certainly unreasonable to expect them to be able to use these dangerous tools with no issue.
The Makita RT0701C Compact Router can solve this problem easily, thanks to its simple yet robust design.
Its slim, as well as ergonomic design, means that even someone with no experience can wield this router easily.
Additionally, the 3.9 lbs weight helps you even more while controlling it. The flat-top design is there to make it easier for you to change the bits, as there is no obstacle.
Another thing that Makita focused a lot on in this product is precision. To improve the accuracy of the RT0701C, it receives a fine depth adjustment system.
This system operates smoothly and has quite a precise depth scale that you can read easily.
While the motor is not the strongest there is, it does have the soft-start function. This feature helps tremendously in extending the life of the router, as rough starts under heavy loads are very stressful.
The smooth start-up process will also allow you to stop immediately if something goes wrong.
However, there are times where the palm router becomes too hot while working. If this phenomenon extends, you may even smell something burning.
That is why our advice is never to push this device to its limits. Luckily, it can change freely between 10000 and 30000 rpm.
3. DEWALT DWP611 Fixed Base Palm Router
One of the most vital requirements that a palm router must satisfy is to be as stable as possible. After all, woodworking is a profession where a mistake can cost you the whole project or give injuries.
That is where the DEWALT DWP611 Fixed Base Palm Router comes in.
The biggest advantage that this palm router holds over its competitors is the combination of the clamping mechanism and depth ring.
These two functions rarely work together in other palm routers, but DEWALT did the impossible. By linking them together, the router can lock in place forever.
No matter how hard you move it around, there is just no way that your router can slip out of your hand. Adding to this stability is a constant response circuitry.
With its help, you will notice that the router’s speed will always be at a consistent rate, further reducing its chance of slipping out.
Visibility of your work is also something that the DEWALT DWP611 excels at.
While other routers only let you see some indications of where they are going, this router offers a clear sub-base and two LEDs. As a result, you can clearly see how it is cutting your materials.
The biggest complaint that we have against this device is the fact that its adjustment wheel’s location is weird. You will have a hard time reaching it, so it is a little bit difficult to adjust the depth.
4. Ridgid R2401 Laminate Trim Router
Most of the time, people just starting out on the woodworking path do not have all the tools ready. That is why they need to have gears that can perform many functions.
One such example is the Ridgid R2401 Laminate Palm Router, which is the most versatile tool on this list.
The main reason for our statement lies in the fact that this item offers two types of bases. The round base is suitable for trimming and the square one for hinge routing.
Whenever you almost can quickly change the base, and the router will perform a completely different function.
Furthermore, Ridgid added in a quick-release lever for this router that speeds the changing process even more.
With just one push to the lever, the locking mechanism linking the base to the motor will open up. You then can easily take the base out and insert the new one in.
The depth rings that this router has are actually quite precise and easy to read. As a result, you will not have to guess things while adjusting the bit height in the middle of a project.
Even if you make a mistake, the no-mar top prevents any marring from occurring on your work surface.
Our biggest concern about this product is that it is a little bit on the heavier side. You should not expect to be able to move it easily the first few times.
5. Goplus Wood Router Tool Combo Kit Variable Speed Palm Router
As we have mentioned above, there are a lot of restraints a new woodworker has to work through. One prime example of those restraints is the budget.
That is why we bring in the Goplus 1.25HP Compact Wood Palm Router Kit. You will get a whole combo for the price of 1 router.
Most of the time, you get nothing but a palm router when you buy one. That is not the case with this combo.
With its purchase, you will get complete accessories with 3 guides, 2 bases, 2 brushes, 1 wrench, 1 collet, 1 transparent cover, and 1 special M4X20 screw. These are enough for you to challenge some of the more complex projects.
The router itself is made from high-quality nylon and aluminum, so you can expect a long service life.
Furthermore, this product has a soft start along with the efficient heat dissipation protects the motor and prevents scalding.
You do not need the help of any tool to change any part of this palm router. For instance, changing the motor only requires you to insert it into the base and lock a trigger.
These simple changing processes can save you a lot of time and effort, especially mid-production.
The power cord is respectably long, so your movement is not limited. It is also designed to be flexible enough that you can keep it away from your work area.
As a result, the chance of it getting cut off while you are working is virtually zero.
There is no micro depth adjustment mechanism, which all other options on this list provide. This lack of micro-adjustment capability means that your precision will suffer noticeably.
Frequently Asked Questions About Palm Router
How Do You Cut Hinge Mortises With Palm Routers?
You can use a normal 1/4 inch straight bit to cut hinge mortises with palm routers.
Put the bit into the collet and hinge mortising will turn into a regular routing operation. You only need to make a U shaped template and follow it.
Which Corded or Cordless Palm Router Is Better Option?
Corded palm routers offer a lot more power, so they are better if you want to work on heavy-duty projects.
On the other hand, cordless palm routers do not have the limitation that is the power cord. Due to this reason, they can move around freely, so they are better for more complicated but less energy-demanding jobs.
What Does The Palm Router Different From Other Routers?
A palm router is typically much smaller than any other type of router. In fact, they are so small that you will need to use their whole body as a handle. They are also the most portable of all kinds of routers.
Can I Cut A Joinery With My Palm Router?
The answer is yes, but it is only possible for smaller joints, as palm routers are just too small. Our advice is to only make reasonable cuts so that the bit motor doesn’t get overwhelmed.
How To Profile Edge With A Palm Router?
Most people believe that palm routers are not strong enough to do proper edge profiling.
To achieve this result, before you can perform edge profiling, you must make some careful passes. After you have reached the ideal cutting depth, all you need to do is follow standard routing practices.
But keep in mind, you must not route the sides before finishing the ends. The end grains will split out onto the sides, so routing the side after the ends lets you cut them out.
You should also move your router counterclockwise while routing outside edges and clockwise for inside edges.
How Do I Increase My Router’s Precision?
A simple trick that most are not aware of is to use tape to tighten dadoes. Placing strips of tape along the edge of your router base improves accuracy significantly.
How Can I Prevent My Palm Router From Tipping?
Flush-trimming solid wood shelf edges is a common work for palm routers, but they tip a lot doing this gig. The best way to work around this issue is to clamp them all together on edge.
After going through our buying guide, we hope that you can now finally decide which is the best palm router.
In my opinion, we believe that the best option on this list should be the Bosch GKF125CEN Palm Router.
This router checks all the most vital boxes. It has a motor with the perfect 1.25 horsepower, not too strong and not too weak.
You can quickly and precisely change its speed setting with one simple move. The rubberized grip is comfortable.
The runner-up is the Makita RT0701C Compact Router due to its easy-to-use nature. If it wasn’t for its issue of getting too hot under a heavy workload, this machine might even challenge the top spot.
We hope that you will find the information useful to choose the right palm router for your needs.