If you are a woodworker, you know that the most versatile and probably the most precious power tool in your shop is your router. Modern routers work great on complex and simple woodworking joinery like mortise and tenons, dowel joints, tongue and groove joints, box joints, and dovetails.
There is a huge variety of routers available in the market suited for various types of woodworking tasks. Therefore, buying a router can be confusing with the so many features and options on each model. There are 2 basic router types: fixed-base and plunge base. Fixed based routers are more secure and clamped into a base while the plunge routers can move vertically which give it the “plunge” effect into wood.
However, combination router kits are also available that offer great value for woodworkers on a tight budget. These kits usually consist a single 2-1/4 HP motor with both a fixed base and a plunge router base. These combos are sufficient for most routing tasks since there are only a few woodworking tasks that require a bigger router.
The following models of router kits are among the most popular models as they provide best value and performance.
In terms of pure performance and ease of use, there is probably no better router than the Porter Cable 893PK Fixed Base & Plunge Base Router Kit. The design and features clearly reflect a lot of research and superior engineering, such as the dual-position switch which allows the unit to be turned on and off near the handle and also at the top of the motor. The fine height adjustment on the fixed base is also very impressive as it was quite accurate and very easy to use. This is a comparatively quiet, yet powerful router that is loaded with features that any woodworker would appreciate. If there is one combination router kit that other manufacturers should emulate, this is the one.
The Milwaukee 5616-24 is a rock-solid woodworking tool, with strong, durable motor that doesn’t feel overly bulky in the hands. The plunge feature is smooth and easy to use; highly ergonomic in design. The fixed base is comfortable and easily handled with one hand using a small round over bit. The fixed base has an above-the-table adjustment, plus two different handle styles. You can expect years of good service from this high quality product. Although it is a bit more expensive than the Bosch 1617EVSPK it is still a great value router kit.
The Bosch 1617EVSPK offers a combination of exceptional performance and quality engineering at a value price. The design, coupled with the great manufacturing quality, this router will exceed your expectations. The variable-speed motor starts smoothly and performs well under load. When used with a router table, it is absolutely delightful: it’s light enough to handle when installing under the table, its controls are easy to reach, and the height adjustment is fabulous. Overall this is one of the best routers available in the market.
The DeWalt DW618PK Router Kit is a very solid entry into their line of professional woodworking power tools. The router has a high-quality-durable-well made feel that we all look for and appreciate in a tool. It has a powerful motor that starts smoothly and is strong enough to handle nearly any routing task you throw at it. The soft start feature works great and the router does not try to fly out of your hands when turning on or off. The variable speed is perfect for cutting through hard or soft woods, and is easy to control even in the middle of routing. The only drawback of this router is that, compared to other routers, the bit changing may be cumbersome at times. But overall, this is a great value for money.
The Hitachi KM12VC is a value-priced router with some useful features, such as a hard-sided carrying case, a smooth 2-1/4 HP router and it is covered by a five-year warranty. It has a smooth and precise feel and adjustments are easy to accomplish. The sub base has a feature that makes sure its located in the same place on the router base every time you mount it. The large hole base has a flat which is very nice for routing against an edge, something that the round base routers normal lack. However, the KM12VC is missing some of the thoughtful features found on many of the comparable models, which makes this unit probably a viable choice only for the most budget-conscious of router kit shoppers.