The Best Compact Router Reviews: 7 Palm Sized Tools

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A compact router can be an extremely useful woodwork aid at your home or business workshop for woodworking tasks.

With the best compact router, you can easily duplicate parts, cut hinge mortises, profile edges, clean veneer, trim shelf lipping, cut joinery, drill holes, make signs, mortise inlays and so on.

But finding the ideal portable router may not be easy simply because some brands have sacrificed performance for a more compact design.

After hours of research, I managed to find seven hand routers that you can rely on. Herein you will find my complete roundup of the seven palm router reviews.

Top Choice

Dewalt DWP611 Fixed Base Router isn’t just compact, it is also powerful and very efficient. It comes with all the routing features you have been looking for in a design that weighs only 5.5 pounds.

Last update on 2020-07-09 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The 7 Best Compact Routers

#1. Dewalt DWP611 Fixed Base Router – Best Overall

DEWALT Router Fixed/Plunge Base Kit, Variable Speed, 1.25-HP Max Torque (DWP611PK)

The Dewalt DWP611 is a compact, powerful, and efficient model that generates an impressive 16000 to 27000 rpm while maintaining compatibility with aftermarket parts.

Key Features

  • Compact design weighs only 4.6 pounds
  • Powerful 7-amp motor meets the needs of tough applications
  • Adjustment ring allows for smooth bit depth modifications
  • Soft starting motor for simple and safe startups
  • Variable-speed enables optimization of bit speed
  • Aluminum housing improves motor durability

What I Like

This unit comes with a powerful 1.25 horsepower motor with an amperage of 7 amps, which is great because it draws enough power to generate speeds of up to 27000 rpm.

Its soft-start feature smoothes out the wrist whipping torque that bulkier motors usually generate at startup, which helps to maintain a constant speed.

It has variable speed settings, ranging from 16000 to 27000 rpm, which is great because it helps you optimize bit speed for changing applications.

Another good feature is the combination of a clear sub-base and dual LEDs, which ensures you have maximum visibility.

What I Didn’t Like

The motor overheated when I subjected it to excessive use even though it didn’t blow on me.

Pros

  • Compact for handheld operation
  • Soft start eliminates wrist whipping torque
  • Easy to optimize bit speed
  • Clear sub-base and LED lighting improves visibility
  • Controlled bit depth changes for precision routing

Cons

  • Possible for the motor to overheat

Conclusion

This might be a good choice for those who want a powerful, compact router for smaller projects. You will be able to come up with all kinds of profiling.

Overall Rating – 4.7

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#2. Makita RT0701C Compact Router ­– Best with the Most Ergonomic Design

Makita RT0701C 1-1/4 HP Compact Router

Introducing the best compact router on today’s market, the Makita RT0701C, which is the perfect choice for typical applications.

Key Features

  • One-hand operation compact model
  • Slim design for easy control and comfort
  • Soft start feature for safe startups
  • Electronic speed control for maintaining constant cutting speed
  • Precise settings allow for fine depth adjustment

What I Like

This compact unit has a reliable amperage of 6.5-amp, which drives sufficient output power that supports speeds of 10000 to 30000 rpm.

The electronic speed control, soft start, and all the control buttons are located at the top of the unit where they are easily accessible.

The clear fixed base is exceptionally well-made, which is great because it provides high visibility for superior handling and quality performance.

The slim profile design is ergonomically made for easy handheld use. Also, the lightweight design doesn’t need handles to move from one place to another.

What I Didn’t Like

I didn’t like the fact that the edge guide was only compatible with a fixed base. I wish the manufacturer could include the mounting bracket.

Pros

  • The slim design is easily handheld
  • Aluminum housing is highly durable
  • Soft starting for smooth and safe startups
  • Compatible with industry-standard template guides
  • Easy to precision depth adjustments

Cons

  • May miss a mounting bracket

Conclusion

With a net weight of around 3.9 pounds, Makita RT0701C is the best handheld router on the market with all the features you have been looking for.

Overall Rating – 4.6

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#3. Avid Power MW104 Compact Router – Best with the Most Durable Housing

6.5-Amp 1.25 HP Compact Router with Fixed Base, 5 Trim Router Bits, Variable Speed, Edge Guide, Roller Guide and Dust Hood, Avid Power MW104

If you want a compact router with very smooth action and plenty of motor for your woodwork, look no further than the Avid Power MW104.

Key Features

  • Powerful motor generates speeds of up to 32000 rpm
  • Smooth rack and pinion depth adjustment enables precision operation
  • Rubber covered handle allows for a comfortable grip
  • Dual bright LED lighting improves visibility
  • Aluminum housing boosts long-term durability

What I Like

This compact unit has an ergonomically made body with rubber covered handles, which is great because it improves control and comfort.

It has a powerful motor that is rated at 1.25 horsepower and 6.5 amps, which generates speeds in the range of 10000 to 32000 revolutions per minute.

I really appreciate the fact that this router accepts 3/8 and 1/4-inch collects, considering the wide variety of bits I normally use during my woodwork projects.

It also has two resourceful adjustment features a quick-locking system for motor release and coarse height adjustments and smooth rack and pinion for fine depth adjustments.

What I Didn’t Like

It tends to get loose easily, which was quite annoying because it moved and accidentally damaged my joinery.

Pros

  • Compact and lightweight design
  • Comfortable rubberized handle allows for continuous hand placement
  • Variable settings enable bit speed optimization
  • LED work light boosts visibility
  • Accepts a wide variety of bit sizes

Cons

  • May loosen up and move during routing

Conclusion

The size of this router is perfect for handheld operation. It performed so well on a number of my small-sized woodworking projects.

Overall Rating – 4.1

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#4. Bosch PR20EVS Palm Router – Best Hand Grip

Bosch Router Tool, Colt 1-Horsepower 5.6 Amp Electronic Variable-Speed Palm Router PR20EVS

This top four best hand router gives you precision and sufficient routing power for your applications in the palm of your hand. The Bosch PR20EVS weighs on 3.3 pounds.

Key Features

  • Powerful motor rated at 1 horsepower and 5.6 amps
  • Rugged and durable aluminum fixed base
  • Allows for micro and macro adjustments
  • The fixed base provides improved bit capacity
  • Soft start circuitry for reduced startup torque

What I Like

It’s maximum 1 horsepower and 5.6-amp rated motor to deliver up to 35000 revolutions per minute, which is great for remolding and countertops.

This ultra-compact router has a variable speed dial, which is great because it allows you to match the speed to your routing task and workpiece.

Its soft-start feature reduces startup torque and the constant response circuitry monitors and maintains optimum rpm under load for consistent performance.

The motor releases from the base using the quick-clamp system, which requires no tools.

What I Didn’t Like

The base did not have centerlines, which made it pretty hard for me to precisely configure the side guide.

Pros

  • Delivers high rpm for routing and remolding
  • Easy to match speed to your routing task
  • Soft starting motor minimizes startup torque
  • Tool-free removal of the motor from the base
  • Wide base opening improves bit capacity

Cons

  • No center lines on the base for added precision

Conclusion

This is one of the most ergonomic routers in its class, which is ultra-compact and comfortable to handle with its soft, contoured grip area.

Overall Rating – 4.2

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#5. Portable Cable 450 Compact Router – Best Fixed Speed Motor

PORTER-CABLE PCE6430 4.5-Amp Single Speed 1/4-Inch Laminate Trimmer, Router

Do you want a nice compact trim router for your woodwork? Look no further than the Portable Cable 450.

Key Features

  • Ergonomically designed for single-handed control
  • Powerful motor in a compact design for tough applications
  • Soft start feature eliminates startup torque
  • Controlled bit depth adjustments
  • Tabs are spring-loaded for quick base removal

What I Like

Apart from being compact, this router is ergonomically designed, which is great because you can easily control it with one hand.

Its great 1.25 horsepower and 7-amp rated motor generates a powerful fixed speed of 27000 revolutions per minute, which is what you need for the toughest jobs.

Soft starting feature reduces the effects of startup torque, which helps you maintain a constant motor speed even for the most demanding routing tasks.

Another good feature of this model is the aluminum motor housing, which improves the strength and durability of the motor.

What I Didn’t Like

I didn’t like the fact that the motor generates only one speed. This does not allow for optimized bit speed.

Pros

  • Easy to handle with one hand
  • Soft start motor reduces startup torque
  • Aluminum housing improves motor durability
  • It’s easy and quick to make big changes
  • Easy to remove the base with spring-loaded release tabs

Cons

  • Fixed speed motor may not be suitable for some jobs

Conclusion

This is a suitable model for beginner, hobbyist, and professional woodworkers. But it does not allow for bit speed optimization because of the fixed speed motor.

Overall Rating – 4.2

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#6. Ridgid R2401 Laminate Trim Router – Most Versatile Model

Ridgid R2401 Laminate Trim Router

Introducing Ridgid R2401, an ultra-compact router that weighs only 4 pounds for effective single-handed operations.

Key Features

  • Square and round bases for increased versatility
  • Easily accessible micro-adjust dial for precision adjustments
  • Flat-top design for easy bit changes
  • Variable control for bit speed optimization
  • Electronic feedback allows for consistent power and speed

What I Like

This router is fitted with a round base, but it also comes with a square base, which is great because you can switch between the two conveniently.

Easy to make major cutting depth adjustments with the quick release lever, which makes it simple for you to move the motor up or down.

It has variable speed and electronic feedback, which enables you to maintain consistent power and speed to match your application.

What I Didn’t Like

The collet doesn’t effectively eject the router bit as most units do. I really had a hard time removing bits.

Pros

  • Comes equipped with both square and round bases
  • Precision adjustments are easy with the micro-dial
  • Flat top enables quick bit changes
  • Allows you to optimize bit speed for consistent performance
  • The over-molded grip allows for single-hand use

Cons

  • Collet may fail to eject bits

Conclusion

This is a solid palm router that comes with some very resourceful features, such as the flat top and variable speed control. But you may have to discount some minor design flaws.

Overall Rating – 4.1

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#7. Enertwist ET-RT-710S Compact Router – Most Affordable

Enertwist 7.0-Amp 1.25 HP Wood Router Tool Kit, Fixed Base, Soft Start, Electronic Variable Speed w/ 1/4" & 3/8" Collets, Edge Guide, Roller Guide and Dust Hood for Fast and Accurate Cuts, ET-RT-710S

Enertwist ET-RT-710S is a compact and versatile option that is capable of handling a wide variety of woodwork materials.

Key Features

  • Comes with a durable motor rated at 1.25 horsepower
  • Has a wide range of speed for different applications
  • Clever electronics speed control for smooth operation
  • Accurate and fast depth setting for added precision
  • Perfect for router table, trimming, curve edges and circular cutting

What I Like

The tool weighs only four pounds but it comes equipped with a heavy-duty motor, which is capable of generating cutting speeds of up to 32000 rpm.

It has a very versatile design, which is great because it gives you easy access to the variable speed dial, soft start button, and the dust extraction hood.

Its soft-start feature ensures you don’t experience the effects of startup torque and the overload protection prevents the tool from burning or stalling.

Another great feature is the rack and pinion depth setting, which helps you achieve smooth and accurate cutting depths.

What I Didn’t Like

I had issues with the edge guide accessories that come with this tool. They were a bit challenging to use.

Pros

  • Compact, lightweight and convenient palm use
  • Bit speed setting is easy with variable speed
  • Soft start eliminates torque at startup
  • Motor housing is durable
  • Suitable for trimming, circular cutting, curving, and table mounting

Cons

  • Edge guide accessories were a hassle to use

Conclusion

This might be a good choice for those who have a tight budget but want a decent router with reliable routing features.

Overall Rating – 4.0

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What to Consider when Shopping for Compact Router

The very first thing I took into consideration when looking for the best palm router was the weight and the grip of the tool.

According to my findings, the most ideal compact design would normally weigh between 3 and 7 pounds. Anything beyond that range would be slightly heavier.

But the hand design does not guarantee performance. You have to consider other factors design factors in order to ensure you are not throwing your money away.

Here are the most important ones I took into consideration:

Application and Router Type

There are so many small projects that you can successfully complete with a compact router. But how effective you complete them depends on the router.

For example, you can do duplicate parts, cut hinge mortises, cut joinery, make a signpost, mortise inlays, and even clean veneer with a fixed base model.

But you may need to consider a model that comes with a plunge base when flushing cutting plugs and drilling holes.

It is usually advisable to get a model with an interchangeable plunge and fixed bases. This is what some renowned brands, such as Dewalt offer with most of their models.

You’ll use the fixed base most of the time because it is lighter and well-balanced, but the plunge base allows you to safely lower the bit into the workpiece, especially when drilling holes.

Motor Options

Your next criteria should be motor options. The best small router is not only defined by its compactness, but also its ability to do the job.

There are two things you can use to evaluate the motor performance of your router peak horsepower and amperage.

In this case, the first parameter represents the maximum horsepower the motor you are looking at can develop, which is simply a benchmark for comparing routers.

The factor that you should be more concerned about is the rated amperage. This is the amperage a router can draw without overheating.

It is considerably less than the maximum amperage that would be drawn during the maximum horsepower test.

Once you have found a motor with the ideal rated amperage. Your next consideration should be speed and how best it can be optimized.

The best handheld router for me must have variable speed and electronic speed control features.

Variable speed settings allow you to effectively optimize bit speed to match your routing applications; while electronic speed control helps to maintain a consistent speed.

It is also extremely important for a compact router to have a soft starting motor, which is great because it will be less affected by startup torque.

Collet Design

With respect to the number of compact routers I have tested in different woodworking tasks, I find the collet design to be an important factor to consider.

It is the collet that holds the bit in the spindle. An easy to use design is important given the fact that you will be changing bits for every application.

A good collet does not require too much tightening to grip well. A poorly designed collet could easily slip, irrespective of how much force you use in tightening.

Final Thoughts

The overall best compact router for this roundup is the Makita RT0701C. It weighs only 3.9 pounds and has a very comfortable one-hand grip for continuous hand placement.

Apart from its smallness, this tool ticks all the boxes as far as performance and durability features are concerned.

It has a soft starting motor with a very efficient rated amperage that boosts speeds ranging from 10000 to 30000 revolutions per minute.

Accuracy is also at a premium with this model, thanks to its smooth rack and pinion depth adjustment settings and easy to read depth scales.

It is also one of the easiest tools to use with its clear base that allows you to observe the progress of your handy work.

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