Palm routers are versatile tools that are better suited for light-duty work than their full-sized counterparts. They offer more control and precision than full-size routers and free up one hand to hold your workpiece steady.
Not all palm routers will be useful for your intended projects. Some are designed only for trimming laminates, while others are powerful enough to manage lettering or making rabbets.
I put together these reviews and a comprehensive buyer’s guide to help you choose the best palm router for your shop.
Best Palm Routers – Top Picks
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Bosch is well-known in the woodworking industry for creating products that are powerful and durable enough for professionals but still accessible for hobbyists and casual woodworkers.
This palm router includes a 120-volt, 1.0-horsepower motor that provides plenty of power for most light- to medium-duty routing applications. It can handle laminate trimming projects and is robust enough to be used for lettering or rabbeting in softer woods.
You can adjust the speed from 16,000 RPM up to 35,000 RPM to tune it for different work and mediums. Higher rates will make larger jobs quick and painless, while the lower speeds will make trimming thin material more efficient.
The router weighs just 3.3 pounds, so it’s effortless to maneuver around your workpiece. It has comfortable rubber grips that feel great and offer ample grip to make you feel more secure while you work.
It has a depth adjustment with onboard measurements that is very easy to set and gives you the ability to tackle more projects than simple trimming with precision.
I was impressed with how cool the tool remained even during long work sessions, especially because of how powerful the motor is. It won’t get too hot and will always be comfortable to hold.
The base is fixed and made of aluminum with a protective plastic piece below it for smooth movements over your stock. There is no work light included to illuminate the cutting surface, but the base has large openings that give you a clear line of sight. The included dust blower does an excellent job of keeping your cutting area clean to offer better accuracy.
It doesn’t have a quick-release mechanism for changing bits, so you’ll need a wrench to swap to different sizes.
This is a wired router, so it’s a bit less convenient to use than a battery-operated tool, but you’ll never have to worry about charging batteries.
- Equipped with a powerful, durable motor
- Ideal for laminate trimming and medium-duty routing
- Widely adjustable speed
- Lightweight and comfortable to hold
- Depth adjustment with measurements
- Router remains cool during use
- Glides over work pieces with ease
- Gives you a clear line of sight to your work
- The dust blower is very effective
- No LED work light
DEWALT 20V Max XR Cordless Router
DEWALT manufactures tools designed for professionals, so they’re typically very durable and reliable.
This palm router features a 20-volt, 1.25-horsepower motor that is robust enough for most palm routing applications. The motor is brushless, which means it runs more efficiently than brushed options and will last longer. You can use this tool for trimming, lettering, and cutting rabbets.
You can adjust the motor speed between 16,000 and 25,500 RPM, allowing you to tune your tool for the highest efficiency based on the type of stock you’re cutting.
The tool weighs 2.6 pounds, so you’ll be able to move it around your workpiece without any issue at all. It’s an excellent router for more extended work sessions, given how lightweight it is. The grip is large and made of a textured rubber, so it offers plenty of friction to give you confidence while you work.
It has a depth adjustment that lets you set your router bit height for different projects. The adjustment is smooth and straightforward, and the onboard measurements offer you accuracy.
The router has a soft-start feature, which means it starts spinning at a reduced rate and ramps up speed to your desired setting. This maximizes efficiency and puts less strain on the motor, ultimately extending its life.
The base is a hard, clear plastic that glides smoothly over wood and laminate. It gives you an excellent view of your cutting surface, and the two LED work lights illuminate your workpiece for more accuracy in your cuts.
The router includes a dust blower that keeps the area around your bit clean, helping you do the most precise and confident routing possible.
Changing the bits is a bit frustrating, as you need to remove the detachable base to do so. This won’t be an issue for many projects, but you’ll have to stop your work and spend time swapping bits if you plan to change sizes or shapes.
This router is battery powered, so it’s convenient to use and won’t require you to maneuver a cord while you work. It’s compatible with DEWALT’s 20V batteries, which can be used for other DEWALT tools as well. Be careful when purchasing this tool, and ensure you purchase the battery separately if you don’t already have one. Otherwise, you won’t be able to use this tool. You’ll also need to make sure it’s charged before each work session.
This router comes with DEWALT’s 3-year limited warranty, which covers any damage caused by manufacturing defects, so you can purchase this tool with confidence.
- High-powered, brushless motor
- It can handle heavier routing applications than most other options
- Adjustable speed
- Extremely lightweight and easy to move
- Large rubber pads give you plenty of grip
- Depth adjustment with onboard measurements
- Includes soft-start technology
- LED light and clear base to give you a line of sight
- Includes a 3-year warranty
- Base needs to be detached to change out bits
- Doesn’t include a battery or charger
Bosch GKF125CEN Colt 1.25-HP Palm Router
Bosch’s commitment to providing robust, contractor-grade tools is evident in this palm router.
It features a 7-amp, 1.25-horsepower motor that provides plenty of power for tackling most palm router applications. You can comfortably use this for trimming thin wood and laminate as well as lettering, shallow rabbets, and top engraving.
You can adjust the bit rotation speed from 16,000 RPM to 35,000 RPM, which means you can optimize performance for a variety of materials. The lower settings are ideal for light-duty use and make your work more efficient, and the faster speeds help improve stability and reduce burning on harder and thicker material.
The router weighs 4.4 pounds, so it’s on the heavier side for a palm router. You can still use it comfortably, but it won’t be as ideal as a lighter router for longer work sessions.
The grip is the aspect I like the least about this router. The rubber is of good quality, but it only allows proper friction on two of your fingers. You may not feel unsteady using it, but I prefer a much wider grip that I can use with multiple fingers to keep the tool secure while I cut.
You’ll be able to adjust the cutting depth with this tool, making it versatile for more than trimming. The adjustment for the depth is smooth and incremental, but there are no onboard measurements, which is a pretty significant oversight, in my opinion.
There are no LED lights to illuminate your cutting surface. The dust blower does an excellent job of clearing sawdust and debris, so as long as you have proper lighting in your shop, you shouldn’t have any issues with precision.
The base is sturdy aluminum, and it has a clear, hard plastic face to provide smooth gliding for comfort and accuracy while you cut. There is a large opening in the base to allow a clear view of your bit and the workpiece.
It has a spindle lock included, so you will only need a single wrench to change bits.
This is a wired router, so you’ll have to deal with cord management while you work. However, you won’t need to purchase any additional batteries or concern yourself with keeping them charged.
- Powerful and capable motor
- It can handle many routing applications
- Adjustable speed for tuning to your project
- Adjustable depth
- The dust blower works very well
- Provides a clear view of your stock
It’s a bit heavy to be comfortable for long work sessions
- The grip doesn’t feel large enough to be secure
- No onboard measurements for grip
- No LED lights to illuminate your work
Makita RT0701C 1¼-Horsepower Compact Router
Makita is best known for contractor-grade tools that are strong and durable for professional use while remaining affordable enough for hobbyist woodworkers.
This router has a 1.25-horsepower, 6.5-amp motor that is capable of constant use. It can make quick work of laminate and most thin wood material, and you can use it for creating rabbets, lettering, and other router applications.
It has a very broad range of speeds you can set, spanning from 10,000 RPM up to 30,000 RPM. The lower rate makes this router incredibly efficient for lighter-duty work like trimming laminate. The higher speed provides clean and steady cuts for thicker, more rigid materials like softwoods or even thin hardwoods.
It weighs in at 3.9 pounds, so it’s relatively heavy. This can be a bit challenging to use for long work sessions, but it’s manageable for smaller projects.
The grip on this router is one of my favorites. It’s set low down on the router’s body for excellent control, it’s wide enough to grip with multiple fingers, and it’s made of hard, textured rubber for the best friction possible.
It has a depth adjustment for use in trim and straight routing, and the owner’s manual makes it clear that you can set the depth at ⅛” or less to avoid motor overload when cutting rabbets. There’s a quick-release for the depth movement, as well as onboard measurements and a micro-adjustment knob for precision depth control.
It features “soft-start” technology, which begins rotating at slow speeds and ramps up to maximum speed. This helps limit vibration and maintain motor health, and it extends your tool’s lifespan.
The base is aluminum and hard plastic, so you won’t be able to see through it to your stock. However, there is a wide enough window in the side to allow a clear line of sight to your bit and cutting line. The dust blower helps keep this area clean while you work.
There is a shaft lock included that makes bit changes more manageable with just one wrench.
This is a wired router, so you’ll have to make sure the cord doesn’t get in your way while you’re cutting.
- Rugged, long-lasting motor
- It can handle light- and medium-duty routing
- It has a wide range of tunable speeds
- The grip is excellent and provides control
- Adjustable depth with micro-adjustments and quick release
- Features soft-start technology
- It’s a bit heavy to be comfortable to use for long periods
- Your line of sight will be slightly limited
Ryobi P601 One+ Cordless Trim Router
Ryobi specializes in budget-friendly tools designed for casual hobbyist woodworkers. They appeal most to the “weekend warrior,” but their tools are generally of good quality.
The router includes an 18-volt motor that is relatively low-power. It’s an ideal tool for trimming thin plywood and laminate, as it’s very efficient. However, it won’t be able to perform lettering or rabbet cuts.
The motor spins at a constant 29,000 RPM, and you can’t adjust the speed at all. This speed is suitable for most trimming and, provided you don’t try to use this palm router for heavier-duty work, the lack of speed adjustability shouldn’t hinder you.
This tool weighs in at 3.3 pounds, so it’s relatively comfortable to hold for long periods and maneuver around your workpiece. The grip on this router isn’t my favorite, as it sits mostly between your thumb and forefinger when you hold it with one hand. There is a second grip on the top for stabilizing, which makes two-handed operation very smooth. However, I do wish the primary grip extended down further for better one-handed control.
Despite being a trim router, it does give you some control over the depth of the bit. An adjustment knob offers precise movements, which helps you dial in the exact setting you’re looking for. This can be useful for some flush-trimming jobs where the guide isn’t directly beneath your work surface. The router includes onboard measurements that let you set precise depths.
It comes equipped with an LED work light to keep your stock nicely illuminated to give you some confidence with precision work. The dust blower does a decent job of clearing sawdust and debris, but I found that it wasn’t quite as efficient as the one on some other palm routers.
The base is sturdy metal with a clear, hard plastic base for easy maneuvering and maximum visibility of your work surface.
There’s a spindle lock that makes changing bits relatively straightforward, but you’ll still need a wrench to swap them out.
This palm router is battery-powered and uses Ryobi’s One+ battery system. It doesn’t come with a battery, so you’ll have to purchase one separately if you don’t already have one.
Even with the added expense of the battery, this is an affordable palm router perfect for woodworkers on a budget. Plus, it comes with Ryobi’s 3-year limited warranty that covers manufacturing errors and defects.
- Relatively lightweight
- The grip is excellent
- Some depth control with onboard measurements
- LED light illuminates your work surface
- Allows for a clear line of sight to your work piece
- Battery powered
- Very affordable
- Includes a 3-year limited warranty
- Unable to perform heavier-duty routing
- No speed adjustment
- Top grip feels too high up
- Dust blower isn’t as good as those on other options
- It doesn’t include a battery or charger
Ridgid R2401 Laminate Trim Router
Ridgid makes inexpensive tools for homeowners and DIYers. Their products are usually great for those on a tight budget, and they’re good enough quality for casual use.
This palm router features a 120-volt, 5.5-amp motor that is rugged enough to power through most materials. It can tackle trimming and engraving of plywood, laminate, and softwoods, although it’s most suitable for lighter-duty use like laminate trimming.
You can adjust the rate of rotation with a knob at the top of the tool. It’s capable of speeds between 20,000 RPM and 30,000 RPM, and you can set the rate to be most efficient for the stock you’re cutting. It has a lower speed range than many other adjustable models, but the settings should suffice for most common materials.
The router weighs 4 pounds, which is a bit on the heavy side. It can be a bit challenging to maneuver for long periods and may put some stress on your wrist and forearm. However, you likely won’t mind the weight for smaller trimming projects.
The grip is large, and although I would prefer it to be located a bit further down on the router body, the textured rubber adds plenty of friction for safe, comfortable use. The top of the router has a second grip for two-handed use if needed.
There is a depth adjustment for the bit as well as onboard measurements. The adjustment knob is embedded within the body and is a bit of a pain to turn, but it does offer precision adjustments.
It includes two base plates: one square and one circular. These are great for use on different trimming projects and can offer a secondary guide for your router bit.
Those are clear and let you see through to your stock. However, the view of the bit itself is usually limited by the outer shell of the router or the detachable base.
The router includes a dust blower to help keep sawdust and debris out of the way while you cut.
It has an LED light to illuminate your cutting area and give you a clear view of guidelines or measurements on your workpiece.
The spindle locks in place to make changing bits easier. You’ll just need one wrench, and the flat top makes swapping bits straightforward, as you can use your workbench for support.
This is a wired router that you’ll need to keep plugged in during operation. It’s not as convenient and untethered as a battery-operated router. However, it’s reliable, and you can use it without having to purchase and recharge a battery.
- Capable motor for most routing applications
- Adjustable speed
- Includes 2 grips for security
- Depth adjustment with onboard measurements
- Includes a square and round base
- LED light and dust blower keep your work area clear
- Speed has a minimal range for adjustment
- It can feel too heavy during long work sessions
- The top grip feels like it’s too high up
- The depth adjustment knob is a pain to turn
- Your line of sight to the bit is typical blocked
PORTER-CABLE PCE6430 4.5-Amp Laminate Trimmer
PORTER-CABLE is well established as a manufacturer of high-quality, budget-friendly tools suitable for most hobbyists and serious DIYers.
This palm router has a 4.5-amp, 0.6-horsepower motor. It’s a bit underpowered compared to many other palm routers, but it is an excellent option for most trimming applications. You may be able to handle some light littering or shallow rabbets with this tool, but I recommend using it strictly for trim operations.
You won’t be able to adjust the speed at all, but it’s set at 31,000 RPM and is plenty fast to tackle everything from laminate to thin softwoods without burning your workpiece.
It weighs 3.6 pounds, so it’s about average in weight. It is easy to hold and maneuver around your stock, and it’s suitable for more extended work sessions and won’t tire out your wrist or forearm.
The grip on this router isn’t my favorite. It relies on textured plastic rather than hard rubber to provide friction, which can get slippery if there’s any perspiration on your hands from working. I would much rather have seen at least some rubber pieces to improve comfort and confidence in the cuts.
PORTER-CABLE has a unique spin-operated depth adjustment on their routers, including this trim router. It provides accurate depth settings and small, continuous adjustments, but it can take a bit of time to get used to it. The onboard measurements are exact and can offer a high degree of accuracy once you know how to use them effectively.
There is an LED light included that illuminates the area under your router while you work, helping you keep track of measurements and guidelines on your stock.
The base is clear plastic and leaves a wide-open view of your workpiece and your bit as you cut. The dust blower isn’t the best, but it suffices to keep your line of sight reasonably clear as you work.
There is a spindle lock to make bit changing manageable with just a single wrench, so you won’t spend too much time swapping bits during a project.
This is a corded palm router. You’ll never need to worry about charging batteries, but you will need to deal with the cord and keep it out of your way while you cut.
PORTER-CABLE stands behind this router with a 3-year limited warranty, and they also agree to perform general service within one year of purchase if your tool isn’t functioning correctly.
- Durable motor
- Light enough for extended working sessions
- Adjustable depth with onboard measurements
- LED work light illuminates your stock nicely
- Gives you a clear view of your work
- Includes a 3-year warranty
- Only capable of light- and some medium-duty routing
- The speed isn’t adjustable
- Textured plastic grip isn’t as secure as rubber
- The dust blower isn’t very effective
Bosch GKF12V-25N 12V Max Palm Edge Router
This palm router features a robust motor powered by a 12-volt battery for efficient and reliable cutting. It’s not suitable for very thick material, and it’s not meant to be used with softwoods. As such, I recommend you only use this as a trim router.
The motor speed is set to 13,000 RPM and can’t be adjusted, so it’s clear it was intended only for trimming.
Despite its limited use, it’s powerful enough for extensive trimming and can handle up to 23 feet of roundover routing per amp-hour of the battery. I’d choose this Bosch tool over most other dedicated trim routers.
It weighs in at just 2.2 pounds without the battery, so it’s a very light router that is excellent for extended use. It’s effortless to move around your workpiece and won’t tire out your wrist or forearm.
The grip is extensive and provides plenty of surface area for friction. It’s made out of hard, textured rubber, so it’s unlikely to slip during use. The handle-style top gives you added security while you cut.
There is minimal depth adjustment, but the knob is easy to turn and allows for small, incremental, and precise changes for accuracy. There are no onboard measurements, so you’ll need to measure or set the depth manually.
The wide-open base allows for a clear view of your workpiece while you make cuts.
The dust blower isn’t the best, but it keeps your work surface reasonably clear of sawdust and debris.
The spindle quickly locks in place and allows you to make bit changes with one wrench.
This is a battery-powered router, but it doesn’t come with the tool. You’ll need to purchase one separately, and you’ll also need to make sure it’s charged for when you’re looking to use your tool. However, it’s far more convenient than using a corded palm router.
- Battery powered
- Powers through laminate very rapidly
- Lightweight and perfect for extended use
- The large grip provides great control
- Gives you a clear line of sight to your work piece
- Can only handle light-duty laminate trimming
- No speed adjustment
- Minimal depth adjustment
- No onboard measurements
- The dust blower isn’t the best
- The battery isn’t included
CtopoGo Compact Wood Palm Router
CtopoGo produces very few woodworking tools, but the ones they do manufacture have some unique adjustability that can help make shop work easier.
The router has a robust, 800-watt, 110-volt motor capable of handling most materials you plan to cut. You can use this as a trim router and for other jobs like lettering, flush-cutting, and creating rabbets. It can handle cutting most materials, including thin softwoods, plywood, and laminate.
You can’t change the motor’s speed, and it remains at a very fast 30,000 RPM. This is more than enough rotations per minute for any material you’re cutting, but it is overkill for laminate and other thin stock. As such, it’s not the most efficient palm router available, but it will always get the job done.
It’s on the heavy side at 4.79 pounds, so it isn’t ideal for large projects. It can put a bit of strain on your wrist and forearm, but it shouldn’t be an issue for smaller trimming applications.
The grip is large enough to get several of your fingers on. However, it’s made of relatively slick, smooth rubber that can get a bit slippery if you have a lot of perspiration on your hands. It’s certainly safe to use since you can get your hand around the body of it.
It has an adjustable bit depth and onboard measurements that make setting up your cut easy and precise. The flush-trim guide is also adjustable, which is a unique feature for different guide depths. It’s useful for trimming when your guide piece isn’t flush with your cutting piece, especially because you can adjust the guide’s depth.
This router comes as a complete package with a set of 12 different router bits, adjustment tools, and replacement carbon brushes to keep your motor running efficiently for a longer lifespan.
The base is made entirely out of clear plastic. While it likely won’t last as long as a metal base, it provides protection from sawdust and debris, gives you an unimpeded view of your bit and the cutting surface, and provides excellent dust management.
It doesn’t have a spindle lock, so you need two wrenches to change bits. This isn’t too much of a hassle, and the tool comes with the wrenches you need to make the change.
This is a wired router. As such, you’ll have to manage the cord to keep it out of the cutting line while you work, which can take a bit of focus away from your cut.
- Powerful motor capable of most routing applications
- Adjustable depth with onboard measurements
- Flush trim guide is adjustable
- Includes 12 bits to get you started
- It lacks adjustable speed
- Not the most energy-efficient router
- It’s heavy and not ideal for larger projects
- Grip is made of slick rubber that doesn’t offer much control
- Not as durable as many other options
Cozyel 110V Palm Router
Cozyel makes few woodworking tools, but they do offer several routers that are great for casual use.
This router has a 110-volt, 800-watt motor powerful enough to get most of your light-duty trimming done quickly. It’s suitable for trimming laminate and thin softwood, and you can use the included straight guide for light lettering and shallow rabbets.
It doesn’t have any adjustability when it comes to speed, so it will be fixed at 30,000 RPM. This speed is more than enough for most applications, but it isn’t so efficient for lighter work, such as trimming laminate.
It weighs 3.92 pounds. It’s comfortable to use for short work sessions at this weight, but it may put some strain on your arm if you use it for extended periods. It’s not the easiest router to maneuver around a workpiece, but it’s generally light enough for most smaller jobs.
The grip is a smooth rubber that can become slick and a bit slippery after some use. I would have loved it if this came with textured rubber. Still, it provides enough grip to be safe while cutting.
You can adjust the base depth for different applications. However, there is no adjustment knob, so you’ll have to untighten, set the depth manually, and then retighten the base. This can get frustrating if you need different depths for the same project. There are no onboard measurements to make setting the depth any easier.
It includes an adjustable bracket for setting a flush-trim guide at different depths, which is useful when your guide piece isn’t flush with your stock.
The router includes a bit to get you started right away, but it isn’t a trim bit.
The base is made entirely of clear plastic. This material is less durable than metal bases, but it provides a clear line of sight to your cutting area and workpiece. The dust blower is efficient at moving sawdust and debris out of the transparent base.
You’ll need two wrenches to change bits, which is inconvenient if you need different sizes or shapes for a single project.
This router is wired, so you’ll need to manage the cord while you work and make sure it stays clear of your cutting line at all times.
It’s easy to use, but the manual is not very clear. Thankfully, Cozyel’s customer service is responsive and helpful.
- It has depth adjustment capability
- Includes an adjustable flush-trim guide
- Includes a bit to get you started
- The dust blower works well
- Only suitable for trimming and light-duty routing
- No adjustable speed
- Not the most efficient router
- Can be too heavy for long work sessions
- Slick rubber grip doesn’t provide much control
- No depth adjustment knob or onboard measurements
- Not as durable as many other options
Darhoo Wood Router
Darhoo doesn’t specialize in woodworking tools, but those they do manufacture are of good quality and are suitable for casual use.
This router has a 110-volt, 800-watt motor that is powerful enough for use with laminates and softwoods. You can tackle most trimming jobs with this tool, as well as some topical impressions like lettering and cutting rabbets.
There is no motor speed adjustment, and the bit will be locked at 30,000 RPM. This is inefficient for a thinner stock like laminate, but it will be sufficient for most softwoods without the risk of burning your workpiece.
It weighs 3.82 pounds, which is manageable for most shorter jobs. You may notice some straining in your arm if you use it for more extended periods.
The grip is wide and allows you to hold it with multiple fingers, but it’s made out of a slick rubber that doesn’t offer much friction, especially if your hands get sweaty while you work. It’s safe to use, but it doesn’t instill much confidence.
The base is adjustable to give you varying bit depths for different applications, and there’s an adjustment knob for small movements. However, there are no onboard measurements, so you’ll need to measure carefully and set the depth manually before cutting.
The router includes adjustment wrenches and replacement carbon brushes to help extend the motor’s life. You’ll also get an adjustable attachment for a flush-trim guide, which is useful for varying guide depths if your cutting depth doesn’t reach down to the guide piece.
The base is clear plastic, which isn’t as durable as metal, but it does let you see your stock and the cutting area clearly. The dust blower does a decent job of keeping the site clean.
The router doesn’t have a spindle lock, so you’ll need two wrenches to change bits. This can get a bit frustrating if you need different bits often.
This palm router is wired, so you’ll have to take a bit of focus away from your work to make sure the cable stays out of your way.
This router is overall less durable than most others I tested, but it’s an excellent option for smaller projects for the price.
- It can handle trimming and light-duty routing
- Adjustable depth with control knob
- It includes a flush-trim guide, brushes, and wrenches
- It cannot tackle heavier-duty work
- No speed adjustment
- Not the most efficient router
- It can be too heavy for long work sessions
- Slick rubber grip doesn’t feel secure
- No onboard depth measurements
- Not as durable as most other routers
Goplus Wood Router
Goplus manufactures various hand and power tools for use in home workshops and garages, and they focus on making their products budget-friendly.
This router has a 6.5-amp, 710-watt motor that is plenty capable for trim routing and some topical work, like lettering and cutting small rabbets. The motor is brushed, and it isn’t quite as durable as a brushless option. However, this router comes with replacement brushes to help prolong the tool’s lifespan.
It offers you the ability to adjust the speed of the bit between 10,000 RPM and 32,000 RPM, which is an impressive range for a palm router. The lower rates make this a very efficient tool for thin material like laminate, and the higher speeds allow you to work with softwoods without gouging the material.
It weighs 5.59 pounds, so it’s the heaviest router I tested. It feels quite cumbersome when you’re working, and the weight will likely limit you to short working sessions.
I loved the grip on this router, as it’s placed low down on the router body and offers excellent control. It’s made of a large piece of textured rubber, and it feels very secure in your hand while you’re making passes.
It includes a depth adjustment knob for small, incremental depth movements, and the locking lever keeps the depth set while you’re working. There are onboard measurements to help you get the right settings for your project.
It includes two different guides for different work styles – one for straight routing and one for flush trimming. It also includes tools for adjusting the collet and the base plate.
The router base is predominantly metal, with a plastic cover on the bottom to make movement along your stock easier. With shallow bit settings, there’s a large window to allow a clear line of sight to your cutting area, but deeper settings gradually close that window and can make it challenging to see your work. The dust blower does a good job of keeping the area clear, but it’s still difficult to see through such a small space for deeper cuts.
There is a spindle lock that makes changing bits reasonably straightforward, and the properly sized wrench for loosening the collet is included.
This is a wired router, so you’ll have to manage the cord while you work to keep your cutting line clear.
- It can handle light-duty work well
- Highly adjustable speed
- The grip is low and feels very secure
- Depth adjustment with onboard measurements
- Includes 2 guides
- It’s not suitable for heavier-duty routing
- Brushed motor isn’t as durable as most others
- It’s very heavy and uncomfortable to hold over long periods
- Deep routing obstructs your view of your work piece
- NNot nearly as durable as most other routersgative
Palm routers can come with a variety of options, including variable speeds for use on different types of wood, a depth adjustment for versatility in the jobs it can handle, and onboard measurements that can make work more precise. Below are some factors to pay close attention to make sure you get the best palm router for your purposes.
What is a Palm Router?
The term “palm router” is an umbrella term that refers to any small router that you can use with one hand. Generally speaking, these are less powerful than plunge routers or standard routers, in part because they need to have smaller, lighter motors to allow for comfortable one-handed use.
Palm routers are also commonly called “laminate trimmers” or “trim routers.” These terms don’t encompass all palm routers, as some are robust enough to do more than trimming work. However, most trimming routers are handheld and fall under the palm router category.
Plunge Router Vs. Trim Router Vs. Palm Router
A plunge router is a high-powered tool capable of cutting all wood materials, including hardwood. They have many different uses, including cutting deep rabbets, large scale lettering, rounding over edges, and more.
Trim routers are made for light-duty trimming work. They are often used with flush-trim top bearings that guide the bit to remove material hanging over the edge of a workpiece. They’re best for light materials like laminate or thin softwoods.
Palm routers can be trim routers, but they can sometimes have other applications, including cutting shallow rabbets and some other light plunge work, like lettering.
For a clearer understanding of the differences between these router types and their limitations, check out this video:
The motor’s power is important because it will determine what kind of work your router can handle. Motors with a lower amperage, wattage, or horsepower are designed for light-duty work, like laminate trimming. Mid-range power specifications can typically handle trimming thin softwoods and potentially lettering or other surface routing.
High-powered palm routers tend to be a bit heavier but can manage rounding over edges, cutting deeper rabbets, and more.
Adjustable Bit Height
Some palm routers have an adjustable depth, which means you can set your bit to the right height for various jobs. A deeper bit can handle trimming more material, while you can use a shallow bit for engraving the surface of a piece of stock.
If you’re looking for a palm router with adjustable depth, make sure you also consider onboard measurements and a micro-adjustment knob. These will make setting your bit at precise depths significantly more manageable.
Variable Speed Control
Some palm routers include a motor that spins at a single speed, but others have a dial that lets you tune your speed within a given range. Different rates are useful for different routing applications.
For example, a slow speed of around 10,000-15,000 RPM will be plenty to cut through laminate and will put less stress on your motor than one that spins unnecessarily fast for the same job. A faster speed of around 30,000 RPM is best for softwoods and will reduce burning and the chance of your bit jumping around on the stock.
Most palm routers require that you use wrenches to change the bit. This means that you’ll have to stop your work, unplug your router, remove the base, release the collet using wrenches, and then reassemble the router before you can continue working.
A spindle lock simplifies the process by locking the spinning collet in place so that you only need one wrench. The process can still be frustrating, but a spindle lock makes your life a bit easier.
Square and Circular Bases
Palm routers include a base that is either square or circular, and some, like the Ridgid R2401 Laminate Trim Router, include both.
Round bases often don’t have the bit perfectly centered, which means cutting rabbets or dados against a fence may not be perfectly straight. As such, many people believe that square edges on router bases are ideal for cutting against a guide.
While this is true in theory, round bases often provide a much straighter line, especially for beginners, because a square edge that walks even a little bit during the cut will produce a very crooked line. If you have good control of your tool, square edges are best for the straightest lines possible. If you don’t, round edges are typically better and provide excellent – although not perfect – accuracy.
For more information on the difference between round and square router bases, check out this video:
Most palm routers don’t include a dust collection bag or a port for connection to a vacuum because of their small size. However, many options have a dust blower that keeps your cutting area clear. This is important for maintaining an unimpeded line of sight to give you accuracy and confidence when you cut. You should make sure that the dust blower is efficient enough to keep the majority of sawdust and debris out of your way while you work.
Some plunge routers include accessories that make getting started easier or open your router up to additional applications.
For example, the CtopoGo Compact Wood Palm Router includes 12 bits that you can use for different routing functions, like roundover and rabbeting. It also comes with an adjustable flush-trim guide to give you more options for trimming.
Soft-start technology helps protect the motor in your router by starting it at a slow speed when you first turn it on and then ramping up quickly to maximum speed. Going from a dead stop to 30,000 RPM can put a lot of stress on your tool, so the slow-start option prolongs the life of your motor and can save you money on replacing the router down the road.
Regardless of the routing job you’re tackling, having a clear view of your workpiece and the router bit’s movement helps maintain accuracy and gives you confidence in the cuts you’re making.
Many routers have a wide opening in the base that gives you plenty of space to see your cut. Others don’t offer as much space and can impede your view. I recommend a router with a large window to give you the best view of your workpiece while you cut.
Palm routers with clear plastic bases often give you the best view because you can see through them down to your stock. The plastic won’t last as long as metal, but they’re usually replaceable.
Additionally, some palm routers have an LED work light to illuminate your work surface, which can improve your view and make your cut more precise.
Wrapping Up: My Favorite Palm Router
No palm router will be perfect for everyone. Routers are usually made with a specific purpose in mind, so it’s best to choose one suited for however you plan to use it, be it for trimming, lettering, or a variety of routing applications.
My favorite palm router overall is the Bosch PR20EVS Colt 1.0-HP Palm Router. It’s lightweight, powerful, easy to grip and maneuver, and it can be used for trimming, lettering, cutting rabbets, and more.