The Best Trim Routers and How to Find Them – Our Top Tips & Picks!

The Best Trim Routers and How to Find Them – Our Top Tips & Picks!

While trim routers are mostly popular for trimming laminate, there are actually loads of uses for this versatile tool – many of which you may not know about yet. If you spend a lot of time cutting and shaping woodwork, then a trim router is a must in your toolkit.

Through technological advances over the years, trim routers have become incredibly easy to use. However, whether you’re just starting out with DIY or are a fully-fledged expert, it can still be tricky to know which trim router to go for. Our guide is designed to help you find the best trim routers – and we even have some recommendations to share with you of the machines we think are worth are a more in-depth look.

When it comes to choosing the right trim router, it should be lightweight and versatile so you can get the most out of it. It should also be small and agile so that you can tackle small corners and curves, leaving you able to maneuver the machine with only one hand to keep the other hand free to adjust the workpiece. And last, of all, it has to be affordable for your budget, whether that’s at the lower or higher end of the price point scale.

This guide is dedicated to helping you find the best trim router for your workshop. Whatever DIY job you might need it for, we’ll look at the pros, cons, and main features of some of our favorites on the market right now. This should help you get a good idea of what might be suitable for your DIY needs so you can make the right choice.

How Does a Trim Router Work?

The main benefit of using a trim router is that it fits easily inside the hand so that you can reach small areas or use it on little pieces of wood. Generally, a trim router only has a small motor, which makes it perfect for smaller jobs. If you’re planning to renovate small pieces of wood then it will be ideal. Otherwise, you might be better off choosing a large member of the router family.

You can get a few different attachments that allow you to do different jobs with your trim router, including an angled base butt for cuts and a round-over bit to get the best finish on curves. A trim router is also great on laminate as you can either get a straight cut or a more elaborate shape. It’s really effective at cutting corners, too.

How Does a Trim Router Work

Why Might You Need a Trim Router?

Instead of buying lots of expensive tools, you might be able to save time and money by using a trim router on those jobs that you haven’t considered before. Because there are so many attachments available, there are many more uses than your tool can have that can make some minor improvements to your home or project. These are just some of our favorite uses for a trim router:

Cutting joinery

If you’re looking to make a quick joint, then a trim router is a great tool for getting the job done efficiently. Don’t use your router on deep cuts as the machine won’t be able to cope with the task, but if you’re looking to make accurate cuts, then it’s definitely worth giving it a go.

Sign making

Perhaps something you haven’t considered before with your trim router; you can create signs using letter templates as a trim router is small enough to make a clean cut. Make sure your trim router is equipped with a template guide to making the job easy to do.

Edge profiling

Create a defined, finished edge on smaller pieces of wood with your trim router to get rid of sharp or uneven sections. You might need to go over your edge more than once, but with a bit of patience and perseverance, you can achieve the same great results that a larger router would make.

Best Trim Routers

Hole drilling

There are particular plunge models you can get that make easy work of boring standard holes or pinholes. You just need the right template for the job. If you do it in the right way, then your trim router can be just as effective as a drill and avoids the need to purchase multiple expensive tools.

Trim shelf lipping

Instead of using a sand veneer, use your trim router to cut the lipping flush of solid wood. It will avoid damage and get a cleaner cut if done properly – the trim router’s small size is perfect for getting the job done right the first time.

The Best Trim Routers on The Market: Tried and Tested

Now that you know more about what a trim router might be able to do for you and your DIY needs, it’s important to find some machines and models that will get the job done. We’ve researched loads of options on the market to bring you some that we think are worth a more in-depth look.

From the pros and cons to the key features, we’ll share more details with you so you can make a solid decision about which one might be best for you. And at the end of our review, you should also be armed with a lot more information than what you started with.

Best Budget Trim Routers

If you’re looking for something that’s affordable but effective, here is our pick of the best budget trim routers.

MLCS 9056 1 HP Rocky Trim Router

MLCS 9056 1 HP Rocky Trim Router

General specifications:

Product weight

5.6 pounds

Product dimensions

10 x 8 x 6 inches

Model no.

9056

Material

Machined aluminum housing, metal base, rubber pad on the base

Amp

6A

Horsepower

1

Rating

3.9

Key features:

  • Compact laminate trimmer/palm router has a durable, 2?1/2″ diameter, machined aluminum housing.
  • The 1-HP motor speed is adjustable from 10,000 rpm to 30,000 rpm via a speed control dial on the top of the motor housing.
  • Etched into the aluminum housing is a 1″ long rule marked in 1/16″ and 1mm increments.
  • The double-insulated motor features a spindle-locking button to facilitate single wrench bit changes.
  • The metal base uses a rack and pinion system to adjust the height of the motor and a flip lever to lock the motor at the desired height.
  • In addition, a rubber pad partially wraps the base to provide a positive gripping surface when holding the router in your palm.
  • It includes a Snap-in dust extraction port (1-1/2″ outlet), flush trimming attachment, an edge guide, a spare set of motor brushes, 1/4″ router bit collet, and collet wrench.

Even though the MLCS 9056 1 HP Rocky Trim Router is on the lower end of the price scale, it’s a powerful tool. This is thanks to the one horsepower motor, delivering speeds of up to 30,000 RPM. This makes easy work of smaller woodwork projects and allows you to begin tackling larger, more difficult projects – although you may find the motor isn’t quite geared up to get the results you want from a larger job successfully.

Made from an aluminum metal base and aluminum housing, the trim router is tough, durable, and built to last. It also comes with a rack and pinion system that allows you to adjust the height of the motor. This means that you can lock the motor in place once you’ve found the perfect height.

The trim router also comes with six-speed options, allowing you to work uninterrupted. It’s also compact and easy to use, with a diameter of 2-1/2”. There’s also easy access to the speed-control flip button, which sits at the top of the motor housing.

The unit also weighs just under 6 pounds, so it’s easy to move around. It also has a removable dust extractor port on the side. This will help you clean up the mess made from woodworking, leaving you with one less job to do at the end. Overall, it’s a great machine with loads of plus points despite its low-cost affordability.

Pros and cons:

Pros

Cons

Incredibly easy to use

Not really suitable for heavy-duty projects

Tough and durable construction

 

Affordable for tighter budgets

 

Versatile and easy to pick up

 

Runs quietly

 

 

Ridgid R2401 Laminate Trim Router

Ridgid R2401 Laminate Trim Router

General specifications:

Product weight

4 pounds

Product dimensions

6.5 x 3 x 3 inches

Model no.

R2401

Material

Aluminum & plastic

Amp

5.5

Horsepower

N/A

Rating

4.1

Key features:

  • Electronic feedback for consistent speed and power.
  • Features an LED light to illuminate the work area for increased visibility
  • Features an overmold grip for maximum comfort as well as a lighted plug to easily identify live tools.
  • The round and square bases provide added versatility and convenience.
  • It offers an easy access micro-adjust dial for precise depth control.
  • It has a spindle lock for easy bit changes.
  • The flat-top router sits upside down for easier bit changes
  • Overmold on top of the router to prevent marring of the work surface.
  • It is equipped with a quick-release lever to allow for easy removal of the motor from the base.
  • It has electronic feedback for consistent speed and power.
  • The variable speed allows for easy adjustment of the speed to the material type and application.
  • Specifications: Input: 120 V AC,5.5 Amps., Collet Size: 1/4 in., No Load Speeds: 20,000 – 30,000 r/min.

While not one of the most well-known brands, the Ridgid R2401 Laminate Trim Router is an affordable option if you’re on a budget. It’s incredibly easy to use and doesn’t really require any maintenance to keep it working smoothly. It’s designed with round and square bases, which makes the trim router convenient to use.

A great benefit is that the motor can be easily removed from the base using the quick-release lever. And the flat top actually sits upside down, which allows for fast bit replacement. Overall the trim router is lightweight and compact, allowing you to get routing jobs done quickly, efficiently, and to a high standard.

To prevent the chance of gouging your work surface, the palm router has a molding over its top. This is unique to the Rigid model. There’s also a quick-dial system, which allows you to adjust the depth to speed up the process. The trim router comes with plenty of extras too, including the router, a ¼” collet, both bases, a wrench, an edge guide, guide bars a ¼” bit, an instruction manual and a storage bag.

Finally, one of the coolest features about the Ridgid R2401 Laminate Trim Router is that it comes with an LED light to help you see clearly while you work – which is especially handy if you work late at night or in darker spaces. 

Pros and cons:

Pros

Cons

An affordable option

Doesn’t come with very many features

Lightweight and easy to move

 

Easy to use

 

Doesn’t take much maintenance

 

Best Mid-Range Trim Routers

If your budget is slightly higher and you’re looking for a mid-range trim router, have a look at some of our top recommendations.

Bosch 1617EVS Fixed-Base Router

Bosch 1617EVS Fixed-Base Router

General specifications:

Product weight

9.92 pounds

Product dimensions

12.4 x 10.4 x 8.1 inches

Model no.

1617EVS

Material

N/A

Amp

12

Horsepower

1.8774557792112

Rating

4.2

Key features:

  • 12-amps, 2.25-horsepower, and 8000-25000 RPM.
  • Base diameter: 6 inches fixed. 6-11/16 inches plunge.
  • Rugged aluminum base and housing.
  • The hand router’s variable speed dial allows you to set the optimal speed for the routing task and material.
  • Advanced speed-control technology monitors and maintains the desired RPM for consistent performance.
  • It is backed by a one-year limited warranty, 30-day money-back guarantee, and one-year service protection plan.
  • Case type: hard plastic, fixed-base depth range – 1-5/8 inches, height – 11.625 inches.
  • Includes: (1) Bosch 1617EVS 2-1/4 HP Variable-Speed Router, (1) RA1161 Fixed Base, (1) 1/4-Inch Self-Releasing Collet, (1) 1/2-Inch Self-Releasing Collet, (1) Chip Shield, and (1) Mounting Hardware.

The Bosch 1617EVS Trim Router is one of the most powerful models on the market, with a 12 amp motor that supports speeds between 8,000 – 25,000 RPM. You can even adjust the speed depending on your project to get the best results (whether big or small), but the Bosch is particularly effective for larger projects.

The trim router also makes use of speed control technology so even though the motor’s power, you can still monitor and maintain a consistent RPM so you can work on your project uninterrupted. The variable speed dial allows you to set the optimal speed, and with rounded hardwood handles you’re in complete control. For a powerful motor, the consistency you’re able to get is impressive.

Like many other trim routers on the market, the housing is made from strong, sturdy aluminum. This doesn’t earn any extra points over the competition as you’d expect a durable tool to be made from this material, but an added bonus is that the power switch is completely dust-sealed for extra durability.

However, one of the best things about the 1617EVS is that you can choose to have the switch and cord on either the right or left, allowing you to work with extra precision. It also means that the motor won’t rotate during depth adjustment, giving you added peace of mind. We’d definitely call this model a worthy investment.

Pros and cons:

Pros

Cons

Super durable housing

The base plate isn’t the strongest of all models on our list

Great for getting accurate results

 

Runs quietly, with minimum vibration

 

Plenty of functions making it easy to use

 

PORTER-CABLE 690LR 11-Amp Fixed-Base Router

PORTER-CABLE 690LR

General specifications:

Product weight

9.4 pounds

Product dimensions

10 x 10 x 8 inches

Model no.

690LR

Material

Aluminum motor housing & base

Amp

11

Horsepower

1-3/4

Rating

4.5

Key features:

  • 11 amp motor producing 1-3/4 peak HP.
  • 27,500 rpm single speed motor.
  • Cam lock lever enables simple coarse height adjustments and motor release (fixed base).
  • Micrometer depth adjuster accurate to 1/128″.
  • Dust-sealed switch and sealed ball bearing construction enhance tool durability.
  • Precision machined aluminum motor housing and base.
  • Auto-release collet system allows for easy bit removal after use.
  • Collets included accepting 1/4″ and 1/2″ shank bits.
  • Under the table, stop prevents the motor from inadvertently rotating out of the base.
  • Overmolded grips for greater comfort in extended use.
  • Comes with the router with a motor, fixed base, 1/4-inch, and 1/2-inch collets, collet wrench, and operating manual.

As one of the world’s leading manufacturers of power tools, you’d expect the PORTER-CABLE 690LR 11-Amp Fixed-Base Router to deliver. Thankfully, with its powerful 11 amp motor and 1-3/4 horsepower, it’s a powerful trim router that’s perfectly capable of working on the biggest woodworking projects. It can also handle speeds of up to 27,500 RPM – faster than some of its competitors.

The PORTER-CABLE trim router is big on safety. Its under-table stop prevents the motor from accidentally rotating out of the base. This ensures consistency and accuracy with your work, and there are rubber grips for added comfort, especially when using the tool for longer periods of time.

As a defense against wear and tear, the PORTER-CABLE trim router comes with a dust-sealed switch and sealed ball-bearing construction guard. This is great news if you’re working in a busy workshop or small space. There’s also an auto-release collet system which allows for easy bit removal.

Above all else, the trim router comes with a 3-year warranty, which is a generous amount of time if you feel things are starting to go wrong. But hopefully, with such a trusted brand a reliable trim router on offer, you won’t need it.

PORTER-CABLE 690LR Router
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Pros and cons:

Pros

Cons

Great performing machine

Very heavy – can be difficult to move

Aluminum makes it extremely durable

 

Easy to use and maintain

 

High-powered motor

 

The Best High-End Trim Router

If your budget is at the higher end of the scale, then we’ve got some trim routers that are well worth spending the extra money on.

Hitachi KM12VC Router Kit

Hitachi KM12VC Router Kit

General specifications:

Product weight

9.9 pounds

Product dimensions

4 x 22.2 x 16 inches

Model no.

KM12VC

Material

N/A

Amp

11

Horsepower

2.25

Rating

4

Key features:

  • 11 Amp motor (2-1/4 Peak Horsepower), for precise, controlled cuts.
  • 2-stage motor release clamp, for quick and accurate depth adjustments and base changes.
  • Electronic speed control, maintains constant RPMs even as load varies.
  • Class-leading noise level, only 79.5dB for a quieter workshop.
  • Includes: 1/2″ Collet Chuck (323293), 1/4″ Collet Chuck (323293), Template Guide Adapter (323272), Centering Gauge (323296), 16mm Wrench (323294), 23mm Wrench (323295), 4mm Hex Bar Wrench (944458), Sub Base Plate (323297), Hex Socket HD Bolt M5x10 (10pcs) (949819), Case (323358).
  • Comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee and a 5-year warranty.

The most expensive trim router on our list, the Hitachi KM12VC Router Kit has an impressive list of features. With a smooth starting, 11 amp motor and horsepower of 2.25, it’s incredibly powerful and perfectly designed to tackle the largest woodworking jobs with precision and accuracy.

The motor can also handle variable speeds of 8,000 to 24,000 RPM, giving it a large range of speed that you can adjust according to your project. To help with this, there’s an electronic dial that will allow you to alter the speed.

If you’re looking for a quick and easy change, you can use the 2-stage motor release clamp for depth adjustments. It also only takes seconds to switch from the fixed base to the plunge base. And don’t worry about the noise of the motor either – it’s super quiet so you can focus on your woodwork project without any distractions.

Hitachi has really nailed the ergonomic design, too. The trim router is comfortable and portable, which is ideal if you’re working between stations. It’s pretty lightweight too, which helps when moving it around. It even comes with a protective case, where you can store the bases, motor and all accessories with ease.

Metabo KM12VC HPT Router Kit
$141.59
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Pros and cons:

Pros

Cons

Top-performing motor

The router is fairly bulky

Great for heavy-duty tasks

The base can be a bit unstable

Smooth variable speed motor

 

Runs quietly

 

The Verdict: Which Trim Router is The Better Option

After reviewing each trim router in-depth, we’ve been pretty impressed with each one on our list. Even the budget tools have plenty of features on offer and offer an accurate and precise cut with any piece of wood – even larger pieces. You really can’t go wrong with any of the tools on the lower end of the price scale, so if you’re on a budget then you can feel safe in the knowledge that anyone is a good choice.

Best Trim Routers (2)

However, in this case, it’s true that sometimes spending a bit more is worth the investment. If you have a larger budget or can perhaps stretch it a bit further, then we definitely recommend the Hitachi KM12VC Router Kit.

Not only is Hitachi a tried and tested, well-known brand when it comes to tools, but it’s a trim router than delivers. The motor is smooth and quiet. The horsepower and amp make for a powerful machine. And it can be adapted to suit the needs of you and your project. You really can’t go wrong.

The PORTER-CABLE does come a very close second, however. Again on the slightly higher end of the price scale but a bit more affordable than our number 1 choice, it’s a solid trim router that has plenty of great features to get excited about. It’s designed to protect against wear and tear wherever you use it (in a workshop or busy store, for example), and is well equipped with robust aluminum housing.

Safety is also a big priority when it comes to the trim router, with an intelligent design that prevents the motor from rotating out of the base, and comfortable rubber grips to keep you working for longer.

But at the end of the day, it is your choice. We can only present the facts, key features, and our own opinion to help you on your way to finding the perfect model. If you’re stuck between two trim routers then think practically about what you’ll need it for, and above all else consider the price – if you can stretch your budget, then we would recommend you do so on this occasion.

Top FAQS About Trim Routers

How much horsepower does a trim router need?

When you’re looking for a trim router, you’ll find that most tools offer a horsepower of between 1 ½ to 3 ½ range, and 3 to 15 amps. However, when using maximum horsepower, you should only really be using it for a short period, so you don’t burn-out the motor.

Do I need a trim router for woodworking?

A trim router is an excellent tool for woodworking, and in fact, you may find some parts of your project challenging to do without a trim router. Not only can they be used for cabinetry, but they can be used for cutting smaller pieces of wood, recessing door hinges or even recessing lock faceplates. There are so many more options for using a trim router than you may first think.

Can you use a router bit with a drill?

Even though a trim router can shape edges, cut grooves and handle sideways pressure, the mechanical differences between a trim router and drill are too vast, so, unfortunately, a router bit shouldn’t be used with a drill. To boreholes and apply downward pressure, you’ll need a drill that’s specifically designed for the job.

The Bottom Line

Now that you’ve heard everything you need to know with trim routers, there should be a few on your radar that you think might work for you. At the very least, hopefully, you’re now armed with a lot more information than you had before reading our guide.

A trim router has a surprising amount of usages, so if you’re looking to bulk out your toolkit then you may find you can hold off purchasing some tools you don’t need in favor of using a trim router instead.

We really hope this article helped you make a decision and we would love to know if we have helped you. Please get in touch with any feedback or further questions you may have. If you liked this article, why not discover more on the best woodworking tools, or read our handy guide on the best hand tools for home improvement.

David Borgogni

David is passionate about sharing his insights on top trending and mainstay products for the home. As an avid renovator, he has become well accustomed to the tools used to build houses, which in turn allows him to help others make better purchasing decisions when choosing which tools and equipment to use to renovate their homes.

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