Compact Routers

The author likes compact routers for light-duty, one-handed operations: mortising door hardware, milling small roundovers and chamfers, inlaying finish work, and the like. He recently evaluated seven compacts rated by their manufacturers at 1 or 1-1/4 horsepower, comparing features and performance.

Among other tests, the author used each router to plow a series of 1/4-inch-deep dadoes in a single pass in MDF and hardwood plywood. The 1-1/4-horse models were clearly more powerful than the one-horse ones.

All of the routers use 1/4-inch-shank bits (left), but the Makita also accepts much stronger 3/8-inch-shank bits (right).

Most basic router kits don’t include a case, but Makita’s  RT0700CX3 kit offers a soft but rigid case as big as an ice chest, which includes a removable pouch for router bits.

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