Different Types of Woodworking Routers and Their Uses

Woodworking can be a fascinating hobby to have. It’s also one of the most versatile and intricate forms of crafting out there. Delicate woodworking requires not only precision but a diverse array of power tools and instruments.

One of the most vital pieces of equipment that is a staple at any woodworking bench is the Wood Router. But bear in mind that not all wood routers serve the same purpose. In this article, we will discuss different types of wood routers and their uses.

There are numerous variants of the power tool based on the kind of edge or cutout they can make or the type of finishing or surface they can be used on. Let’s get right to it!

Types of Woodworking Routers: Anatomy of a Router

Before jumping on to the classification, a good approach is to learn about the basic structure of a wood router and what actually makes them different from one another.

Furthermore, the upper portion of a wood router usually consists of a collet and a motor. The lower half is the base, which is often removable.

Wood router variants are usually made based on how the base is oriented or what size collet the tool can handle. Moreover, the power of the motor is also sometimes factored in.

Depending on all these factors, you can use a suitable type of wood router for grinding, sharpening, and carving on almost any type of wood surface.

1. Plunge Router

The Plunge Router can work in a vertical orientation to basically plunge the drill bit down towards the work surface. It is extensively used in woodworking shops due to its reliability and durability.

The dimensions can be a bit overwhelming for minimalistic usage since it’s quite heavy. But it’s still manageable for shops. The horsepower is usually set at a 1:35 ratio, and the machine uses a 0.5-inch collet.


Deep grooves, thorough cuts, jigs, stopped dadoes, dovetails, mortise, template routing, inlay patterns, engraving, making joints, etc.

2. Fixed Base Router

This all-purpose router is most commonly used for almost all types of woodworking activity. Since the base of the router is usually set at a fixed position, the drill bit sticks out of the system at a constant length.

Moreover, the form-factor is exceptionally consumer-friendly and easy to use by hand. The usual horsepower for fixed-base routers is set at a 1:35 ratio and uses a 0.5-inch or 0.25-inch collet.


They are used for free-hand edgework, edge-smoothing, edge shaping, edge-guiding directly on a woodworking table.

3. Combo Router

Combining the utilities and advantages of both plunge routers and fixed base routers, combo routers are more like an all-in-one deal. You can enjoy the same sturdy durability along with super-fine precision on this variant. It’s also cost-efficient and space-saving for woodworking shops that take on diversified jobs.

These models usually support all the add-ons that go with plunge routers and fixed base routers. So, you can essentially deploy the router for both types of activities.


It is used in creating deep grooves and cuts as well as edge smoothing and cutting.

4. Compact Router

Also termed as a palm router for its sheer compact dimensions, the compact router is an absolute winner when it comes to ease of use. Its vastly diminished weight also allows anyone to use the router on-the-go for complex but detailed woodworking jobs.

On the flip-side, the collet size of compact routers usually varies based on the brand, model, and manufacturer. The horsepower is also lower compared to its counterparts.


Mobile woodworking tasks, cabinetry, etc.

5. CNC Router

A Computer Numerical Controlled Router is a high-precision router that you can operate using a specialized computer program.

The CNC drill bit of the router can be programmed to operate at a precise cutting depth and feed rate. This ensures micron-level-precision in the woodwork.


These are primarily used in industries or warehouses that conduct woodworking activities in bulk. Industrial bulk production, staircase modeling, etc.

6. Heavy-Duty Router

This variant of immensely heavy wood routers is considered extremely powerful. These routers usually consist of the largest collet size and cutting diameter. You can use the router on a professional scale, too, for an extended period of time.


Operating router-cutters with collet size over 1.5 inches.

7. Medium-Duty Router

This is a mediocre variant of the wood routers that fall between heavy-duty and lightweight models. Although not quite popular, they are sometimes used to perform some intricate yet delicate woodworks on a professional scale.


Operating router-cutters with collet size up to 1.5 inches.

8. Light-Duty Router

As a semi-professional woodworker or hobbyist, you wouldn’t want to indulge in such top-of-the-line premium wood routers. That is exactly where light-duty wood routers come in.

This line of wood routers usually carries a lightweight rotor that you can use for shorter periods of time with smaller bits and limited cutting diameter.


Operating router-cutters with collet size up to 0.25 inches.

Which Wood Router is Most Suitable for Me?

In all cases, the wisest decision is to choose a router based on your type and location of the woodwork. All the variants are usually designed with a specialized application in mind. Choose a variant based on the type of woodworking you want to achieve and where you are planning to set it up.

While fixed base wood routers are best for woodworking shops, plunge routers serve best when you want to work in the routing table directly with your hand. Heavy-duty routers are also suitable for large-scale jobs. But light-duty variants are more suited for hobbyists.

The Combo or Compact routers are not so mainstream yet. But they are catching on, mainly due to the rise of many DIY woodworking enthusiasts.

Lastly, the CNC router is a somewhat advanced type of wood router whose usage is still confined within the walls of factories or large-scale woodworking plants. Use it only if you are planning to work on an industrial scale.

Final Words

After reading this article, we hope you have a clear-cut idea about the different types of wood routers and their uses. We have tried to cover all types of classifications of wood routers along with their intended use in brief.

We hope this will come in handy the next time you decide to shop for a wood router. Happy woodworking, and let the creativity in you shine!

Leave a Comment