If you need the best compact router then you are in the right place. Looking for this type of device can often be a chore, purely because the word ‘router’ is associated with so many different things. Most commonly, a search for a compact router will be confused with a search for a WIFI router, which can make finding the right option for you difficult.
But today, we aren’t talking about WIFI routers, we’re talking about compact routers which are an absolute essential for DIY woodworkers and craftsmen alike.
To make your job easier when looking for the best router, we’ve done the hard work for you by compiling this list of the 10 best compact routers that money can buy. So if you want a shortlist to choose from, then keep on reading.
10 Best Compact Routers
Top Pick Compact Router
If you want to buy our top pick compact router, we would recommend the Dewalt Max XR Cordless Router. We love this compact router and it is for this reason that we think this is the best on the market.
Despite it not being labeled as a ‘compact router’ in its name, its cordless and ergonomic design means that this device can be classed as one.
One of the best things about this router is that it has a soft start motor. Some routers can have a hard start which makes the machine unruly when it is first started, but this isn’t a problem with this device as it has a soft start motor which makes starting this device a smooth process.
Another great thing about this router is that it also brakes and slows down incredibly well as the braking system in it is electronic. This means that the device can shut off a lot quicker than some of its competitors and that it slows down a lot quicker too.
But the final, and best thing that we love about this router is that it comes with LED lights allowing you to see what you are doing, even if it has gone dark. So with all this considered, it is clear that this is one of the best options on the market.
Dewalt Max XR PROS
- Soft Start Motor – allows the device to maintain speed for perfect cuts in the wood
- LED Lights – ensures that you can always see what you are doing, even if it is dark
- Electronic Brake – allows the device to shut off quicker by quickly slowing down the motor
Dewalt Max XR CONS
- No notable drawbacks
Runner Up – Compact Router
Another excellent option which we would definitely recommend is the Makita RT0701CX7 Compact Router Kit. If you buy this router, you don’t only get the compact router but you also get a variety of other accessories and tools as it is part of a kit.
One of the best things about this compact router is that it really does live up to its name with a slim design. Some devices which claim to be compact, really aren’t but this option definitely is as it is smaller and lighter than most of the other competitors that we have looked at.
This small and light design gives you excellent control over the router and also makes it more comfortable to hold so that the DIY process goes along a little nicer.
Not only is this device easy to control physically, but it also has a design that makes controlling the buttons of these devices easy. This includes variable speed controls which allow you to easily match the speed with the job you are doing, but also a quick release button that makes depth adjustments easy.
With all of this considered, there’s no question that this is one of the best compact routers that money can buy.
Makita RT0701CX7 PROS
- Slim Design – makes this device smaller, lighter, and more comfortable to hold
- Quick Release – allows you to easily make depth adjustments for different jobs
- Variable Speed Controls – allows you to easily match the speed to the job you are doing
Makita RT0701CX7 CONS
- No notable drawbacks
Other Top Compact Routers
If you want a compact router by another big name brand then the Milwaukee M18 Fuel Compact Router is a wonderful choice. Unlike the last option that we looked at, this router is not part of a kit which is why it has a lower price point.
The main thing that you get from this router is performance. Of course, performance is an important design aspect of all routers, but in this compact option, the company has had a huge focus on the way in which it performs.
The company wanted this device to be high-performance and powerful, and they have definitely achieved this. Not only have they done this, but Milwaukee Fuel has also achieved this while also ensuring that the device does not overload or over-heat, which is essential for any power tool.
As well as being very powerful, this device is also easily adjustable allowing you to change between speed options quickly and efficiently. This is easily done with the variable speed dial which you can find on the body of the device which allows you to adjust to speeds between 10,000 and 31,000 RPM.
So with all of these great features considered, there is no doubt that this is one of the best options on the market.
Milwaukee M18 Fuel PROS
- High-Performance – maximum performance without overloads and overheating
- Easily Adjustable – quickly and easily adjusts to different speeds when needed
- Variable Speed Dial – twist the dial to adjust between 10,000 and 31,000 RPM
Milwaukee M18 Fuel CONS
- No notable drawbacks
Another excellent option by one of the big names in hardware products is the Bosch GKF125CEN Compact Router. This is the first of two Bosch compact routers that we will look at in this shortlist, so it is clear that this company is a great one to choose.
The best thing about this compact router is that it is incredibly easy to use. Not only due to its shape and size but also because of the self-explanatory design.
This means that you do not have to be an expert in using a router to use this device, instead, you can be a beginner to this type of machine and still get a clear understanding of how to operate it.
Some ‘beginner’ style machines tend to be a lot less powerful which can be frustrating if you master the device quickly, but this isn’t the case for this Bosch router as it is extremely powerful with a 7 amp motor that can achieve speeds up to 35,000 RPM.
But perhaps the deciding factor that made us add this device to this shortlist is how consistent it is. When you are completing woodworking jobs, consistency and accuracy are incredibly important, and this device promises this thanks to its constant response circuitry which ensures it is always operating at the same speed.
With all this in mind, this is definitely one of the best options on the market.
Bosch GKF125CEN PROS
- Easy to Use – self-explanatory user method makes it a great choice for beginners
- Very Powerful – 7 amp motor with speeds up to 35,000 RPM makes it one of the most powerful options available
- Consistent – users constant response circuitry to monitor speed and load for consistent performance while you work
Bosch GKF125CEN CONS
- Sizing Error – the 17mm wrench in this kit doesn’t actually measure 17mm
If you aren’t too bothered about the brand of the compact router that you are buying then the Avid Power Compact Router with Fixed Base is a brilliant choice. This is a lesser-known brand but their products are definitely worth considering.
Just like the last model which we looked at, one of the key things that Avid Power has focused on in this design is power. This compact router has a 6.5 amp motor which enables it to provide speeds up to 32,000 RPM which is more than enough to complete the majority of woodworking and household DIY jobs.
But this isn’t the only great thing about this model, as it also comes with an ergonomic design. When you will be using a power tool for a lengthy period of time, comfort is incredibly important, and this ergonomic design promises that. As well as making it comfortable to hold, the ergonomic design also means that you can get excellent control over this powerful device.
Finally, this device has a design that is guaranteed to last. It is built with aluminum as the key material in both the body and the base, which is a metal that is able to withstand a lot of wear and tear. This is something that power tools definitely experience, which is why this device is an option that you should definitely consider.
Avid Power PROS
- Very Powerful – 6.5 amp motor provides speeds up to 32,000 RPM for lots of jobs
- Ergonomic Design – makes this device comfortable to hold and control when working with wood
- Durable Build – Built with aluminum body and base to ensure that this router will last for years to come
Avid Power CONS
- Loud Operating Noise – makes it difficult to listen to other things when using this router
Another excellent smaller brand which you should consider is the GoPlus Compact Router Kit. Just like some of the models that we looked at a little earlier on, this device is part of a kit which makes it a great choice if this is the first compact router that you have bought as it comes with absolutely everything you will need.
Despite being a lesser-known brand, this device is built with premium quality which is excellent for the price that you are paying for it. The main build material of this device is aluminum which, as we have already discussed, is incredibly strong and durable which guarantees that you will get years of use out of this machine.
This is great as this device is also very versatile. This is mainly because the kit includes 4 different bases which can be swapped out depending on the jobs that you want to complete. This widens the prospects of this device hugely and means that you can get a lot done with this one simple purchase.
This is also partly supported by all of the great accessories that come in the kit. These include, but are not limited to, wrenches, line guides, brushes, and lots more, which will definitely make this job easier. Especially if you are a beginner to this type of power tool. So there really is no question that this is one of the best options available.
- Premium Build – built with only the best quality aluminum for guaranteed durability
- Versatile – includes 4 different bases so that you can use this device for a variety of different tasks
- Additional Accessories – this kit also comes with wrenches, guides, and brushes to make using this router a breeze
- Lesser Known Brand – does not match up to the quality of the big names in hardware
Next, we have the second Bosch device which we measured earlier. This model is different from the Bosch GKF125CEN which we have already looked at, instead, this one is known as the Bosch Colt Compact Router Tool. So let’s have a look at what makes it a great choice.
One of the key features that makes this compact router an excellent option is that it is incredibly user-friendly. If you are not very experienced with power tools then this is a very important factor as it makes the device more convenient and easier to use.
This device is very user-friendly as it includes a straight edge guide which makes getting perfect results from this tool a breeze, even if you have very little experience using it.
As well as being convenient to use, this device is also incredibly precise. This is due to the clamping system that is built into it which allows you to fit this device perfectly to the wood that you are working on for accurate and precise measurements and results.
Finally, this device is constructed of rugged aluminum which makes it incredibly durable. Some of these power tools are rather expensive so you want to ensure that your investment will last, and this is something that you can guarantee with this product.
So if you need a new compact router, this is definitely an option to consider.
Bosch Colt PROS
- Convenient to Use – includes a straight edge guide which makes this device easy to use to get great results
- Durable Design – built using rugged aluminum for a solid and durable end result
- Very Precise – clamping system allows precise and accurate results when cutting for depth
Bosch Colt CONS
- Bad Vibrations – when used at a high speed, the device vibrates which could impact your accuracy
Another great option by a lesser-known manufacturer is the CtopoGo Compact Wood Router. The majority of compact routers are primarily designed for use with wood, so you shouldn’t let the fact that this word is in the product name put you off buying it.
This is a great choice for those with little experience with wood routers and power tools as it is very user-friendly. Some devices can be complex, meaning that you definitely need the experience to use them, but this is not the case with this device.
Instead, it is clearly labeled and the buttons are self-explanatory allowing you to quickly master this device for perfect results. If this wasn’t enough, it is also incredibly versatile, allowing you to complete a wide variety of jobs on wood with it.
But one of the best things about this router is that despite it not being part of a kit, it actually comes with a lot of additional accessories.
These include wrenches, dust boards, adjustable buttons, and line guides which make using this device easier. So there really is no doubt that you should consider this device if you need to buy a compact router.
- User-friendly – easy to use and master so that you can get perfect results quickly with this router
- Versatile – excellent for a variety of tasks from wood processing to curve cutting, it can do it all
- Accessories Included – includes guides, wrenches, dust boards, adjustable buttons, and lots more to make using this router easy
- Design Error – in some models the depth sleeve often slips which can result in errors in your cutting
The last but one option that we would recommend is by another lesser-known brand called Brisunshine. Their compact electric router is excellent considering the fact that it is definitely a budget option with a much lower price point than the other options we have looked at, but what else is good about this device?
The main thing we love about this router is that it is accurate. This is mainly down to the fact that the base of this device is not constructed using aluminum, like many of the other options we have looked at.
Instead, it is constructed using transparent material which is a great design feature as it allows you to see what you are cutting which ensures better results than if you were doing it blindly.
This also comes with a straight line guide and a trimming wheel which help you get stable control of the device and a straighter finish as a result.
Finally, this device is a great choice if you are going to use it for a variety of different jobs as it is very versatile. From wood processing to plastic sheeting, no job is too great for this device, which is why we think it is one of the best available on the market.
- Accurate – includes a transparent base so that you can easily see the cutting job, allowing for better results
- Straight Results – includes a straight-line guide and trimming wheel to help you get straighter and stabler results
- Wide Range – can be used for wood processing, plastic sheeting, and lots more, proving how versatile this device is
- It Sometimes Slips – this device sometimes struggles to grip to the surface you are cutting and can occasionally slip
The final option that we would recommend is another device manufactured by Makita, this time we are recommending their XTR018J Compact Router Kit.
This final option comes as part of a kit just like the earlier option that we looked at, making it a great choice if this is the first compact router that you are buying.
One of the main design features of this router is that it comes with a brushless motor, which makes it more efficient than some other options. A brushless motor means that this device can perform better in both torque and RPM, allowing you to get better results.
As well as this, this device also has variable speed control which allows you to easily alter the speed between 10,000 and 30,000 RPM when you need to.
But the best thing about this option is that it is a complete starter kit, including a fixed base, straight guide, and even a rapid charger which makes using this device even more efficient.
So if you want a starter kit compact router that includes everything you need to begin work, this is definitely one of the best options.
Makita XTR018J PROS
- Variable Speed Control – easily change the speed between 10,000 and 30,000 RPM for different jobs
- Brushless Motor – makes this device more efficient in terms of torque and RPM
- Starter Kit – includes a rapid charger, fixed base, and straight guide to get you started on your woodworking task
Makita XTR018J CONS
- Tough to Open – the latches on the carry case are stiff when new which can make it difficult to access the router
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a compact router?
A compact router is a power tool that can be used to make a profile for concealed woodwork joints, straighten curved and damaged edges, and also produce a decorative edge to woodwork.
Compact routers tend to have a smaller design which makes them easier to handle and control than some of the larger designs. This often allows them to produce a better finish and more effective results.
Are compact routers good?
Generally, yes compact routers are good. They can be incredibly useful when finishing off work that you have completed and can provide extremely precise results to any woodwork.
Of course, as is the case with every type of power tool, some brands will produce compact routers that are better than others. They are often better in terms of accuracy, finish, and ease of use.
But in general, the majority of compact routers are good which is why it is worth investing in one.
Do all router bits fit all routers?
In a lot of cases, router bits for one machine will also be compatible with a router that is produced by a different brand. This is because a lot of these components are created in the same factories and then shipped off to different manufacturers.
However, this is not always the case, and not all router bits are universal so it is incredibly important that you bear this in mind before purchasing a compact router and the different accessories that you have to purchase to use with the device.
In short, in this guide, we’ve given you a shortlist of the 10 best compact routers available on the market. Some of these devices are great for beginners, others are better for more experienced users, but there is something for everyone on this list.