Best Palm Routers of 2019 - Handheld Trim Router Reviews
We’ve evaluated the best palm routers since 2014. In that time we’ve researched and compared dozens of models from various brands, different price points and designs. At the end of our analysis, we chose the Hitachi KM12VC as our top pick. This tool strikes the balance between satisfying the veteran user’s demands for high-powered, versatile tools, while still making it accessible for hobbyists and novices. It is equipped with an impressive 2.25-horsepower, 11-amp motor; runs relatively quietly, producing just 79.5 decibels of noise; and offers a five-year warranty period, which is the longest of all the palm routers we reviewed.
This tool will fulfill the needs of both average users and experienced craftsmen. Its 11-amp motor, 8,000-24,000 rpm range and centering gauge make it a balanced, versatile palm router. You can’t go wrong with this model.
Of all the palm routers we reviewed, this model delivers the best bang from your buck. It’s lightweight and durable, with a 10-foot cord and a variable speed dial that makes it ideal for delicate, detailed work.
The professional carpenter or craftsman will find this palm router the epitome of usefulness. Features like its 2-inch plunge stroke, adjustable spindle lock and LED lights enable you to tackle nearly any task.
We chose this model as our best overall pick because of its raw power, quiet operation and durability. It has a 2.25-horsepower, 11-amp motor that delivers an rpm range of 8,000-24,000 rpms. That makes it great for both light and heavy-duty tasks.
Its two-stage motor release clamp makes it both more convenient to use and enhances the tool’s adjustability. It also features a centering gauge that gives you more precise control over your project. It includes several accessories, such as wrenches, chucks, template guide adapter, sub-base plate and more. But it leaves out the wrenches needed to tighten router bits. It operates relatively quietly, producing just 79.5 decibels of sound. With a fixed-base weight of 7.3 pounds and plunge-base weight of 9.9 pounds, it’s about three times heavier than the other palm routers we reviewed. It has the longest warranty period in the industry – five years.
You can pick up this palm router for under $100, which is a great deal considering how much you get for your money.
This model weighs a light 3.3 pounds, so you won’t wear yourself out if you’re doing a time-intensive task. Its 5.6-amp engine delivers about half the power as our top pick, but is sufficient for fine, detailed work. Its aluminum base is both durable and smooth to the touch. The hard-plastic chassis is both strong and sleek, making for a great design, and will last for years given the proper care. Changing chucks and bits is easy and takes just a few seconds. Probably the best feature is its angled 10-foot cord, which allows you to take the router almost anywhere in your workshop without the cord getting in the way.
Best for Professionals
If you’re taking a palm router to a job site, this is the model you want. It has a 1.25-horsepower, 7-amp motor; variable speed settings; 2-inch plunge stroke; and a spindle lock with 12 level positions.
Combined, these features give it enough kick and adjustability to tackle whatever job comes your way. It also has added bonuses like LED lights and a transparent sub-base that enhances both visibility and precision. Additionally, its spring-loaded release tabs make it quick and easy to remove and replace the base, without the need for extra tools. This palm router fits comfortably in your hand, handles easily and provides the stability needed for heavy jobs.
The sleek and shiny Grizzly G7913 is both functional and attractive.
This palm router is compact with a shiny metal facade and strong metal bracket base that doesn’t slip. It stays in place partially because of a guide fence that is bolted to each end. Even if you try to knock the fence out of place it doesn't move so it doesn’t fall out of alignment. The whole thing only weighs 3.5 pounds so it's portable. The ruler on this trimmer has both metric units and inches, and the micrometric adjuster makes extremely accurate cuts, down to the millimeter. This palm router is accurate and incredibly well-designed.
The Porter Cable 450PK palm router has a 7.0-amp motor that produces 1.25 HP while still running comfortably.
It uses electronic feedback to make your cuts precise, even when tackling particularly unforgiving surfaces. The locking-in position with the depth ring and clamping mechanism give you more stability and the integrated ruler is easy to read. The turret moves to one of five positions for varied jobs. The Porter Cable’s 1-1/4 HP Compact Router with Plunge Base and Bag includes the router, a plunge base, wrench and bag, so even though it does cost more than some of the other palm routers we tested, you're getting quite a lot for your money.
Why Trust Us?
We have been reviewing the best palm routers for more than five years. We regularly check with manufacturers for new versions and updates to every model. Over the years, our team of reviewers has spent dozens of hours comparing, researching and rating palm routers. They have considered more than 20 models to find the perfect router for your needs and desires.
What are Palm Routers Used For?
Routers are tools that craftspeople use to hollow out and shape wood. They're essential tools for woodworkers, but many people also use routers to work on plastics and soft metals like aluminum. Just keep in mind that many of the parts are meant specifically for wood, so when you use them with some other materials, they could break, not work very well or be dangerous. Routers are typically two-handed devices that can help you cut divots and designs into wood – for example, for classic colonial molding for a doorway. Palm routers are small, so you can operate them with one hand and use the other hand to stabilize your material and have more control over projects. This makes palm routers ideal for working on smaller objects. Some craftspeople also attach palm routers in router tables. This method helps to steady the devices so you can use two hands to work with your material.
For additional project ideas, check out master woodworker Norm Abram at New Yankee.
How We Picked the Best
We looked at several aspects when rating the palm routers. We considered how much power each tool provides, which can be ascertained by examining motor amperage, rpm range and horsepower. The higher these specs, the more muscle the tool delivers, and thus the more points it scored.
We also compared how well you can adjust each model, and awarded higher point to routers that featured such flexibility. For example, routers with variable speeds allow you to fine-tune how much power you’re using for each individual project. Tools with spindle locks can be positioned at various levels that will give you more control.
Extra features such as LED lights and a transparent sub-base are excellent at keeping your project visible and illuminated. Features like a soft start and spring-loaded release tabs help reduce wear and tear and keep a tool in good working condition.
We also considered the warranty period of each tool, since it’s is a good indicator of how well the manufacturers stand behind their products.
How Much Do Palm Routers Cost?
The palm routers we evaluated cost $128 on average. Our research shows more expensive trimmers have more muscle, accessories and features that make the machine easier to use, like an LED light.
What to Consider When Choosing a Palm Router
When considering a palm router, first determine how often you will be using it. You want to find a router that is durable and can cut and trim even the hardest substances without fail.
Most routers are powered with an extension cord, but many palm routers use battery packs. Battery models give you greater freedom to work where you need to, at any time. Consider the criteria below when choosing the best palm router for your shop or toolbox.
Look for a router that has a motor with higher horsepower and amperage, and fast rpms, and is made from quality metals and plastics. The best palm routers can last for years, even decades, with proper care.
Also, consider the overall weight of the palm router. These tools are supposed to be portable, and a palm router that weighs too much for your level of strength can fatigue you quickly, potentially forcing you to take longer to complete projects or not finish them at all.
Not all palm routers are created equal. Look for a palm router that fits easily into your hand, has comfortable grips and is evenly balanced. Some routers are designed to be used by right- or left-handed craftsmen. Your local hardware store may have floor models you can try out after you have searched online, but if you purchase a router that is well-designed and comfortable to use, you will be much more productive.
Another important design feature to look for is whether the router has a plunge or fixed base. Plunge bases allow you to cut into your medium's interior and are ideal for custom designs, through cuts and mortises. Fixed-base routers are more stable and are perfect for beginners or craftsmen who desire more precision and stability as they work. While some routers have just one base option, others allow you to interchange base types, increasing your crafting options.
Palm routers often include accessories such as a carrying case, spare bits, wrenches and the all-important charger for battery-powered routers. Some cordless palm routers require you to purchase a charger separately, so be sure to check before buying.
Another important factor to consider is replacement bits. Because of their compact size, palm routers may or may not have the option for larger diameter bits. Be sure to check for the maximum size the router allows if you plan on using larger bits.
Most routers are covered with a standard one-year warranty. There are some with two-year warranties or a 30-day guarantee that will replace your malfunctioning unit for free. These warranties are all contingent on the unit malfunctioning because of normal wear and tear. If you know you are hard on your tools, look for a palm router that is backed by a solid warranty or replacement option.
The good news is, you have many options to explore before you buy. Palm routers in general don t vary too greatly in features or price. This is a tool that you'll want to count on for years, so be sure to find one that fits comfortably in your hand, gives you the power and speed you need and fits in your price range.