It’s time again for another #ToolTuesday, and this time, it’s my (JZ’s) pick. I was warned by a fellow woodworker that after I had my first experience with a router, I’d be hooked and want another one, and that turned out to be true.

My dad handed his Craftsman router down to me before D and I started our Ocean Resin Coffee Table project, and it made rounding the edges on our plywood base a breeze. That router is a beast, and one I’m glad to have in the shop.

But as we were figuring out how we were going to make the Anthropologie Inspired Cabinet, the small, detailed work made me think that a more compact router would probably work best.

With a gift card we won in an Instructables contest burning a hole in my wallet, I went on the hunt for the best compact router.

I narrowed down the options and read tons of reviews across woodworking sites, ultimately settling on the Dewalt Compact Router with Fixed and Plunge Base (Amazon affiliate link). Powerful, adjustable and supposedly easy to use, I added it to my cart and excitedly awaited its arrival.

The first test came when we were cutting the dado in the top for the backboard to slide into. Since the cut didn’t start right at the edge, I used the plunge base and was excited at how easily I was able to control it. However, the bit did come out once, which we attributed to me not tightening it enough.

Next, D used it to route a rabbet all around the base we built for the unit, in order to create the illusion of separation. All went well on that.

But then, we ran into the same issue of the bit coming out when routing the grooves for the doors. Yep – that damn near ruined the door.

We hit up r/woodworking on Reddit as well as some of our maker friends to figure out how to stop this from happening and was advised to clean the collet and bit (sometimes new ones have oil on them apparently).

After taking apart the collet, cleaning it and wiping the bit clean, this little baby ran like a dream.

Because–and only because–the issues we faced *appeared* to be user error, we feel good highlighting it as our tool of the week.

Outside of that, it was a fantastic tool that offers not only a fixed or plunge base, but the fixed plate also gives you the option of using a straight or curved side (which isn’t common in compact routers).

Shop the Dewalt Compact Router with Plunge Base on Amazon:

DEWALT Router Fixed/Plunge Base Kit, Variable Speed, 1.25-HP Max Torque (DWP611PK)
(affiliate link)

If you decide to get yourself one of these, we highly recommend cleaning the collet and bit before using it. Routers are amazing tools, but they’re dangerous – they run at thousands of RPMs and will eat up anything in their paths. With that, be sure to read your instructions fully and educate yourself before using one for the first time.

Speaking of the dangers, we gotta throw in these disclaimers:

  • Use these tools at your own risk. We accept no responsibility for any injury that results from your use of any tools on this site. 
  • Links above are Amazon Affiliate links, which enables us to earn a commission when you purchase something.

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