Photos by Rob Brown; Illustration by Len Churchill
Also called laminate trimmers or palm routers, these power tools are great for detailed work like inlay, hardware installation, adding small profiles and working in tight spaces. Most offer only a fixed base, though a few offer a plunge base. Trim routers only accept ¼” diameter bits, and generally don’t have the power to use the larger ¼” bits. Variable speed, spindle lock, easy height adjustment, soft start motors and other features make use easier. A few trim routers are available with plunge bases, while other manufacturers may offer battery-powered units.
Price: $40 – $610 (typ. $100 – $150)
Bit Capacity: ¼” only (Festool also offers 8mm)
Amps: 2 – 5
Weight: 3 – 8 lb
RPM’s: 10,000 – 31,000
Top Brands: Bosch, DeWalt, Festool, Grizzly, King, Makita, Porter Cable, Ridgid, Ryobi
A trim router works great for smaller, more delicate tasks. Push it too far and breakage or injury can occur.
Edge guides, dust hoods, different base types, etc. can increase the functionality greatly. Spending a bit more for some decent attachments is likely money well spent.
Don’t settle with what the manufacturer offers. It’s easy to build attachments for the specific operation you need to accomplish.
A dull bit will not only increase the chance of burning the wood and leaving a poor cut, it causes undue stress on the trim router.
Corded tools are great for most situations, but the new generation of battery power tools has brought their energy to trim routers. They’re great for the jobsite and a busy, larger shop atmosphere.