Router Complete Guide: Router Types, Bits, & Accessories

A woodworking router is a tool that creates designs and cut-outs in wood. Woodworking routers are known for giving piece a fashionable edge, like the trimming of a door.

This is a complete guide on router types, router bit types, router tables and accessories. Additionally, I will guide you on selecting the best woodworking router for your needs and budget.


  1. 4 Types of routers
  2. Router bits
  3. Router tables
  4. How to pick the correct router

4 Types of routers

You should get a wood router if you want to create edge designs/trims, create cut-outs in wood, or have a tool to assist you in joinery, like a mortise.

There are 4 main types of routers which are the handheld, fixed base, plunge base, and stationary routers.

The majority of routers are handheld and are sold with either fixed base or plunge base attachments.

Router TypeIdeal Use
Handheld routerFree hand drawing
Fixed base routerEdge designs
Plunge routerCutting in the middle of wood and cutouts
Stationary routerIndustrial
  • Handheld
    • A handheld router is a router without any attachments. You do not have the fixed or plunge base.
    • Without attachments, you will free draw your designs in the wood.
  • Fixed base
    • The fixed base router has flat plate that you will use to create a design of consistent depth.
    • Fixed base routers are great for creating edge designs
  • Plunge base
    • Plunge routers allow you to lower the router bit into the wood and stop at your pre-set maximum depth.
    • Plunge routers are great for starting in the middle of the wood and performing cutouts
  • Stationary router
    • A stationary router is a router machine that is set up similar to a router on a router table.
    • Stationary routers are like fixed base routers and do not have plunge router features.
    • Stationary routers are not the same as handheld routers on a router table. They cannot be unassembled easily. These routers are rare.

Note: Most routers are handheld and you can purchase the corresponding fixed base and plunge base router accessories separately. I recommend purchasing a handheld router that is compatible with a fixed and plunge base attachment, so if you want to upgrade you can.

Router bits

With a router, you will need router bits to perform cuts. There are many router bits, and you can find a router bit for just about anything. Router bits fall into the following 5 categories, Straight, Flush-Trim , Edge, Joinery, and Specialty router bits.

5 Types of router bits

Router bit typesUses
Groove router bitGroove designs and simple joinery cuts
Flush-Trim router bitSmooth uneven wood
Edge router bitEdge designs and molding
Joinery Router bitJoinery cutouts like dovetail, rabbet, and mortise joints
Specialty router bitBits likes sign-making and keyhole cutouts
  • Groove router bit
    • Simple router bits include straight, v-groove, and other bits that create grooves in the wood.
    • The straight router bit can also perform simple joinery cutouts like dado joints
  • Flush-Trim router bit
    • Flush-Trim router bits are used to level out the face of veneer or two pieces of wood.
    • This shouldn’t be used in replace for a planar for wood of varying thickness. The flush trim bit just smooths the transition between uneven wood.
  • Edge router bits
    • Many edge router bits are used for molding and is my favorite type of router bits.
    • Edge router bits can transform a work piece to have design and character.
  • Joinery router bits
    • Joinery router bits are used to perform cutouts for joinery. There are bits sold for many different types of joinery like dovetail, rabbet, tongue and groove, mortise, and finger joints for example.
    • The downside to joinery router bits are that they can only cut one size. You will have to buy a bit for each size of joinery that you want to create, which can get pretty expensive.
  • Specialty router bits
    • Specialty router bits are used for special applications like sign-making and keyhole router bits.

Router bit collet sizes

Most router bits have collet sizes of either 1/4-inch or 1/2-inch. Some router bits have collets of even 1/8-inch.

1/2 inch router bits are more durable and last longer. Since the collet is thicker in these bits, they also are more stable than the 1/4-inch and 1/8-inch counterparts.

1/4-inch and 1/8-inch router bits are cheaper and are useful for joinery where a 1/4-inch collet is needed.

Router bit blades

Router bit blades are either high-speed steel, HSS, or carbine. High-Speed Steel router bits are cheaper but not as durable.

Carbine router bits are more expensive, more durable, and will stay sharper longer.

Router tables

Router tables are like stationary routers where you can use both of your hands to guide the wood.

The way router tables work is by attaching a fixed base under the table to the router guide. Then you attach the router upside down showing the exposed bit on top of the table.

Router table pros and cons

Ideal for small workpiecesNot for plunge router use
More control over workpieceNot ideal for larger workpieces
Excellent for cutting joinery

Router tables are ideal for smaller objects that would be impractical to use with handheld router options. Router tables give the user more precision that is excellent for cutting out joinery.

Some of the downsides to woodworking routers are that you cannot use the plunge router feature for a router table. Additionally, it is difficult to operate large workpieces, especially on smaller router tables.

You can certainly use a handheld router without a router table. You can use the handheld router along and free draw, or assemble it with a fixed base or plunge base attachment.

Most handheld routers with a fixed base can be assembled with a router table. Some router tables are universal and can be assembled with most routers.

You do not have to purchase a special router if you want a router table. However, if you want a specific router table, you may have to get the corresponding router to it.

For example, if you want a specific bosch router table, you will need the bosch router to go with it.

Router table decision

I recommend getting a router table if you will need to work on smaller workpieces or joinery. Even though there are some downsides, you can always unassemble the router from a router table and use some of the other handheld router options.

I recommend looking at router tables before purchasing a router to see if there is a specific one you like.

How to pick the correct router

In the first section of this article, I went over the different types of woodworking routers. These are the 9 features of consider when picking a router

9 features of consider when picking a router

  1. Is it compatible with fixed or plunge base attachments
  2. Is there a specific router table that you want
  3. Router Fence
  4. Slow start
  5. Variable speed
  6. Micro depth adjustments
  7. Dust collection system
  8. Corded or cordless
  9. Collet size compatibility

Below are all of the factors to consider when picking a router.

  1. Is it compatible with fixed or plunge base attachments
    • I always recommend getting a router that is compatible with a fixed base and plunge base attachment even if you just get the handheld router by itself at first. That is because you will always be able to upgrade later when you see fit.
  2. Is there a specific router table that you want
    • Additionally, I also recommend looking at router tables if there is a specific brand and model that you like. This part isn’t essential because you can make your own DIY router table or use a universal router table.
  3. Router Fence
    • A router fence can help you create straight lines and designs when routing in the middle of the wood.
    • Purchasing a fence is not completely necessary because creating a DIY fence is so simple.
    • To learn how to create a DIY fence, check out my other article.
  4. Slow start
    • Have slow start is good for preventing kickback when the router bit touches the wood.
    • However, this is not essential because it can be prevented with proper router technique
  5. Variable speed
    • Variable speed is essential because you will need to use different speeds depending on the type of wood and what you are routing.
    • Going too slow can overwork the motor and going to fast can be hard to control
  6. Micro depth adjustments
    • Having micro depth adjustments is essential to getting the router bit at the exact depth that you want
  7. Dust collection system
    • A dust collection hose is nice to have, especially since saw dust can get caught in the bearings and motor of the router.
    • However, you can just clean your workspace more often if sawdust is not an issue for you.
  8. Corded or cordless
    • I personally do not mind a corded router because you will be doing most of the work on a table.
    • Cordless routers are useful for jobsite locations or places with limited power strips.
    • Cordless routers are not as common too.
  9. Collet size compatibility
    • Consider the collet size for your router. Its best to get a router with 1/4 and 1/2 collet sizes, because it will be compatible with the majority of router bits.


I have a handheld router with a fixed and plunge base attachment. I strongly recommend getting a router that is compatible with one in case you want to purchase the attachment later. I have variable speed, micro depth adjustment, corded, with a collet size of 1/2 and 1/4-inch.

A dust collection system for me would be good, but I can live without it. However, that may be a priority for you.

Purchase my router: Amazon link

I also have a DIY router fence and router table. I consider both very useful and I would recommend getting one or making it yourself.

To learn more about proper router technique and woodworking router how-to guide, then you should check out my article “Woodworking Router: How-to operate, Tips and Tricks, Common mistakes”.

Additionally, to learn how to make your own router fence and router table, then you should check out my article “Router Jigs Complete guide”.


In this article, we learned everything that there is to know before purchasing a wood router. We went over the different router types, router bits, and router tables.

If you are interested in learning about how to operate a router or things you can do with a router, then you should check out my article “Woodworking Router: How-to operate” and “Things to do with a Router”.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this article and I wish you luck on your woodworking journeys!


My name is Rachel Blanding and I am a woodworker. I started woodworking at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. I mainly create and refurbish furniture and create art. In this site I will share with you the knowledge I have gained over the years, and what worked for me and what didn't.

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