I have a confession – I love routing. I find it therapeutic. There's something about running along the edges and adding an element of delightful creativity. Recent upgrades in battery and motor technology have allowed us to cut the cord on pruning routers and make the experience even better. We've decided to bring in the best cordless router models and test them positively in our reviews, which also happen to be good for my mental health.
The best cordless battery-powered wood routers
Metabo HPT 36V Cordless Plug-In Router M3612DA
It took the Metabo HPT a while to break into the cordless router category – even longer than it took the Milwaukee Tool! However, when they did, they were quickly followed by full-size 36V cordless plug-in routers.
As far as we know, no one else in the industry has released a full size 1/2" plunge router. This is big news. Also, Metabo HPT remains the only tool builder that has the option to convert any of their 36V MultiVolt tools to corded tools , you have a solid solution. The company claims it has as much power as a 2.5 hp wired router. We believe it.
The $379 kit includes a soft tool pouch, two chucks, wrench, rails, dust collector kit, 2.5Ah MultiVolt battery and charger.
The best cordless pruning routers for professionals
Milwaukee M18 Fuel Compact Router 2723
Milwaukee is one of the latest companies to join the cordless router party, but the extra time has allowed them to put together a complete package. It's near the top in terms of bit speed and power. It also has excellent visibility to your workpiece, provides a secure grip, and features precise adjustments.
Milwaukee's add-on base also appears to be better designed than its other bases. It's clear that the design team did their homework on this model. You can find this model for around $199 bare-bones. A little more and you can find kits that include drop-in and offset mounts.
The best cordless trim router for the money
Ryobi 18V Trim Router PCL424
The Ryobi is by far the cheapest of our cordless routers. In fact, $119 gets you the router, 2.0Ah battery, and charger. Already have enough battery? The bare tool costs about $99. No matter how you look at it, this is an easy way to get into the wireless route. Having updated their single speed brushed motor router, the new model has a variable speed dial with a max speed of 30,000 RPM.
As a bare tool, it's fairly lightweight at 2.6 lbs. You get an LED work light, a fine adjustment dial, and the included dust port attachment. More compact than ever, this router wowed us with its affordable performance value.
router bits we use
There are plenty of router bits to choose from. We often turn to Bosch for our milling cutters due to the long life of their carbide cutting edges and the wide range of drills they make. If you just need a pruning router, check out Bosch's 6-Piece 1/4" Bit Set (RBS006). It costs $115.99 and includes:
- 3/8" Trim
- 1/4 inch straight
- 1/2 inch straight
- 1/4 inch round
- 1 1/4" chamfer
- 1/2" dovetail slot
If you also want a larger router in the future, the Bosch RBS010 10-piece router bit set includes a combination of 1/4-inch and 1/2-inch shank bits for $165.99.
- 1/4" straight (1/2" shank)
- 3/4" straight (1/2" shank)
- 1/2" Dovetail (1/2" Shank)
- 1-1/4" round (1/2" shank)
- 1-3/8" Roman Reverse (1/2" Shank)
- 1-1/4" chamfer (1/2" shank)
- 1/2" Trim (1/2" Shank)
- 1/2" straight (1/4" shank)
- 9/16" V-groove (1/4" Shank)
- 7/16" Core Box (1/4" Shank)
The best cordless routers from a brand we trust
Bosch 12V Max EC Brushless Handheld Router GFK12V-25N
Bosch's 12V routers are designed for light edge wiring. So it's able to get away with the 12V supply and the slower 13,000 RPM bit speed. Don't try to push this quest into other quests – there isn't enough capacity by design to get it done.
For the purposes Bosch developed this feature for, it's excellent. We love seeing how easy it is to engage the drill with your material and dial in the ergonomics for edge routing.
In terms of convenience, we really like Bosch's pull-out collet lock, which doesn't require you to hold down a button when tightening or loosening. This $159 router is only available bare-bones, so add it to your existing Bosch 12V lineup. We're definitely looking at a more powerful 18V model.
Craftsman 20V Max Brushless Trim Router CMCW400B
Not to be overlooked, the Craftsman CMCW400B 20V Trim Router has a brushless motor and variable speed dial. It hits the expected 30k RPM and has some great ergonomics in the form of a nicely textured handle.
A convenient depth adjustment knob and LED lights complete the features. You can also use the included edge rail and dust port adapter.
At just $99 bare-bones, this compact trim router might be a top contender for Ryobi's value pick.
DeWalt Max XR Brushless Cordless Compact Router DCW600
DeWalt built its cordless pruning router on top of the popular DWP611 corded model. It stands out from the rest of the group thanks to full barrel twist adjustment instead of using smaller dials. It takes a little getting used to if you're moving over from another brand, but it works. The downside is that macro adjustments take longer.
It has one of the slower top speeds of 25,500 RPM, but the power level is as high as the others, and it seems to use the battery more efficiently.
Its diameter is heavier and bulkier than others, which some may find put off. This didn't bother our testing team too much, though.
This $219 bare-tools router seems to lack any kit options. You'll also need to pick up any mounts or other accessories separately.
Greenworks 24V Cordless Compact Trim Router Kit
Greenworks has greatly expanded its line of 24V tools to include a variety of specialty tools. The Greenworks 24V Trim Router brings them right into the DIY woodworking space with a value-oriented tool that offers some advanced options.
While there's no dive base on the menu, you do get 5 different speed controls. An integrated LED light illuminates the workpiece, while a micro-adjustment lets you adjust the drill depth. Perhaps most impressively, you can get the entire kit including the 2Ah battery, charger, and accessories for just $129.99.
HART 20V Cordless Trimmer Router
While the bare-bones cost of the HART Tools Cordless Trim Router is just $88, it's packed with basic features. If you have nothing else to do but 1/4-inch turns, this could be the coolest tool in your DIY workshop.
You don't get a drop-in base or variable-speed controls, but an integrated LED work light and quick-release lever at least make the tool easy to use for basic wiring tasks. We suspect this will add more functionality to the DIY and maker crowd.
Kobalt 24V Cordless Router KR 124B-03
Kobalt's cordless routers are cheaper than all the routers on our list, and they don't sacrifice performance to get you there. At 30,000 RPM the top end is only slightly below the top model in terms of power and certainly not underpowered.
It has a good line of sight for the drill and the controls are easy to use. However, the fine-tuned free movement may be an issue for some. On the other hand, it has the highest ergonomics score with the Makita.
On the convenience side, due to the location of the chuck lock, the bits cannot be changed without completely removing the router from its base. It's usually easier to change bits on any trim router with the base off, so this shouldn't be an issue for everyone.
This is one of our best value cordless routers, at just $119 without batteries and charger. However, the fence comes with it and has one of the better warranties in 5 years.
Makita 18V LXT Cordless Compact Router XTR01
Makita's design is very similar to Kobalt's. It shares the free-swipe nudge, which might frustrate some. The chuck lock is in a similar position, but the base has a larger cutout area, allowing you to change bits without removing the base if you wish.
On the positive side, it's in line with the Kobalt's top ergonomics score, but isn't as top-heavy when equipped with a 5.0Ah battery. It looks a little better and feels more powerful even though it has the same 30,000 RPM top speed.
The Makita is the only model that includes an extra safety device in addition to the power button. While none of these routers are likely to be rolling around in your toolbox, it's good insurance to carry around. The power and lock/unlock buttons are blister buttons, which PTR commentator Tom Gaige didn't care about.
Interestingly, Makita makes a strong case for the best cordless router value. It costs $159 bare-bones — far less than Milwaukee or DeWalt. You can also buy a 40V XGT model with similar features for $214. So far, only 18V routers appear to be compatible with the Makita plug-in kit.
Ridgid 18V Octane Cordless Router R860443B
Ridgid strives for the title of best cordless router with the improved performance of the Octane. What really sets it apart, however, is its lightweight. It weighs only 2.3 lbs, which is more than 1/2 lb lighter than any other 18V/20V max model.
The octane boost does help. It's not quite on the same level as our top performer, but its 30,000 RPM is certainly up to the route we tested it on.
One design quirk you might have to get used to is that the fine-tuning and quick dials are on opposite sides. Another oddity is that you have to pull the power switch out rather than push it in. You can do this easily with your thumb, but it's counterintuitive.
The bare-bones price of the Ridgid cordless router is $169 (often discounted). Ridgid also has a $269 kit. As you shop, keep Ridgid's lifetime service agreement on the tool in mind. It now also works with any batteries and chargers you buy separately.
Choosing the best cordless router – what we looked for
As of now, the best cordless routers are all trim routers. This may change in the future as battery and motor technology improves. The top speed we've seen is 31,000 RPM, and anything closer to the 30,000 RPM mark should be no problem with most 1/4" shank mills.
Smooth operation is an absolute must. The drill spins at 1000 to 1000 RPM and any wobble is the absolute fault of the tool. Among other things, we also check that the router is keeping up with the pace of work that we naturally want it to do. If it slows us down compared to wired models, it reduces the value of cutting the cord.
That said, even the low-speed model gets the job done. Just understand that you need to slow down and keep the motor spinning as high as possible.
When shopping, look for models with brushless motors. They can extend your run time by up to 50% compared to brushed motors while delivering more power and extending the overall life of your tool. It can make the difference between finishing a project and waiting an hour to recharge the battery.
Weight isn't as much of an issue with cordless routers, but it does come into play because you're almost always working on the material you're routing. However, some people prefer a lighter weight, and that's totally fine!
Note the grip surface. Hand size is an important factor in whether a slender or thick barrel will fit. While we tend to prefer smaller diameters, that's just a preference. You may prefer a larger diameter.
The rubber overmold should also cover most of the gripping surface to provide some grip and comfort. Consider how the latch and dial affect your grip, and how easily you can make any adjustments.
The success or failure of the router experience is closely related to the feature set. Here are the main things we looked for that would improve our experience:
- Power Switch Design and Layout
- Speed Dial Placement for Variable Speed Models
- Fine-tuning design and movement
- Macro adjustment design and movement
- base removal
- Displacement design
- See the quality of drill bits and materials as you work, including LED lights
- Electric brakes are present to stop the drill quickly
- Included and/or available accessories such as additional baseboards, fences and plinths
At Pro Tool Reviews, finding the best wireless router value isn't just about price. This is where you get your money's worth. Much of this is directly related to the tools themselves. Also keep in mind how long the warranty is, how difficult it is to get service when needed, which other tools are compatible with the same battery, and the added value of the combo kit.
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