Tool Test: Compact Routers
Choose the best tool for profiling, flush trimming, and mortising one-handed.
Synopsis: Cabinetmaker and remodeler Paul Johnson uses a compact router nearly every day for certain jobs: edge profiling, flush trimming, hinge mortising, and trimming laminate. For this article, he put seven models to the test. He took 1/2-in.-deep passes in hardwood and MDF, and then concentrated on more typical tasks: rounding over door edges and cabinet faces, routing profiles in cabinet tops and shelves, mortising hinges, and cutting slots, rabbets, and dadoes.
The original compact routers were created for a singular purpose: trimming laminate for countertops, cabinetry, and shelves. More recently, compact routers have become the go-to tools for edge profiling, flush trimming, and hinge mortising. I use one nearly every day in my remodeling and cabinetmaking business, and I really appreciate how a compact router, which can be held with one hand, frees my other hand for holding stock or managing the cord. Since I was in the…