router table vs handheld router

When it comes to woodworking, the debate of router table vs handheld router is one that rages on. Both tools have their own advantages and disadvantages depending on your project, but which should you choose? In this blog post, we’ll compare a router table with a handheld router so you can decide for yourself which tool will work best for your needs. Weighing up power versus precision, portability versus convenience – find out whether choosing a router table or handheld router could be the difference between success and failure in your next DIY home improvement project.

Table of Contents:

What Is a Router Table?

A router table is a stationary woodworking tool that allows you to make precise cuts and shapes in wood. It consists of a flat surface, usually made of cast iron, with slots for mounting the router bit and other accessories. The router table also has an adjustable fence to guide the workpiece as it is being cut.

Router tables are incredibly versatile tools that can be used for various tasks such as shaping edges, cutting grooves or dadoes, creating raised panels, making dovetails and box joints, mortising door hinges and much more. They are also great for making intricate patterns like fluting or reeding on furniture legs or decorative mouldings.

The most common type of router table uses an electric motor-driven spindle to rotate the bit at high speeds while the workpiece is fed into it from above by hand or using a feeder system. This makes them ideal for use in production settings where accuracy and repeatability are important factors. However, they can also be used effectively in smaller workshops since they offer greater control over the cut than handheld routers alone would allow.

One advantage of using a router table over other types of machines is its ability to accommodate different sizes and styles of bits, which gives you more flexibility when tackling various projects around your home or garden workshop space. Additionally, because these tables come with fences that can be adjusted easily according to your needs, this helps ensure accurate results every time you use it – something which isn’t always possible with handheld routers due to their lack of precision control features such as depth stops or speed adjustments etc.

In conclusion, if you seek an efficient method to swiftly create intricate shapes, investing in a high-quality router table could be an invaluable addition to the toolkit of any DIY enthusiast.

What Is a Handheld Router?

a handy device for routing out grooves

A handheld router is a power tool used for routing out grooves, dadoes, rabbets, and other shapes in wood or other materials. It consists of a motorised base with an adjustable depth stop and interchangeable bits that can be changed depending on the job at hand. The most common type of handheld router is the plunge router which has a spring-loaded base that allows you to adjust the cutting depth as you work.

The size of the bit determines how deep your cuts will be; larger bits create deeper cuts than smaller ones. You can also choose from different types of bits, such as straight cutters, dovetail cutters, round-over cutters and more, depending on what kind of finish you’re looking for. Handheld routers are ideal for creating intricate designs or making precise adjustments to existing pieces since they allow you to make very small changes without having to take away too much material at once.

Handheld routers are incredibly versatile tools that can be used in many different ways around the home or workshop. They’re great for trimming edges off boards quickly and accurately, creating decorative patterns in woodworking projects like furniture or cabinetry, shaping mouldings and edgings along walls or doorways, hollowing out areas for hinges or lockset installation, and even carving intricate designs into wood surfaces such as signs or plaques.

Always use protective eyewear when using a handheld router since it generates a lot of dust particles that, if you don’t have enough protection against them, could harm your eyesight. Additionally, before operating any power tool, make sure to read through its instruction manual so that you understand all its features. This will help avoid injury due to improper operation.

Advantages of Using a Router Table

Using a router table offers several advantages over using a handheld router. First, it provides more stability when making cuts since the workpiece is held firmly against the table surface by the fence. This makes it easier to make accurate cuts without having to worry about wobbling or slipping off the edge of the material being cut. Additionally, most router tables have multiple slots for mounting different bits, so you can quickly switch between different sizes and types of bits without changing your entire setup each time you need to use another bit size or type.

For example, if you’re working on a project that requires both straight and curved edges, then switching from one-bit size or type to another can be done in seconds with a router table rather than taking much longer with a handheld model. Router tables also provide better control when cutting materials like hardwoods because they offer greater resistance against kickback which helps reduce any potential damage caused by sudden movements while cutting.

Router tables are also great for creating decorative edges such as chamfers and round overs, as well as raised panels and other intricate designs that would otherwise be difficult or impossible with a handheld tool. Furthermore, many modern models come equipped with dust collection systems which help keep your workspace clean while reducing airborne particles that could potentially cause health issues in the future.

Advantages of Using a Handheld Router

a man with ear defender around his neck using sander

Handheld routers are a great tool for those looking to do home improvement projects. They offer the convenience of portability, allowing you to take them anywhere and use them on any material without having to set up an entire workstation first. Handheld routers are also smaller than their stationary counterparts, making it easier to manoeuvre around tight corners or into small spaces where larger tools may not fit easily.

Another advantage of using a handheld router is cost; they tend to be less expensive than their stationary counterparts. This makes them ideal for DIYers who don’t want to invest in more expensive equipment but still need quality results from their projects. Additionally, many handheld routers come with interchangeable bases that allow you to adjust the depth and angle of your cuts depending on what type of project you’re working on – something that isn’t always possible with stationary models.

Finally, one thing many people overlook when considering handheld routers is safety; because they are smaller and lighter than their stationary counterparts, they can be much easier (and safer) for beginners or inexperienced users to handle without fear of injury or damage caused by mishandling large pieces of machinery. In addition, most handheld routers come equipped with variable speed settings so that you can adjust the speed according to whatever material you’re cutting through – another important safety feature that helps prevent accidents while using these tools

Overall, there are plenty of advantages associated with using a handheld router over its larger counterpart – from convenience and cost savings all the way down to improved safety features designed specifically for novice users. Whether tackling a big home improvement project or just doing some basic repairs around the house, investing in a good quality handheld router will ensure your job gets done quickly and safely every time.

FAQs in Relation to Router Table vs Handheld Router

Why use the router table instead of the handheld router?

a stationary woodworking tool

Router tables offer a range of advantages over handheld routers. Firstly, they provide more stability and accuracy when cutting materials as the router is mounted to the table, allowing for smoother and more precise cuts. Secondly, router tables allow for a greater variety of cuts than handheld routers due to their adjustable fences and stops. Finally, with router tables, you can make use of larger bits which are not suitable for handheld routers – this allows you to create intricate designs or shapes that would otherwise be impossible with a handheld tool. In short, if precision and versatility are important factors in your woodworking projects, then using a router table is the best choice.

Do I need a router table if I have a router?

Whether or not you need a router table depends on the projects you plan to do with your router. A router table provides a stable surface for routing and can be used to make precise cuts and create intricate shapes. It also allows for better control over the depth of the cut, which is important when working with thin materials like veneers. If you plan to use your router mainly for edge-forming operations such as trimming door edges or creating decorative profiles, then a router table may be beneficial. However, if you are only using it occasionally for basic tasks such as cutting dadoes or rabbets in thicker stock, then a simple jig mounted directly onto your workbench should suffice.

Can you freehand with a router table?

Yes, you can freehand with a router table. A router table is an essential tool for woodworking and allows you to make precise cuts quickly and easily. It has a flat surface that the router sits on, along with adjustable fences and guides that help keep your workpiece steady while routing. Freehanding means using the router without any of these guides or fences in place, allowing for more creative freedom when working on projects. However, it does require skill and practice to do safely, so always use caution when attempting this technique.

Can any router be used with a router table?

Yes, any router can be used with a router table. However, it is important to ensure that the size and shape of the base plate on your router match the insert plate in your router table. Additionally, ensure you have enough clearance between the top of your bit and the bottom of your insert plate, so you don’t damage either piece when routing. Lastly, check if there are any special instructions for mounting or using a particular model of a router in a specific type of table before attempting to use it.


In conclusion, when it comes to router table vs handheld router, the choice really depends on what you are looking for in terms of precision and control. Router tables offer more stability and accuracy, while handheld routers allow for more portability and flexibility. Both tools have their own advantages, so it’s important to weigh your options before making a decision. Ultimately, the right tool will depend on the type of project you’re working on and your individual needs as a user.

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