The Best Trim Routers for Woodworkers and DIY

30,000rpm in the palm of your hand.

And all you need to do is run a lead and fit the bit

That’s the capability and convenience of a Trim Router.

Perfect for

  • Running a profile on baseboards/skirting and architraves
  • Flush trimming laminate and veneer
  • Engraving signs by hand 
  • Running grooves and housings
  • Installing on a DIY CNC router

These small tools pack a lot of punch and see plenty of use by Woodworkers and DIYer’s alike. 

Quick Rundown

In case you aren’t familiar with Trim Routers, here’s a quick answer table.

Names:Trim Router, Trimmer, Palm Router
What is it?It’s a one handed router
Sized Bits¼ inch (6.35mm) 
TypesCorded and Cordless (using manufacturers battery)
JobsFlush cutting, small profiles, engraving, grooves and housings
NoiseLoud
Quality of finishExcellent
Price$100-$200 approx

Here is a list of the best Trim Routers and my rationale. See further down for FAQ about Trim Routers:

Makita XTR01Z Cordless Compact Router

Best Value for a Cordless Option

My cordless pick for best trim router
Makita XTR01Z Cordless Compact Router
Cord or BatteryBattery (Makita 18v)
Speed Range10,000 to 30,000 RPM
Motor1-1/4 HP (.93kw)
Made inChina
Weight (with 5ah battery)2.09kg (4.6 lbs)

The freedom of cordless! 

Usually cordless tools have a lack of power, but on paper at least this router holds up with its corded twin.

1 ¼HP, the same speeds and around the same weight as corded with a 5ah battery. It also includes LED lights to light up the workspace and cast aluminium housed base which will outlast a plastic one.

The Makitas have definitely evolved since I bought my Trim Routers 2 or 3 years ago.

Going cordless is a personal choice, although you can’t beat the convenience. And I recommend cordless unless you are price sensitive. It’s hard to appreciate not having to always set up a lead and keep it out of your way until you don’t have to do it anymore!

We have corded Makita Trim Routers (Trimmers) in the school workshop at the moment, but my next ones will be cordless!

Get the kit (comes with 2 batteries, charger and other bits and pieces) unless you’re buying your second. Available at Amazon and good hardware stores. Info at Makitatools.com

Makita RT0701C 1-1/4 HP Compact Router

Best Corded Option

corded best trim router
Makita RT0701C 1-1/4 HP Compact Router
Cord or BatteryCorded
Speed Range10,000 to 30,000 RPM
Motor1-1/4 HP (.93kw)
Made inChina
Weight1.76kg (3.9 lbs)

When I was working as a cabinetmaker we had 4 or 5 Makita Trimmers setup with different cutters to save time. They would give up occasionally when the switches went. Now in the school workshop I have two and they haven’t missed a beat in a couple of years.

The depth setting is rack and pinion which is precise but fiddly. However, if you want to use it as a plunge router you can, just get the 1 or 3 base version

These new ones have a couple of extra features that mine doesnt. The cam-lock setup, electronic speed control, cast aluminium basel and the soft speed start up (which would be nice to have in our school workshop :).

Depending on what you use it for it is offered with 1 base, 3 bases or just the tool. You can see the info on those options here. Beware of imitations!

Ridgid R2401 Laminate Trim Router

Best Budget Trim Router

Best budget trim router
Ridgid R2401 Laminate Trim Router
Cord or BatteryCorded
Speed Range20,000 to 30,000 RPM
Motor1 HP (.75kw)
Made inChina (?)
Weight1.36kg (3 lbs)

Need a job done on a budget? Then the Ridgid R2401 is a great option.

With many of the same features as the big names (variable speed, cast aluminium base, quick release lever and even LED lights) this little underdog punches above its weight.

It is also the lightest weight trim router I could find (which can make a big difference.) Sometimes this can mean lesser quality but reviewers think it holds its own. 

It is important to note that there is no plunge router base option for those looking for one. (I couldn’t find one anyhow.)

Perfect DIY and the home workshop, although it is available at Amazon, it is a better deal though Home Depot

Bosch Colt 1.25 HP Variable-Speed Palm Router

Best Customer Service

best customer service for a trim router
Bosch Colt 1.25 HP Variable-Speed Palm Router
Cord or BatteryCorded
Speed Range16,000 to 35,000 RPM
Motor1-1/4 HP (.93kw)
Made inMexico
Weight2.0 kg (4.4 lbs)

A solid unit with a brand you can depend on, this is the fastest spinning trim router in this list. This means it will clear wood chips away faster and essentially speed up your job (that’s the theory anyway).

This one is heavier than other corded trim routers, and of the reviews I read (I do not have experience with this trim router) a few people in reviews are complaining about the fine depth adjustment.

You can get this with a plunge router base for a reasonable price, although Bosch also say it is not designed to be used with a router table. 

The good news is that you can call Bosch and actually talk to someone at Bosch to sort it out. A feature that isn’t to be looked over lightly. 

Available now from Amazon by itself or in a kit

DEWALT DWP611 Trim Router

Tried and tested

DEWALT DWP611 Trim Router
Cord or BatteryCorded
Speed Range16,000 to 27,000 RPM
Motor1-1/4 HP (.93kw)
Made inMexico
Weight1.86kg (4.1 lbs)

The DeWalt DWP611 is a strong little unit that some are using on their CNC machines, so you know they can do the hours.

LED lights, variable speed control and a 1 ½” (37mm) plunge stroke, and soft starting motor make it versatile for use in any shop, professional or amatuer.

Plunge router base is available as an accessory or in a kit with the unit itself

DeWalt is a respected brand in trade and DIY, and this is a capable little router that will fit right into your shop tools and get the job done.

In case there is an issue, get it from Amazon. More info at DeWalt.com. Watch out for imitations!

M18 FUEL™ Compact Router

Professionals Choice

professionals choice for a trim router
M18 FUEL™ Compact Router
Cord or BatteryBattery (Milwaukee 18v REDLITHIUM™)
Speed Range10,000 to 31,000 RPM
Motor1-1/4 HP (.93kw)
Made inChina
Weight1.31kg (2.9 lbs) – No battery

Made for trade and professionals, this 1 ¼ horsepower trim router will give you a great quality job. 

Reviewers say that it feels good and works well. The LED’s are bright and come in handy when working on site. For the DIYers out there, it does say on the Milwaukee website that it does have  a compatible plunge base, although I couldn’t find it.

It does however, include a straight edge and dust extraction attachment.

With the battery this unit can be a bit pricey, however if you can make it pay then a great, reliable option. 

Available to buy from Amazon here, or more information on Milwaukee’s website

Festool MFK 700 Trim Router 

The Rolls Royce of Trim Routers

Best Trim Router by Festool
Festool MFK 700 Trim Router
Cord or BatteryCorded
Speed Range10,000 to 26,000 RPM
Motor<1 HP (<.75kw)
Made inGermany
Weight1.9kg (4.19 lbs)

Festool is German engineering and manufacturing in woodworking tools.

They are more expensive (usually around 5x the price of Makita), but for the extra money you get a beautiful machine that comes with a couple of extra features not found on other trim routers. 

  • A vertical base
  • A horizontal base
  • An extensive collection of dust collection accessories (Festool is the best for dust minimisation in my opinion)
  • An easy to use fine adjustment setup

You can also register your tool for a 3 year warranty

The only downside is this can’t be used as a plunge router for inlays. Because of the design of the base, it is hardhard to see the work… and there is no plunge base accessory. (Festool sell a different router for that.)

Once people go to Festool they don’t usually change brands. It’s just expensive. Find out how expensive here or here

FAQ:

What is a Trim Router used for?

They make an easy job of housing a hinge, flush cutting some laminate, engraving a name or trenching for a join, along with other jobs. The fact you use them one handed makes them preferred for speed and are easier to work with than a standard size router.

Examples of my work

What is the difference between a router and a trim router?

A trim router fits in one hand, and because the motor is smaller is suited for smaller jobs. Trim routers use ¼” (6.35mm) shank bits. A router typically needs two hands, due to the size of the motor being larger. It is suited for larger jobs and ½” (12.7mm) shank bits.

How do you use a trim router?

Simply check it’s in good working condition, select your bit and secure it, then turn it on. Place the base of the trim router on your work then move the bit in. You usually move in an anti-clockwise direction around your work if flush cutting (but not always).

Can you plunge cut with a trim router?

You can buy a plunge base for most trim routers. Trim routers with a standard base aren’t really set up for plunging like a traditional router, although it can be done. When I need to do it, I usually put the trimmer base on an angle and then drop it in slowly. It’s not perfect but it gets the job done.

What is the difference between a corded and cordless Trim Router?

Corded Trim Routers plug into a wall and need to have a lead run to them. Cordless Trim Routers use a manufacturer’s battery just like a cordless drill and enjoy the freedom of no lead, but may feel lacking in power when cutting.

In Summary

I don’t have experience with all the trim routers in this guide but I have been using trim routers for a long time. I’ve always had Makita and I’ve never had an issue with them. If you don’t like Makita and you are in the trade or need to depend on yoru Trim Router then the Milwaukee and DeWalt offerings look good also.

I personally wouldn’t go cheaper than Makita or DeWalt with a trim router, but the Ridgid looks pretty good for an occassionally used DIY router to get you out of a jam.