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You’re a woodworking enthusiast looking to up your game by getting some new tools. We’ve been there before, it’s an exciting time when you’re improving on your skills and are ready to advance!
Of course, as with finding any product, finding a good palm router can often be a struggle.
With so many options on the market right now it can become easy to accumulate quite the collection of useless tools if you aren’t careful with making your selections. That’s why we’re here to help you to find the best palm router.
We’ve also written a handy buyer’s guide to help you to know what it is that you are looking for.
In a hurry? Check out our top pick.
In a hurry? This is our winner!
Best Palm Router – Comparison Table
Best Palm Router – Reviews
Best Palm Router – Buyer’s Guide
What is a Palm Router?
If you’re looking at this guide to buy a palm router for yourself then the chances are that you already know what a palm router is, but on the chance that you’re looking for someone else, let us explain what a palm router is to start with.
You may have heard a palm router otherwise referred to as a trim router or a laminate trimmer. These tools are rather small routers that are made to be used for light duty operations. They usually have quite small motors (normally under 2HP) and they accept ¼” shank router bits.
For professionals, palm routers are usually used to trim plastic laminate and veneer. This can be a lot harder with tools that are heavier and larger.
What to Look For When Buying a Palm Router
So now we’ve covered what products are the best and what a palm router actually is, you also need to know what things you should be looking out for when buying a palm router. There are some basics to consider such as durability, power and dust extraction, but there are a few other intricate details that should also be taken into account.
It can get incredibly uncomfortable to hold a palm router that’s vibrating all while you’re trying to make precise cuts. This is why you should opt for aluminium build tools, as they are generally strong yet light. It’s a lot easier to use a palm router made from aluminium, and it can also make it easier to manage the whole process.
Aluminium actually has more flexibility than a lot of other metals do so because of this the vibration levels are reduced.
Lack of Loading Speeds
Generally manufacturers will mention an ‘rpm’ or a router, and this essentially refers to the ‘no load’ speed. This is the speed at which the router will spin when it isn’t being put into contact with a material, so the number is determined by when the router isn’t routing.
Because of this, having a no load speed means that the device is going to be faster than the speeds you would normally get when the router is being used. Despite this, it’s still worth going off the rpm when you’re comparing tools against each other. This helps you to get at least some indication of the speed of the tool you’re thinking of buying.
Variable Speed Control
Not all projects call for you to use your palm router on the highest speed setting. For example if you’re going to be working on delicate materials or when you need to cut precise patterns or pieces, being able to dial down the speed on the router can give you much more accuracy and control over what you’re doing. In addition, faster speeds can cause damage to more delicate speeds, so it’s important to be able to alter it based on what you’re doing at the time.
When you’re on the hunt for a palm router, you should definitely be looking out for models that have spindle locks. A spindle lock is normally a switch or button that you can press and it stops the spindle from moving so you can loosen the collet nut by only one wrench.
You’re going to need two wrenches to change any bits on the router if you don’t have a spindle lock on your router. As a result of this, it’s worth looking for a router that’s made for professionals as spindle locks can have a habit of malfunctioning on cheaper routers.
It’s useful to have more power in your palm router. For one, having a powerful router means that the drill bit of the router will spin faster at a higher rpm. As a result of this, you can cut through the material more easily, and this also helps to improve the user experience.
With a faster motor you are more likely to have a better finish too. You find that sometimes slower routers will leave rough edges that require a finish that will need to be done manually. You don’t have this issue with a fast spinning palm router, thus saving you a lot of time and effort.
Fine and Rough Depth Adjustment
You will often find rough and fine depth adjustments on palm routers. Usually, you are able to adjust the rough depth by just locking the head into the right position, which will give you a rough depth that’s enough for projects where you don’t need the depth to be extremely precise.
If you need something that is more precise then having rough depth adjustment allows you to set it close. From there you are able to tweak the depth to exactly what you need using the depth adjustment dial or wheel. This means you can accurately and quickly get the proper depth for the cut of your project.
A lot of palm routers actually come with a bunch of useful accessories to help you get the best possible results on your project. You should consider whether the model you are looking for also has accessories.
You can use a lot of palm routers along with extra accessories, so having a decent amount of accessories available to you means that you are able to fine tune your palm router to whatever job you’re currently doing. Some of them come with things such as cutting templates and other add ons, so you can get started right away without needing to buy the accessories separately.
In essence, a router will make its way through the material and make it into sawdust. Because of this you may get a lot of particles that are airborne, which can be a big problem both for your health and also for the overall cleanliness of your working space.
Thankfully many manufacturers have found ways to combat this issue. A lot of newer palm routers have built in dust extractors, or have an adaptor that you are able to use along with your vacuum cleaner or dust extractor. It’s possible to buy adaptors separately to use with palm routers though so you are able to connect them up to whatever dust extraction method you choose to use.
Frequently Asked Questions
What do you need to use a palm router for?
There are a number of different things you can use palm routers for. For example you can use a palm router to duplicate various parts. This is especially useful if you are creating something that requires a number of identical pieces. Once you’ve finished one piece it can be used as a template for the rest of the pieces. This allows you to duplicate pieces without any extra effort.
You can also use your palm router to cut holes into materials so that you are able to mount hinges. It can take up a lot of time to manually use a chisel and it can often be tricky to make the finish accurate. This is where a palm router can come in handy to make the process much more simple so you can get precise outcomes in a short span of time.
You can also use palm routers for a bunch of other things. You can use them to trim veneer edges, you can use them to create little accents like lips or edges on tabletops or shelves. You can also use them for making joins that are small in cabinet making projects, and you can use them to cut holes into materials so that the material is ready to be screwed together.
How do you use a palm router?
As with doing any woodwork, before you use your palm router you should always ensure that you have some eye protection so you don’t end up suffering any damage to your eyes. From there, you should insert and secure the proper accessories onto the tool using an Allen key or a small wrench.
Then, adjust the depth using the depth adjustment screw or lever. Make sure you know in advance what depth you require.
Before using the palm router on your project, it’s worth testing it out on some scrap wood that’s well secured, just while you get used to the way that the tool works.
All you need to do there is just let the tool do its own thing. You don’t need any excessive force, this may actually hinder your progress and damage the project.