Woodworker's Journal Editor Rob Johnstone Selects Two Must Have Shop Routers for a Workshop

Woodworker's Journal Editor-in-Chief Rob Johnstone's Router Picks Woodworker's Journal Editor-in-Chief Rob Johnstone prefers his Craftsman router combo kit and Festool trim router to the others in his workshop. At first blush, confronted by the variety of routers from which to choose my dynamic duo, I felt a bit daunted. Even just the eight in my shop represent a significant continuum of costs, styles and features! But the crux of solving the challenge revolved around the various woodworking tasks I use my routers for in my day-to-day shop routine. When I put my noodle to that question, the list of tasks quickly got pretty long. Looking back, I do a significant amount of pattern or template routing. Using a router paired with a template to machine perfectly matching components is an invaluable process in making furniture. I had to keep that in my bag of tricks, for sure. And, while I generally prefer to plow dadoes and rabbets on my table saw, there are times when a router is the more practical choice. My router table (in truth, I have three … hey, I am a woodworking magazine editor) is in use all the time. I use the table for machining as varied as rounding over an edge, to cope-and rail-cutting and raising hardwood door panels. [caption id="attachment_4023" align="aligncenter" width="400"]Rob Johnstone using a Craftsman Combo Router Kit The Craftsman router combo kit provides great all-purpose routing in any wood shop. So I certainly need a router with enough power to do some occasional “heavy lifting.” But as a 55-year-old guy, I am beginning to realize that my upper body strength is not what it was when I was 25. So for my workhorse router, in the last year or so, I have found myself reaching for a mid-sized machine. In fact, I have used a Craftsman combo kit that combines a mid-size router motor with a plunge base and a fixed-base. While not very expensive, it has done yeoman duty and provided excellent service. So my first selection, based on my day-to-day use, was relatively easy to choose. What about my second and final choice? Once again, I simply looked back at my history of work, and the choice was easy. I use the Festool trim router for tasks like cutting out hinge mortises, routing decorative reveals, inlay work — tasks that require more nimbleness than power. It runs like a champ and, paired with the Festool dust extraction system, it is a pleasure to use. To be fair, if I had spent more time using the new category of palm and compact routers, like the Bosch Colt and the offerings from DeWALT and PORTER-CABLE, they may have been tops on my list. But the Festool has proved so good to use, that I have not given the others a fair shake. So for good or ill, those are my choices. But as you know, if you put a dozen woodworkers in a room and ask a woodworking question, you can easily end up with 12 different answers.