What Horsepower Router Do I Need For My Shop?

router for shopThere seems to be some misconception out there about how to compare and measure woodworking routers to get the best understanding of what you need for your shop. You want the finest tools around, and that’s a good thing. Better tools mean you can do more with your skill to bring out the best in whatever wood carving or wood shaping project you have lined up.

The issue comes with being able to succinctly and quickly answer the all too common question of “What horsepower router do I need for my shop?”

The problem is the question isn’t quite so simple. For instance:

Do You Need Peak Horsepower Or Sustained Horsepower?

There are two major ways for measuring the horsepower on a router. One is by looking at the peak horsepower. This is the most power the router can put out for a very short amount of time and can be an indication of where the ceiling is for any particular project.

This tends to be the number most often used because it’s always going to be higher than the sustainable horsepower number and that just makes it look stronger, which in some buyers’ minds equates to better.

Sustainable horsepower is just that. It’s the horsepower you can expect to work with on a long and consistent basis without a lot of variation. This is an especially critical piece of information to know for large projects that require long term precision.

There’s Also The Matter of Drill Bit Sizes

Router with collets that are 1/2 inch in length over 1/4 collets can be more versatile to use, especially if you have some adapter pieces. However with using the bigger drill bits there also comes a cost: you need a router that can actually steadily work at slower speeds and slower levels, not faster ones.

This means a high horsepower router with a high number for a steady rate won’t be a good fit and you will in fact want something that’s not so highly wound up.

Looking At Various Wood Routers

Many routers go from one and a half to three and a half horsepower in measurement, but it’s important to make sure when comparing them you’re comparing the same types of horsepower. Unless you’re getting fancy or working with particularly hard cuts and hard slabs of wood, for most basic workers a model on the low end of the horsepower spectrum will still get the job done.

Knowing the type of work you’re doing and the accessories and bits you need to use are actually more important to picking out the right router. Generally speaking if you work with large tips you may want to go lower on the horsepower but if you only work with the smaller tips then you can use more horsepower and maintain your level of work.

With a little bit of knowledge you can go into any hardware store confidently and with an eye on the best deal because you will already have answered the question of “What horsepower router do I need for my shop?”

Updated: February 16, 2017 — 11:56 pm
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