What kind of router should I buy? I’m a middle-aged woman, out on my own again, and I’d like to build the kind of basic furniture I need to set myself up in a mostly empty house.
A router is like a big, hand-held electric motor that allows you to shape wood and create grooves for various wood joints. Routers are very useful, and different brands are more similar in quality than many other power tools. There’s not nearly as much variation in router quality as, say, drill quality. What you really need to decide on is router design. There are fixed base models, which allow you to adjust the height of the router bit, but only when the router is stopped. There are also plunge routers, which allow bit height changes on the fly while the tool is operating. A fixed base model will probably do just fine for you. They’re less expensive, lighter in weight and simpler to use than plunge routers. Any of the major brands will work well, so shop around in your area for a good price. Anything in the 2 1/4 horsepower range will offer a good combination of power and light weight. A model like this will do a wide range of jobs, like creating decorative edges, making grooves for shelf and bookcase parts, and creating many kinds of trim and moulding when used in a router table. If you decide you want a smaller or larger router, you can always add a second model later.