When one looks at a modern Palm Router Trimmer and compares it in the mind’s eye with conventional large and bulky woodworking machinery, one is reminded of that old catchphrase, “You’ve come a long way, baby!” Yes, woodworking machine tools have indeed come a long way. Though you would not use a Palm Router Trimmer to make sideboards and dressing-tables, you could well use it to edge, groove, or round them.
However, where small cabinets or small shelves are concerned, you could cut all the panels and make all the dadoes, tenons, and mortises with one of these svelte babies!
For the uninitiated, that rounded edge on your side-table, the bevelled border on your cabinet, the recessed handles of its drawers, and the mortising in your little bookshelf can all be made using a Palm Router Trimmer – and perhaps were!
Last update on 2020-12-05 / Affiliate links / Images / Pricing from Amazon Product Advertising API
Also called “Palm Router Hand Trimmer,” these ultra-useful marvels of machinery are available in different shapes, sizes, and stylings, and with slightly different features and ‘best functions.’ As their popularity soars even among carpentry veterans, an increasing number of established (and not-so-established) machine tool manufacturers are coming out with their own take on these ‘happening’ little must-haves. Underneath we evaluate five Palm Router Trimmers from reputable makers.
This Makita ticks all the boxes from A for Aluminium Housing, B for Balance, and C for Clever design to W for (light) Weight, making it our ‘Best Pick.’
Featherweight at 1.8 kilogrammes and super-compact with dimensions of 19 x 15 x 24 centimetres, Makita’s RT0700CX4 is both the most compact and the lightest unit in this set of reviews. It has a power output of 710 Watts and a no-load speed of 10,000 to 30,000 RPMs with soft start capability.
Its design and light weight allow this unit to be handled with one hand. Notwithstanding its weight, the housing and base are made of aluminium.
The kit comes with a trimmer base. The base is interchangeable and plunge, tilt and offset bases are available for separate purchase, introducing flexibility and versatility. Plunge capacity with trimmer base is from 0 to 40 millimetres and with plunge base from 0 to 35 millimetres. The bases are cleverly designed with enlarged openings to improve the view of the bit.
A dial on the housing controls the variable speed apart from which a constant, load-independent, speed can be set.
This router trimmer is very powerful for its size and is so well balanced that you do not have to exert yourself to maintain balance. Vibration is minimal. Because of its light weight, good balance, and near lack of vibration it is an excellent choice for freehand work.
It feels very good in hand under operation and is consistent and accurate so that you can repeat at multiple depths with confidence.
Makita is a little stingy where included accessories are concerned and among these, the straight guide is not up to snuff. Be grateful for the (one) collet for there is not even a single bit!
The unit accepts collets of 6 and 8 millimetres. The build quality and finishing of this machine tool are simply excellent. Makita provides a 3-year warranty.
- Simply excellent build quality and finishing as befits a premium product.
- The router trimmer itself is remarkably accurate and consistent.
- The entire package – power, weight, design, lack of vibration – makes this kit a joy to use.
- The included accessories are not exactly generous.
- Comes with only one collet, and the straight guide isn’t the best.
- The price may well make you go “Ouch!”
Overcoming a couple of minor ‘cons’ are some major ‘pros’ – chief among them smooth, even, and easy operation – which nick the ‘Value Pick’ gong for this VonHaus.
VonHaus’s Palm Router Trimmer puts out 580 Watts and has a 3/4 horsepower motor. It weighs 4.92 kilogrammes and has dimensions of 33 x 25.2 x 23.1 centimetres. It has a no-load speed of 10,000 to 32,000 RPMs. The variable speed is controlled by a dial on the top of the housing. There is no soft start but this kit is even and smooth in operation.
The unit comes with a plunge base and a trimmer base. Despite its weight, it is quite easy to use. Freehand work can be done with the trimmer base. It can cut up to 3 millimetres at a time.
The design is not ergonomic and the rig can be somewhat unwieldy but it provides a very good view of the bit and the workpiece.
The motor housing does not fit smoothly or easily in the plunge base opening, otherwise, the build quality is excellent except for the dust collection port and guard which are flimsy.
It accepts collets of 1/4 and 3/8 inch. No bits are included but you can hardly expect any at such a rock-bottom price. In fact, a handy-dandy toolbag is included.
VonHaus’s kit is really a super value for money; unusually this has little to do with accessories or ‘extras’ but mostly has to do with the sheer quality and ease of use. Our value pick is a dead heat between this kit and the Tacklife reviewed underneath.
- Even and smooth in operation, and excellent in build quality.
- An extra base and good-quality tool-bag at such a price are noteworthy bonuses.
- So much router-and-trimmer for so little pounds-and-pennies screams ‘Value!’
- Design not exactly ergonomic and usage can be somewhat unwieldy.
- The dust collection setup could use some improvement.
- The absence of a soft-start motor is a ‘miss.’
Projecting power and heft, this Bosch rig is as heavy-duty as a palm router trimmer can get; moreover, it boasts superb design, numerous accessories, and looow price.
The ‘heavyweight’ on our reviews is this Bosch, weighing in at a beefy 5.37 kilogrammes and spanning 36.8 x 29 x 15.8 centimetres. It is also very powerful at 1,200 watts with a speed of up to 28,000 RPMs. Variable speed is controlled with a dial but speed can be pre-selected electronically to keep it constant under varying load.
Even when this router trimmer is plunged, depth settings can be adjusted via the depth stop. What is more, the depth stop can be pre-programmed in advance with up to three cutting depths.
An integrated spindle locking mechanism permits bits to be changed quickly but not easily because the placement of the spindle tends to impede the changes. Bosch’s SDS bayonet mount system allows guides to be changed quickly and conveniently without any tools.
An extraction opening can be attached via an adaptor through a hose to a vacuum cleaner.
While the turret is metal, the rubber and plastic support and platform introduces a touch of play or wobble.
A few parts are dodgy or flimsy. The button to lock the spindle (for bit changes) is prone to wear under repeated use; as a result, eventually the spindle is not held firmly in place. The wing-nut bolt and the clamp bolt are not hardened enough and stresses cause them to break.
While the spring’s compression is not the smoothest and is prone to jerks, this router trimmer has a firm, solid in-hand feel during operation, and vibrations are very low.
The hopeless instruction guide leaves a lot to be desired. This kit comes with a very generous array of accessories: a straight bit, a centreing pin, a template guide, a parallel guide, and 3 collets of 1/4, 1/6, and 1/8 inch.
This baby is super value for money and is the top-selling palm router trimmer in the U.K. But for the questionable quality in certain areas, this kit could have been our Value Pick.
- A very powerful rig that feels solid in hand and is firm and steady during operation.
- Superb design is bespoken by pre-programmable depth stops, SDS bayonet mounting, etc.
- The U.K.’s best-selling palm router trimmer is excellent value for money.
- Some connectors and the platform are flimsy and not up to the mark
- The spindle-locking mechanism to effect bit changes trips itself up.
- The instruction guide is a no-hoper; Bosch can do much better!
With design and features as admirable as operability and build quality, this kit is so excellent yet so affordable that Tacklife should fast become a respected, well-known name.
Tacklife’s Router Trimmer tips the scales at 4.66 kilogrammes and spans 33.8 x 24.4 x 19.4 centimetres. The 600-Watt motor turns the shaft at 10,000 to 30,000 RPMs. The speed is controlled by a six-position dial.
When the plunge base is removed the motor body by itself becomes a very light hand-held router, to which an auxiliary handle can be fixed. The 1-metre shaft is flexible. The combination of these two designs makes this router trimmer ideal for relief carving and any freehand work, and also most useful for working in closed-in spaces.
This ‘new look’ router trimmer offers a slimmer profile and more ergonomic usage, making most of the competition seem awkward or cumbersome in comparison.
Under operation, this router trimmer feels as if it is more powerful than its 600-watt output. It is also sturdy and robust, and manifests very good build quality.
It is equipped with a vacuum dust collection port that can be connected to a vacuum cleaner or to a plain dust bag. Unfortunately, connecting to the port somewhat obscures the view of the bit and workpiece.
Tacklife is as generous with the accessories as they are with the three-metre length of the power cable. The unit comes with 2 router bits, 2 collets, an edge guide, scale depth gauge, alignment pin, and a scaled compass with which you can carve a circle with a diameter of 8 to 40 inches. One collet is 1/4 inch at one end and 6 millimetres at the other, and the second collet is 1/8 inch.
The bargain-basement price at which this kit sells is simply amazing, and the choice for our Value Pick was a toss-up between this kit and the VonHaus router trimmer.
The product comes with a 2-year warranty. Tacklife provides excellent after-sales service.
- Innovative and ergonomic ‘new look’ design brings a few real advantages.
- For a budget product it is unusually robust and of very good build quality.
- A very generous array of ‘extras’ is the icing that makes this kit a terrific value for money.
- Connecting the vacuum dust port degrades the view of the bit and workpiece.
- Does not have a load-independent constant speed setting.
- Alas! no soft start motor.
Selling at a premium price, this is a premium kit; for Makita’s foray into cordless/battery technology has resulted in a game-changer, massively enhancing ease-of-use.
For a router trimmer that is on the larger end of the spectrum with dimensions of 40 x 40 x 60 centimetres, this Makita is very light at only 2.1 kilogrammes.
The brushless motor with soft start is powered by lithium-ion batteries that are not included and must be purchased separately.
A dial on the housing controls the variable speed in addition to which a constant speed control is also available to set the speed which goes up to 30,000 RPMs.
The unit’s plunge capacity with the supplied trimmer base is from 0 to 40 millimetres and with the optional plunge base, available for separate purchase, is from 0 to 35 millimetres.
The housing and base are of aluminium, and the latter has an enlarged opening to enhance the visibility of the bit and workpiece.
The big win in this kit is that there is no cable to get in the way as you operate and move the unit. Though an advantage under any type of use, this is especially helpful when doing any freehand or detail work. It also makes the unit very portable and permits usage in the field.
This router trimmer’s centre of gravity is rather high necessitating concentration in maintaining your grip and keeping the router trimmer stable. On the other hand, it is quite lightweight being one of the lightest router trimmers. It is light, smooth, and easy to operate, and this ‘feel’ is enhanced by the absence of an electric cable. It is somewhat less noisy than most of the competition.
Included in the package are a trimmer guide, straight guide, template guide bush, 1/4-inch collet and 8-millimetre collet; however, there are no bits. Many units ship without the 1/4-inch (6.35 millimetre) collet instead coming with a 6 millimetre one.
This Makita rig costs more than twice the price of three other products reviewed here but that partly reflects the price premium for new, cordless technology.
Makita provides a one-year warranty with a further 2 years if the purchase is registered within 30 days.
- Cable- and cord-free operation of a router trimmer is a real game-changer.
- Features a soft start brushless motor that is relatively quiet.
- Excellent view of the bit and workpiece is one of the best.
- Cordless technology comes at a price . . . eye-watering price!
- Higher centre-of-gravity than most means that you have to focus on grip and stability.
- No bits included and some units ship without the necessary 1/4-inch collet.
What Is A Palm Router Used For?
In layman’s terms, a Palm Router is used for carpentry detail-work, furniture smoothing and finishing especially the edges, and decorative woodworking, and for making protrusions and corresponding recesses for joining furniture components. It is used for machining not only woods but plastics and laminates, and even some metals.
To be specific, herewith a laundry list of Palm Router Trimmer uses and functions: routing, edging, grooving, moulding, chamfering, mortising, milling, rebating (or rabbetting), rounding, trimming, flush-cutting, stencil or freehand relief-work, patterning or copy routing, shaping wood and laminates, . . . whew! As any veteran woodworker will tell you, there are yet a few more functions.
In layman’s language, the functions listed include, among other things, ornamental shaping of edges in different styles, making of interconnections for joining and fitting two pieces, smoothing or rounding of rough or edged surfaces, and creating complex multi-stepped edges.
The list provides only basic functions. Consider that grooving is the first step for doing inlay work, flush-cutting is done to make plugs and patches, and relief carving and signage are accomplished by routing with a stencil or patterned template. Thus, different kinds of carpentry detail-work are accomplished by executing one or more basic functions.
How To Use A Palm Router
“How to Use a Palm Router” is an unintentionally deceptive question because, although a Palm Router is a single tool and its fundamental usage is the same, it is used for various different purposes and functions; therefore, the methods and techniques vary. This versatility is achieved for the most part by way of interchangeable bases, bits, and bit profiles, but also other accessories such as compass, stencils, guide bushings, and more.
Here is a step-by-step guide for beginners. Tyros should attempt a dry run or two on a scrap piece of wood or laminate.
First, you need to know your precise task so you can set up your Palm Router Trimmer for that function. Second, you will need to decide whether to use a fixed base or a plunge base (or some other base), assuming that your unit allows interchangeable bases, though beginners should use a fixed base. Next, you would choose a bit that is appropriate to the task – grooving or one of many different types of edging bits from plain-Jane straight-edge to ornate triple ogee.
You may want to clamp your workpiece to the routing table (unless you clamp the router upside-down to the routing table and handle the workpiece). If you will rout or groove along the centre of the piece, then set up a guide fence; if you will rout the edges you can use an edge fence unless you have chosen a bit with a ball-bearing pilot. Then, using the plunge setting or depth stop, set the depth. Penultimately, beginners should set a constant speed in RPMs, if your unit has this feature. Before you hit ‘go’ comes the most important step of all: put on safety goggles, and, if your kit is on the loud side, ear-protectors. Finally, take a firm grip, turn on the tool, and off you go.
Confusing or hard-to-remember instructions are available as to the direction in which to move the router, depending on whether the workpiece is between you and the router or whether the router is between you and the workpiece, on whether you are routing an external edge or an interior edge (such as an internal dado joint or bevelling the border of a cavity for an inset panel). Simply keep in mind that as a general rule you have to move the router trimmer against the rotations of the bit. Imagine a motor-car facing to the right with its wheels spinning – except that it is moving backwards. That is how your router should be rotating and moving – against the rotations.