Lumber you buy from a lumberyard or mill always comes rough and not properly milled. You can spend some extra cash to get milled lumber, but that doesn’t solve the problem at all. Still, you may have to do some work to use them for your upcoming project.
For small wood pieces, you can mill them easily with your planer and jointer. But when you are working with a live edge slab or a bigger wood piece, the piece or slab will not even fit in your planer. This is where a wood router attached with a surfacing bit enters the scene.
The most effective way of leveling out an uneven piece of the slab is using a wood router. When you have the best router for flattening slabs, things will get a lot easier. To help you flatten slabs like a pro, I have arranged a complete guide in conjunction with the review of the best routers.
List of 6 Best Routers for Flattening Slabs
Live edge slabs come rough and need to flatten before use. Only a router will help you flatten a slab on your own. I have reviewed some best routers for flattening slabs with reasons why they are picked. Check the list below to get one step closer to flattening a slab.
|BOSCH Combination Router||2.3 HP motor of 15-amp, 25,000 rpm, lock-on button||Check Price|
|Makita 3-1/4 HP Plunge Router||3.25 HP motor of 15 amp, 9000 RPM to 22,000 RPM, built-in LED lights||Check Price|
|Triton Dual Mode Precision Plunge Router||2400-watt motor, 21,000 rpm, extended base plate||Check Price|
|DEWALT Router, Fixed/Plunge Base Ki||2.25 HP12-amp variable speed motor,8000 rpm to 24,000 rpm||Check Price|
|Bosch Electronic Fixed-Base Router||2.25 HP motor, 25,000 rpm, half-inch collet,||Check Price|
|SKIL 14 Amp Plunge and Fixed-Base Router||2.5 HP motor, lightweight, LED lights,||Check Price|
1. BOSCH Combination Router
If you need a solid and dependable router for your shop, then this router should be your top choice. You can flatten any wood, whether the wood is hardwood or softwood. With lots of handy features, this wood router will make your woodworking a lot easier. Not only flattening a surface, but the router can also handle any job you come up against.
The combination router comes with two 2.3 HP motors, a fixed base, and a plunge base. For setting up the router, you will get two collets of half an inch and a quarter inch, two collet wrenches, and a hex wrench. You will also get a carrying case to keep all the necessary tools in one place.
As the router comes with both half-inch and quarter-inch collet, this allows you to use half an inch and quarter-inch shank bit. Both collets are self-extracting. This means when you break the collet nut loose using wrenches and turn it by hand for a little bit, the nut tightens up again. By using the wrenches again to turn the nut until it passes the hard spot, you can pull the bit right out.
The motor has a long sliding electrical contact that matches with the counterpart found in both bases. These contacts let the motor fit in the base in only one way and also secures the motor from moving or rotating in the base.
The router provides an easy operation with a trigger on/off controlling switch in the handle. The trigger comes in the handle of both of the base styles. There is also a lock-on button for locking the switch to on state. Using this easy router controlling system, you can be safer and more accurate with the router.
The 15-amp motor can turn up to 25,000 rpm. You can control this speed using the dial situated in the front part of the motor housing. The cord has a swivel-type mount that makes operating the router smoother.
- A case is provided for storing the router with its accessories
- Switching the motor from one base to another is easy
- Well designed speed dial for controlling the RPMs
- The handles give good stability and control
- On/Off switch trigger control in the handles is great for accurate routing
- The plunge mechanism can be sticky
2. Makita 3-1/4 HP Plunge Router
When it comes to the easy and comfortable operation of the router, this plunge router wins the crown. This is the perfect router for any DIYers and beginner woodworkers. Many professionals also choose this as the router has some amazing features. With consistent performance, you can accomplish a wide range of applications with this router.
The router has a powerful 3.25 HP motor of 15 amp that will help you to work on any hardwood type. The motor has a variable speed feature that helps you to operate the power from 9000 RPM to 22,000 RPM.
By adjusting the speed for your required application will make the router ready to use. You can run the motor to its maximum power without overheating, and that attracts most woodworkers. The electronic speed control makes it easy to maintain a constant speed under load.
As the router is featured with a linear ball bearing, you will feel an improved smoothness in the plunging action. With the oversized ball-bearing construction and a built-in fan, you will never get interrupted while operating the router.
The rubber-made ergonomic handles will provide you comfort with precise control. You will find a switch to control the two built-in LED lights. The lights will illuminate the working surface for a better observation of your progress with the work.
This router comes with ¼ inch collet sleeve insert, ½ inch collet cone, and extended depth adjustment wrench and knob.
The plunge depth can reach from 0-inch to 2.75-inch depth that by adjusting, you can get easy penetration in any wood surface. The router weighs about 6 kg making it comparatively lighter than the other routers.
- The plunging action is very smooth
- Ergonomically shaped handles for better comfort
- Weighted about 6-kg
- It doesn’t overheat at maximum power
- The electronic turn-off brake works well
- The router does not come with any case
3. Triton Dual Mode Precision Plunge Router
This router is the most versatile router you can get. This router is called dual mode because you can use it as a hand plunge router, or it can be table mounted. Within this price range, no other routers have this facility. The router is also loaded with a bunch of handy features.
This router is supplied with an extended base plate, adjustable fence, table height winder, quarter inch and half inch collets, and wrench. The router also includes a user manual that will help to operate the router.
The router has a 2400-watt motor with a maximum speed that can reach up to 21,000 rpm. A five-stage speed control switch will help to control the speed. You can go as low as 8000 rpm using the switch.
The weight of the router is 7.7 kilos considering one of the heaviest routers. This weight will make the router stable on your workbench. For better safety, the router has a clear plastic guide. This will prevent contact with the cutter, and wood chips will not hit you.
The most impressive feature of the router is, it has three different ways to adjust the height of the router. Each way has different accuracy of adjustments. The fastest and easiest way is the free plunge method but with the least accuracy. Here you can adjust the height by engaging the plunge handle switch and disengaging the plunge stop. For better accuracy, you can adjust the height by the winding handle. Using the micro winder is the most accurate method of adjusting the router height.
The power switch is covered by a spring door that prevents you from accidentally turning on the router. You need to retract that door for powering on the router.
- Works great for fixed and table application
- Three different ways to adjust the height of the router
- The power switch has a safety mechanism
- Features one-handed bit changing operation.
- Smooth starting
- The power switch is not positioned well
4. DEWALT Router, Fixed/Plunge Base Kit
When you are looking for the best wood router for handheld jobs, this router will pick your attention. The router keeps a consistent performance in any hardwood-related applications. The router gives its best when it comes to doing your job quickly but in a cleaned way.
With the motor, the router kit includes a fixed base, plunged base, ¼ inch and ½ inch collets, wrench, large hole sub-base, and an adapter for vacuum. The point that is worthy enough to mention is you will get a cloth carrying bag. This will keep all the router accessories together when necessary.
The plunge base has an easy-to-set depth stop and a micro-adjustment. The plunge locking mechanism is positioned in a way so that you get it with your thumb while holding the handle. Using the micro-adjustment will help to adjust the height precisely with a 1/64-inch increment. The latch in both bases is crafted with metal and firmly holds the motor.
You will find a vertical dust collection pipe in the plunge base. By attaching the adapter, you can hook a shop vacuum with the dust collection. But this dust collection is not available in the fixed base.
The power cord is detachable. So, when you aren’t using the router or setting up the router, detaching the cord will give you an upper hand. Switching the base is very easy and straightforward.
The 12-amp variable speed motor with 2.25 HP is powerful enough to bear a heavy load. The speed is adjustable from the lowest 8000 rpm to the highest 24,000 rpm. For the motor’s soft start, you will feel no start-up torque regardless of what speed you start the router at.
- Soft start of the motor reduces start-up torque
- The power cord is detachable
- Well-designed dust collection
- The micro-adjustment will help to adjust the height precisely
- Works smoothly on toughest hardwood
- The router gets a little hot after a certain time
5. Bosch Electronic Fixed-Base Router
This router will be your great choice and everyday routing opinion if you are a serious woodworker. The router is built to withstand some toughest applications for a router. The router has been around for quite a few years and is well known for its simple design with attractive performance.
The router has a 2.25 HP motor that you can use to accomplish a variety of works. It also fits with most router lifts where with some 3.25 HP router needs certain higher-end router lifts. So, you will not have any trouble if you want to attach the router with your routing table.
The locking lever and bit height adjuster make attaching and detaching the router easier. This routing unit comes with a quarter-inch collet and a half-inch collet. The half-inch collet is what helps you use the larger bits with the router.
For putting on and off the router bits, it comes with two wrenches. The micro adjuster for adjusting the bit is accessible from the router’s base using a T-handle wrench. That gives you a mentionable advantage when the router is attached to your routing table.
The variable-speed motor has a speed range from 8000 rpm the 25,000 rpm. So, you can match the speed with the type of wood you want the router to work on. The soft start of the motor doesn’t make the router jump or vibrate when you start it.
- Height adjustment lock is very effective
- The micro adjuster is accessible when table mounted
- It fits with most router lifts
- The router is very quiet
- Changing the bits is easy
- The rounded handles have a smooth feel and provide great control
- The base plate is not see-through
6. SKIL 14 Amp Plunge and Fixed-Base Router
This router is my top pick as an entry-level router. Available at a reasonable price, this featured pack modern router will be a great addition to your shop. With great performance, the attractive design is an additional charisma for this router. Despite being an entry-level router, it can also be tagged as a professional router.
With a powerful 2.5 HP motor, the router is pretty lightweight to handle. The ergonomic handles will provide better control in routing. Both fixed base and plunge base comes with the router kit.
The plunge action is very smooth. The lever for locking the plunge height is easily accessible due to its position closer to one handle. Three LED lights are attached at the bottom of the motor. These lights will give clear visibility of your working area. This allows you to be more precise with the work even if you have a dim environment.
A clear safety shield is attached with the base that you can remove if you want. The shield will help in a closer inspection without any interruption from wood dust.
There is a dust collection that you will find in both plunge and fixed base. You can also attach a vacuum hose with the dust collection. This will provide a better collection of dust for a clean working surface.
The feature that makes the router unique is its speed control LCD. The display will help you select the speed. You can also use the display as a user guide for recommended speed for certain size bits and materials.
- Easy to use LCD for controlling speed
- Three LED lights at the bottom for clear visibility
- Have vacuum attachments for both bases
- It comes with an edge guide
- Very lightweight
- Not good for professional usage
Things to Consider When Buying a Flattening Slab Router
When it comes to getting a router for flattening slabs, it’s important to know what you’re looking for! From brand-name models to the ever-important ‘max depth capability’ and more, it can seem overwhelming. Fortunately, the research process doesn’t have to be too complicated – just follow these tips.
When choosing your tool, motor power should be top of mind. Like any job around the house, the more muscle you have behind your router, the better result you’ll get. Look for maximum wattage to ensure you don’t have to struggle against recalcitrant material when achieving total flatness – otherwise, it might not just be difficult but downright impossible.
Size and Weight
When shopping for a new flattening slab router, size and weight should be at the forefront of your mind. Not only can a heavier one be tiring to operate, but its size might also impede your workflow if it doesn’t fit within the area you have allocated for it in your workshop.
Even if you’re a seasoned carpenter, having an adjustable speed is important so your projects are consistently well-crafted with each effort. Speed control also provides invaluable flexibility for tougher materials that require more finesse than raw power. If you’re considering buying a flattening slab router, make sure it has good speed control.
If comfort is at the top of your priority list, find a handle that has a rubber grip and ergonomic design to ensure you have a stable grip on the tool during use. Alternatively, if speed is your goal, look for handles with larger knobs or levers that allow for easy manipulation even with gloved hands. Remember, a good handle can make all the difference in your project – so consider carefully before making your purchase!
How to Use a Router for Flattening Slabs
When your projects are bigger then, the wood pieces your need will also be bigger. For building a coffee table or a dining table with a live edge slab, that slab will be quite a big piece of wood than normal pieces. With that size, it requires patience and accuracy to flatten that rough slab. There are also some required steps to give a nice finishing to your slab.
Follow the instructions below to guide you through the proper way of flattening a slab:
Make a Sled If You Don’t Own Any
To run a wood router with a surface planer bit, you will need to either build a router flattening sled or jig or buy one. The sled is where a router sits with the bit facing down. The bit will take off wood shavings when you are passing the router over the slab surface. You have to make several passes back and forth to get a plane surface or taking down the surface to desired thickness.
There are various ways you can make a sled or jig. But most sled has some common properties. Usually, a sled contains a slot, a track for the router, two rails for the sled to ride, and a fence or lip attached with the sled.
The slot is used for the surface planer bit, where the bit passes through the slot and takes off wood shavings. The slot is made lengthwise and middle of the sled base. Before making a slot, measure the diameter of the bit you are using. The slot should be a little wider than the bit. This will help the wood chips and dust to come out easily.
Two rails are attached with the base to make a track for the router. The track is made in a way so that the slot stays in the middle of the track. The router will use this track for sitting and moving freely along the slot. The width of the track should be slightly bigger than the router base.
Another two rails are used to keep the sled above your workpiece. As the sled will ride on the rails, you have to attach a fence or feet on both ends of the sled. The fence will give support and not let the sled go off-track.
For making a sled, you can use recycled wood or plywood. But whatever you use, remember that the jig should be firm and doesn’t bend in the middle.
Building Your Own Router Sled:
You can avoid all the hassles of building a sled by buying one. But when you are going to buy a sled, you will not have many options to choose from. Woodpeckers is the best manufacturer of slab flattening mills or sleds.
If you can afford it, then getting the woodpeckers sled is highly recommended. The reason for the recommendation is, the sled has amazing build quality with convenient features. This will help you accurately flatten a slab in a quick and a lot less painful way.
Fasten The Slab and Start Leveling
The workpiece needs to be steady and still when you are planning the surface. Fastening the workpiece is the way. There are various ways you can fasten a slab, and it depends on the place you have placed the slab. The most common way is using clamps. You can also use hot glue to attach the slab to your workbench.
After you are done fastening the slab, you can start leveling. Advance the router against the wood, not along with the wood. This will provide better leveling and control over the router.
Know More: A Router Sled vs Planer Showdown: Which is Better?
Tips For Errorless Slab Flattening with a Router
For big wood pieces or slabs, you should level them carefully. Even small mistakes can ruin your leveling work. There are some places errors can occur when you are flattening a slab. To avoid messing up the leveling process, a couple of things you have to consider. Let’s have a look at some tips for proper slab flattening.
Accurate Sled Design
Every router sled has two indexing surfaces. One is the outside edge that helps the router sled to move along the rails. The other is the base of the router sled. Both the outside edge and the base should be smooth and flat. Slight bump or variations in the base will translate to your workpiece through the router. Referencing area at the end of the sled should also be flat; otherwise, the leveling will get interrupted.
The edges of the rails where the router sled will ride on should be squared and flat. Both rails should have the same height with no twists and crooks. The rails should be in the same plane; else, the leveling will not be accurate.
You should attach a lip or feet in both edges of the sled that will hook on the rails. You have to measure the height of the lips so that both lips will have the same height. Before attaching them, make sure they are flat.
Don’t Cut Too Deep
Proper slab flattening doesn’t mean how quick you can do it rather how accurate you are. You may want to quick with the leveling of the slab and start taking off too much at a time. But in the process, you may damage the surface of the slab or even the router bit. So, be slow and steady and take your time in leveling a slab.
How much you should take off in each pass depends on the wood type and your router power. You may have to take off less, but that will provide a good surface finish. Then again, you can take off a good amount of wood shaving if your router power is high and the bit has a large diameter.
Cut In the Right Direction
Cutting in the wrong direction can cause wood grain tear-out. You can also face other consequences by doing this. The router bit rotates in the clockwise direction. So, when you are flattening the wood surface with a router, the bit should be cutting against the wood, not along the wood.
You can determine whether you are in the wrong direction or right. If your router isn’t steady or tends to jump is the easiest way to know you are cutting in the wrong direction. Switch to the other direction will solve this problem. You will get better control over the router and smooth cut by cutting in the right direction.
If you are cutting lengthwise, always move your router from left to right. For widthwise, push the router away from you and bring it back in the same direction. Following this procedure will give you a consistent finish and make your cuts look like they are all in the same direction.
Level the Slab
The slab you want to plane should be stable when the bottom surface is not flat. Without being flat, the slab will wobble. And a wobbly slab will make leveling the surface a lot difficult. So, stabilizing a slab is a must before you start leveling the surface.
You can use shims to prevent the slab from moving when you are passing the router over it. But whatever you use, make sure that the slab is leveled correctly.
Get a Large Diameter Bit
Always search for bits that have a larger diameter when you are milling a slab or large wood pieces. A bit with a large diameter will make milling easy. You can level much faster with a bigger bit. This will save time and effort for flattening a slab.
Frequently Asked Questions Answered
1. What HP of the router will flatten slabs?
For flattening slabs, a router will need at least 2 HP. Depending on the wood type, you can also get a 3 HP router for quick flattening.
2. What bit to use for flattening slabs?
The router should be equipped with a surfacing router bit when you are planning to flatten a slab with your router. When it comes to the size, 2 and ½ inch bit with half-inch shank is good for leveling a surface.
3. What can a wood router do?
You can cut grooves, inlays, and patterns. A router can also cut dadoes and rabbets. You can attach a router to your router table for more versatile work.
4. Is a router sled necessary for a router?
When using your router to level a large slab, the router should be stable and precise atop the workpiece. A router sled is just the right thing to help you with that. You can buy a router sled or build one on your own.
5. Can I use my router as a planer?
Yes, you can use a router as a planer – but there’s a reason why routers and planers are so different. Routers excel at creating intricate grooves, but they can be tricky to handle when it comes to larger material, whereas power planers provide an efficient and user-friendly way to shave off large, consistent amounts of material.
Unless you’re looking for decorative patterns, it would be much easier to invest in a planer for your projects.
6. How do I create a router jig?
You’ll need to measure and cut out the piece of wood to create the shape and size you desired. A jigsaw or band saw will work best for this. It’s important that your lines are as precise as possible, so take your time when measuring and cutting each piece. Once the frame is cut out, you can start adding additional pieces on the outside of your frame to provide support for the router you intend on using.
A wood router is one of the most versatile woodworking tools you can own. They should last for years, fulfilling various purposes. When you are flattening a large wood piece, your router will provide the easiest way to do so. For this reason, I reviewed some worthy routers so that you can decide which is the best router for flattening slabs.
Contact me and let me know your opinions or thoughts. Bye for now and best wishes on your next woodworking journey!