Laminate trim routers are amazing little machines. Their light weight and compact size make them exceptionally easy to use. Although they are designed primarily for trimming plastic laminate (p-lam), they also work great for light-duty wood routing.
Trim router motors range from 3.8 to 7.5 amps and run at speeds as high as 30,000 rpm. Add a base and the trim router weighs between 3 and 4-1/2 lbs. All models use only a 1/4-in. collet. You can buy a variety of bases and accessories (see Sources, page 4). Prices range from $80 for just the router with a standard base to $250 for a kit with several accessories.
Understanding what each of these accessories is capable of doing is the secret behind getting the most from your trim router. These accessories make the trim router very precise.
||1. Protect the Plastic Laminate
Apply a lubricant, such as wax, soap or Trim Ease (a commercial product available from p-lam and trim bit distributors), to the plastic laminate's face when you use self-piloting bits. The lubricant protects the p-lam from burning or marring. Self-piloting bits are available in flush-trim or bevel-trim profiles. The flush trim (shown here) is used when you want to leave a flat, square corner. Its single cutting flute makes it fast-cutting. A solid carbide self-piloting trim bit costs $8 to $10, which is about half of what a ball-bearing-guided trimming bit costs.
||2. Ball Bearings Reduce Marring
Ball-bearing-guided bits greatly reduce the risk of marring and can be used without a lubricant. The bearings do wear out, so you should replace them as soon as they show signs that they're not spinning freely. It's also important to keep them clean of built-up glue. Ball-bearing-guided trim bits are available in either a flush-trim or bevel-trim profile. The bevel profile (shown here) is used when you want to ease the edge to make it friendlier to the touch and reduce its chance of chipping when bumped. Ball-bearing-guided trim bits cost $12 to $24 each.
5.7-amp laminate router with straight base, #PR10E, $100
5.7-amp laminate router kit, includes straight, offset and tilt bases, #PR10EINK, $200.
6.6-amp laminate router with straight base, #FT750T, $100
7.5-amp laminate router kit, includes straight, tilt and
two-handled plunge bases, #FT1000EK, $140.
5.6-amp laminate router with straight base, #7310, $115
5.6-amp laminate router kit, includes straight, offset and tilt bases, #97311, $230.
4.5-amp laminate router with straight and two-handled oversize bases, TR45K, $80.
5.6-amp laminate router with straight base, #DW670, $110
5.6-amp laminate router kit, includes additional bases, #DW673K, $180.
3.8-amp laminate router with straight base, #27512, $100.
4.4-amp laminate router with straight base, #3707FC, $150
4.4-amp laminate router with tilt base, #3708FC, $160.