Best Router for Door Hinges

While many of us grew up cutting out mortises for door hinges using a hammer and chisel, the reality is a router is the far superior tool for this task. A router gives you the ability to remove the precise amount of material necessary to install the door hinges and not a hair’s thickness more.

This results in a perfect mortise every time and makes the job of installing a new door that much faster and easier.

When it comes to routers, there’s a lot to consider. Do you want a cordless model, or can you get away with corded? Are you looking for a router with a fixed base or a plunge base? Compact or full-sized?

I’ll break down everything you need to know when it comes to picking the best router for door hinges and review some of the best options so you can be confident you’re picking the right model.

Quick Answer: 6 Best Routers for Door Hinges

Top 6 Routers for Door Hinges

Best Overall

Makita RT0701C 1-1/4 HP Compact Router

makita compact router

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Key Features:

  • RPMs: 10,000 to 30,000
  • Weight: 3.9 lbs
  • Shank Size: ¼”
  • Slim, light, and ergonomic design makes it perfect for precision tasks like cutting mortises.
  • Electronic speed control maintains speed under load.
  • Smooth rack-and-pinion fine depth adjustment system.
  • Available as a bare tool or with plunge base.

When it comes to cutting mortises for door hinges, a compact trim router gives you a lightweight easy-to-use solution. This lightweight and compact 1 ¼ horsepower router is one of the best in its class with a variety of features perfectly suited to precision woodworking jobs.

The router weighs just 3.9 pounds, and with its ergonomic body handle, you can comfortably use it for hours at a time.

The router features a variable speed control dial with settings between 10,000 and 30,000 RPMs. This enables you to match the bit’s speed to the application. A soft start feature enables smooth accident-free startup.

A rack-and-pinion fine depth adjustment system and easy-to-read depth scales allow you to fine-tune the cutting depth. A quick-release cam system allows you to remove and install bases in seconds, while its fixed base accepts any industry standard template guides.

The tool is sold either as a bare tool or with a plunge base and a straight guide. A kit with three bases is also available, but this might be overkill if you’re only looking to install door hinges. For this purpose, I’d recommend the kit with the plunge base, as it makes the task of cutting mortises easier.

Runner Up

DeWalt Router 1-1/4-HP (DWP611) 

DeWalt DWP611 router

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Key Features:

  • RPMs: 16,000 to 27,000
  • Weight: 6 lbs
  • Shank Size: ¼”
  • Dual LEDs provide ample illumination for low-light applications.
  • High durable and capable of prolonged cutting.
  • Electronic speed control maintains motor speed under stress.
  • Fixed base.

Lightweight, ergonomic, and built to last, this 1 ¼ horsepower motor delivers more than enough power and precision for challenging cutting and shaping tasks. The variable-speed motor allows you to adjust the motor speed between 16,000 to 27,000 RPMs, while dual LED lights illuminate the work surface so you can see exactly what you’re doing.

Aluminum motor housing and base construction provide long-term durability. Two tabs allow for quick and simple base release, so you can change bases in seconds.

Electronic speed control maintains the motor’s speed when the bit is under stress, which makes highly precise cutting possible. The router is available with a wide variety of bases, so you can easily pick the kit that works best for you.

All in all, this router is a true workhorse. It’s more than capable of running for hours at a time without overheating and is preferred by many CNC DIYers.

Keep in mind the router has a fixed base rather than a plunge base. This will work fine for routing door hinge slots but will mean you need to start the cut from the edge rather than plunging from above.

Best Full-Sized Router

Bosch 1617EVSPK Wood Router Tool Combo Kit

bosch wood router combo kit

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Key Features:

  • RPMs: 8,000 to 25,000
  • Shank Size: ¼” and ½”
  • Rounded hardwood handles maximize control and look incredible.
  • Both fixed and plunge bases are included.
  • Electronic response circuitry maintains constant speed under stress.
  • Resettable depth indicator for making micro fine bit-depth adjustment.

If you’re looking for a versatile router that can tackle a wide variety of woodworking applications including door hinges, then look no further. This gorgeous router sports an aluminum body with rounded hardwood handles and is one most well-rounded routers available on the market.

The router comes with a fixed base and a plunge base, as well as both ¼” and ½” collet chucks, which means you can use both ¼” and ½” shanks. It also comes with a shaft wrench, collet nut wrench, and a soft carrying case to house all of it.

Like other quality routers, it comes with built-in response circuitry, which means the bit will maintain a constant speed while under stress. This results in cleaner, more accurate results than you’ll get with cheaper routers.

The unit is somewhat larger than the previous two models, with a 2.25 horsepower motor, and a versatile speed range of 8,000 to 25,000 RPMs. Microfine bit depth adjustment allows for fast and precise depth adjustments on the fly.

Palm Router

Bosch GKF125CEN Colt 1.25 HP

bosch GKF125CEN router

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Key Features:

  • RPMs: 16,000 to 35,000
  • Weight: 4 lbs
  • Shank Size: ¼”
  • The motor features soft-start circuitry as well as constant response circuitry.
  • Set comes with router, self-releasing collet chuck, and forged collet chuck wrench.
  • Palm grip with soft grip and finger support pockets provide exceptional control.

Another fantastic option from the renowned German toolmaker, this palm router is ideal for any task requiring a compact and portable router. The 7 amp motor generates plenty of power, with variable speeds between 16,000 and 35,000 RPMs.

An ergonomic soft palm grip is comfortable to hold, making it great for jobs where you need to hold the router for prolonged periods. It’s ideal for door hinge mortising, slot cutting, rounding planks and railings, and more.

The motor features soft-start circuitry as well as constant response circuitry to maintain speed when under load. Its fixed base features both macro and micro depth adjustments, so you can easily adjust the base to your preferred depth in seconds.

The router collet shank is ¼”, making it perfect for those jobs requiring a little more finesse.

Budget Pick

Porter-Cable PCE6430 4.5-Amp Single Speed 1/4-Inch Router

Porter-Cable PCE6430 router

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Key Features:

  • RPMs: 31,000
  • Weight: 6 lbs
  • Shank Size: ¼”
  • Ideal for trimming, edge forming, and hinge routing.
  • Cast aluminum fixed base provides durability and accuracy.
  • LED light and clear sub-base provide superior visibility.

If you’re looking for a slightly cheaper router that can still get the job done, this single-speed router from Porter-Cable is a solid option. The 4.5 amp motor with 31,000 RPM gives you plenty of power for a variety of woodworking tasks, while quick-release clips allow you to remove the base from the motor in seconds.

A micro-set collar gives you the ability to make quick and accurate height adjustments, while a powerful LED light and clear sub-base provide plenty of illumination in low-light. The palm grip gives you a solid and comfortable grip on the tool, so you can use it for hours without your arm getting fatigued.

Keep in mind the router doesn’t come with a plunge base or feature variable speed control. It’s a barebones router designed for relatively simple tasks, so don’t expect the same versatility as more expensive models.

Cordless Router

DeWalt DCW600B 20V Max XR Cordless Router

DeWalt DCW600B 20V Max Router

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Key Features:

  • RPMs: 16,000 to 25,000
  • Weight: 6 lbs
  • Shank Size: ¼”
  • Soft start motor with full-time electronic feedback.
  • Fast and easy depth adjustment.
  • Variable speed dial is simple and easy to use.
  • Powerful LED lights.

While a cordless router isn’t necessary for hinge routing, if you’re looking for a cordless option, you’ll have a tough time beating this durable and well-made unit. It features an electronic brake that slows down the motor as soon as you release the trigger, as well as a versatile motor speed between 16,000 and 25,000 RPMs.

The soft-start motor with full-time electronic feedback allows the motor to maintain a consistent speed even when under stress, providing a high level of precision. Dual LED’s provide plenty of illumination to your work surface, so you’ll be able to cut accurately no matter what the lighting is like.

The tool is compatible with DeWalt’s 20V battery line, including Flexvolt batteries. Keep in mind routers consume battery power fairly rapidly, so don’t expect smaller-sized batteries (1.5 AH to 3 AH) to last more than about 5 minutes of constant use.

The router supports 1/4” to 3/8” sized bits, but not larger 1/2” bits.

How to Pick the Best Router for Door Hinges?

When it comes to picking a router, there’s quite a lot to consider. If you’re using it to cut door hinges exclusively then you can get away with a fairly basic model, but if you plan to use it for a variety of tasks then you’ll want to consider which features you’ll need.

router cutting wood
Image source.

Plunge Base vs. Fixed Base

Fixed base routers are pretty much what they sound like. The base stays in a fixed position while you use it, and won’t move at all when you apply pressure to the grip.

This makes them ideal for top-down and edge work, but they are less versatile as you’re limited in what you can do with them.

Plunge base routers give you the ability to change the position of the router bit by pushing down on the router. This gives the ability to do pretty much anything with them, including mortising, dadoes, and cutting grooves.

As there is no fixed base to lock the bit in position, the plunge router takes a bit more experience to use properly.

When it comes to hinge routing, you can use either router type, but plunge routers can make the job a bit easier. You’ll be able to cut the entire mortise from above, instead of having to start from the edge of the door.

Keep in mind many routers come with both a fixed base as well as a separate plunge base. This would be my recommendation if you’re looking for a router that can do pretty much anything.

Variable Speed

Routers can either be fixed speed or have a variable speed motor. A variable-speed motor, as you might expect allows you to adjust the motor’s speed with a control knob.

Most modern routers feature variable-speed motors, but you can still find cheaper single-speed motors available.

Variable speed motors are preferred for their ability to work effectively in a variety of different materials. You’ll be able to cut hardwoods, softwoods, metals, and other materials at the ideal speed for the respective material.

Corded vs. Cordless

This one comes down to personal preference to a degree, but generally speaking, a corded router makes more sense than a corded one.

Cordless routers have a tendency to rapidly drain batteries, so you’ll be limited to how much work you’ll be able to get done before swapping or recharging batteries. That means you’ll need a larger battery – say 4 AH or more – if you want a router that will last a while. This can be a bit of pain, as it’s weight to the tool, and can make it somewhat top-heavy and harder to maneuver.

Cordless routers have the advantage of no cord to get in your way, which can be very helpful when completing complex tasks.

Soft Start

Soft start routers have a speed control built into the motor that modifies the voltage to the motor upon starting it. This means the router bit will come up to its maximum speed gradually rather than suddenly.

This is a nice safety feature as a motor without a soft start will try to get to full RPM instantly. This can be jarring and even pull the router out of your hands if you’re not prepared.

Collet Size

The router collet is the steel sleeve that holds the router bit in place. Routers typically come with 1/4″ or 1/2″ sized collets, and many kits come with one of each so you swap them out when you want to use a different sized bit.

1/4″ sized collets are typically found in smaller and lighter routers and are better suited to light-duty work. 1/2″ collets are better suited to heavy-duty work and are found in larger beefier routers.

Either one can be used for cutting mortises for door hinges, but many prefer to use a 1/2″ bit as it will remove material more rapidly.

Hinge Template

When you’re cutting door hinges, the easiest way to complete the job is to use a hinge template to guide the router. This will make the entire process much easier and less prone to errors.

You’ll want to pick up a hinge template separately if you have a lot of door hinges to install. If you need to install a doorknob and/or deadbolt at that the same time, then consider a door lock installation kit with a c-clamp template to guide your cuts.

Featured image source.

Denis Gardner

I've loved tinkering and fixing things for as long as I can remember. So, naturally, I gravitated towards DIY and home improvement when I bought my first home. Nowadays you can find me writing about my passions or messing around with my newest tool!

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