Look at the horsepower. Most woodworking projects will take a 1½ to 2¼ horsepower router. However, there are times the woodworker needs to use router bits larger than 2 inches in diameter. For those jobs, a 3 horsepower router will do the trick.
Look for variable speed. The tip of a 2½-inch bit will spin at 21,000 rotations per minute and travel at 156 miles per hour. A 1-inch bit at the same motor speed will travel 62 miles per hour. The ability to dial in the correct speed for each bit makes the job safer, ensuring the bit does not get too hot and break, flying off and hurting someone or breaking something in the woodworking shop. Variable speed routers can also be slowed when working with some woods to prevent burn marks.
Look for electronic speed control. Using a router without electronic speed control is like driving a car without cruise control. The electronic speed control helps maintain a constant speed under heavy workloads. Without electronic speed control, the motor can bog down.
Look for a soft-start feature. Switching on a standard router will cause a torque that can jerk the router out of the hands of an unsuspecting woodworker. Worse yet, it can rip into and damage the project. Soft-start routers gradually increase the speed, minimizing the start-up kick.
Look at the collet size. The router collet is the female end of the router where the router bit is inserted. Look for a router with a collet that accepts both a ¼- and ½-inch shank bits. Self-releasing collets will release the router bit after one turn of the collet nut.
Look for dust collection. Routing any wood project without the proper dust collection system, is like breathing in wood smoke in an enclosed room. Some routers come with dust collection systems, while on others it is an accessory. Some inexpensive routers still do not offer dust collection.
Look at the handles. The woodworker should be able to turn the wood router on and off without removing his hands from the handles