Trim Router vs. Dremel: Complete Woodworking Comparison


Whether you are a veteran woodworker or just starting your first project, the sheer number of tools and gadgets can be overwhelming. How do you even begin to choose the correct tool to implement your idea? You have heard that rotary tools are affordable and versatile, such as a trim router and a Dremel, but how do they compare to each other?

Trim routers are better for trimming and edging larger wood pieces, such as cabinetry or crown molding. They are more likely to be used by experienced woodworkers. However, a Dremel is ideal for intricate woodworking designs and will work well for hobbyists. 

These tools have become a staple in woodworking shops of all sizes and have one basic similarity; they both use interchangeable bits, rotate at high speeds, and cut or carve wood. They are versatile and easy to maneuver, even for beginners. This article will be a deep dive comparing these two woodworking tools. 

Trim Router vs. Dremel at a Glance

Below you can reference this table at a glance to see which tool is better for each category.

Trim RouterDremel tool
Versatility
Cost
Portability
Power
Speed
Durability

Trim Router

Trim routers were originally invented for the world of cabinetry, countertops, and wood or laminate flooring. It quickly gained popularity with woodworkers because of its petite size, making it easy to control and comfortable to hold.

It is also a lot more affordable than its full-size counterpart. A trim router’s primary purpose is, unsurprisingly, trimming pieces of wood, offering precision on cuts that would be challenging otherwise. 

You can check out some Trim Routers on Amazon Here(Link HereOpens in a new tab.)

Features

If you are thinking about purchasing your first trim router, keep reading for some of the most practical features you should look out for.

Ideally, you would want to look for a trim router with the option of variable speeds. More speed options mean more versatility, with faster speeds typically making cleaner and more precise cuts.

The speed is usually measured in revolutions per minute (RPMs). Harder woods such as maple or oak can burn at higher RPMs, so it helps adjust the speed based on your project.

Make sure to check the power level when purchasing a trim router. Typically, the higher the power, the better. Particularly, if you are doing bigger projects with your trim router, you want to ensure that it will get the job done.

If it lacks sufficient power, then it will sputter and quit on you before the project is done. Typically, the power is measured in amps or horsepower. 

You also want the bit to be visible while you are using your trim router. In most cases, this means that having a clear plastic base built into your tool, allowing you to see what the bit is doing as you cut.

However, it can also come in the form of a viewing window. These features allow for the best possible visibility, which will help you control your cut

Lastly, you will thank yourself if you purchase a trim router that enables you to adjust the bit’s height. If you plan to use your trim router for edging or trimming, you may not need an adjustable bit height.

However, adjusting the height of the bit significantly expands the types of projects you can do. For example, if you want to produce more delicate work with inlays, an adjustable bit will be necessary. 

Best Uses

If your projects will be primarily on hardwoods or require a lot of power, you should select a trim router. Here are a few suggested uses for your trim router:

  • Cut precise lines for beautiful inlays.
  • Create large, personalized wooden signs
  • Trim shelf lipping
  • Duplicating pieces of wood, such as fence posts

Dremel

The Dremel tool was invented in the early 1930s by Austrian immigrant Albert Dremel, who is known fondly as the rotary tool’s pioneer. A Dremel is much smaller than a trim router and is great for intricate woodworking, particularly engraving or carving.

It is quite a bit smaller than a trim router. The user can hold it similar to a pencil, which allows for ample control during use. 

A Dremel tool is a high-speed rotary machine with a wide range of uses. It is highly versatile both in speed and the types of available attachments.

A Dremel allows users to carve, engrave, polish, drill, cut, and sand all different materials, including wood. They come in both battery-powered and electric models. 

You can check a Dremel on Amazon Here(Link HereOpens in a new tab.)

Features

The main features you should look for when purchasing a Dremel tool are variable speed options, power, and weight. Think about the type of projects you will be doing with your Dremel tool to determine which features are the most important. 

Just like a trim router, you want to look for a Dremel tool that offers variable speed options, typically measured in RPMs.

Most of them come with at least two different speeds, but three or more is generally preferable. The more, the merrier is a good rule of thumb for this feature, as more speeds equal more versatility. 

The power of the motor is another feature you should consider when shopping for a Dremel. If you are only working with softwoods, you may work with a lower power Dremel. However, if you want a more versatile tool, you should opt-out of the higher power options. 

Lastly, since you are holding a Dremel in your hand, similar to a pencil, you want it to be as lightweight as possible. This will make it easier to control and keep your hand from fatiguing too quickly. 

Best Uses

Dremels are best reserved for more delicate uses and are very popular for a hobbyist. Rather than making big cuts, you can rely on your Dremel for the following: 

  • Etching wooden signs 
  • Carving intricate wood pieces
  • Sanding
  • Polishing

Safety

When you are doing any woodwork, safety precautions are a must. You never know when an accident may happen, so it is best always to be prepared. Specifically, the two tools discussed above use very high speeds to rotate slightly, which can accidentally come disconnect from the tool. 

The three main pieces of safety equipment you should use are eye protection, dust masks, and gloves. Safety goggles are relatively inexpensive and can be found at any home improvement store, such as Ace’s, Home Depot, or Lowes. In the event of a piece of wood or a bit flying off, you will be happy you had eye protection. 

Secondly, depending on how you are using your Dremel or trim router, you could produce a lot of dust in the air. To protect your mouth and your lungs, you should consider wearing a dust mask to decrease the particles you inhale. 

Lastly, safety gloves are also a good idea. Gloves will protect you from splinters, abrasions on rough surfaces, and sharp edges. When choosing gloves, you want them to be comfortable and have a good grip

Final Thoughts

Both tools are quite versatile, lightweight, and affordable. If you intend to do bigger projects such as cabinetry, fencing, or shelving, then a trim router is the right choice for you. If you plan on doing other DIY crafts such as engraving or carving, then a Dremel might be better suited for your needs. 

As you can see, despite both being tools that quickly rotate a bit, a trim router and Dremel tool have quite different uses. Hopefully, this article will help you decide which tool is the best fit for you.

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