To differentiate between router and trim router, you need to know what each of these tools does. A router is used for larger routing tasks, whereas a trim router seems to be specifically made for smaller operations. A regular router can be used for trim routing as well.
What is a Router?
A router is an all-purpose woodworking tool that can be used for many different things. It makes circular cuts along with straight cuts depending on the jig you attach to it.
A router is a specialized type of handheld cutting tool used for ‘roughing’ and or shaping of soft materials.
A router may also be called a ‘router cutter’ although this can often cause confusion since the term is more commonly used in regards to routing the edges of a board in order to shape them to a final profile.
What is a Trim Router?
A trim router is a scaled-down version of a regular router. It is smaller and lighter than the regular router. The size and the weight make it possible to handle an extensive range of tasks such as flush cutting and edging, in addition to working with veneers.
A trim router is typically used in a router table for flush cutting, jointing two edges together, or cleaning up edges after laminating or veneering.
A trim router is used to remove excess width from the edge of the laminate when a miter is turned in. It is typically used until the edge of the laminate reaches the desired dimension (after which it can be finished with a plunge router).
When mitered, it’s important that the edge of the laminate is finished uniformly and that any excess extends at least 1/16″ beyond the blade, plus a margin of 1/2″ on each side for easy sanding.
What is a Plunge Router?
A plunge router is a more robust tool and is usually used in hefty duty applications.
Plunge routers are used as cutting tools in the manufacturing process of woodworking. They’re not intended for operation as cutting tools in carpentry or construction work.
Plunge routers make woodworking much easier by allowing us to plunge (send) the router bit directly into a piece of wood. Plunge routers also allow you to make a cut that is perfectly vertical or horizontal (90 degrees).
This is great for creating inlays, joinery, box joints, and stopped grooves, like those found on cabinet doors.
What is the Best Trim Router?
If you want more details on trim routers, see our in-depth guide on the best trim routers.
What is the Best Plunge Router?
If you want more details on trim routers, see our in-depth guide on the best plunge routers.