Are you wondering what makes a good sign carving router? Let me shed some light on the subject with my thoughts.
First, let me avoid the brand debate. I use Dewalt. There are a lot of good routers on the market. Bosch, Ridgid, Makita, .... The list goes on. Choose what works best for you!
My work horse is a compact router. The Dewalt DWP611 to be exact. This guy has a lot of power for its size and handles 90% of my routing. The speed range on this router goes from 16,000 to 27,000 rpm. I run it at max speed always. I have found this works best for me. The router bits I normally use are 1/4" shank with cutting heads that range from 1/4" to 1/16"
I am really impressed with the power of this model. I have never had to switch to a larger router due to the task being too much for this guy. With that said, I only use it for carving. I do not use it for pattern cutting.
If I was starting over and needed to buy a router, the DWP611 would be the one I purchase. I know I would have the flexibility to carve nearly every popular style with this model. If Dewalt isn't your brand of choice, check out the specifications of the DWP611 and try to match that to a model offered by your favorite brand.
I need to point out I have modified this router. The first modification I made was to cut a second port to allow dust to escape out the back and not have all the sawdust blow into my face. I also purchased a dust collection port to allow my shop vac to connect and pull the sawdust away. This was a great addition and really improved visibility. The second modification was to replace the base plate with a larger plate that included handles. This, in my opinion, is a necessity for sign carving. It allows me to rest my wrists on the table and guide the router with fingers. I bought the dust port on Amazon and the base plate from www.MakeAWoodSign.com
The Dewalt DW618 is my second router. This is a 2-1/4 hp model with 1/4" and 1/2" collets. I keep this one setup for edging my signs. It normally has my 45 degree chamfer bit installed. I like the power of this model and it provides good visibility, right out of the box. I have not modified this router. It also has bundles available with a plunge base.
If you already have a larger router, give it a try. You might like the stability provided by the heaver tool. My personal preference is to have something light to allow me to move it around my work piece with as little effort as possible. That is my preference but you might disagree, and that is okay.
I hope this information has helped you. Please feel free to send me any feedback you might have on the subject. I would be glad to hear from you. Check out my video below to hear some more thoughts on this subject.