Things to check out as you shop woodworking tools

Chances are you won't actually use the tool before you buy it, but you can learn a lot about it while at the store. Try changing bits. Is it easy to get your wrench on the collet nut or does the bases interfere? Does the collet let go of the bit with a single turn of the wrench, or does it take two or three bites? Does the router have a flat top so you can stand it on its head for bit changes?

Check the switch? Is it easy to reach with your hands on the grips or will you have to let go of the tool to shut it down?

How is your view of the bit? Can you see where it is and where it is going? Check the power cord. Is it stiff and heavy? If so, it can drag and make freehand work difficult. Do you like the feel of the grips? Can you remove the grips if necessary to fit the router into tight spots? Can you remove the base from the router? (You may want to do this to use the motor in certain accessories, or to use it freehand for power woodcarving.)

Finally, does the router maker offer accessories to extend the usefulness of the tool and help it live up to its potential as the most versatile tool in your shop?