Router
Photo: Don Penny / Time Inc. Digital Studio
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Ridgid R2401

$100, 3.8 pounds; ridgid.com

The shortest, most stable router in the bunch is also the thinnest and surest to handle. A thumb dial moves the motor along a machine screw to easily lock in depth adjustments. Though it jerked a little on start-up, this tool was the best at ushering shavings out of the base as you work, thus maintaining a clear view of what the bit is doing. Kit it out with the sturdy fence and the square base plate (not shown), and it aces straight cuts.

Fine print: 1 hp, 5.5 amps, 20,000-30,000 rpm, 8-inch-circumference grip, 1½-inch depth range.
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