Buying a router: What should I look for?

I am a long time diy'er and recently found a couple of home jobs where a router is the only tool that could handle the job. In one job, I wanted to trim some facing I was applying to my kitchen cabinets; in the other, I needed to round off an edge of a wooden trim I was placing onto my kitchen counter.
I am now in the market for buying a router. However, in looking at the options, I need some advice about:
- are there differences among routers? - how many horse power is necessary or wise to get? - is brand name of the router important with respect to performance? - how important is it to get a router table?
I am giving myself my own Xmas present on this one. I hope to buy some bits as well. Therefore , some thoughts on this would be helpful as well.
Al
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If that is all you want to do, then just about any router will do. A good name is important when you need precision repeatable cuts, and horsepower is necessary when making big cuts.
A table is great, but probably more trouble than it is worth for what you are doing; and with big pieces it is easier to take the router to the piece than use a table.
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Honestly those 2 chores are about the only thing I ever use mine for. Some other tool I own will do most everything else better.
If you still want one buy one of the better know brands at the mid-point to lower end of the price range. Consider taking a look at one of the plunge routers. As for the bits the only one that are worth buying are carbide blades and ball bearing guides would be preferred.
Colbyt
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Huge differences in some

For general purpose stuff, 1.5 is OK, but more serious work 2 HP, for making rased panel doors, 3 HP.

Avoicd Ryobi, Crafstman, Skil. Be comfortable with DeWalt, Porter Cable, Bosch, Milwaukee, Hitachi.

Depends on what you do. I use the table mounted router for 98% of my work. I use the plunge router rarely.

Good bits cut better, smoother, and last longer. Check out www.routerbits.com www.infinitytools.com If you want to buy a set, you probably will never use many of them, but the unit price is low. MLCS has some good deals. I use 3/8" roundover bits a lot, a couple of straight cutting bits are handy to have.
Want to learn more about routers? www.patwarner.com Pat is probably the best in the business.
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snipped-for-privacy@hal-pc.org (Al Kondo) wrote:

Yes, of course. Bit size, Power and built in speed controls for example.

You don't need a lot of power, unless you are swinging a large (in diameter) bits, or very hard material.

The Porter Cable PC690 defines the genre. You can get fixed, plunge, or handle bases for the motor unit, and all the accessories fit it as well. You'll certainly do well to compare the others to that unit.

It isn't required, but it opens up a lot of potential. Otherwise everything has to be hand held. You don't need a very fancy table, just something that holds the router, and allows a straightedge to be clamped down.

I'd hold off on the bits, and buy them as you need them for each project. If you buy a set of 10, chances are you'll only use 2 or 3 of them.
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On Mon, 06 Dec 2004 22:27:02 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@hal-pc.org (Al Kondo) wrote:

I have a 3 hp Dewalt router for handheld use and a 1 hp Porter Cable router in a router table. In all honesty, I like the Porter Cable better. It has a bigger, round, base, compared to the somewhat narrowish dewalt base so it is more stable.
The Dewalt beats the Porter Cable in adjustability and ability to fine tune a setting but in all honesty, the two routers are at different price points, targetting different uses.
The Dewalt also started making a horrendous screeching noise out of its top bearing after only using it about 4 times.
Dont buy a Sears Craftsman router. they get consistently bad bad reviews on the rec.woodworking newsgroup.
Get one with a 1/2 inch shank. Variable speed is nice too if you want to swing some really big bits. Also, soft start and stop is nice.
dickm
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On Mon, 06 Dec 2004 22:27:02 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@hal-pc.org (Al Kondo) wrote:

Yes, very much so. A well-equipped shop will have several routers for various purposes.

It depends on what you plan to do. I've seen power ranges from 1/2 to 3.25 HP (and up).

Porter-Cable makes several highly-recommended routers.

Depends on what you plan on doing. Rather than buy, you can make a simple router table easily. I made a fancy one that is cabinet-style, with top/bottom dust collection, a high-back adjustable fence, miter slot, front ON/OFF switch and several drawers for bit and accessory storage.

Whiteside bits are probably the highest quality. One-half inch shank is much better than 1/4", especially if you plan on cutting large profiles or using a router table. I bought a Whiteside bit set from www.routerbits.com and some from Woodcraft as they go on sale.
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On Mon, 06 Dec 2004 22:27:02 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@hal-pc.org (Al Kondo) wrote:

You betcha. If there weren't, all routers would be the same price. Most work well for light duty use, but precision and power make the job easier. I like Porter Cable routers, but I've used a Bosch recently and was impressed with the "fit" for me. Which is often the key.

Do't go low. Around 2 HP would be what I'd recommend, unless you're doing major furniture work with large bits (raised panel sets for example) a 3+ HP router is overkill. Light duty a 1.5 HP may be good enough.

Yes, though it's not as critical for light home use such as you're doing. There aren't any "cheap" routers worth buying, expect to pay around $200 for a decent model. Porter Cable, DeWalt, Bosch are all decent brand names.

Don't. Not until you find you need one. Forget the little protable onse for $30 or so, they're useless. Eventually, every serious woodworker ends up with a router table, often home built. I'm a fan of Rockler's (rockler.com) but there are others just as decent. By the time you need a router table you'll own a router you dedicate to it, another for normal use, maybe a trim router and a heavy duty router. then the table becomes a minimal cost in your obsession. :)

Cheap bits wear quickly and do a poorer job, but have their place. Sets are fine to start, then replace the worn bits with better quality as you go. Specialty bits can wait.
A couple straight bits, 1/4", 3/8" and 1/2" are a decent start, though you may want a 3/4" plywood bit which is really 23/32" to fit the plywood. A round over or two, maybe 3/8 and/or 1/2", and a Roman Ogee bit make for a decent starter set that will entertain you for a few weeks. Fancy bits like dovetailing bits can wait.
Jeff
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Be nice to yourself and plan NOW some method of storing and identifying the bits as once you start buying them they seem to multiply like rabbits.
On Mon, 06 Dec 2004 22:27:02 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@hal-pc.org (Al Kondo) wrote:

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Cisco makes the best routers.
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