I'm not sure what you mean by "a pro model".
The answer to the "which router" question is another question:
"What are you (or your giftee) going to use it for?"
Mostly free-hand routing? Mostly table mounted routing?
Large diameter bits or small? Plunge or fixed base?
This site gives very brief overview that might help you decide what
*style* of router you want to buy. After that you can start thinking
about which brand:
It's merely a coincidence, but I own the Porter Cable 690LR mentioned
in the article, which is a very versatile router. I have the fixed
base, the plunge base and a table.
The interchangeable 1/2" & 1/4" collets let me use virtually any size
bit I want with no vibration.
Vibration is a key point. The $49 Craftsman POS I bought as my first
router scared the crap out of me, what with the noise and vibration.
I know you said that you don't want "a pro model" but you'd be very
surprised how much a little extra money spent will make when it comes
to ease of use and satisfaction with the results.
Anything from Bosch, Milwaukee, Porter Cable, Triton will do. Get
recommendations from www.patwarner.com Pat is probably the best in the
world for router stuff.
As for tables, Benchdog is good. For bits, Infinity, Whiteside, and a bunch
I'd add that for a larger router, I'd pay the extra tab and get
soft start and also look for one with a decent trigger switch.
For the smaller ones, there's not that much starting torque, but
the bigger dudes can move things around a bit if you're not
expecting it and have a firm grip.
Luxury cars now offer a Republican seating option. These are
Pat Warner over at rec.woodworking is one well known expert. Check out
his web site too, at www.patwarner.com/ for the real skinny.
Several years ago I bought my DeWalt 618K based on his recommendation,
and after the learning curve, invested in some of his accessories.
Couldn't be happier with the results. For router bits I use MLCS and
magnate.net for the unusual wide selection you always wind up needing
after stocking up with multibit sets. MLCS is very focussed on router
matters, and should be a good place to start. There aren't too many
real slouches in the market, so you should wind up enjoying the new
Porter Cable makes a few very good "intermediate" routers. The '690'
series is good for most use. For anything more I'd recommend
something different for each application (table, plunge, fixed).
Basically, the needs differ. A table-mounted router need a lot of
power, which makes it difficult to use free-hand. Plunge routers
don't work all that well (some are better than others) in tables.
There are many variables. I have three routers (one is a PC-690) and
soon will be buying a forth. Each has it's use and no one would do
all, though if I did have to choose one...
don't forget a trim router;they can be very handy and easier to use in some
cases. Even Harbor Freight has one that often sells for around $20!
the Porter-Cable 690 models come in a set with both fixed and plunge bases.
You swap the motor assembly between the bases.you can keep the fixed base
in the router table and use the plunge base for freehand tasks.
You want a router that accepts 1/2" bit shanks,and 1/2" shank bits;they
give cleaner cuts.They cost more,but are worth the money.
Trim routers only accept 1/4" bits.
Good point. Mine came only with the 'D' handle, which I really like
for a fixed base. I don't have a plunge base for it and am
considering my alternatives. I'm thinking about a Bosch or Milwaukee
plunger, but in a weak moment could be persuaded to go for a Festool.
Yes, and most 1/2" routers will have 1/4" collets available as an
option. Some also have metric collets. IIRC, PC includes both 1/2"
and 1/4" collets with the 690 series routers.
Yes, they're *trim* routers. ;-) I wouldn't want to hand-hold a big
bit in a trim router.
I went and got a Porter Cable 6960LR. The guy says a plunge base can be
bought for it, and easily changed. Boy, routers have changed from what I
remember. I remember $60. This was $150, and they went up to $300. I
found a 15 bit set at a pawn shop for $30. It may be cheap Chinese, but it
will get my friend started, and after that he will have to buy the bits he
needs. The set was never used. Nice wood box.
Thanks to everyone for their advice. I shall be getting mine out soon to
start making some birdhouses, and doing some honeydoos around here.
The giftee is an electrician that has two more years left to retirement. He
can get more work done than three union electricians working beside him.
Won't walk away from anything that isn't right. He has done lots of work
for us, all free, just perks. It's nice to have a friend like that. So, it
was really a good deal. In fact, we should do more for him.
Like knowing a good welder. Know whut uh mean, Vern?
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