First Router

I'm just starting. Have a contractor table saw and need a good router to start off. Budget is about $200 and I just need a good all-around router. To start, I'm going to hand some doors and need to make mortises for the hinges.
Suggestions for brand, make, and retailer are much appreciated.
Scott King Please remove the "_remove_" from my address when replying directly.
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I'm looking at a Port-Cable plunge router. Comments, feedback, comparisons, etc?
Porter-Cable 1-34 In. HP Variable Speed Router Kit Model 694VK
http://www.homedepot.com/prel80/HDUS/EN_US/prodmeta/pg_prodmeta.jsp?CNTTYPE=PROD_META&MID76&CNTKEY=Products_2%2FPower+Tools%2FRouters%2FPlunge&sortOr der=priceDesc&ProductOIDa4847&BV_SessionID=@@@@1417490988.1088616881@@@@&B V_EngineIDcjadcllilhjekcgelceffdfgidgjn.0
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I have the slightly earlier incantation 693VSPK. Likes: PC690 is a rock solid lil' guy. Great first router. Accessories all fit the PC690 series. Haven't bogged down the 1 3/4 horses yet (but haven't really slung any extra large bits).
Dislikes: Plunge base. PITA to mount motor; plunge mechanism very stiff -- not smooth at all.
I'm happy with it, but the more I plunge, the more I'll be looking at a dedicated plunger like the DW621. Have you been here yet? www.patwarner.com
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Take a look at the Bosch 16** series router and combo packs. You can buy a basic 2 hp 1617 for about $165.
Or, take a look at the 1617 2-1/4 HP combo packs. These combos provide a nice router with an add-on plunge base and accessories. I have an older Bosch combo pack that has the wood ball handles on the standard router base and I really like it. It is fairly lightweight, has good power and handles very well. The plunge base also does a respectable job. I think you can get a combo from Amazon for about $205, including their super saver shipping. Lowe's might charge a little more. Also the 16** series usually provide both 1/4" and 1/2" collets that give you some flexibility in bit selection (make sure the one you select has both). This approach gets you started with the utility of two routers at a good price.
Don't overlook the price of router bits - they are pricy little devils. Stick with carbide cutting edges because non-carbide bits are throw-aways (and cost almost as much). Your best bet is to buy an assortment in a set. For example, Woodcraft offers a set of 20 assorted bits that is usually on sale for around $100. They also offer some smaller box sets but the price/bit goes up rapidly as quantity goes down. These are good starter sets and if you purchased the bits separately they could run you $9 to $20 each. The sets are offered in both 1/4" and 1/2" shank and I would recommend 1/2".

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wrote:

I'll second that. I'm very happy with mine. I use the fixed base in the table and can easily switch over to the plunge base as needed.
djb
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I bought the 2 1/4 combo at www.amazon.com. free shipping, no tax, $25 off order of $199 or more, also a free edge guide and mat. Have not used it yet but was a best buy on one of the consumer sites. David.

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I'd recommend a plunge for what you describe.
Brian.

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One of the first things that you should do is take some time to evaluate exactly what you will be using the router for over a period of time. If the only thing that you will be doing is mortises, then practically any good brand-name router will do (PC, DeWalt, Bosch, Makita, etc). However, if there is the likelyhood that you may want to build some raised panel doors or something else that requires a large bit in the future, then you would want a high power (3hp range) variable speed job like the Triton TRC001, Makita 3612C, PC 7539, or Hitachi TR12 plunge routers (among many others). Those will bust the $200 budget a tad, but could possibly save the cost of buying another router in the future.
Of course, you could always start a router collection. In one episode of the New Yankee Workshop, Norm Abrams said that he had 21 routers.
Wayne
P.S. The Triton is going to be my next router. All I have to do is find a new job and save for about 3 years. :-)

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In addition to all that, you have to determine how much you expect to use it. You can get a Skill for half the price of a Bosch (both made by the same company) and the better choice depends on what you want out of it.
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Umm Because they are affiliated does not mean that there is a comparison in quality. This would be like comparing a Mercedes Benz to a Dodge.
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On Wed, 30 Jun 2004 20:07:50 GMT, "Leon"

Seen the reliability / repair frequency statistics for Mercedes lately? <G>
I know the point you're making, but I felt the need to tweak you.
Barry
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Scott King wrote:

I have owned a Hitachi M12V for about 18 months now. I Love it. Wish I had it as my first router. Latest price I saw on it was about $180.00
JAW
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If you're only going to have one router, I'd get a plunge model. The Porter Cable 8529 or the DeWalt DW621 are good choices, some like the Bosch, but I don't have any experience with it. If you want fixed base, look at the Milwaukees. They both have above-the-table height adjustment. The Hitachi MV12 a 3+HP router, can be had for $165 from toolcrib (a good consolidated source of info, specs, prices, etc). (Amazon.com product link shortened) I haven't used this router, but I see it a lot in magazines. My personal choice would be the P-C 8529. 2HP, variable speed, abve-the-table adjustablility. It's running around $220 right now. I got mine for $150 on closeout at Lowe's, plus it came with a $50 rebate, so really $100 even. I just got lucky though.
Charlie

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"Scott King" writes:

<snip>
You are in luck, $200 will do the job nicely.
Porter-Cable has a kit with both fixed and plunge bases for about $200.
I have one, it does a good job.
Understand Bosch has a similar offering, but I'm not familiar with it; however, I have other Bosch tools and they are bullet proof, so they are worth a look.
As for bits, think CMT.
As I have said before, until they prove they don't deserve it, they get my business.
There are other good bits out there, Freud and Whiteside come to mind, I just like CMT.
HTH
--
Lew

S/A: Challenge, The Bullet Proof Boat, (Under Construction in the Southland)
  Click to see the full signature.
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Great all around advice. Many thanks to everyone that replied!
Scott
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Visit www.patwarner.com for lots of router information.
IMO, you will do good with DeWalt, Porter Cable, Bosch. I'd go with a plunge for my first and only router. Ed snipped-for-privacy@snet.net http://pages.cthome.net/edhome
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I have the Hitachi MV-12 3HP and really like it. Got it at Amazon for $159.00. That being said I am looking at some of the PC 1.25HP routers. The Hitachi can be bulky and heavy for free hand routing plus I hate removing and replacing it in my router table. But for the price it is more than adequate and I'm happy I bought it.
Joey in Chesapeake

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On Wed, 30 Jun 2004 12:40:47 -0500, "Scott King"

I fooled about for almost a couple of years with a Chinwanese Kamakooza. Then read a lot of reviews, tried several of the others at shows and friends, then settled on the Triton, when I found it at an exceptionally good price, have not regretted it for one second.
Barry Lennox
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On Wed, 30 Jun 2004 12:40:47 -0500, "Scott King"
Either the Porter Cable 89x or Bosch 1617 variable speed 2. whatever HP _kit_.
Either will come with both a plunge and fixed base, a variable speed motor, the little bits, and a nice case. Outside of a production environment, these guys will turn large raised panel bits without a problem at lower speeds, and are still plenty light and nimble enough for general work. Both companies sell bases separately, so you can purchase an extra fixed base to leave in a router table.
Plunge is great when you need it, but I greatly prefer a fixed base when no plunge action is necessary. The center of gravity is lower and the fine adjustments are better on a fixed base.
If you can touch both brands, do it. One or the other may fit your hands a bit better. You can't go wrong with either of them.
Barry
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out of me. I ruined some otherwise pretty good panels, and learned how to hide some errors in the back, with trim not in the original plan.
That router now gives excellent service in a home built table, where the torque and weight are not disadvantages.
I find that the routers I reach for most often now are the PC690VS and the PC 7310 trim router, although the 7310 is about to get replaced by a 310P. I believe I've used the plunge base for the 690 twice.
Barry's recommendations are sound. Just don't think that a truck is needed, when a sports car will certainly be more appropriate.
And expect that, at some time in your future as a woodworker, there may be another router come along, for that 'special project'. Or however you choose to justify the purchase to yourself, or the budget controller in your household.
Have fun with this. THAT'S why most of us do these things.
Patriarch
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