Newbie Router Questions

I have a nice table saw and compound miter saw but have little experince with routers. I built a number of cabinet doors with a friends help, using his equipment. He has about 8 routers, a number of router tables, etc. I am trying to get a feel for what would be the best setup for me to start with. I don't mind buying quality and would prefer to have a setup that I can use for years, however, I can't afford to spend a thousand or even thousands of dollars as my friend has. I need to get the most bang for the buck.
What do you recommend? Do I need a fixed base and a plunge base router? Is it best to have one permanently installed in a table? What is the best table to use? Is more horsepower always better? What should be the minimum hp to be most useful over a wide range of projects?
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On May 4, 6:52 pm, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Sounds like you might want to ask your friend. I've got 4 routers, one (3.25 hp) lives in the table that I made. One big plunger, and two smaller fixed base for travelling. Like a weapon, it's better to have it and not need it, rather than need it and not have it....Spend the money. Tom
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote in

If you stick with the hobby, you're going to have a number of router tables over time. So start by making a simple one to learn on.
A flat piece of stock, with a hole cut for the router to stick through, and a fence of jointed hardwood clamped to it will work. You could maybe spend $35 on all of the parts if you tried, plus the router.
Pat Warner's site will give you a really solid explanation of what, why and how. www.patwarner.com. He'll also tell you about the routers you should consider. He likes DeWalt. I use Porter Cable routers, but lots of DeWalt other tools, so DeWalt is not a bad option in my book. There are at least half a dozen good brands of routers in that pack.
But start simple. You may stay there, happily. Lots of us do.
Patriarch
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You can make do with a "1.5 HP" class router for a long time before you need more. Mine was a PC 690 plunge, I still have it but recently added the fixed base for it and built a router table with a "3 HP" class router motor in it.
http://www.delorie.com/wood/projects/router/oldtable.jpg
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Start simple - get a decent router (plenty of brands mentioned in the archives here, or look up magazine reviews, or check out Pat Warner's site), and make a simple table (as long as it's flat and has a straight fence, it should be fine.) Rockler and MLCS have some reasonably-priced tables if you really don't want to spend time making your own, or look at reviews on Amazon for some of the major brands. If you can find a deal on a combo plunge-fixed base kit, I'd recommend it, but it could be that one or the other will suit you fine - depends on what you want to do. I have a Dewalt 618 with a fixed base that lives in a table and a plunge base I use for handheld tasks - motor is easy to switch back and forth, and I've never found the 2.25hp to be underpowered. I usually leave the router in the table whenever possible - often more accurate, better dust collection, and safer. Bigger (more HP) is better if it's staying in a table, but usually more awkward handheld. There are a couple of 3+HP models for $200ish that are supposed to be pretty good - look at the Triton at Woodcraft (and a recent thread here), and a Hitachi at Amazon. But then you should be able to get a good brand fixed-plunge kit for about that price also. Depends on your intended usage - unless you do a lot of routing with really big bits (i.e. panel-raising), the mid-sized (2+HP) models would probably be more versatile. I recently added a PC laminate trimmer to my collection, which I've found VERY handy for many small handheld routing jobs, so that's another option to consider if you want to leave a larger router in a table. I certainly don't think it's necessary to spend $1K right off the bat - you could get a nice setup (pre-made router table, med-large table router, and laminate trimmer) for $500 if you shop around a bit, or $150-200 if you want to just buy a good router and make your own table. Good bits are expensive too, but just buy them as you need them, and don't worry about getting every single profile as soon as you get your router. Good luck and have fun woodworking, Andy
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Two routers are better than one. If you can spring for two, get a heavy one to be mounted in a table essentially permanently and then have a medium HP one with two bases for hand held use.
While you could always make do with just one, you're going to find it a major PITA. A good heavy duty router will give you good service in a table but will probably be too heavy for much hand held use. A handier sized router may not have the oomph you'e looking for to use in a table. And mounting and dismounting routers gets to be a real hassle after a very short time.
I have a PC 7518 3 1/4 HP router mounted on a wing of my table saw along with a PC 893 2 1/4 HP handheld unit. One of these days I'll spring for a little laminate router as well.
YMMV.
--
Mortimer Schnerd, RN
mschnerdatcarolina.rr.com
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On May 4, 9:52 pm, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

I picked the PC because I knew I would only have one for quite a while and most of the aftermarket gadgets are made to fit them. Kind of like racing and small block chevy engines.
You can usually find this kit or one with a slightly different stock number for less than $200. (Amazon.com product link shortened) Sometimes you can even find it with a third base (D-handle) thrown in via rebate.
Whatever you get make sure it is variable speed.
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control still works.
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that would require a slower speed.
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I have the Hitachi Multi base set with Variable speed and I love it, great flexability. When I made my router table (in my table saw extension to save room) I found that when it was mounted, I needed it free hand, and when it was loose, I needed it mounted. I too was on a limited budget so I went to Rockler, I bought a combo set they had that I wanted anyway which was the PC 690 fixed base and thier top end dovetail jig for $199. I then bought a new router table insert from Rockler and they had a deal where you could get a table base for a 690 for 30 bucks. Works great for almost all my work, but, it WILL NOT work with a panel set of any of the big bits, I'm going to get the Hitachi 3.5 hp Variable Speed Plunge from amazon for about 180 as soon as im done with my lathe accessories.
Have fun

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<snip> I'm going to get the

Here's a clue, Neil, from a fellow addict:
You're never done buying lathe accessories.
Patriarch
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Wayyyyyyyyyyy too true.

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snip

I'd recommend that you buy only one router in the 2 to 2.5 HP range with two bases - fixed and plunge - and make or build a router table or table extension for your table saw. With a lot less expenditure on machines you will better afford more bits and attachments and get to experiment on various types of projects before settling on the style of woodworking your will likely be performing most. Then, buy the next machine of the type demanded by the projects. It's going to amaze you how much you can spend on templates, guides and bits. Have a blast. You're gonna love it!
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There are several kits available that include a plunge as well as a fixed base in the 1-1/2 HP range.
If you get an extra fixed base, it can be left in a table while the remaining fixed base can be used for hand held applications.
There are certain operations that require a plunge base, just no safe way around it.
Build your own table which can be as simple as a piece of MDF resting on a couple of saw horses or as complex as the NYW unit which is what I built.
Once upon a time Porter-Cable ruled, but these days not so sure.
Check out Pat Warner's site for more router info.
Expect to spend $200-$250 plus extra for bits.
Lew
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There are needs and there are wants. Long term, you want a fixed base mounted in a table adn just left there. Short term, ther eis use for both fixed and plunge so a kit with changable bases is a good way to start.
In general, more HP is better, but for hand held, more weight = harder for a newbie to handle. If you get a second fixed base for the table, then go for big. I use the table mounted router for 90% of my routing work. I also have a lift making it simple to adjust and run up and down to change bits.
Starting over, I'd buy a DeWalt router with two bases (or equal Bosch, PC, etc) and make a simple table. Once I found out from practice what I really wanted, I'd make a very nice table and mount a 3 HP router in it.
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