Router features

I'm considering buying my first router and not having used one much in the past, I'm unsure what the important features are. I'm sure more HP means better cutting power. I've seen some that say "fixed speed" so I assume some are variable or multiple speed. Is a fixed table OK or is plunge important? Any brands I should run screaming from? (I saw some poor reviews of CraftsmanRou.)
Chris
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A router kit with a fixed base and plunge base will give you a lot of bang for the buck. Consider also a router like the Triton with both features built in. Variable speed is handy/a must on larger routers that use larger bits, not so important on bits 1" in diameter and under. A spindle lock for loosening and tightening a router bit is a PIA if you are using the router free hand, while if the router is mounted in a table and stationary it is helpful. When the router is loose in your hands it is much easier to use two wrenches rather than hold the router with one hand and work a wrench with the other.
You may want to steer clear of Black and Decker, Skil and most Craftsman routers. Some Craftsman router are great if they are built by DeWalt or Bosch, unfortunately many are not.
What ever router you get you want one that will accept 1/2" shank bits.
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I would add that you size the power to your need. A large horsepower router is heavy and awkward to use and will not have any advantage over a smaller horsepower in most cases. I like something in the 1 to 1 1/2 hp range for most work but find the most used router in my shop is a trim router to do roundovers with. Bigger is not always better in routers my 2 1/2 hp is seldom used, my two 1 1/2 hp are the ones I go for, for everything except roundovers and my craftsman has been in its box for 15 years without use, the dremil plunge router is used about as often as the 2 1/2 hp.
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Perhaps a really stupid question, but I was wondering if any trim routers come with 1/2" collets? Perhaps a trim router just big enough to handle the smaller diameter 1/2" router bits? It would be nice to use some of the bits I've already got like the trim bits or roundover bits so I don't have to run out and start buying 1/4" collet bits again.
I'm guessing the answer is "no" because there's always going to be some Darwin Awards idiot assuming it would give him permission to run a trim router with a panel bit, but I figured it couldn't hurt to ask. Don't laugh at me too much. :)
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I would love a 1/2 inch for my trim router too. Haven't seen one though and don't really expect to see one. It would be nice though. I expect that the trim router would bog down real quick with anything more then a round over bit, I tried a 3/4 radius in it once and it didn't work as well as I would have liked.
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Leon wrote:

Leon's take is probably as good as anyone's here. But I'd emphasize his last point. I got a router a few years ago and went cheap. The router itself is ok. It's a plunge, but since I use it on the table most of the time, I've removed the plunge feature. I'm still glad I have the option however.
The thing I didn't know when I bought the router was the difference between the 1/4" and 1/2" collets. I got the 1/4" and have regretted it.
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Turns out you will end up with more than one router as time goes by.
Large hp equates to LARGE weight. Ex: 3.5hp Porter Cable= 14.5lbs. Leave that in a table.
http://www.deltaportercable.com/Products/ProductDetail.aspx?ProductID 099
I would get a "kit" with a fixed,plunge and D-handle(Porter Cable).
The 690 family is old but solid as a rock. Most of the newer machines come with a 'variable speed' .
http://www.deltaportercable.com/Products/ProductDetail.aspx?ProductID 187
I like the dust collection feature very much when mortising.
or
http://www.deltaportercable.com/Products/ProductDetail.aspx?ProductID 098
Chris Nelson wrote:

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I would agree, get a kit with a fixed base and a plunge base if possiable. I have two porter cable routers and highly recomend these... I have a link under tool reviews on my website about buying a router..it may be helpful to you...
Randy http:nokeswoodwoodworks.com
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Some tips for you: http://patwarner.com/selecting_router.html **************************************************************************************8

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I like my Ridgid router. It came with both the plunge and fixed bases, and it's not difficult to switch between the two. The fixed base, when used with a vacuum, does a great job of keeping the dust down.
Here's someone's review of it: http://benchmark.20m.com/reviews/RidgidR2930RouterKit/RidgidR2930RouterKi tReview.html
A couple issues I've had: The wrenches don't fit the nuts tightly, so they slip easily making bit changes harder than they have to be. Also, when I got mine the collet and collet nut had seperated, so the bit release did not work properly. After using a clamp to squeeze them back together, bit changes have been easier ever since.
Puckdropper
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"Puckdropper" <puckdropper(at)yahoo(dot)com> wrote in message

Loose wrenches can be a real PIA. Have you considered going and buying some cheap replacement wrenches from Sears or HD? Not Ridgid replacement wrenches but mechanic wrenches.
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On Fri, 02 May 2008 05:57:11 -0700, Chris Nelson wrote:

I personally have a medium sized Skill plunge router that I do all non router table work with. I don't do this professionally so this is a good router for me. Makes clean cuts and is powerful enough to do anything I ask of it. Huge deep cuts in hard maple take a couple passes.
My router table router is fixed base, has an extra HP and variable speed. Large bits need to be used at a lower speed for best results.
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