Routers for a beginner...

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calmly ranted:

Try one of the super-cheap 2hp (right) imports found on Ebay. If nothing else, you can always get your $25 back by reselling it there or locally. ;)
Need a hammer drill? Medium-duty 1/2" (metric inches, evidently) variable speed (0-2800rpm) with masonry bits, metal bits, grinder bits, extra side handle, depth gauge, + a molded case sound good? Just $25 for the 21-piece set, delivered to your door, and I have 2 sets left. They're cheap little POSs but I was amazed at how well they work. The motor is tough: it supported my 200lbs for awhile when I drilled a drain hole in the sidewalk. Holes in cinder-block walls are quick with these things.
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Hi Squanklin,
I bought the lower priced router last spring. Sure, it's got me through everything I have done. But I am left in a situation where I cannot get accessories for it. If you buy a good brand you will find you will save money in the long run, cause you will be able to purchase accessories. Trust me, if you don't own a router table, you'll be looking at the accessories.
To put it simply, with a moderately priced PC or whatever brand router, you'll be farther ahead in the long run.
1/4" or 1/2" - easy go for a router that can handle 1/2" bits. There more stable. I'm stuck with 1/4" for the moment. "My second mistake".
As for bits. A TV host suggested to his viewers. Buy a basic set, then just replace the one's you use with higher quality bits. This way you have some flexibility with the basic set to get you started, and buy higher quality for the ones you really need and use.
From experience I've only used 3 or 4 bits on a regular basis. The straight cutting bits, a flush trim bit. A chamfering bit, and a rabetting bit. The fancy bits are nice, but you will end up using the ones above more often.
Router features you want;
A good brand name. Around 2HP and up. Soft Start feature. Variable Speed.          Precision depth control. 1/4" and 1/2" collets I like the plunge base. Some method of dust control.
Pat
wrote:

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I have been in the Hobby now for close to 40 years and I have six routers in the shop... 4 of them are permantely mounted in Router tables... 2 regular tables, one Horizontal table, and one overhead pin router table the last 2 are used for hand use....one is a plunge because that feature is sometimes needed...the other has the standard base and it honestly gets the most free hand use....

You listed features to look for below...

Ok I will agree with you on that

None of mine even have 2 Hp Never had a problem with lack of power

Again None of mine have this and maybe I do not know what I am missing..

Again none of mine have it.         

"Presision" is hard to define...BUT I agree

Only if you have a pile of old 1/4 in bits on hand... I do but rarely use them

IF I had only one router I agree...

Lol.. the floor does a great job in my of "collecting" dust in my shop
Just my opinion.... Bob Griffiths
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Bob makes good point here, but let me clarify a tad.
Some day you may end up with multiple routers. What's good in one situation is bad in another. For the most part extra power comes with extra weight. You really don't want a 3HP monster for freehand work, but you do want a 3HP monster mounted in your table to raise (or is that raze?:-)) panels.
Jamming every feature into your first router is not necessarily the way to go. Ultimately multiple purpose routers are the best place to end up.
Variable speed IMHO is a necessity for the 3HP monster but becomes less of an issue with smaller machines.
FWIW freehand routing kind of scares me. I have a monster mounted in a table that does 75% of my routing, 10% with a big laminate trimmer/small router for freehand work.
Get this: The remaining 15% is done with hand planes, table saw and/or sanding (a block plane does a fine job of putting on a small chamfer).
-Steve

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Hi Steve,
I agree with the last part 100%. However keep in mind, I was responding to another persons questions about routers. The person was looking for a good starting point and most of the features I mention are pretty standard at the mid range level. In most cases, it's less than $50 difference between the cheapy and an entry level router that will serve him well. If he's only going to buy one router, then he's probably better off getting some of those features now and spending the extra few dollars. Rather than realizing down the road that he's made a mistake buying the cheapy and really should have bought a router that is more versatile. Merry Christmas
Pat
On Sat, 18 Dec 2004 11:24:52 -0500, "C & S"

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Hi Bob,
I was striving for versatility for the person who buy's a single router.
Mine has 1 3/4 HP. Never had a problem myself. But today, 2HP routers are pretty common. I have the soft start on mine, which was suprising for a router I bought on sale for $69 CDN, and I've never owned a router without that feature, but I hear start up torque in some router can be quite surprising. The variable speed feature is nice. I learned that cutting a deep rabbet. I turned down the speed and it did a lot nicer job in the Red Oak I was working with. Frankly, the larger the bit diameter, the lower the speed is a good safety practice, and has been mentioned fairly often in this group.
Most variable speed routers have the electronic compensation built in. If the router bit slows down, the electronics will automatically adjust the power to keep the speed uniform.
The precision depth which I don't have on mine. Mine's a turret depth stop in 1/8" increments. It's a pain if you have to re-setup to replicate a profile which you cut two or three days earlier. PC is selling mid range routers with precision depth control that supposedly is accurate to 1/128th of an inch. Never tried it myself, but it sounds real good compared to the depth stop that I have on mine.
Most routers that will take a 1/2" bit, will also have a provision for the 1/4" bits. Writing both sizes was just for clarity.
As for the plunge base. I've read about people complaining it is a lot harder to control the router etc. The balance is different. Maybe that is true, maybe some people feel more secure with a fixed base. I think a lot depends on how you personally hold the router and what you get used to doing.
As for the dust control. Some have vaccuum attachments that go through the handle. Some have this little "stupid" plastic attachment that mounts to the router base which seems to get in the way, and interfers with the ability to do a full plunge with the router. Like you, I choose to get thoroughly covered in dust and use the shop vac to clean up afterwards. But generally speaking, some form of dust control is a darn good thing.
Merry Christmas....
Pat
On Sat, 18 Dec 2004 10:51:06 -0500, Bob G.

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Check out the Porter Cable 693PK (two base combo kit). Amazon.com has it now for $175 including shipping after discounts.
I agree with a couple of other posters ... don't buy Ryobi. And avoid the Hickory brand router bits at the Borg (DAMHIKT).
I currently have a Bosch 1617EVS combo ... but if I had to do it again I'd probably do a Porter Cable. I use mostly Amana and Whiteside bits (1/2" shank), with which I'm pleased.
Cheers, Nate
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I bought the Bosch 1617 kit a couple of years ago with the case and the separate plunge base. Great tool for any starter. Essentially two routers in one set. I thought the wooden ball handles were kinda unique and attractive. However, after several hours of use they really seem to enhance the way the non-plunge configuration handles. Good all around tool and enought power for respectable router table performance.
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