Several threads here recently - look through the archives of the past
couple weeks at groups.google.com, or search
See also patwarner.com for reviews and lots of info.
I like my reconditioned Dewalt DW618 and my Porter Cable laminate
trimmer, depending on the job.
Amazon and toolking.com are potential places for good deals.
That soft start and the D handle make the Bosch an absolute joy. I
will pick up the Bosch to take to the job anytime over my 6 other
routers (my second favorite, a DeWalt 3 hp router has been condemned to
life in a table since I made a big base template and table for it).
The only time I use a plunger is in the router table or when I am using
my door template. The door hinge router is the 2 1/2 hp Porter Cable,
and that is all it does.
To me, the Bosch is the best of the lot. After running it literally
over thousands of feet of material it still is as tight as when I
bought it. I have heard a lot of complaining about the magnesium
corroding on the barrel and housing of these routers, but that hasn't
been my experience. I use it a lot in our super high humidity
environment, and when I know it will be stored for a while I wipe down
the barrel and housing with a paper towel >dampened< with a teflon
Note I said dampened. This works for any machine, but NEVER spray the
machine itself. If you don't hose it down, it won't build up.
If I were in your shoes, knowing what I know now, I'd buy a Porter
Cable 690 series router kit with both fixed and plunge base like this
(Amazon.com product link shortened)64652818/ref=pd_bbs_3/105-3824083-7833249?ie=UTF8&s=hi
Several other good manufacturers such as Dewalt, and Bosch make similar
routers that are in the same class in all respects. Choose your
favorite color, but stay away from Craftsman and Ryobi and anything
from Harbor Freight.
If you get seriously involved in woodworking, you'll want a bigger
router someday, and a table to mount it in, but you'll always still use
this one for most of your hand-held applications. Resist the
temptation to buy the biggest, most powerful, do all and end all router
out there. They are too big, too heavy and often too top-heavy for
hand-held work. Most of us that are serious woodworkers have at least
three routers, but a good medium-sized one still gets a lot of use.
"If your only tool is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a
nail." - Abraham Maslow
Things to look for in a router
1. Weight. Lighter is easier to handle, easier to keep going where you
want it to go. Heavier, more powerful routers will take a deeper cut at
the expense of handiness. My personal tradeoff is a light router and
take shallower cuts. 1/4" is lighter than 1.2". Quarter inch bits are
more widely distributed than 1/2".
2. Depth of cut. More is better when you are cutting mortises, If the
router lacks depth of cut to pierce the board then you have to mark and
cut from both sides and use care and skill to make the cuts match up
when they meet. I'd like a router to run a mortise clean thru a 2*4,
the long way, from one side. That probably isn't doable, so I might
settle for one that can pierce a 2* 4 the short way cutting from both sides.
3. A light that lights up the cutter.
4. Motor fan arranged to blow the chips away.
5. Good depth of cut adjustment mechanism. It ought to have enough beef
and mechanical advantage to lift the router from full deep to
not-cutting-atall smoothly and with one hand. It wants a lock, to make
sure vibration doesn't alther the depth of cut while you are routing.
My elderly Craftsman is lacking in this area. Damn locking knob will
vibrate loose after a little routing and drop the bit all the way down.
6. It wants to accept "router guide bushings". These let the cutter
stick out, but give a short round sleeve about the top of the cutter.
With a set of these you do template routing. Make up a template of
whatever (hinge, lock set, decorative pattern) outta thin plywood and
the bushing follows the template and prevents the cutter from chewing
into it. The bushings come in several sizes and need the right
baseplate adaptor to fit various routers. Make sure you know which
bushings fit the router you are looking at. If the manual or the
maker's website isn't clear you can be hurting. Router model NNN
accepts bushings part number x,y,and z is clear. A lot of routers ain't
that clear. Don't assume the salesman knows the right answer. Best is
a router with a set of bushings in the store so you can be sure that
they fit. Mail order is chancier.
7. Quiet is nice.
8. Edge guide is nice to have.
9. Ideally you want to change bits with no tools. Probably the best you
can find is a one wrench setup. That means you only have to keep from
loosing one wrench. A two wrench setup means your are outta business
until you find BOTH wrenches.
I don't have, and so far don't have a desire for, variable speed and
This is a good time NOT to get too cheap. There are lots of good machines
in the $160+ range. For around $200+ you can buy sets with interchangable
standard/plunge bases. Bosch, Dewalt, Porter Cable and others make good
machines. I have owned a Bosch 1617 for about three years and love it.
Low end routers cause frustration and will ruin expensive wood and projects.
The most prevalent gripe is loose depth adjustment. You set the depth, run
it a bit and the depth has changed. Hard to do anything consistently with
I recommend machines with 1/2" collets. Not only do they accommodate bigger
bits; you can choose from a little larger selection of bits. Many mentioned
above come with 1/4" and 1/2" collets. Soft-start and variable speed are
good too (the 1617 doesn't have these switch features).
I don't have a 1/2", but I think that if you wanted to make raised panels,
like cabinet doors, then it is advisable to go 1/2". Its not a big deal.
I'd trade. You can get wider cutters that come into the category of
moulding. BTW I have seen a raised panel cutter for a 1/4" shaft router,
and I may get it, but I think it an exception, probsbly creating the minimum
product. This is a specific example. May want to check prices for the type
of sets you are likely to buy, and look at panel cutter sets, etc. they can
be/are the price of the router! A little list of cutters you'll need is a
good idea, and check off all sizes in matching types you'll use. Having
half of what you want, all of the time, takes twice as many tools as you
have, is the rule, nahhh?!
On Mon, 27 Nov 2006 21:05:29 -0800, brentdelf wrote:
So does an 80 buck Sears. And some Festool routers do _not_ take 1/2"
Just about any router you buy today except laminate trimmers and a few
others sold specifically as lightweight tools will take 1/2" bits. While
one should make sure that the router one is considering does in fact have
the capability it's so commonplace that it's not really a useful selection
Consider that under-table use and hand-held are best served by very
I agree with the poster who suggested getting a 1/2" collet as there are
step-down adapters available to permit use of 1/4" shank bits if need be
but it's unlikely you will find an adapter going the opposite direction.
I have a Milwaukee 5625 under my router table. I spent relatively big
money for relatively big iron because I've fooled around with this stuff
enough to have a handle on the sorts of work I want it to do. While this
size router fits MY needs better than a lighter weight one, that's
because I already had a lighter weight router for (infrequent) hand-held
Opinions are usually worth exactly what you pay for them, but ...
Get a middle of the pack router from a reputable manufacturer. I think
the consensus is to skip Rigid, Ryobi and Craftsman but brands such as
Porter-Cable, Bosch, Milwaukee, Triton and Hitachi can all provide good
value in a tool that performs predictably, reliably and well. You'll
find that many accessories are listed as fitting the PC line "and others
like it". Bushings tend to be designed for a PC but bases are available
to adapt pretty much any other router to use those bushings.
If you expect to do much hand-held work, a plunge base may be a good
idea. It isn't needed for under-table work and you can actually do a
great deal of router work without ever needing one.
The more hp you buy, the more useful 'slow start' becomes. And the
bigger bit you use, the more relevant an electric brake becomes. My
Milwaukee doesn't have one and can take a VERY long time to come to a
stop after I turn it off. Since a fair number of injuries seem to come
from tools that had already been turned off (but were still spinning), I
am apprehensive about having a large bit still spinning nearly a minute
after I turned the tool off. I have ADHD and that's enough time for me
to forget that the bit is still spinning.
Get a relatively cheap set of starter bits. As these wear out or dull,
replace the ones you actually have a use for with first quality bits.
There are a number of highly regarded bit makers ... but Harbor Freight
isn't one of them. HF, however, is one possible source of that starter
set. You'll hear HF tools bashed frequently. This is proper and rightly
so. However, HF tools are made 'good enough' to consider when just
getting started in some aspect of woodworking and they offer a genuine
value in their 8 piece set of lathe tools.
IGNORE the people who categorically dismiss HF. They mean well and are
basically harmless, but their mantra seems to be "quality at any cost"
without much regard for the fact that many of us could not afford to do
ANY woodworking if HF didn't sell a line of 'just barely good enough'
That said, leave the HF circular saw blades on the shelf. You can get a
good 40 tooth DeWalt blade for about a buck a tooth but after $100 worth
of HF blades, you still won't have a decent cutting edge. And that
name-brand blade will still be cutting pretty.
Welcome, Howie ... down this path lies madness (and a great deal of
personal satisfaction and good clean fun). Like I said earlier, opinions
on this newsgroup are usually worth every penny you pay for them ...
including mine. ;-)
Life is like playing a violin in public and learning the instrument as
one goes on.
Oh, I forgot to mention bits. There are 3 classes of router bits:
1. High Speed Steel
2. Cheap Carbide Tipped
3. Premium Carbide Tipped
High Speed Steel bits are less than worthless in my opinion because
they burn the edges of your wood and make you wonder why people like
routers anyway. Save yourself money and frustration by staying away
Cheap Carbide bits like you'll find at Home Centers and discount tool
catalogs have their place I guess. They lower the price of admission
for the guy who isn't sure this is his thing yet. They are a big step
up in performance and useful life from high speed steel, and I think a
much better value.
Premium Carbide bits from Whiteside, Amana and CMT are in a class by
themselves. They cut better, leave smoother surfaces, and last longer
than the cheaper carbide bits. I believe they are the best value since
they combine better performance and longer life. BUT, I'm from the
"Buy the best and cry once" school; and I hope I'll be doing
woodworking for another 30 years or so.
If I have a choice, I'll always buy a 1/2" shank bit instead of a 1/4"
shank. The reason is, you'll never deflect the 1/2" shank, and it
never slips in the collet. 1/4" shanks are for less powerful routers
and bits that take small bites. Router manufacturers continue to offer
1/4 collets for big routers because so many of us have a collection of
You will soon have more money invested in bits than in your router, so
choose wisely to avoid paying twice.
"We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom
that is in it - and stop there; lest we be like the cat that sits down
on a hot stove-lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove-lid
again---and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold
one anymore." - Mark Twain
I agree with there others, this is not a time to be cheap. I prefer a D
handle model for control. But, I have more than a few models, my
favorite are Porter Cables. I have the following Porter Cable models.
894PK w/ Variable-Speed Motor Model 8902/ Fixed Base Model 8901/ Height
Adjuster Model 75301/ Plunge Base Model 8931
691 D handle model
7539 Speedmatic 3 1/4 Peak HP Five-Speed Plunge Router
Plus some older models.
But, like any tool you use it's a personal choice having to do with
looks, feel and you financial restraints, If you only occasionally have
use for a router then a cheaper model or brand might fit your need but,
be aware they won't give you the best results or reliability.
I have put in another few hours with this m/c and I am delaing with
misaligned fences, having to add gravity to the table top with my body while
changing depth (w/ a bolt through wood sprocket and furntiure nut), guide
bars coming out from the set screw coming out of grove, etc. I would buy a
med hp 1/2" if u have the money, in high quality. Then again you may not be
able to hold it onto the edge of anything by hand very well... And you may
not need it. And If you don't you may do something that bog down your m/c
to near death.
And other bits you "MAY" want are rail -and- stile sets, which go directly
along with raised panel sets. Again, check for size.
I think there are 3 categories, router, shaper, molder from smallest to
largest cutting tools. here are also the ways to mount these m/cs in "....
I think you can buy a router, a shaper, a molder, a router/shaper, or a
shaper/moulder, but not a router/molder
I may have left out jointer, the first thing you're gonna need along with a
planer with those rail and stile and raised panel bits, after the TS.
just my impressiions
already had prevoious drawbacks in my router
it does effect the quality of the end result, b/c though not eliminatable
the combination will bleed through to the work unless you have more time and
patience than 99% of people.
if u have the money go for something with refinement. Its the total of all
the right knobs, the right threads chosen, how well it locks, how easy it
adjusts, ery detail must be considered and produced without compomise from
the dreaded standard available. This is what makes one a Ferrari vs. a
LADA, given the same bit and HP. It needs it all, I would read reviews for
words like joy, privelefge, reach for it first. Mine falls apart. Most
only wish. My router and table cost me $75 CDN., so I understand. Using a
router without a table is the last thing you want to do. Its fundamental
construction is important. My cast aluminum table isn't even flat from one
side of the cut out to the other. The plastic fence is aligned and flat
only when you use the right combo of paper, cardboard, venner, and push the
against it just the right amount. I don't let obvious mistakes happen or
pass. I can deal with it for doing renovations, but I
couldn't/shouldn't/wouldn't set out to make fine furniture with it. I'd
prpbably screw it up anyways, but with some paint, no problems loom.
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