I've read some posts that recommend a newbie to woodworking start out
with a router purchased off of ebay.
If one chooses to go this route rather than buying a $200+ Porter
Cable, is the suggestion to buy a new "El Cheapo" brand or to buy a
used, name brand router? Also, for a first-timer taking this advice,
what's a good target price for a router purchased through ebay?
Thanks for your input.
I guess the answer to this question will have to be based on your goals as a
woodworker. If you just plan to be an occasional weekend hobbiest, you
could get by with an Ebay "El Cheapo" router. If your goals are to one day
evolve into more of a skilled craftsman, you will need a good machine
eventually, and, as you know, they can get pricey.
IMHO a good all around "starter" router would be a PC 690 like this one:
(Amazon.com product link shortened)06691050/sr=8-2/ref=sr_8_xs_ap_i2_xgl60/002-4628604-3036850?v=glance&s=hi&nP7846
For $125, it's a good brand name mid-grade unit. (Home Depot recently had
these on sale for $99) If your an occasional hobbiest, it will adequately
serve you needs. If your goal is to become a dedicated woodworker, it will
also serve you well until you realise the need for a more expensive,
professional router (I prefer the Bosch 1617EVS) Then the 690 will become
your secondary router. (Most of us dedicated woodworkers have more than one
router anyway, so it's not a waste of money to start with a mid grade unit).
The "right" decision here all depends on your level of dedication to
woodworking. Hope this helps! --dave
My first router was a Ryobi plunge router for around 70 bucks. I
really liked it, but eventually the plunge mechanism stopped locking
and the router would drift up or down when making a cut. I was using
the thing in a router table and believe the dust collecting in it was
part of the problem. I tried to fix it myself -like a dope- and now
the thing sits in parts in its case. I've since purchased the Hitachi
mv-12 and I'm not as thrilled with it as many others seem to be. It's
heavy and the plunge mechanism is very sticky. I read an excellent
review on the latest Ryobi, a plunge router for around $100. If you're
looking for a machine that in theory will have plenty of power and good
features at a good price you might want to look into that one.
All the advice on buying a Porter-Cable 690 is on the money. Don't
second-guess it or short yourself with something you will regret
everytime you force yourself to use it. Go buy the P-C now and you will
never need to look back ...
I recommend staying as far away form El Cheapo brands as possible. It's
very discouraging to start out using a badly designed tool. For instance, I
went cheap on a jointer. The outfeed table won't stay put, the adjustment
mechanisms are inaccurate and require wrenches and a screwdriver to adjust
(instead of levers or handcranks as on higher quality tools). The fence is
also a Herculean Task to adjust and doesn't stay adjusted for long. Better
tools are generally easier tools. I'm sure a novice woodworker would be
immediately frustrated with some lower quality tools. Buying a better
jointer would have saved me money on ibuprofen alone, not to mention the
wrecked pieces of wood.
First, arm yourself with knowledge: Go to the local BORG (Home Depot,
Lowes), or other store in your area and pick their brains (should they have
any). Consider a couple of things:
1. Motor size: 1 3/4HP is fairly common and you can get a lot done with
it. Two drawbacks: 1) Usually only accept 1/4 shank bits. 2) Need multiple
passes and may have to go slower when using big bits. There are larger,
i.e. 3HP, but a price tag comes with those.
2. Depth adjustments: Many times when plunging into an item you need to do
it in steps. Some routers come prepared for that and have multiple
adjustable stops. Cheaper models you may have only one depth setting at a
time and have to reset it for each pass. Still, not a big deal if the
adjustment system is user friendly.
As another poster mentioned, most woodworkers end up with multiple routers
so a decent mid-grade model won't be a waist of money.
Amazon and a few other retailers are having a special on the Porter
Cable 694 VK.
You get a nice variable speed router with a fixed base, plunge base and
case. Plus you get a mail-in rebate for a D-handle base all for $199.
However, Amazon is also offering $25.00 off on a tool purchase of $199
or more so you get the whole shebang for $174. No tax or shipping
Not a bad deal and so much better than the el-cheapo on e-bay.
For the record, this deal is better than anything you can find on e-bay
I have been there done that, so I think that I can give you a good advice.
I first bought 2 cheapy out of ebay (real cheapy!!!).
I mounted one as a table router and used the other as a plunge router.
I have now purchased a Porter Cable 694 VK (I beleive), which is a variable
speed soft start plunge/fixed router.
Why did I go and spend $200 to buy 1 new router while I had 2 routers
1) the cheapy ones are not turning realy round. This is a HUGHE issue at
1) it means that the cut quality will be shity
2) it makes the router hard to handle (danger)
3) when using big bits, such as a pannel raiser bit, it is hell DANGEROUS!
2) the setting mechanism will not lock, is hard to handle and tune, the
gages and side rails are not fixed properly causing extra hardship and
danger while you are trying to do something which is already hard and
3) because of the above problems, if you want to do an OK job, you will HAVE
to buy good quality bits, and at $20 a pop, you only need 10 of them to make
up for the price of the Porter Cable. In addition, your bits will not last
as long. I bought 6 bits before I gave up and bought the PC.
Why I am so happy to have moved over?
1) the PC makes routing so much easier, safer, makes better cuts
2) I can use lower quality bits and it is not a problem. I purchased a set
of 50 1/2 shank bit on ebay for $30 and can do a better job with them and
the PC that I could with my cheapy router and a $20 bit. I still go and buy
good quality bits everyonce in a while when I want to do a perfect job on
something, but this is rare now...
3) it feels so much safer! especially with the variable speed when I use the
4) the quality of my work as increased 5 fold over! and I work faster. it is
so much easier to ajust the depth and position!
What shoud you do then?
If you are using a router on a regular basis (one project every 2 months or
more) or are looking at doing good work, I would say pay the price and get
the good router.
If you are using a router on a once in a while, for small project and are
not planning to use large bits, go the cheap route...
If you decide to go the cheap route, I have 2 routers that are up for sale
:-) $15+ shipping!
have fun, cyrille
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