LumberJocks

Great router, great value

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Review by lumberjoe posted 794 days ago 8956 views 0 times favorited 24 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Great router, great value No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

As you can probably tell by my reviews, I am not a tool snob. I am an IT engineer with a strong background in mechanical engineering, and am very vigilant about finding the best tool that suits my needs for the best price. Also of note, I have a lot of what most would consider cheap tools. I am not bragging at all, but our household income would likely invoke the “99%” crowd to picket at my doorstep. I feel it is important to mention this because a lot of reviews of “cheap” tools, in my opinion, have a sort of “honeymoon” feel to them when the reviewer is simply excited to own any tool in that category. I could probably spend top dollar on everything, but I feel that is wasteful consumption. I am not a professional, and these are my “toys”.

Background
I use a router in some fashion on every single piece of wood I cut. It is very close in the running to the most used tool in my shop, with a slight advantage to the table saw. I just replaced an 8 year old craftsman 2hp router that finally went to tool heaven. That router owed me nothing. It was extremely used, and perhaps overused. For what I put that “cheap” router through, it had no business even turning on for the past 4 years.

I also have a Porter Cable 7518. That router scares the crap out of me. Every time I turn it on I swear I can hear it say “I’m going to kill you today!!”. It is mounted in a table and it will stay there for life. This thing is a shaper disguised as a router, and that is what I use it for. I’m sure people use them free hand, but I’m too big of a wuss to do so. I also have a small Dewalt trim/laminate router that tends to the very light duty stuff. I needed a good, moderately strong router that I can feel comfortable using by hand. I like to do edge profiling by hand, not in a table. I also cut rabbets, stopped dadoes, T&G, dovetails, etc with a hand held router

The Router
At 135.00$ on sale, I couldn’t even get within 100$ of this price for an equivalent. It’s rated at 2.5hp, and realistically I would say it is a solid 2.25hp. Not too shabby. I know people like to say craftsman sucks because of their proprietary crap. but this works fine in my PC dovetail jig. The guide bushings were 11.00 for the set. Also the bushings are user serviceable. another big plus, and the cord is detachable.

Kit
It comes with a pretty good kit. A nice soft case I actually use. It also includes 1/4” collet, collet wrench,over table height adjustment wrench, dust extraction hoods for both bases (that work!), chip shields, and an edge guide that I have yet to try so I cannot comment on.

Base(s) There is both a plunge and fixed base, both of great quality. The height adjustment on both is very easy. A button/slide for coarse adjustment, and a knob for fine (1/64”) adjustment. My only complaint is in the fixed base, you have to un-clamp the base to adjust the height. When you clamp, it moves slightly. This is second nature to me because my other craftsman was the same. I instinctively adjust a tad bit short to account for this, but I figured I would call it out in the review.
The adjustment on the fixed base can be performed over the table if it is mounted in a table with the included wrench.
The plunge base its smooth. Awesome height adjustment as well. There is a dial for coarse adjustment in 1”8” increments. This is so awesome when cutting deep grooves in many passes. Set the final height properly, then turn the dial stop on the bottom to take shallower cuts.
Changing bases is done without tools in seconds. I know some of the other craftsman routers have negative reviews regarding height adjustment and I see why. They have gears on the bases that move them up and down. I can totally see that getting jammed with dust. This router does not have that at all.

User experience
Soft start is nice. No torque twist. It’s also not a screamer. I always thought LED work lights were a gimmick, but I must say they are appreciated. I also like the “hot tool” indicator next to the removable power cord. The power is all there. I have yet to have an issue where I need more power in a handheld application. I haven’t used panel raising bits, but that is what the 7518 is for. The Electronic feedback is nice and actually does work. I’ve intentionally tried to bog the router by feeding a little too aggressively and it keeps up. Did I mention it had electronic feedback? Find that in a router costing 135$. It’s a little on the heavy side, but I prefer that. I would rather concentrate putting thrust against the fence I am using rather than trying to keep the router from climb cutting.

Dislikes
More like minor annoyances. I don’t like the location of the power switch. It’s at the top of the motor and in the middle. I like it to be near the handle. I guess with the soft start, we can call it even.
Not an issue for me, but the included base plate will only fit a bit 1 1/4” in diameter. I see a lot of complaints about that, so again i wanted to call it out. My feeling is twofold:
1 – If you are using a bit that big, put it in a table
2 – If you can’t figure out how to drill out a piece of lexan, maybe a 2.5hp router with a bit bigger than 1.25” isn’t a good thing for you to be handling.
I wish the bag had better provisions for collet wrench, extra collet, and edge guide storage. There is just one big pocket with no dividers .
Speed adjustment. It’s a 1-9 system. I wish it had actual RPM like the PC does. I use the included chart in the manual.

-- www.etsy.com/shop/KandJWoodCrafts




View lumberjoe's profile

lumberjoe

2829 posts in 850 days



24 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

112000 posts in 2179 days


#1 posted 794 days ago

When it comes to Sears tools perhaps I am a tool snob. It’s hard for me to get past all the poor tools I’ve had in the past from sears ,and routers were always number 1 on my dislike list. I think that perhaps the newer sears routers are far better tools then sears routers from years ago.
I don’t know if i missed it or not but is this a full size router or one of the smaller trim router sizes they have come out with. Thanks for the review.

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View Bob817's profile

Bob817

645 posts in 984 days


#2 posted 794 days ago

Hey Joe I hope you don’t have nightmares from that thing. LOL! I have to agree with you, It’s not always the tool that makes the man …... it’s the man that makes the tool. Some are good and then there are some bad, everybody has an opinion whether we agree or not I find that if one is too aggressive something is going to give so I try to find that happy medium. I don’t like doing or buying things twice but my budget usually wins and I have to go the cheap route and I don’t mean the cheapest. Thankyou that was an intersting review.

-- ~ Bob ~ Newton, N.H.

View Rb12's profile

Rb12

52 posts in 830 days


#3 posted 793 days ago

I have a craftsman router that is a few years old and really like it. Very reliable and had some nice perks like an LED light ear the bit. Not a must but a cool feature. I have some “better ” regarded routers too but have never had an issue with the craftsman. Glad to hear they are still going in the right direction with some tools.

View MT_Stringer's profile

MT_Stringer

1804 posts in 1833 days


#4 posted 793 days ago

I also have a Craftsman router – 1 hp model that I bought many years ago. It works well for light/medium duty stuff. I didn’t know what a big difference a larger, more powerful router was like to operate until I bought the Bosh 1617 combo.

I am glad you like the router. I was in the store yesterday looking at their power tools (band saw, table saws, chop saws, etc). It appears plastic is everywhere. Maybe it was the color that jumped out at me. I can still remember very well the only place I knew to buy tools was Sears (70’s).

Question – You mentioned “wrench” in your review. Does that mean only one wrench and the motor shaft has a lock on it for changing bits with only one wrench? That is the way my Craftsman is made.

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View gfadvm's profile

gfadvm

10592 posts in 1292 days


#5 posted 793 days ago

Thanks for the very thorough review.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View rikgn's profile

rikgn

28 posts in 1533 days


#6 posted 793 days ago

Joe, Good review. I am a big Craftsman fan and have been for the most part of 40 years. I have never had a problem with any Craftsman tool. Most tools in my collection are from Sears especially the ratchets, sockets and wrenchs. Also my table saw, circular saw, drill press and miter saw. Lest not forget all the yard working tools, garden tractor, weed trimmer and the list goes on. But when it came time and I wanted a router a few years ago, I went Porter Cable and don’t know why. I’m not dissappointed and if I need another Craftsman is number one on my list. RG

View lumberjoe's profile

lumberjoe

2829 posts in 850 days


#7 posted 793 days ago

Jim, this is a large router. I have a little dewalt trim router. I also, as I mentioned have a 3.5hp Porter cable 7518. I wanted something in between. The porter cable will never leave my router table. I heavily considered the Bosh 1617 and the Porter Cable 894. I can honestly say, in my opinion, this is the better router for the money. The PC or the Bosch might be a tad bit easier to adjust/use,, but nowhere near 100.00 to 150.00$ better. There is little to no plastic on this router. Even the power switch is metal. The plastic is where it’s needed. Actually my porter cable 7518 has more plastic.

Also for the record, I am generally not a fan of Craftsman woodworking tools. Their automotive/mechanics tools are top notch for light/medium duty. Most tools I have looked at seem like they are geared toward a different crowd – those who do not demand perfection but a basic tool that is readily available a few miles away. I will however concede this is a great tool. If you are in the market for a router between 2 and 3 horsepower, do yourself a favor and at least go look at this one.

Also of note, I can’t say I would purchase any other craftsman router currently than this model. This model is drastically different than every other model they currently have out. It shares almost nothing but the name with it’s brethren – including the color.

MT_Stringer – yes, it does have a spindle lock.

-- www.etsy.com/shop/KandJWoodCrafts

View dnick's profile

dnick

892 posts in 984 days


#8 posted 791 days ago

I got a Craftsman 2768, 12 amp, 2 hp, about 16 months ago. Fixed base only. Ordered it before it was released. I never thought to reviews tools I got before I joined the website. I have used the tool strictly on the router table, & it’s done everything I asked it to do. Love the soft start & the variable speed makes using larger bits safe & smooth. I’ve used it a lot. It’s a good tool. The question now, you have to ask of all Craftsman tools, is, will it hold up ? Didn’t use to have to worry about that for most of my life.

-- dnick, North Hollywood, Ca.

View Dedvw's profile

Dedvw

76 posts in 1483 days


#9 posted 790 days ago

I have a 3 year old black, 2.25 HP, variable speed Sears router. It was a plunge/ fixed base kit that I bout new on sale for $95. I’ve used it quite a bit and the only problem I’ve had is a case buckle broke (if you wanna call that a problem).

Ive used some top end routers including the Festools and I personally think the Sears is as smooth as the best of them. The soft start and LED lights are a big plus. I find the VS has a very linear feel to it. This baby has more than enough power for any job I have used it on including Maple and Mahogany.

I love mine!

View lumberjoe's profile

lumberjoe

2829 posts in 850 days


#10 posted 790 days ago

Over the weekend I did get a chance to use the edge guide. It’s pretty nice and very useful. Again I want to make it clear that I am not reviewing or recommending craftsman routers in general. This review and recommendation is strictly for the Craftsman Professional model 27680. In looking at their other offerings (everything they make EXCEPT this one), I think there are much better routers out there. However in the 2.5 horsepower/15amp market, this router definitely holds it’s own. I also got the chance to use my neighbors new Bosch 1617 at a cookout this weekend. It’s a little lighter, a little quieter, and the wood handles don’t collect sawdust which is nice, but I still prefer the craftsman model. I think the electronic feedback on the craftsman is superior as I can actually notice the bit speed up/slow down on the Bosch as it reacts. The Craftsman is completely unnoticeable. I know some my feel a lighter router is a benefit, but that is one tool where I personally prefer a little heft.

-- www.etsy.com/shop/KandJWoodCrafts

View cutworm's profile

cutworm

1063 posts in 1395 days


#11 posted 754 days ago

Great buy. 10-4 on the switch. About the same place as my Ridgid. Sounds like really good value on the router.

-- Steve - "Never Give Up"

View lumberjoe's profile

lumberjoe

2829 posts in 850 days


#12 posted 754 days ago

Just as an update, I’ve gotten to really put this through its paces. I really like this router and would strongly recommend it to anyone looking for a router in the 2 to 2.5 hp range. The power is all there. I have yet to bog it down, even cutting a 1/4” dado all the way through 3/4” plywood in one pass. The digital feedback is excellent. Bit speed is maintained even if you get a little aggressive with feed rates. The dust collection works REALLY well with the plunge base, Very little dust escapes. The fixed base is not quite as good with dust collection. The sub bases will also accept any PC style bushing, so compatibility is not an issue.

The plunge base is the best I have ever used on a router. Smooth. accurate, and simple to adjust and micro adjust. I have not used this in a table as this is my handheld router so I cannot comment on table adjustments, but there is provisions for it with an included wrench. The only annoyance is of my own doing. My old router only had a 1/4” collet so half of the bits I have are 1/4, half are 1/2”. Switching out collets is kind of annoying as the base needs to come off. Again, this would be the case with any router I own.

I’m not sure who actually makes this router, but Craftsman finally got something right and picked a winner. If they put this level of quality into all of their tools, or at the very least the “Professional” line, maybe some of the faith our fathers and grandfathers had in this brand would come back.

-- www.etsy.com/shop/KandJWoodCrafts

View harriw's profile

harriw

85 posts in 809 days


#13 posted 716 days ago

Hi Joe,

I’m in the market for a 2.5HP router and had all but decided on the Bosch 1617. I’d excluded C-man from my search based on bad experiences with their power tools in the last decade, but was in Sears today for something else and thought I’d take a look while at routers while I was there anyway. I gotta say this one impressed me (thought I agree that their other offerings definitely did not). It strikes me as an extremely similar design to the Bosch, actually.

My question is that it seems like the plunge mechanism on their floor model had some play to it (it allows you to compress one slider more than the other). I’m concerned about the resulting lateral movement of the bit. Have you noticed this, or had any problems with it? I’d like to be able to use the plunge base to cut mortises, and I’m wondering if the slide play will result in unacceptable results. Maybe that’s just asking too much of a simple plunge router? I have similar concerns about the Bosch too, but the DeWalt model seems like it had far less play. I’m basing all of this on my evaluation of heavily-abused floor models though, so I’d like to hear from an actual owner/user.

This is easily $50 less than the Bosch, and it comes with the dust port and edge guide (the Bosch doesn’t), and apparently it’s compatible with PC bushings straight out of the box (the Bosch isn’t). It’s sounding awfully attractive…

Thanks for the review! Very helpful and timely!

-- Bill - Western NY

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MrRon

2724 posts in 1845 days


#14 posted 716 days ago

Craftsman this, Craftsman that; what is Craftsman? Sears doesn’t make anything. Craftsman is a generic name for all their tools. Who knows who makes their routers. One model may be made by Ryobi, another model by Emerson. You need a scorecard to keep up with who makes what. Instead of saying the Craftsman router is great, one should say the (xxxxxx) router is great. We know PC routers are good. If Sears sold one made by PC under the Craftsman banner, we would be more inclined to accept it as good.

View bandit571's profile

bandit571

6676 posts in 1285 days


#15 posted 716 days ago

I think I wound up with the “non-PRO” version…

It also had the fixed base, and plunge base. It is sitting on the P-C Dovetail jig that I can FINALLY use after three plus years of making do with others. There is as an edge guide, a router table “lift wrench”, a regular wrench, and a nylon fabric carry bag. $170, out the door….

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

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