|Review by lumberjoe||posted 05-26-2012 02:07 PM||14454 views||0 times favorited||25 comments|
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”.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.