|Review by TianZi||posted 07-15-2013 06:39 AM||8405 views||0 times favorited||6 comments|
I recently purchased this Craftsman Professional router, though I did decide to return it a few days later. I only had it for 3-4 days, but figured I’d make an account here to post a review since the original reason I purchased the router was based off of lumberjoe’s review (thanks for the review!). Since his review was from about a year an a half ago, I figured I may as well post a new review since I was able to test it out. His review was very accurate compared to my experiences, with some very minor exceptions. I’ll try to keep the same format he used in his review since it looks nice, and should be easy to express differences in opinion.
I wanted to replace my Bosch 1617evs that’s in my router table because i didn’t like the base. Most of the time there’s no noticeable issues, though when cutting smaller stuff like 1/8th-1/16th roundovers sometimes it’s possible to notice that the bit wasn’t perfectly strait when cutting because of how the locking mechanism works. For most of my routing it’s not noticeable since I don’t always look at stuff I route from like 5 inches away to spot imperfections that are off by like 1/100th of an inch. Even then a lot of times if i just unlock and re-lock the router the issue gets fixed anyways. But at any rate, this was enough for me to try another router (plus I sort of like buying new stuff anyways). The PC690 seems 100% accurate every time, probably because of how the height adjustment works, though it’s missing some other features.
I got the router for $135 and planned to use it in my Bosch RA1171 table. It fit perfectly with no issues, and I was even able to use the above table height adjust wrench without any modifications (the adjustment hole was a tad off center for it, but had enough clearance for the wrench to fit and turn the knob).
Came with a soft case which is slightly padded and feels very well made. lumberjoe mentioned that there are no dividers on his bag, though mine does have divider pockets on the inside (maybe a recent change?). It also includes 1/2” collet, 1/4” collet, collet wrench,over table height adjustment wrench, dust extraction hoods for both bases, chip shields, and an edge guide.
Some online reviews on the Sears site expressed issues with the collets for this router, especially with the 1/2” one. I had no issues with bits fitting either of the collets. The hold on the bits when tightening and releasing feels about the same as on my 1617evs, though the collets do look cheap in comparison. The collets from my Bosch are a little longer, though they just barely fit the Craftsman (if it was like 1mm longer, it wouldn’t fit after tightening). Edge guide looks cheaply/poorly made, and looks inaccurate (I didn’t actually try it).
I personally didn’t like the fixed base, and felt the quality on it just wasn’t that great. Possible that I just got a bad one, since I never went in store to actually look at it, and lumberjoe’s seemed to be fine (though that was a year and a half ago, maybe QC went down? lol). It had more play when unlocked then the base on my Bosch 1617evs, so it pretty much killed the purpose which I actually bought the router for in the first place. I think it’s actually becasue of how the height adjust is right next to the little metal thing that holds it to the spindle (on the Bosch they’re almost across from each other).
I seriously spent like an hour+ messing with my table and the nut to tighten the base as well as various patterns of raising lowering the base on my table using the wrench, but couldn’t get it to a point where it was 100% strait/accurate every time. I think this is similar to how lumberjoe mentioned that the height shifts slightly when locking the router base. I’m sure most people would never notice or care about this anyways. I’ll probably just stick with one of the routers that rotate the spindle for height adjustments next time since it seems perfect on my PC router.
On the other hand, the plunge base on mine seemed pretty incredible. I can just hold the right handle and push it down with one hand. Practically no play at all even using one hand (I didn’t actually use the router with one hand, I only did this to see how much play there was). I considered just using the plunge base for my table, but somehow it felt a bit awkward to have a useless fixed base sitting around, lol. Maybe it’s just because it’s brand new, but I seriously though the accuracy on the plunge base was amazing.
Soft start was “slower” than the soft start on the Bosch 1617. I actually preferred the slower soft start. I also liked the led lights even though I didn’t care at all for them before buying it. Holding the router felt quite similar to the 1617, though I actually preferred the rubber Craftsman handles over the glossy wood ones on the Bosch. I liked having the above table wrench, BUT i still had to use the unlock latch which is under the table. Since I was purchasing a router for table use only, I decided to just return this and probably try a Hitachi M12VC or something. I really don’t want to buy a more expensive higher HP router since a majority of my cuts are on a very small scale.
If i eventually do stuff requiring a plunge base router in the future I might just buy another one of these again. It felt a lot better than the plunge bases on any of the routers on display at Lowes or HD (though no idea how many people go around playing with those, lol).
I only paid $85 for my Bosch 1617 since I got it used, though if the Bosch and Craftsman were identical prices, I’d say the Craftman would be the better buy assuming neither of them break down.
*Note: This review was based off of 3-4 days with a brand new router. I have no idea as far as durability goes or if the ridiculously good plunge base would still be so incredible weeks, months, or years later.
Picture 1: Similar size/feel to Bosch 1617evs.
Picture 2: Plunge base is incredible.
Picture 3: Fixed base mechanism kind of sucks.