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Low-priced plunge router for hobby use

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Review by ferstler posted 11-24-2008 11:40 PM 6528 views 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Low-priced plunge router for hobby use No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

Some woodworkers would shudder at the thought of using a Black and Decker tool for routing work, but actually their Fire-Storm unit is not half bad. I picked it up for $60 at Lowe’s a while back (list was $100, I think, but it was being discontinued), and have used it for several sign-making jobs and other oddities.

The unit is rated for 11,000 to 28,000 spin speeds and has a 12-amp motor that seems powerful enough, and the collet is a 1/2 incher. The on/off switch is also easy to use. One thing I really like about it is the dust-collecting feature, which allows outboard sucktion to pull the dust out at the bottom and lets a vacuum or dust-collector machine extract it from an outlet at the top. This feature works very well, indeed. The top connection gets the vacuum hose out of the way.

The router is big, but not all that heavy, and it has a multi-tiered depth-cut feature that also works fairly well. I say “fairly,” because I did have to take the adjustment disc apart and fine tune it a bit to get it to sit as solidly as I would like. Hey, we should not expect Chinese technology to be absolutely perfect for just sixty bucks.

Anyway, it is a decent tool for jobs that require not too much precision. Besides, what really determines a router’s abilities are the cutters one uses, and you can put even the most premium-grade versions in this machine.

Howard Ferstler




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ferstler

333 posts in 2177 days



5 comments so far

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PetVet

329 posts in 2144 days


#1 posted 11-25-2008 04:05 PM

I too have this router and it does have some nice features. I have a Porter Cable mounted in my router table and I use the Black and Decker for free hand work. The soft start is great, it has a micro-adjustment, although as Howard states, it isn’t as accurate as one would hope. Seems plenty powerful, and I find it is not hard to control when doing free had cuts. It handles both 1/4 inch and 1/2 in bits. The base plate seems to be an odd size. Really not a bad second router.

-- Rich in Richmond -- Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.

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Tomcat1066

942 posts in 2453 days


#2 posted 11-25-2008 10:44 PM

I’ve got a couple of other Firestorm tools, and while they aren’t great, they tend to be OK for some stuff. I had actually been looking at this router for a while when suddenly they weren’t around anymore. Oh well. ;)

-- "Give me your poor tools, your tired steel, your huddled masses of rust." Yep, I ripped off the Statue of Liberty. That's how I roll!

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AaronK

1397 posts in 2121 days


#3 posted 12-04-2008 01:06 AM

any idea of how this compares to the Skil router plunge/fixed set?

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Greg

221 posts in 2115 days


#4 posted 12-09-2008 02:18 AM

I found this one at lowe’s on clearence too. after about 20 hours of use it seems to be pretty decent overall. The dust extraction at the top is great. I’ve been using it for mostly freehand sign work. It’s also fairly quiet, and easy to change bits. For what it’s worth I’ve always had pretty good luck with B&D tools.

Greg

-- Greg S.E. Ga. www.thesawdustfactory.net

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sandhill

2122 posts in 2581 days


#5 posted 12-11-2008 03:27 PM

I have the Porter Cable mounted in my router table as well and don’t really like it. After two years and not much use the bearings are going and the machine is over heating now. I will not get another one. Maybe I will try Festool next time.

-- Bob Egbert AKA Sandhill http://www.sandhillwoodworks.com/

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