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Forum topic by namrufmot posted 03-01-2016 12:56 AM 617 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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namrufmot

54 posts in 327 days


03-01-2016 12:56 AM

Since I finally bought my own house I’ve been slowly amassing a decent amateur workshop in the basement:

14” Vintage Delta Bandsaw
Delta Table Saw
Atlas 5010 Disc/Belt Sander
Grizzly Drum Sander
11” Vintage Delta Drill Press

Now I need a router…eventually I’d like to make a router table but that might not be for a while. I rarely use routers (never do tongue and groove, etc) and primarily just to round overs and dado-style cuts.

What brand/model should I be looking at? I don’t need nor want something like a Triton…Should I be looking at a plunge and/or fixed base? Since I’ll be using it so rarely would a HF router be enough?

Any tips or advice would be appreciated.


14 replies so far

View JBrow's profile

JBrow

812 posts in 379 days


#1 posted 03-01-2016 02:20 AM

namrufmot,

In tools, I try to buy the best I can afford under the theory that when I use the tool, I want it to always do the job well. Therefore, I tend toward brand names like Port Cable, Dewalt, Hitachi, etc. The other consideration is that even though you foresee few circumstances in which you would use the router, you may find that once you have it, you will find all kinds of use for it.

The plunge router will give your greater flexibility than a fixed base router. It is also easier to use in a router table.

I have little experience with Harbor Freight, so I cannot say whether their routers would suffice.

View David Taylor's profile

David Taylor

326 posts in 547 days


#2 posted 03-01-2016 03:54 AM

I second the notion that you want a decent quality router. You know what you are doing now, but you don’t know what you might be doing in two, five or more years down the road, and buying something twice because you went cheap the first time sucks, I know from experience.

I would also suggest a router kit that has both a fixed base and a plunge base – much more versatile. As an example, this Bosch router kit is only $174, which, while more than a HF router, will last and perform so much better. Amortize the cost over the several years you will own it (I’ve had my Dewalt kit over ten years now), and it’s actually cheaper in the long run than having to buy multiple cheap routers.

-- Learn Relentlessly

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a1Jim

115201 posts in 3037 days


#3 posted 03-01-2016 04:20 AM

If this is for hand routing then I recommend a Porter Cable 691 “D” handle model you have lots of control with the handle and trigger start and stop.

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View bigJohninvegas's profile

bigJohninvegas

206 posts in 921 days


#4 posted 03-01-2016 04:22 AM

I have collected several routers over the years.
I have two dewalt 618. The 1st one was a kit that had a fixed, plunge, and a pistol grip base.
Then I found a porter cable that I keep in my router lift.
Then I picked up a little trim router. All of my routers came from craigslist.
Never planned on having so many routers, but I find that I use them all.
I like both the dewalt, and porter cable routers, and would not buy a cheapo HF router as a primary tool.
With that said, the little trim router I just picked up a couple months ago is literally a no name. All the markings are worn off, and its shape is not familiar to me. I picked it up for $15. And I keep a small round over bit in it.
That idea came from a pro wood worker friend wbo has a half dozon routers all with different bits.
Uses them almost daily, and says only having one router sucks. It will always have the wrong bit in it.

-- John

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runswithscissors

2176 posts in 1485 days


#5 posted 03-01-2016 05:13 AM

By all means I would not buy any router that is incapable of using 1/2” shank bits. This includes the older, home workshop Craftsmen, almost all of the Ryobis, and maybe others. On the other hand routers with 1/2” collets can also use smaller 1/4” shanked bits, either with an adaptor sleeve, or a separate collet, such as the Porter Cable routers. Another nice thing about PC routers is they established the standard for template guides with their 1 1/4” (+ or -) base plate holes. Some routers require adaptors to use the PC guides, but it’s easy to make your own base plates instead. I do this often when I need a custom base plate—such as with a large diameter bit. 1/4” hardboard works well for this.

Having a router (or any good tool) opens up possibilities that you otherwise would dismiss as impossible or not practical.

Oh, I second the vote for the D handle configuration. I even hybridized a PC D handle with their plunge base, giving me a plunge router with a D handle. Very handy. One thing I really like about a D handle is it contains the trigger switch, so you don’t have to move your hand to turn the router on or off. Safer, and you don’t have to worry about the torque making the router jump and spoiling the work.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

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knotscott

7207 posts in 2835 days


#6 posted 03-01-2016 10:37 AM

Aiming for rock bottom pricing of any tool rarely works out as well as hoped. If you to plan to use the router in a table, you’ll want variable speed. You’ll want 1/2” shank capability too. If you can, spend a bit more and cry once….you’ll smile every time you use a good router. $100-$150. Buy used, buy refurbished, buy clearance models, aim for the better values like the entry level full size routers from Hitachi, PC, DW, Milwaukee, Makita, Bosch, (Triton) etc. At the least, even the current line of Craftsman routers are pretty well received for value for a hobbyist. I personally would sacrifice the plunge base instead of basic quality if I had to cut somewhere, but it’s definitely cheaper to buy the kit than to add the plunge base later.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View lateralus819's profile

lateralus819

2236 posts in 1349 days


#7 posted 03-01-2016 10:56 AM

I have the Bosch 1617 and DeWalt DW611. Both excellent routers.

View Mikesawdust's profile

Mikesawdust

274 posts in 2499 days


#8 posted 03-01-2016 11:36 AM

for the limited use you propose, I would go for a small Bosch router. A hand size router will still be useful if you decide to expand into a larger router or a router table. I have both a hand 1/4” and a table router and use the hand router exclusively for round overs, especially on larger builds. 1/2” routers are great for some jobs but I find round overs a lot easier if I don’t get a hernia lifting the router to the piece.

View rwe2156's profile

rwe2156

2187 posts in 940 days


#9 posted 03-01-2016 01:05 PM

+1 a1jim. Can’t go wrong as a first router.
Dittos on buying the best tools you can afford.

For some, that is Harbor Freight.

The kits that have plunge and standard bases are nice DeWalt, Milwaukee, PC, in that order.

Personally, I think PC tools have degraded over the last 10 years so I tend to go with the yellow.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View xeddog's profile

xeddog

113 posts in 2467 days


#10 posted 03-01-2016 06:18 PM

I have a Bosch 1617 EVS and a Milwaukee 5615(?). Both came in kits with fixed and plunge bases. Both are very good. I have relegated my Bosch to my router table with lift, and use the Milwaukee for handheld uses.

I also have a PC 690 kit, but I have sent that one packing to my sons place. I should probably get it back since he doesn’t use routers. I have also recently acquired a very old PC 690 that came in a steel box, and a PC trim router that is also pretty old. They were “thrown in” with a Leigh dovetail jig I bought. I have not used either of them yet.

One link that was shown above pointed to a reconditioned router kit. My experience with reconditioned merchandise of any type has been extremely poor, so I would recommend staying far away from them. They either have not performed well, or they failed way to prematurely, or both.

Wayne

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

3926 posts in 1953 days


#11 posted 03-01-2016 06:32 PM

I guess I can see 2 answers to this: if you just want to dip your foot in the water and try one, the HF model may give you the experience you need to move on (and you will move on). But here’s the thing: the router is one of the most versatile tools in your shop. Even with your imagined usage of roundovers and dados, you will quickly find there are many uses for which it is the best tool. So my second answer would be to spend a little more and get a combo kit (fixed and plunge bases), making sure it has variable speed and the ability to handle 1/2” shank bits. I prefer the ones that actually have a 1/4” as well as a 1/2” collet (as opposed to a 1/2” collet with an “adapter”) and my personal favorite for this would be the Milwaukee 5616-24.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View teejk02's profile

teejk02

423 posts in 585 days


#12 posted 03-01-2016 06:56 PM



I have a Bosch 1617 EVS and a Milwaukee 5615(?). Both came in kits with fixed and plunge bases. Both are very good. I have relegated my Bosch to my router table with lift, and use the Milwaukee for handheld uses.

I also have a PC 690 kit, but I have sent that one packing to my sons place. I should probably get it back since he doesn t use routers. I have also recently acquired a very old PC 690 that came in a steel box, and a PC trim router that is also pretty old. They were “thrown in” with a Leigh dovetail jig I bought. I have not used either of them yet.

One link that was shown above pointed to a reconditioned router kit. My experience with reconditioned merchandise of any type has been extremely poor, so I would recommend staying far away from them. They either have not performed well, or they failed way to prematurely, or both.

Wayne

- xeddog

Guessing your PC in the metal box was the 90th anniversary model? That was my first 690 after tossing the Craftsman junk I used to get for Christmas. I have since added the kit (fixed and plunge…694 I think) and just recently picked an “open box” new 690 off E-bay for $100. I like the 690’s…they just keep going and going…As for reconditioned stuff I have had very good luck…the big houses get the stuff that failed the factory QC for usually minor reasons (or somebody used it once and convinced a store to take it back). I would definitely get the “combo” pack though. Usually I leave the fixed base on but for “stopped” dados the plunge is the ticket (that’s why I bought the 3rd 690…I use the Leigh dovetail jig a lot and is nice to keep 2 routers going…one for the pins the other for the tails. Got tired of swapping the plunge base in and out.

View mramseyISU's profile

mramseyISU

419 posts in 1005 days


#13 posted 03-01-2016 07:16 PM

I’m a big fan of my Bosch 1617. It mostly sits in the router table these days but it’s been good to me.

-- Trust me I'm an engineer.

View pintodeluxe's profile

pintodeluxe

4852 posts in 2273 days


#14 posted 03-01-2016 09:26 PM

I have Bosch, Freud, Porter Cable, Dewalt and Hitachi. My two favorites are both Dewalt. The 618 is a good general purpose router, good for everything from roundovers and dados to delicate inlays and dovetails.
The 611 is a compact router that is also pretty useful.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

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