First Router - Beginner

  • Advertise with us

« back to Power Tools, Hardware and Accessories forum

Forum topic by JBahou posted 04-20-2010 09:37 PM 3630 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View JBahou's profile


15 posts in 3175 days

04-20-2010 09:37 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question router

After a fair amount of research I feel I would benefit greatly from owning a router and router table. I would like to confirm a few things with the LJ community first, though.

First of all, I can do dadoes/grooves on a router table is that correct? It is also my understanding that many router table setups can be used as a jointer as well, is this true?

Now that I got that out of the way, what would you recommend as far as a good router and router table? I have decided that I would like to have a fixed base and a plunge base; I know many have kits that come with both. I would like to know what the EVS function is needed for? I plan to use these tools in many ways but I’m not sure I understand the direct requirement/necessity for EVS seeing as how the price increase for an EVS equipped model is significant, I would like to know why.

Feel free to educate me on routers in general if you like!


-- Jack †

8 replies so far

View bobkberg's profile


439 posts in 3276 days

#1 posted 04-20-2010 10:05 PM

Hi Jack – I just have a couple of points.
1) I already have a large table (8’ long by 3’ deep) for my radial arm saw, so I took the legs off my router table, and made a cut-out in the table that would take it and give me the added stability of no wiggle for the table, and the extra support area for whatever I happen to be working on.
2) Make sure that if you’re doing significant cutting with the router that you take numerous smaller/shallower cuts, or a number of nasty things can happen. The router bit can start rising out of the collett when put under severe load – damaging your workpiece, overheating and burning itself and the workpiece.

If I have a LOT of wood to cut out in the router’s path, I usually cut a small sample of the desired profile, and then cut most of it out with the table saw to save wear, tear, time, and risk with the router table.

Personally, I’m still using a Craftsman router and router table, despite having graduated to better brands on many other things – but I don’t do all THAT much with the router, but I’ve found that this setup works well for me.

-- Bob - A sideline, not how I earn a living

View miserybob's profile


88 posts in 3247 days

#2 posted 04-20-2010 10:10 PM

My porter cable 690’s have been good to me. Buy two – one with a multi-base kit and one to mount under your table. You’ll get awfully tired of switching one back and forth. They are 1-3/4 hp, which is fine for most things… later you may find yourself itching for more hp!

Dadoes are easily done on a router table, but often it’s even easier to do it with a guide and a handheld router (or a dado stack on the table saw – better yet). I have never used a router table to joint anything… I’ve seen how you’re supposed to do it, but I am skeptical. Maybe others have had success.

You might want to build your router table… those things can get really expensive really quickly.

View Branum's profile


54 posts in 3369 days

#3 posted 04-20-2010 10:33 PM

I have several PC 690’s. Great basic router! I am not a fan of combo kits for routers. They always seem to have too much slop for me, but then again I am an engineer for a medical manufacturing company so I usualy measure with calipers. Bosch also makes great routers. Stay away from Skil. Routers are kinda funny in how they should be more usefull but I mostly use mine for dove tails and thats about it.

-- Branum

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3277 days

#4 posted 04-20-2010 10:37 PM

I have a router with both a fixed base and a plunge base. I never use the fixed base. In retrospect, I would buy just a plunge router without the alternate fixed base to use as my hand held router.

I would definitely recommend a separate router for your router table. Switching back and forth is not fun.

I have used my router as a jointer. It works pretty good for edges up to about an inch thick. The key is the ability to adjust the fence on each side of the bit separately. I think the Freud is the very best fence for this. You can micro adjust each side separately.

In theory you need to slow your router down if you are using a large bit. In this context, large means large in diameter. Large bits are often used for door making or cabinet making. In 10+ years I have never used a bit that required me to slow the router down. Therefore, for me (and many other people) EVS is not necessary.

bobkberg’s advice on taking small slices and making multiple passes is important. Trying to bite off too much at a time often leads to some problems.

miserybob mentioned the PC 690. I have the PC 890 in my router table. Both are established standards.

Someday, down the road, you may want to buy one of the lift kits for the router in the table. They are awesome. However, the lift kits only fit certain router models. You may want to check to see if a lift kit is available for the router you want to buy. In this regard, you can’t go wrong with one of the “standards”.

Also, someday you will want some bushings. Most bushings are made for the Porter Cable plate. On some routers you need to get an adaptor to put PC bushings on the router. I would advise to you avoid them.

Finally, if you have the skill, build your own router table.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View live4ever's profile


983 posts in 3212 days

#5 posted 04-20-2010 10:45 PM

My first router was the Hitachi MV12C kit (fixed and plunge bases). It is relatively cheap ($150 or less on AMZ), light, quietest in its class, and relatively powerful (2-1/4 hp). It was a great start for handheld routing.

I then realized I was missing out on most of what the router could do without a table. I wanted to incorporate a router lift in my table for above-the-table height adjustments and bit changing. It turned out most of the lifts available didn’t support the Hitachi without additional adapters, increasing the overall expense.

Ultimately I just bought another router – Triton MFC. It does above the table bit adjustment and changes out of the box. Since it’s a plunge router it’s a bit heavier and unwieldy for more than occasional handheld use, but it’s fantastic under the table. As others have suggested, you’ll probably eventually end up with two routers anyways.

-- Optimists are usually disappointed. Pessimists are either right or pleasantly surprised. I tend to be a disappointed pessimist.

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3277 days

#6 posted 04-20-2010 10:58 PM

I’m going to respond to live4ever a bit. Lots of routers give you the ability for above the table adjustments out of the box including my PC890. What you really have is a method of employing the built in depth adjustment from above the table. I did that for several years. I found that setting the right height was somewhat sloppy and imprecise. I now use the easy lift from Woodpecker. I can really micro adjust the bit height. Each revolution of the crank moves the bit only 1/32nd of an inch. Furthermore, I don’t have to crank it up to raise the router for bit changes. I can release the gears and pop it right to the top in a couple of seconds. I can also pop it back down to approximately the right location and then fine tune the height. In my case, the lifter system is a major improvement over using the built in height adjustment.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View knotscott's profile


8150 posts in 3578 days

#7 posted 04-20-2010 10:59 PM

Jack – A router is among the most versatile tools in the shop IMO. Most of us end up a separate router for hand use, and another for table use. The desirable features for each is different so it makes sense to consider the possibility of getting two specialty routers as opposed to one “do all” type.

The EVS is used to slow the RPM down to spin larger bits like panel raisers, which are dangerous to spin at high speed, so it’s an important feature to have in a table router…less important for hand use.

For table use I’m partial to routers with a spindle that protrudes above the table for easy bit changes, which limits you to the Freud FT3000, FT1700, or the two Tritons. The FT1700 offers easy one handed above table changes, above table height adjust, and above table height lock….their bigger FT3000 offers the same features in a 15 amp plunge model. I’ve got a very nice Milwaukee 5625 that’s a beast, but the convenience of the Freud FT1700 has so much appeal that I tend to only use the MW for really heavy duty stuff.

For hand use, lighter weight, good balance, and multiple bases are handy. Very happy with the Milwaukee 5615 and Hitachi M12VC.

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

View live4ever's profile


983 posts in 3212 days

#8 posted 04-21-2010 12:43 AM

Rich, thanks for expanding on what I said. It’s an important clarification – there is a significant difference between a router’s own height adjustment (which some models let you engage from above the table) and a separate, more precise lift mechanism.

But for a beginner who’s not necessarily wanting the expense of a lift from the get-go, I think above-the-table adjustment is a nice feature to look for (and heck, pop it in a lift down the road if you want the extra precision). The Triton happens to be one highly reviewed model, but like you said, there are others as well.

-- Optimists are usually disappointed. Pessimists are either right or pleasantly surprised. I tend to be a disappointed pessimist.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics