What router and accessories will a beginner woodworker need.

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Forum topic by DaughterCarrie posted 06-22-2016 03:06 AM 1216 views 0 times favorited 23 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View DaughterCarrie's profile


2 posts in 124 days

06-22-2016 03:06 AM

My dad is newly retired and wants to get into woodworking. I think he would be considered a beginner, but I think he does have some experience from helping out my grandpa long ago who was a master woodworker. He has been saying he wants to get a router for the longest time, and I thought it might make a great retirement gift. However, I have no idea what to look for.

Can anyone give recommendations for a router (what brand and model) and any accessories he will need to get started? I think he would probably want a router table and whatever bits he would need to make simple grooves and rounded edges. I was looking at Dewalt brand, because that seems to be a brand that he has chosen for a number of his other power tools. But I’d like to get an opinion on the best brand for the most reasonable cost.


23 replies so far

View MadMark's profile


966 posts in 873 days

#1 posted 06-22-2016 03:32 AM

Whatever router table you get, avoid the ones with cast in aluminum grooves as they will catch chips and jam while routing. A nice smooth table is called for. Don’t spend $$$ on a fancy fence at first.

Routers come in small (under 1hp), med (~2hp), and large (3hp & up). The small units take 1/4” bits, the largest 1/2” bits and the med routers usually do both. Variable speed is required on large routers.

Buy only carbide bits. HSS bits don’t normally survive a good sized project. You wind up spending more on bits than the router & table combined:

One accessory that is a must is a digital height gauge:

This greatly simplifies repeat setups and is lots easier to see if you’re looking with old eyes.


-- Madmark -

View DwightC's profile


26 posts in 196 days

#2 posted 06-22-2016 03:53 AM

Carrie—guys get very finicky about tools and brands and that sort of thing, and I’ll bet your Dad is no exception. Would there be any harm in asking him? Or, if he goes on Amazon, asking him to poke around and post to his wish list what his preferences are. Either of those things would certainly let the cat out of the bag, but greatly increase your chances of success. In my experience, buying tools for retirees is a bit like buying video games for teenagers, you either nail it, or it’s a waste of money.
FWIW, I personally like Makita stuff. Most people love the Bosch router that comes with both a fixed and a plunge base. Porter Cable makes very good routers at a couple of different price points. A medium size router is probably a good starting point—the small ones have limited capabilities and the large ones, while powerful, are bulkier and harder to handle (unless under a table, of course). Whiteside makes outstanding router bits manufactured here in the U.S. MLCS is a good source of less expensive, imported bits. There are many, many accessories for both Porter Cable and Bosch routers, although for most brands you can buy adapters, if necessary. Again, though, you’ll find that people have strong opinions based on personal experience or (even worse) what they’ve read or heard somewhere. Hey, welcome to the internet.
Just so you know I know what I’m talking about, in the last month my adult son gave me a tail vise for my birthday and my adult daughter gave me bandsaw blades for Father’s Day. Both of those gifts involved some coaching. Go kids!

View rwe2156's profile


2114 posts in 900 days

#3 posted 06-22-2016 12:18 PM

All the major brands will be suitable tools. FWIW, my personal preference for power hand tools is DeWalt.

If I were buying 1 router and want to use it in a table, I would go with a plunge router in the 2HP range.
The larger 3+ HP routers can be a little heavy for hand use.

I think a quality, micro adjustable edge guide is a good investment.

For a router table, I have built two, never bought a commercial table, but if I were to buy one, I would look strongly at Bench Dog. You will also have to address the router lift. Be warned: it can get expensive very quickly.

IMO the best router bits on the market are Whiteside. I also use Amana and I’ve tried MLCS, too. I tend to stay away from the Freud bits or anything sold in little boxes as kits. Definitely no off brand or bargain basement bits, OK? I buy bits as I need them. I do not recommend buying sets of bits you will probably end up with 1 or 2 you never use.

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

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

3841 posts in 1913 days

#4 posted 06-22-2016 12:30 PM

My brand choice would be Milwaukee (the 5616-24), but that may not be the choice of your dad. Like someone above said, most of the major brands are good. But maybe some criteria might be useful for a first router (all IMHO, of course). The ones rated at 2-21/4 HP will probably be the most useful. It should have variable speed and a pair of bases (plunge and fixed). Also make sure it has both the 1/4” and the 1/2” collets, some of them come with adapters for the 1/4” shank bits. I avoid those (stay with collets) but a lot of folks seem to have no problem with them. Routers that fit this would the Milwaukee I mentioned as well as the Bosch 1617 EVSPK (a favorite of many). Don’t really know which Dewalt product fits the bill, but this should give you some ideas.

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

View Kirk650's profile


272 posts in 168 days

#5 posted 06-22-2016 12:54 PM

I have two of the Bosch 1617 EVSPK (used to have two workshops) with fixed and plunge bases. Excellent routers. It’s good to have both type bases, and both bases will accept the Bosch template guide attachment. And Dad will eventually want a small router (trim router), and the best presently available is the Dewalt with both bases.

View joey502's profile


482 posts in 938 days

#6 posted 06-22-2016 01:19 PM

I like dewalt routers, i own several. The dw618 is a good first option, is a variable speed 2.25hp. Mine came with three bases and 2 collet sizes.It is a very useful router for both handheld and table mounted applications.

My choice of router table and lift would be from a Canadian company called Jessem. Their tools are not cheap but they are top shelf quality.

As far as accessories and bits go… i would let him make those decisions based on the projects he would like to build. I find it best to start planning a project and then get what i need for that project. With that said i am also a fan of Whiteside brand cutting tools.

View ScottM's profile


330 posts in 1566 days

#7 posted 06-22-2016 01:39 PM

Ditto on the DeWalt DW618. I have that one too with 3 bases. I mounted the fixed base in my table. I can remove the motor and put it in the D-handle or plunge base when I need it for hand held stuff. Came with both 1/4” and 1/2” collets, variable speed for larger bits. Haven’t had any power/HP issues with anything I’ve done with it so far.

View BulldogLouisiana's profile


183 posts in 560 days

#8 posted 06-22-2016 02:31 PM

It’s all budget dependent. A good router table setup can cost quite a bit. There are a lot of good recommendations that have already been made.

If he likes Dewalt, the DW618 is highly regarded. I have the DW611PK kit for hand routing, and I love it. It’s not meant for a table use though. Pay attention to the model numbers carefully. I know a few people that really dislike the DW616, but love the DW618.

I think the biggest thing would be to not waste money on bad router bits. Cheap bits are a safety hazard, and can be frustrating to deal with. Everytime I’m at Lowes, I see someone walking around with one of those SKIL router bit combo sets and I have to stop myself from saying anything. Heck, they will probably leave with those cheap bits and make something better than I can anyway.

-- There are 10 types of people in the world. Those who understand binary and those who don't.

View BulldogLouisiana's profile


183 posts in 560 days

#9 posted 06-22-2016 02:40 PM

One accessory that is a must is a digital height gauge:

This greatly simplifies repeat setups and is lots easier to see if you re looking with old eyes.


- MadMark

If someone was just getting into woodworking, a reliable 4 inch combination square may be an alternative that would provide more versatile. I don’t think a digital height gauge is a bad investment though.

-- There are 10 types of people in the world. Those who understand binary and those who don't.

View GR8HUNTER's profile


979 posts in 132 days

#10 posted 06-22-2016 02:43 PM

I not having a huge budget for more tools automatically go to craigs list then you would be able to post here and get better comments I use porter cable routers they will all turn bits but I think bits are more important then router


View pintodeluxe's profile


4825 posts in 2233 days

#11 posted 06-22-2016 04:01 PM

I have two Dewalt 618’s and a couple of the smaller 611’s. They are both great routers, but if I could only have one, it would be the 618. They are good for general purpose work, and excel at intricate and highly precise work.

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

View AZWoody's profile


680 posts in 644 days

#12 posted 06-22-2016 04:15 PM

My suggestion may not be popular but I have a couple of the Harbor Freight 2hp fixed base routers and I have not had any problems with them. They have had pretty good reviews online. I believe they’re based on the Porter Cable models.

The trim router has served me well also until I upgraded. For plunge routers, I have Bosch and Triton but those are both in the 3hp ranger and are pretty big. Might be a little too much for a beginner.

View a1Jim's profile


115172 posts in 2997 days

#13 posted 06-22-2016 05:00 PM

What I recommend to the new woodworkers in the woodworking class I teach is the Porter cable 691 it’s “D” shape handle and trigger adds a lot of control and I think safety for new woodworkers. The Other thing about Porter cable is that it has many available accessories and parts haveing been a standard for Pro woodworkers for years,many of the other brands accessories can sometimes be hard to find,take it from a guy who owns 42 routers.

-- Custom furniture

View Richard's profile


1871 posts in 2110 days

#14 posted 06-22-2016 05:03 PM

Lots of good information already been given to you so I would just agree with a few of them.

A Big 2 1/2 plus router pretty much belongs in the table , a good 1 1/2 or 2 hp for hand work with 1/4 and 1/2” collets.

Many good tables on the market and the ones listed before are all good and can also all be a pretty big investment and more so when you add a lift .

Good Quality Bits are a must and you only need maybe 10 at the most to get started , an assortment of straight and round over bits and a chamfer bit or two and maybe a couple of ogee bits. After that buy what you need as you need it.

Good luck and I Hope you Dad has fun with his new hobby.

View devann's profile


2199 posts in 2112 days

#15 posted 06-23-2016 06:20 PM

For my 2ยข I’d buy Porter Cable. Many of the other name brands routers work just as well as a Porter Cable for most task. The advantage Porter Cable has will be the accessories, there are just more of them for the Porter Cable routers than the other brands. With some of the other brands you’ll find the need to purchase adapters. Depending upon the situation and who made the adapter there is sometimes a compromise to achieve the desired results.

After you Dad builds something, see if he will show it to us please.

-- Darrell, making more sawdust than I know what to do with

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