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combo (plunge & fixed base) router sets ???

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Forum topic by Abter posted 11-07-2016 03:02 AM 1336 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Abter

45 posts in 467 days


11-07-2016 03:02 AM

Topic tags/keywords: router

First post to this forum. Be gentle ;)
Just setting up my first home shop. Not sure if a few key tools (TS and router) even qualifies as a “shop”, or just “stuff in my garage my wife is iffy about”.
I realize a lot of folks here are very experienced, and into excellent tools. I still suffer the curse of the working man (9-5, 40/week), and will for a few more years. Recommendations for Festools are not what I’m looking for.

I picked up a used Ridgid TS from our community center workshop, and am planning on extending one wing to put in a router table type thing.
I’m studying up on combo router sets. I’m zoning in on a 2.25-ish HP, probably either a Bosch or a DeWalt, which are both <$200 “on sale” almost all the time. Both well rated in 2015/16 mainstream mags, both handle 1/2” bits, both < 15 amps.. I expect to mainly use it as a table mounted router, but very much like the option of using a plunge base when wanted.
Things I don’t know:
Are there a zillion posts on this topic here already? Where?
What is fundamentally wrong with a combo router approach?
Is using my TS fence (new Delta T3) as a base for a router fence a workable idea?
When mounted in a table, how do you handle the on/off switch? At the community center shop they have a great Freud router setup with a foot pedal, but that is for a dedicated table mount router. What do you do on a combo?

Any help or advice is much appreciated. From a lifetime learner wading into new territory.

-- "Many men fish all their lives without ever realizing that it is not the fish they are after." {often mis-quoted as by H.D. Thoreau}


19 replies so far

View knotscott's profile

knotscott

7789 posts in 3216 days


#1 posted 11-07-2016 10:26 AM

The Bosch and DW are both good routers. I’d add the Milwaukee to the list for sure (excellent plunge base), along the Hitachi for value. Topside features and power are conducive for table use, look to balance and feel for hand use.

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

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

4769 posts in 2333 days


#2 posted 11-07-2016 11:58 AM

I’ll second Scott’s suggestion to add the Milwaukee 5616 to the list, that one would be my first choice. Anyway, for power you can simply reach under the table and flip the switch, or add an external switch (commercial ones are available) fastened in some fashion to the extension. There is nothing “fundamentally wrong” with a combo kit, the new ones allow quick and easy changes between the bases, though some of the dedicated plunge routers have the switch in an easier-to-use position (like on the grip). When I had my router mounted in the TS wing, I did set it up to use the saw fence. In my case (Unifence) it worked very well. But the truth is a fence can be anything, even a strip of wood clamped to the table, so try the saw fence and see how it works for you. The biggest problem with the router mounted in the saw extension is that you loose the use of your saw while the router is set up, that’s becomes less of an issue if you think through what you need to do and organize accordingly (something I wasn’t smart enough to do).

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

View Loren's profile

Loren

9639 posts in 3488 days


#3 posted 11-07-2016 12:04 PM

I loved my Milwaukee until it burned out, prematurely
in my opinion. Now I’m looking for a new motor
for it. Dunno. My old DW610 has sure outlasted
the Milwaukee. I’d say buy whatever is on sale.

View jmalcolm001's profile

jmalcolm001

18 posts in 591 days


#4 posted 11-07-2016 02:04 PM

While the combo set sounds appealing, I think you will find that once you install the base router in the table, it will be too much of an hassle to take it out and use it in the plunge base. I bought the Bosch combo set a couple of years ago, and have never used the plunge base. You may be better off just buying the fixed base Bosch 1617 and putting the money you saved towards a trim router, such as the Bosch Colt for those quick edge trimming and rounding jobs that aren’t conducive to a router table.

While a router lift is the ideal solution, if you don’t have one, the Bosch 1617 is a good alternative. You can do fine height adjusting from above, and if you get their offset wrench set, you can even change bits from above, although you will still need to raise it from below. I am not familiar with the DW routers, so they may have this ability also.

While the TS fence can be used as a base, since many router applications in a table require the bit to be “in the fence”, you will need a split router-type fence attached to the TS fence.

View shawnn's profile

shawnn

70 posts in 1205 days


#5 posted 11-07-2016 02:23 PM

I have the Hitachi 2 1/4hp combo, it’s a great handheld router using either base. I used it in my router table but it doesn’t have above-table lift so it wasn’t a good choice. I now have the big Triton dedicated to table use and love it. I use a power strip as a remote switch, it powers on the router and the shop vac used as router dust control. A router well suited for table use is still perfectly fine for handheld use; you’ll likely find that you do most of your routing on the table.

My advice is:
1. Above-table lift and bit change capabilities ONLY, unless you have a router lift.
2. Dedicated 3 hp table router, and a smaller handheld. You’ll eventually want to raise panels and will need the power.
3. Don’t try to use the same fence for both the router and table saw.
4. A router that locks for bit changes & only requires a single wrench is way easier to use in a table than one requiring two wrenches (the Hitachi requires two, the Triton locks).
5. Get an Incra system as soon as the budget allows. For the router table and table saw…

Edit to add: The digital bit height micrometer for $25ish works really well for my setup. I can reproduce the most complex series of cuts accurately if I break a piece. Mr. Malcom was also correct in that you need a split fence and/or sacrificial face boards thicker than the cutter diameter.

View mike02130's profile

mike02130

167 posts in 513 days


#6 posted 11-07-2016 03:25 PM

Porter cable and Bosch were the standard brands when they were made in the USA. Now everything is a crap shoot. Loren’s Milwaukee burned out. That would be enough to cross that brand off my list.

A heavy duty multiple speed 3 hp router without a plunge base would be nice for a router table set up. The plunge is nice to have too, but more for heavy duty woodworking and finish carpentry. I like the Bosch colt. I have the regular and plunge base. It is surprisingly well made and I use it often for free hand work. It only accepts 1/4” bits.

As far as turning it on when mounted to the table, just bend over and flip the switch. You could also plug it into a power strip which has a switch. You can clamp or screw a fence down to the table.

Given your predicament of the wife and your budget I think the answer is already in your post. Bosch or DeWalt. I imagine it would be more of a decision of convenience, switch location, options, visibility and the like.

I recommend that you do not purchase it at home depot or Lowe’s. You really don’t know what quality you’re going to get. Where did Loren buy his from?

-- Google first, search forums second, ask questions later.

View Loren's profile

Loren

9639 posts in 3488 days


#7 posted 11-07-2016 04:10 PM

I got it off ebay. I got a good 10 years of occasional
use out of it. I really liked that router. I’ve read other
complaints about the longevity of the newer Milwaukee
routers. That’s all. I was routing some hard oak
end grain with a flush trim bit and the thing just
gave up the ghost mid cut.

I haven’t had the habit of insisting on made in USA
but I have to confess that a lot of my old favorites
were made in USA or in Europe. If you look around
DeWalt may still be making some models in Italy
while others are made in Mexico and I’ve read unfavorable
things about Mexican made miter saws.

View DavedA's profile

DavedA

60 posts in 409 days


#8 posted 11-07-2016 04:25 PM

People I have spoken to, including my father, have sworn by the Bosch 1617 kit: http://www.cpooutlets.com/on/demandware.store/Sites-cpooutlets-Site/default/Search-Show?q=bosch%201617. It looks like a great unit and people seem to love them and have good luck with them, long term, regarding performance and reliability. It’s been the model I have used to judge every unit I have been comparing and researching.

As a price conscious consumer, I also look at various options, and am looking to buy a kit soon myself. I have been weighing the pros and cons of going with a cheaper alternative Craftsman unit: http://www.sears.com/craftsman-12-amp-2-hp-fixed-plunge-base-router/p-00927683000P. It’s not going to be up to the Bosch standards (though Bosch made the previous version of this) but it’s an interesting option at a much lower price, though it is .25 HP less.

The Bosch seems to get higher ravings, but I am curious about the Craftsman at the price point it’s commonly at, recently often on sale below $100.

View Abter's profile

Abter

45 posts in 467 days


#9 posted 11-07-2016 04:27 PM

This is great discussion, with many ideas to ponder, including some I hadn’t even thought of. Thanks so much for helping a newbie out. I’m so glad I found lumber jocks. Don’t take this as a threat, but I’m sure I will keep coming back!

-- "Many men fish all their lives without ever realizing that it is not the fish they are after." {often mis-quoted as by H.D. Thoreau}

View shawnn's profile

shawnn

70 posts in 1205 days


#10 posted 11-07-2016 11:28 PM


People I have spoken to, including my father, have sworn by the Bosch 1617 kit: http://www.cpooutlets.com/on/demandware.store/Sites-cpooutlets-Site/default/Search-Show?q=bosch%201617. It looks like a great unit and people seem to love them and have good luck with them, long term, regarding performance and reliability. It s been the model I have used to judge every unit I have been comparing and researching.

As a price conscious consumer, I also look at various options, and am looking to buy a kit soon myself. I have been weighing the pros and cons of going with a cheaper alternative Craftsman unit: http://www.sears.com/craftsman-12-amp-2-hp-fixed-plunge-base-router/p-00927683000P. It s not going to be up to the Bosch standards (though Bosch made the previous version of this) but it s an interesting option at a much lower price, though it is .25 HP less.

The Bosch seems to get higher ravings, but I am curious about the Craftsman at the price point it s commonly at, recently often on sale below $100.

- DavedA

I bought this Craftsman set or similar (2 hp) a few years ago new from Sears. I really liked the motor operation, the soft start was nice and it operated smooth & quiet – but in ONE afternoon using the plunge base to cut mortises the base loosened up & would deflect from side to side. I returned it and bought the Hitachi combo used for about the same price. YMMV but I wouldn’t buy a Craftsman router; I would buy a known good brand used before buying another Craftsman.

View AHuxley's profile

AHuxley

652 posts in 3162 days


#11 posted 11-07-2016 11:45 PM

If you have decided on a combo Acme is having a 15% off sale today so the 1617 is $160.65 plus 6.49 shipping unless you buy something else and get to their free shipping threshold of 199.

View teejk02's profile

teejk02

477 posts in 965 days


#12 posted 11-07-2016 11:54 PM

I think if you plan to mount in a router table I’d stay with a fixed base, mount it there and plan to leave there. IHMO, every time you attempt to remove it you increase the amount of time to get it back in the table and I think with time your fasteners will start to get “sloppy”. I prefer overhand router work with guides/jigs but that’s just me. Had a table once and never got comfortable with it. I have 3 PC 690’s and a PC 693 combo kit…no complaints on any of them.

View pintodeluxe's profile

pintodeluxe

5468 posts in 2653 days


#13 posted 11-07-2016 11:58 PM

Dewalt 618 two-base kit. It is primo. I have two, and the 611 combo kit too. I really like that 618.

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

View knotscott's profile

knotscott

7789 posts in 3216 days


#14 posted 11-08-2016 12:44 AM

Crossing tools off the list based on one random failure will leave you with zero choices….they all have failures. Every router mentioned in this thread has merit, and largely very good track records. Buy the one that suits your needs and fits your budget.

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

View runswithscissors's profile

runswithscissors

2565 posts in 1865 days


#15 posted 11-08-2016 06:15 AM

Ditto on Craftsman avoidance.

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

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