Buying my first ROUTER - your 2¢

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Forum topic by skone posted 02-14-2011 07:22 PM 3555 views 0 times favorited 23 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View skone's profile


147 posts in 2827 days

02-14-2011 07:22 PM

hi guys. first i want to say how thankful i am for this community we have here. some may use it more than i do, but it has indeed become my first place to turn for help, advice, inspiration, entertainment, etc. re: wood.

that said, i’m looking for 2¢. you can paypal me 2¢ at, memo: new router.

just kidding. with the exception of lumberjocks, i continue to learn in a bubble, here. the router purchase i put off earlier in the winter looks as if it may happen now. it’ll be my first router. i have a borrowed deathtrap of a table and old router in the basement now and it’s actually holding me back because i am reluctant to turn it on. i’ve been surfing here, surfing retail, and reading a book called “The Complete New Router Book for Woodworkers” (2006) by Chris Marshall. The book has been very helpful. Among other things, I’d almost bought a palm router several times, based on price. I’m finally committed to a mid-size fixed base. I believe as my only router that’s more reasonable.

Now I’ve read that you can table mount a 3+ HP jobber to a table and use it almost as a shaper, etc. —I have to say that’s likely overkill for me. I want something I can grow into, skill-wise, but that is a big price tag and maybe more than I need. I am thinking 2.25 HP fixed base. (And no, I don’t really understand the HP/RPM game.) Likely I’ll buy via CPO or someone else who can offer a special price. I’m open to Bosch, Porter Cable, Milwaukee, DeWalt and… Triton. You guys have all kinds of reviews and whatnot about all kinds of brands, so I don’t want to ask anyone to be redundant. My question I guess is on the Triton. Highland seems to have the 2.25 HP Triton fixed base for $169. It seems like a huge markdown. Anyone beg to differ on that? That seems to be a deal, right? At the same time it’s 20 bucks more than a refurb Bosch 2.25 fixed base. Hmmm.

The question you all would ask: What are you gonna do with it?
Answer: Hobby woodworking with hard and soft woods, maybe very light production for Etsy type internet sales. Profiling. Dados. I aspire to learning how to do some joints.

Any help is appreciated, folks.

-- "Take extra care not to lose what you feel" (Winwood/Capaldi/Wood)

23 replies so far

View Bertha's profile


13529 posts in 2714 days

#1 posted 02-14-2011 07:34 PM

It’s hard to say. I think the nature of developing needs explains why you see so many guys around here with 15 routers in their shop photos. For fixed-only, medium duty needs, I’d probably vote for the trusty Porter Cable 690 line. I used it under the table for a while before dedicating it to the dovetail jig. It never suffered too much under the table but I was looking for something with a little more ease of adjustment. For my plunging needs, I prefer a big boy. I’ll be interested to see the responses to this question. They’ll be varied & I’m curious to see if my 690 recommendation will hold up. Good luck!

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Loren's profile


10476 posts in 3669 days

#2 posted 02-14-2011 07:38 PM

Big plungers are most useful for stuff like mortising. A few years back
people were saying if you can own just one router, get a plunger.

I’ll disagree with that and say a fixed base router, while lacking the
versatility of a plunge model, is easier to control and is preferable in most

I have one of the Milwaukee bodygrip routers and for a pretty big router
it’s very controllable in demanding cuts. I really like it for a 1/2” router.
Works good in a table too because it has a device that allows you to
adjust the depth of cut from the top of the table through a hole with
a long wrench.

I wouldn’t obsess about horsepower. Anything 9 amps or more has plenty
of power for most handheld work. More amps means more weight too and
more weight makes a router harder to handle.

The 690s are versatile, well-balanced and not too heavy. I guess they are
hard-to-kill as well. They do have an issue with accuracy from cut to cut
due to rotating in the base to change cutting depth. The routers that move
up and down in the base don’t have this same problem but they sometimes
have other annoyances.

View skone's profile


147 posts in 2827 days

#3 posted 02-14-2011 07:45 PM

thanks to both of you. bertha – people love their PC products. i immediately googled up your 690 line and will do some homework there. both of you, bertha and loren seem to send the same message re: HP. i was going on about 2.25 HP. bertha – you suggested a line of what are 1.75 HP routers, i think. loren, you say don’t get hung up on HP. thanks for those comments. i think the HP game is a source of confusion for newbies, myself included. loren, i’ll keep your 9 amp rule of thumb in mind. and as for the milwaukee body grip – i’d been looking at that tool. CPO sells them refurb for around 150 or 160 i believe. right about the top of my price limit.

-- "Take extra care not to lose what you feel" (Winwood/Capaldi/Wood)

View Loren's profile


10476 posts in 3669 days

#4 posted 02-14-2011 08:02 PM

If you’re going to be using template guides the Porter Cable system
has limitations but the guides are cheap and easy to get.

I’ve found the PC guide system on Dewalt and PC routers. I dunno
about other brands, but adapting a router to take a different template
guide system can be a pain. The reason other makers don’t use the
PC system probably is it one works up to about 1” bit diameter and other
systems allow bigger bits.

This sort of thing is an alternative:,43000,51208

I never bought this base, so I can’t say anything about the quality. I did
get a “spirograph” type thing from the same company and the quality
was okay but not robust enough for daily professional (ab)use.

View Vrtigo1's profile


434 posts in 3013 days

#5 posted 02-14-2011 08:08 PM

I’m surprised nobody has recommended a combo base unit yet. All the major manufacturers make them, it’s essentially a router motor that comes with both fixed, plunge, and sometimes D-handle bases. I have the Ridgid version and I really like it.

Once you get the router bug, you’ll end up owning at least two or three because while some people might claim that you can do everything with one, I don’t think most people would want to. Sure you can find a router that can make big mortises and handle panel raising, but that same router probably isn’t going to be very fun to use for flush trimming small stuff.

If I were you, I’d look at starting out with a combo base router, then as your needs start to exceed its capabilities, you’ll have a better idea of what the next purchase should be.

View DaddyZ's profile


2475 posts in 3062 days

#6 posted 02-14-2011 08:16 PM

I Have a fixed Base 1.75 HP Ryobi in my Router Table(still use it all the time) 15+ years, It was the first router I started With. A 1.75HP Craftsman Plunge( comes with a fixed base also) is the Favorite of mine for hand use.

-- Pat - Worker of Wood, Collector of Tools, Father of one

View ChrisForthofer's profile


150 posts in 3088 days

#7 posted 02-14-2011 08:18 PM

I have 2 Milwaukee routers, I have been very happy with both. Both are fixed base one is the body grip unit you mentioned, the other is the 3.25 horse beast. (sorry forget the model numbers) I have seen more recently that Milwaukee and other manufacturers are units with swapable bases like a standard grip fixed base and a plunge base for not much more money at all. I think this is one of those have your cake and eat it too kind of things personally. You get both types of tools for little more than the price of one. I would suggest a unit like this even if you dont buy the package with the 2 bases. If you find yourself with a fixed base unit and realize a plunge router would come in handy, you are just the price of a base away from it.

And I will second Loren’s comments about horsepower. I never found my 1.75hp router lacking, I have even put a rail and stile bit in a on several occasions and never felt I was “running out” of horsepower. For any operation that your are going to do while holding a router that should be enough grunt. For router table work, raising panels etc. you might find yourself working a smaller router too hard with those big bits.

Good luck on your decision.


-- -Director of slipshod craftsmanship and attention deficit woodworking

View Bertha's profile


13529 posts in 2714 days

#8 posted 02-14-2011 08:22 PM

I agree with Loren. My 1 3/4 HP PC 690 has served me well for the rather limited tasks it’s been relegated to. The depth adjustment method isn’t ideal, as Loren points out. It tends to slip out of it’s depth setting and I find the power switch to be located awkwardly. It has plenty of power for general use. I also have a 3hp+ Freud plunger and the difference in power is well….obvious. It has large comfortable grips, a conveniently located switch, and a soft start feature. It’s a bit large and unweildy/tippy; thus, it wouldn’t be my choice for a first router. A possible upside to the rotating housing of the 690 is that it quickly pops free of its base for use in some novel third party router table raiser applications. These raisers often advertise the motor sans base in their package deals. I guess my point is that you’ll probably eventually replace this first router. A smaller fixed base router like the 690 might still find many uses in your future shop.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View TheDane's profile


5438 posts in 3684 days

#9 posted 02-14-2011 08:41 PM

I have 2 PC690’s … a 6902 motor in a Woodpeckers lift in my router table, and a 693LRPK with both the fixed and plunge base. I rarely use the plunge base, but the fixed base gets quite a little work.

I sold a couple of cheap routers (a Skil plunge and a Ryobi fixed base … both 1/4” shank) and still have a Ryobi laminate trimmer. The depth adjustment on the Ryobi LT is hard to dial in, but for a cheap tool, it is not bad.

In the near future, I expect to pick up one of the new DeWalt DWP611PK kits.


-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View thiel's profile


387 posts in 3313 days

#10 posted 02-14-2011 08:56 PM

I just picked up that new midi sized Dewalt, and I gotta say it’s REALLY nice size for handwork. Worth a look.

-- Laziness minus Apathy equals Efficiency

View skone's profile


147 posts in 2827 days

#11 posted 02-14-2011 08:59 PM

thanks again, everyone.

thiel—you talking about this?

-- "Take extra care not to lose what you feel" (Winwood/Capaldi/Wood)

View traupmann's profile


124 posts in 2808 days

#12 posted 02-14-2011 09:02 PM

I now have all Porter Cable routers. What I like about this is that I can use collets out of a drawer and use a standard set of add-ons. I do not think PC is the best, because I’ve not used all the others, I am just suggesting that if you think that in the future you might use more than one router, you might want to consider using one reliable brand. I agree with Vrtigo1 that there are good multi-base systems out there for the one router guy, and a great place to start. Also check out the reviews in the numerous woodworking magazines before you buy. There are strengths and weaknesses in all brands and models.

-- chas -- looking for Serta sponsorship to go Pro...

View skone's profile


147 posts in 2827 days

#13 posted 02-14-2011 09:26 PM

thanks, traupmann. thiel, i like the looks of that dewalt. it is less practical for me perhaps than the mid levels i’m looking at but certainly more practical than the lam routers. anyone have or look at the ridgid handheld? comparable to the dewalt or is that just plain laminate router? i think maybe i’m just being swayed by price again…

-- "Take extra care not to lose what you feel" (Winwood/Capaldi/Wood)

View Jeff's profile


438 posts in 3216 days

#14 posted 02-14-2011 09:26 PM

Check out the HD clearance on the R29302 combination base router. For only $129, and if you can find one, it’s a great starter router. Probably as important as the router is your selection of router bits. Don’t go cheap. Lee Valley and Infinity Tools are just two quality suppliers of bits.

View teejk's profile


1215 posts in 2706 days

#15 posted 02-14-2011 11:00 PM

I’d vote for the PC 690 combo kit (I think it is sold as the PC 693). Unlike others, I really like their depth adjustment although I base that on my old fixed based 690 that had the older screw clamp style and not the newer cinch clamp. I have since added the newer combo kit but have to admit I have only used the plunge base on that one since the old one just keeps going and going and going. ToolKing shows a refurb for about $200 (don’t thumb your nose at refurbs especially if they come from those guys…they usually deliver a better machine than the factory does! They are a major repair center so new products with “quirks” go to them, they do the fine tuning and put them pack on the market).

showing 1 through 15 of 23 replies

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