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Forum topic by Matt Higgins posted 10-24-2011 06:58 AM 1507 views 0 times favorited 24 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Matt Higgins

2 posts in 1915 days

10-24-2011 06:58 AM

New to lumberjocks and only minimal experience with woodworking. I am not saying I dont know anything however i am finding out that I really miss building things myself and how much I enjoyed wood working. More specifically custom plaques, shadow boxes, mementos for Marines leaving the unit but hopefully moving to my own furniture etc down the road. To the real question is where to start with a router. I found a great deal on a craftsman fixed base with table combo. Good and bad reviews and after reading many threads it doesnt seem craftsman gets alot of love on the site. But i came for the the experience and help so i am asking on any recommendations on a good router for a novice. With this in mind i dont want one that is great for now then I have to upgrade immediately and also i do not need the cream of the crop. So far I am really interested in a multi base router, reasonably priced and possibly with a table. Thanks in advance.

24 replies so far

View Murdock's profile


118 posts in 1992 days

#1 posted 10-24-2011 07:28 AM

I think Craftsman is just fine as long as you are slightly picky about which tools you buy, but I feel that way about pretty much all brands. (For power tools I have Craftsman for my table saw, router, and circular saw).

Are you referring to this combo?

That router is a single speed so you limit yourself somewhat there, it also has a low power motor, that can be ok as long as you understand what it can and cannot do. This is a light duty router.

I looked at that combo about a year ago when I needed to replace a broken router. As I recall I didn’t like the table, adjustments were difficult and it seemed flimsy.

I purchased the router that is a step up from that one:

Been a good router for me, it has speed adjustment and slightly more power, I also believe it has a longer warranty. I wouldn’t push really big bits with it, but for the light duty I use it, no issues. With that said there are some very mixed reviews out there on this router, I have only had it about a year and don’t use it as often as many woodworkers might.

Honestly in this case price was the biggest deciding factor for me, I picked it up as an open box, but have been very pleased with it.

-- "Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new." - Albert Einstein

View crank49's profile


3987 posts in 2479 days

#2 posted 10-24-2011 07:30 AM

Hard to go wrong with Porter Cable Routers.
They are kinda the defacto standards.
If anybody is going to make an accessory for a router they will make sure it works on a Porter Cable first.

-- Michael: Hillary has a long list of accomplishments, though most DAs would refer to them as felonies.

View David Grimes's profile

David Grimes

2078 posts in 2148 days

#3 posted 10-24-2011 07:52 AM

@Matt Higgins, Welcome to Lumberjocks. You are correct in that Craftsman is not one of the loved brands by many Lumberjocks. You get the same thing with automobiles and underwear, you know.

I have owned that exact table and router for over three years as one of two table/router combinations I have. It is not the most powerful router, but it has never failed me. I use it exclusively for 1/4 shank bits and never try to use huge bits on it. This router has soft start, is easy to adjust, has options for dust collection (over/under/both), and in my opinion is a great value for the money. I would pay more than that for it if mine were to be replaced.

I use this router / table combo the most… nearly every day. I used it earlier this evening to route 16 linear feet of roundover and 24 linear feet of ogee.

I also have Dewalt, Porter Cable, Ryobi and Triton routers as well, so don’t think I haven’t played with the “better” routers. As a matter of fact, I have never had a problem with any router in my life. The one I tossed years ago had been rained on so many times that I was amazed it took that many years for the bearings to sound like gravel.

Sears extended warranties are absolutely dirt cheap, too.

Hope this helps you. If you get it, then after awhile you can join me in telling the Craftsman haters to bite it.

-- If you're going to stir the pot, think BIG spoon or SMALL boat paddle. David Grimes, Georgia

View rance's profile


4247 posts in 2669 days

#4 posted 10-24-2011 07:58 AM

Some things to look for. Make sure the clamp that holds the motor will close tight. You don’t want to find out you cut a ramp instead of a slot. I found this to be a problem with a Skil I used recently. As mentioned, variable speed comes in handy. And Crank is right about accessories(ie. diameter of motor housing). One other thing, the height adjustment mechanism should work smoothly. Oh, and welcome to LJ.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View Matt Higgins's profile

Matt Higgins

2 posts in 1915 days

#5 posted 10-24-2011 08:15 AM

Thank all of you for the replies. So do most who replied share the same concensus that the craftsman router/table combo is a smart first buy?

View David Grimes's profile

David Grimes

2078 posts in 2148 days

#6 posted 10-24-2011 08:24 AM

No problems with the clamp / tightness.

The height adjustment is really easy (I rarely have to use the included micro-adjust). Just move the lock lever, depress the button and raise or lower as needed, then swing the lock lever back into position.

-- If you're going to stir the pot, think BIG spoon or SMALL boat paddle. David Grimes, Georgia

View rance's profile


4247 posts in 2669 days

#7 posted 10-24-2011 09:12 AM

Based on David’s reply, I’d say it would be a fine first router. I support the “Don’t be a tool snob” mantra. :)

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View rusty2010's profile


137 posts in 2066 days

#8 posted 10-24-2011 01:54 PM

The Porter Cable 1001 router is a great basic router. Everything is simple and straight forward. I had mine for 15 years now and never a problem. I use it all the time. I also have Freud and Milwalkee routers. I had the craftsman in the beginning years and gave it to a friend several years ago. He likes it and it still works fine. Personally I would build a simple table and customize it for your needs. They’re very easy too build and there are free plans on woodsmith magazine’s web-site. Good luck too you.

-- check, recheck then check again

View willie's profile


533 posts in 1963 days

#9 posted 10-24-2011 02:04 PM

If you’re doing small and relatively light-weight work, the craftsman will do the job. However, if you plan to run large bits or run it for extended periods, I would look to Porter-Cable or another brand aimed more toward professionals. I learned a long time ago not to scrimp on my tools. You get what you pay for!

-- Every day above ground is a good day!!!

View knotscott's profile


7352 posts in 2884 days

#10 posted 10-24-2011 02:06 PM

Hi Matt – The newer Craftsman routers made by Chervon Power tend to get pretty good reviews overall, and are often priced right on sale. (it’s rare to find a consensus on anything around here!)

There are solid choices from Milwaukee, Makita, Bosch, Hitachi, PC, DW, Craftsman, Triton, Freud, Ridgid. Get one with 1/2” collet, and buy bits with 1/2” shank whenever possible. Regardless which you choose, for use in a router table be sure to get variable speed. Ample power comes in handy for spinning larger bits too…typically 11-15 amps. (forget the misleading horsepower ratings…read the amp output of the motors). My preference is for at least two separate routers…a smaller lighter router for hand use (single speed will do fine), and a more powerful variable speed fixed base router for table use….food for thought.

Refurbished routers are an excellent way to stretch your buying dollar. A couple of years ago I picked up a Hitachi M12VC 11 amp fixed base variable speed router for $67 shipped. Occasional clearance prices can make typically expensive routers affordable…I got a Milwaukee 5615-24 fixed/plunge combo kit for $99 shipped, and a Freud FT1700 for ~ $90 shipped. I’ve seen the big Milwaukee 5625 15 amp router for as low as $180 shipped. These prices aren’t the norm, but they do occur if you’re patient.

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

View RibsBrisket4me's profile


1548 posts in 2014 days

#11 posted 10-24-2011 02:40 PM

Welcome Matt!

I was in the AF for 22+ yrs. I have Craftsman because no matter where I was stationed, I could find a Sears store. Now with the net and all, you can get anything. I am still a Craftsman fan and feel that rotuer and table is an excellent starter set up.

I have an older C-man router/table combo from the 1994. Funny, I always thought I would up grade it, but never found the need to.

For hand power tools overall I really like Dewalt and Bosch.

View RibsBrisket4me's profile


1548 posts in 2014 days

#12 posted 10-24-2011 02:41 PM

Look at my link below….you can see my router table in the cart under my planer/bandsaw

View knotscott's profile


7352 posts in 2884 days

#13 posted 10-25-2011 08:08 PM

Matt – In case you or anyone else is interested, I just spotted a sale on the Hitachi M12VC for $110 shipped from CPO Outlets.

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

View a1Jim's profile


115350 posts in 3086 days

#14 posted 10-25-2011 08:26 PM

Hi Matt
Welcome to Ljs
I have not bought a sears router for years because they were such junk and parts were not always available.
I find that some folks like them now and they have some features that don’t come with many of the other routers.
I have used Porter cable routers for years and have found them to be reliable and easy to get accessories and parts for
In my Opinion the cost difference is not that great . I have had students that have purchased sears routers only to return them after using my Porter Cable. What every brand you buy I would suggest buying a “D” handle model there much easier to control. I believe you can purchase them as a set that includes a plunge router base.

-- Custom furniture

View Grandpa's profile


3257 posts in 2184 days

#15 posted 10-25-2011 10:46 PM

Hardly anyone makes their own tools. Most are spec’d out and a manufacturing plant builds the tool then Sears or someone else markets the tool. I workd a summer for Gates making rubber hoses. That is when I found out the spec means everything. If the hose had blemishes on it Gates didn’t put their name on it. They reworked it to a thinner hose and sold it under another label. I suspect it is the same with tools. I have a Craftsman router that is 39 years old. It was one they sold as a Commercial grade back then. I have used it a good bit in the 39 years. I have replaced the bearings once and the switch once. I expect some maintenance with a age and I consider this a good tool. The things I like in a router is one with the switch in a location where I can hold the handles and turn the motor on. I have never liked the idea of holding a little knob and flipping a toggle switch. I would want a router that uses a standard base. Craftsman marketed a router a few years ago that had a nonstandard base and it is a dog. I like easy adjustments. If you loosen a wing nut and slide the motor how can you make a small accurate adjustment. Those are in addition to a good reputation and hopefully that will include the reputation for a long useful life. Go online and read some pros and cons before you decide. Everyone has their favorite.

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