HF Drill Master #68341 Questions..

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Forum topic by Dallas posted 03-09-2012 01:43 AM 12119 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3599 posts in 2482 days

03-09-2012 01:43 AM

Topic tags/keywords: router question

I am going in to town tomorrow and one of our stops will be at Harbor freight.

I’ve been needing a new router because my little Craftsman 1.5 HP is struggling with some of what I’ve been putting it through. It also only has a 1/4” collet which is actually too small at times.

I’ve been looking at the Harbor Freight Drill Master #68341 2HP fixed base router to put in my table.
My thought is that for $55 locally it can’t be much but I’ve heard some people compare it to the PC 690X series with agreeable results.
It comes with 1/4. 3/8. and 1/2” collets and it draws 11amps.

The finish isn’t as good as the PC, but if it performs as advertised it will make a good temporary upgrade to the 35 year old Craftsman.

Thoughts on this router anyone?

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

11 replies so far

View RibsBrisket4me's profile


1554 posts in 2500 days

#1 posted 03-09-2012 03:07 AM

Someone needs to post a 20% off coupon!

View Grandpa's profile


3259 posts in 2670 days

#2 posted 03-09-2012 04:53 AM

I don’t own one of these but 11 amps is 1.5 hp or less. The price is right though

View Kenny 's profile


260 posts in 2443 days

#3 posted 03-09-2012 08:12 AM

NO. I beg of you, please do not do that!

You can get a 12amp Craftsman (rated at 2hp) for $85, and it is worth the extra $30 ten times over. It has variable speed, an awesome base that can be adjusted above the table when table mounted, has soft-start, did I mention the base is awesome?
The Craftsman has a ton of power, plenty enough to do anything you want. I use it to spin my full-size multi-form with no problem. I have used a 3-1/2” panel raising bit in it with not so much as a struggle. Granted, I don’t take full depth cuts, but regardless of the router, full depth cuts with a 3-1/2” panel raising bit is not a good idea.

Really, it’s an awesome router, and I in no way believe for a second that the HF unit will even come close. Not to mention that HF unit will suck out loud in a table.

I own the previous model-year of that Craftsman router, only mine was the double base version with fixed and plunge bases. My original base was the old style, which was ok out of the table, and while it did have above table adjustments, it didn’t work well in the table. I called Sears, put up a stink, and got a discount on the new style base, which is now sitting in my router table. With the exception of needing to reach under and unlock it to adjust the router, it just like having a router lift. I change bits above the table, adjust it above the table, it’s just an awesome set-up.

If the money really is an issue, there is also a 9.5amp model that uses the older style base for just under $55. And I’d still take that over the HF unit any day. While the base isn’t ideal, I do know how to make it work better than it does from the factory, and it will definitely get you by just fine, while still giving you above-table adjustment.

I promise you, that 2hp router will not let you down! It really is an awesome router for the money. Probably the best bang for the buck you’ll find.

Good luck!

-- Kenny

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2482 days

#4 posted 03-09-2012 06:32 PM

Thanks Gentlemen.
It turns out that the question was moot anyway. For the third time that we’ve tried they were out of stock.
I did however come home with some unplanned objects… Today was the start of the Parking Lot Sale and even though we arrived at 07:00 and didn’t have a Inside Track Card, they let us shop anyway.
Rain was blowing, wind was falling and clouds were hanging low. No other brave patrons were in evidence so the manager put all the employees not otherwise occupied on our case. They tore the store apart looking for the router but found only 2 empty boxes along with the display model that was missing too much (IMO) to make worthwhile.
We spent a total of $204.xx and for that amount came back with a 5 speed bench top keyless chuck drill press, a 1.5 HP oiless 3 gallon compressor, (yeah, I know, but I’ll put it out for the campers with flat tires to use), a 3400 watt generator that was a return, (all I can find wrong with it is the recoil handle wasn’t tied to the rope and when they pulled, the rope went wayyyyyyy up inside. I spent about 10 minutes digging it out and the genset fired up on the first half pull. I hooked up a nearby miter saw and ran a chunk of pallet through it… Both machines worked well although I left the miter saw with them to sell to someone else), a laser level with tripod that looked lonesome and the wife liked it, (one rubber foot was missing from the tripod but the employees found one for me), 4 big Vice grip wide mouth clamps, 4 24” F clamps, 6 packs of wet dry sand paper assortments, and maybe the best deal of all….... an air compressor box about 3’X2.5’X3’ full of loose zip ties, pliers, wrenches, cam clamps, vice grip clamps, digital multi meters, a couple of sets of the little brass planes, various connectors for air, electrical and water, and a lot of other stuff. I haven’t gotten to the bottom of the box yet, only about half way and it still weighs about 25-30 lbs.
I figure it’s not bad for 35 minutes of work…. we were in and out of HF by 07:35 and made our appointment at 08:00 and were home after getting some breakfast by 10:00 in time to open the office.

Kenny I am so discouraged with stuff from sears that I almost refuse to deal with them anymore. I spent a year trying to find out from them where I could find a driven pulley for my band saw, since they support models from the 70’s 80’s and 90’s anymore. I finally had to buy one, (the only one I found) on eBay.
When I was working as a mechanic I came up against their policy that Craftsman Hand Tools are “Lifetime Guaranteed” ONLY if you use them as a non professional. If you use them as a professional mechanic the Guarantee is pretty much only good until you leave the lot.

I use to be proud of my Craftsman stuff. It was well built, easy to use, high quality and a lot better price than MAC or Snap-on. That was until the time I returned a 1/2” drive ratchet that the guts had stripped out of after 50 years of use. The replacement had plastic guts and a plastic switch to move from Fwd to Rev. It lasted just about 20 minutes…........ as did the next 4 I got in return. When I asked for my old one back they said they couldn’t as it had been destroyed. Hmmmm, how do you go about destroying a Chrome Moly chunk of metal?

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View dbhost's profile


5708 posts in 3227 days

#5 posted 03-09-2012 06:41 PM

I own LOTS of HF equipment. It’s about the only way I could afford to actually have a shop without digging through the used market until after I was dead, or winning the lottery… There are lots of thing at HF that give me pause, and anything labelled with the Drill Master label just rubs me wrong… Probably because of the extremely poor service I have gotten from the hole saws…

If you are willing and able to double the dollars, you can get a Hitachi M12VC, or a Porter Cable 690 series router on sale. Less money if you can find them refurbished…

I personally have the KM12VC (M12VC with a plunge base as well) and absolutely LOVE it…

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View MrRon's profile


4764 posts in 3238 days

#6 posted 03-09-2012 07:22 PM

Kenny, I have to second Dallas opinion of Craftsman tools. My woes go back a lot further, 1952 to be exact. I bought a metal lathe from Sears. It ran and turned ok, but the first time I put it into gear to traverse the carriage, it jambed and broke the gear cluster. Seems the bed was NOT parallel. It lasted me about two hours and then I was the owner of a boat anchor. This has not been the only problems I had with Sears. It goes on and on. But to be charitable, I do have a Sears 6” bench grinder about 30 years old that is still going strong. I now shop at HF since I really don’t need any new tools. If you are a careful shopper, you can find good deals at HF, but I won’t buy from Sears. If I buy from HF and it breaks, I expect that to happen, but when you buy from Sears, you don’t expect it to break.

View Kenny 's profile


260 posts in 2443 days

#7 posted 03-09-2012 07:24 PM


I know all too well of the “non-pro” clause. I too, was once a professional mechanic, as I worked for a large John Deere dealership. As one could image, working on tractors, both large and small, is hard on the tools, and I too once had a lot of Craftsman tools. They were about 80% of what I had to start with. I made the mistake of allowing them to know I was a professional while returning a 1/2” drive breaker bar I had bent up and snapped at the drive end. No replacement for me! Yeah, right. I hit another Sears and got it replaced. Little white lie never hurt, right?
After that, I switched to SK completely, and nearly all my Craftsman tools were sold or given to my Dad.

BUT, I have never had issues with their woodworking equipment, and I still buy from them to this day. I have the 2hp router I spoke of, and it is just awesome. Withe the new style base, I like it just as much, if not more than, my previous Bosch dual base kit that I paid more than double for.

I also have their granite bed 12-1/2” planer, and that too, is just an awesome tool. Best $250 I ever spent. I was discouraged with the portable planers after using a friend’s Ryobi (with new blades) and having it bog down badly even taking light passes on hard-maple.
I was used to my grandfather’s vintage 16” Powwermatic, which is just an animal.
After using the Ryobi, I didn’t know if I could deal with a portable planer, having been spoiled for so long. But I got the Craftsman (not the high-end model either), brought it home and fell in love. It will handle anything I throw in it without complaint. It handled some 10” purple heart without the slightest bog, and that there is some seriously tough wood!

I can understand not wanting to do business with Sears, but don’t short-change yourself because of it. Buying a lesser brand that only saves you $30 over a router of much better quality may not be a great call.

Good luck, sounds like you made out well at HF!

-- Kenny

View Grandpa's profile


3259 posts in 2670 days

#8 posted 03-09-2012 07:41 PM

I have discovered that it all depends on the Sears store you walk into. Some are there to help and others consider you a bother. They haven’t figured out who pays them. I could take things to the store near where my daughter lived and they jumped through themselves to help me. Take the same item to my Sears store and I was another inconvenience. No warranty is any better than the store that sells the product (regardless of brand). My Sears router has served me well. It will be 40 years old this June. Yes it has a quarter inch collet but I am an old man so we work well together.
I would try to get a tool that would last my grandson the remainder of his life.

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4929 posts in 3955 days

#9 posted 03-09-2012 08:50 PM

Hey, ya gets good and ya gets bad. HF stuff is not known for fine fit and finish (I have the dust collector with good results), Craftsman stuff used to be FINE equipment (I have a bunch). Now, I don’t go in a Sears store, HF for expendables, the new PC tools are crap (I have some old ones). I guess the it is a real mixed bag. So, ya pays your money and ya takes your chances. What a shame that we can’t trust brands that had some heritage.


View Kenny 's profile


260 posts in 2443 days

#10 posted 03-09-2012 09:21 PM

My only tool nightmare was with HF. It took me 8 months and a lot of effort to get heard and have my needs met, and I had paid for their “Extended Warranty”, which was supposed to be no hassle. Yeah, no hassle alright!

I have yet to have anything but good tools and good experience when it comes to woodworking tools from Sears.

Like has been said, ya win some, ya lose some. I just find I get a much higher win percentage from Sears than HF. The quality is better, service is better, replacement part selection is better, just all around better.

You do need to try a few stores to see who has the best employees. Mine has some of the nicest guys I’ve ever met working there. Truly stand-up guys.

Matter of preference and past experience I guess.

-- Kenny

View crashn's profile


528 posts in 2460 days

#11 posted 03-10-2012 02:35 AM

I have that router. I’m a PC690 guy and was hoping that they were interchangeable. Looked close, but does not interchange. I use mine with a flush trim bit and keep it mounted up ready to go at a moments notice. no soft start and no variable speed, but it does have good power and get used quite a bit with the flush trim bit. Have considered buying a couple more and making some dedicated small portable router tables. After adjusting them for rail and stile bits, you can just leave them in there and they would be ready to go!

-- Crashn - the only thing I make more of than sawdust is mistakes

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