First Router Opinions for a new woodworker (1.25 HP vs 2.25 HP, the importance of accessories)

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Forum topic by paxorion posted 02-12-2013 04:11 AM 16995 views 0 times favorited 41 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1107 posts in 2249 days

02-12-2013 04:11 AM

Topic tags/keywords: router

I wanted to poll the LumberJocks community for some advice on which router I should be on the lookout to buy as my first router combo kit this year. As a new woodworker, I’ve come to realize that most of my work (for now) will likely be limited to softer woods (mostly pine and poplar), birch plywood/mdf, with very occasional profile work on harder woods (e.g. oak, maple, walnut when making cutting boards) until I can get more experience with technique under my belt. In addition, the purpose of the router will likely be for basic cabinet/furniture building (more modern styles with simple clean lines), rounding over edges, and cutting matching parts based on plywood patterns.

After scouring this forum, I wasn’t able to find clarity on the following two questions:

First, 1.25HP vs 2.25HP for softer woods: I wanted to know if there are any thoughts as to how one of the newer 1.25 HP compact routers (specifically the Dewalt DW611) would serve me on these softer woods if it were my sole router, using 1/4” shank bits.

Second (Importance of accessories): For what I am planning on doing, are accessories (e.g. edge guide templates, guide bushings) what makes or breaks the utility of the router? Specifically, if I opted for a 2.25 HP router, would I be compromising too much by going with a Skil 1830 at about $109 retail with limited and lower quality accessories vs. say the Dewalt DW618 or Bosch 1617 at about $220 retail. I know I can get them cheaper on sale, but the price ratio is about double for the Dewalt or Bosch.

Any thoughts and opinions would be welcome.

-- paxorion

41 replies so far

View nwbusa's profile


1021 posts in 2490 days

#1 posted 02-12-2013 05:37 AM

So, I own both the Dewalt 611 (2 base kit) and 618 (3 base kit). I bought the 618 first, used it freehand for a while, then built a router table and stuck it in there. It’s never come out of the table since I got the 611. I try like hell to buy all of my new bits in 1/4” shanks, so that I can use them in either router. Of course, some of the large bits only come in 1/2” shanks, and those bits usually lend themselves to table use anyway.

Edge guides… I rarely use mine, although once or twice it’s been handly to have, but there is always a work around if you get creative enough.

If I could only own one, I’d choose the 618 simply because of the versatility of being able to use bigger 1/2” bits. That said, I use my 611 a lot and would miss it if it disappeared.

-- John, BC, Canada

View jakelb's profile


8 posts in 2160 days

#2 posted 02-12-2013 06:04 AM

Check the Makita RT0700cx3 with the included extras I think it will be cheaper in the long run. Makita has two kit make sure you are looking a t the 3.

View MonteCristo's profile


2099 posts in 2392 days

#3 posted 02-12-2013 06:29 AM

One thing to know straight away is that stated router HP is something of a joke. You’ll see claims all the way up to 3+ HP and yet the router runs on a 15 AMP 120V circuit. Well, physics tells us that about 1.5, maybe 1.75 HP is all you can get out of such a circuit. What they are stating is HP on start up, something that is of no use to you.

Having said the above, the stated HP can be used to compare routers because they all play the same game. I would go for a router that claims about 2.25 HP for my “small router” (other than a trim router) because anything less powerful is less versatile. HP is like money, you can never have too much. The big “3+” HP routers are essential for really big router bits, but they are pretty heavy and cumbersome, not something you want to use unless it’s necessary.

Soft start and variable speed, plus accurate height adjustment and both 1/4” and 1/2” collets are other really nice features to look for.

-- Dwight - "Free legal advice available - contact Dewey, Cheetam & Howe""

View knotscott's profile


8150 posts in 3579 days

#4 posted 02-12-2013 10:28 AM

You’d be better off sticking with 1/2” shank whenever possible IMO….less chatter, less breakage. There are a lot of good 10-13 amp routers that I’d add to your list….find a good deal and go with one you like. PC690, Milwaukee 5615/5616, Bosch 1617, Makita, Ridgid, Craftsman, etc.

Here’s a Hitachi M12VC for $120…nice router, quiet, powerful, well balanced.

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

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5177 posts in 2697 days

#5 posted 02-12-2013 01:16 PM

To me, here’s the thing: a 2 1/4 HP router will do almost everything you will ever need a router to do. Get one with a dual base system, and you’re set. Choose from the Bosch/Milwaukee/Dewalt types and be done with it. As for accessories, there’s nothing that says you need to buy them at the same time. Wait and get them as you need them. The price ratio of the higher quality routers is there for a reason: they are better made than the “homeowner” brands. Real bearings instead of bushings, etc. Buy a good one and cry once.

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

View NiteWalker's profile


2738 posts in 2780 days

#6 posted 02-12-2013 01:25 PM

1. Don’t buy a compact or homeowner router as your only router.
2. Don’t buy the dewalt 618. I have two of those and both of them had the speed controller magnetic ring shatter. I love the plunge base with these router kits, but the motors are unreliable.
3. Bosch 1617EVSPK for $189.99 shipped.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View bondogaposis's profile


5094 posts in 2555 days

#7 posted 02-12-2013 02:33 PM

I wouldn’t get a 1/4” shank router as your only router. If you do much routing eventually you are going to want a router table. A larger router will serve you better if you put it in a table. The larger routers are more versatile and have collets for both 1/2” shank and 1/4” shank bits. Also realize that this first router purchase may not be your last, I currently have four and looking to buy a fifth.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3362 days

#8 posted 02-12-2013 02:51 PM

I love my DW611, but my Bosch 1617 combo is the router I would choose if I had to keep only one.

-- jay,

View moke's profile


1270 posts in 2980 days

#9 posted 02-12-2013 04:51 PM

IMO I would get the Bosch. I have both the 1617 and the 1619 plunge. Both are awesome routers. Bosch make very smooth quality equipment that can be found at very reasonalble prices.

Several years ago, I bought a router table/cabinet that was home built from an older friend, it was almost new and had a lift with a 3.25 PC (Porter Cable) router in it….it is very powerful and in my opinion the best power for a cabinet. I have never used it out of the lift, so I have no idea what it is like freehand, but I will tell you that almost all the accessories ( templates and such) I have seen appear to be made for the PC brand. Bosch makes adapters to accept PC fit things. I might consider PC too, as if the accessories are made for PC, why use adapters…..

Also after buying 1/4” for years, I switched to 1/2” and have been trying to use them exclusively. While they are a little bit more cost, they run and cut smoother. Even the cheaper brands like woodcraft and Rockler I think I can feel the difference. Remember the smoother the cut, the less the sanding and sanding has great potential to change the profile of you cut…..

-- Mike

View ChrisK's profile


2014 posts in 3285 days

#10 posted 02-12-2013 05:00 PM

I have the Dewalt DW616PK (Dual base kit) and love it. It has 1/4 and 1/2 collets, gives you almost two routers in one and has enough power for any bit you will use by hand. I also have the DW625 for the router table.

You will probably end up with at least 2 routers and maybe three. I would not worry about the edge guide. I would get a template guide set, circle cutting template and of course bits. Keep an eye out at for sales on there bits. I bought there 100 bit set with 1/2 shafts for $65 on sale last year. Not high production grade bits, but they have not let me down yet.

-- Chris K

View paxorion's profile


1107 posts in 2249 days

#11 posted 02-12-2013 05:52 PM

Thanks everyone for the thoughts and feedback thus far. To confirm, is what I gathered from the answers thus far:

(Answered) First, 1.25HP vs 2.25HP for softer woods: A 1.25 HP router is better off as a second router. In addition, stability of the thicker shank will make a newbie like me have less headaches. Therefore, nix the idea of gonig the compact route (for now)

(Unclear) Second (Importance of accessories): Inadvertedly, it seems that I have just gotten more validation of the old saying “you get what you pay for”. However I’m not 100% sure what the advice is about the importance accessories. I am not planning on stocking up on accessories immediately, but more over the course of the next 5 years as needed for my projects. If I were to opt for the Dewalt DW618 or Bosch 1617, would the support for standard accessories on the Dewalt give it an upper edge over the Bosch because of a wider range of “standards” compliant options? In addition, correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t the DW618 a newer release than the 1617?

NiteWalker – I am curious about your experience with the DW618. As a hobbyist, I don’t foresee myself beating up my router, but would like to hear about your Dewalt quality experience

-- paxorion

View MT_Stringer's profile


3183 posts in 3435 days

#12 posted 02-12-2013 06:09 PM

Bosch 1617 router for me. I have two of them. I have a fixed base mounted under the router table extension wing on my table saw and another fixed base mounted under a shop built router table. I use the plunge base for all routing that doesn’t require a table.

Good luck. The current price on Amazon is what I paid for the combo kit last year. The normal price has gone up to about $219 this year.

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3362 days

#13 posted 02-12-2013 06:09 PM

Just curious why you are limiting yourself to soft wood? Hard wood is easier as long as your tools can handle it.

-- jay,

View paxorion's profile


1107 posts in 2249 days

#14 posted 02-12-2013 06:26 PM

Cosmicsniper – It is a matter of price of materials (for now). I am really looking at “softer” woods on the Janka scale, and will mostly be working with pine and poplar. I have found that I can get 4/4 pine and poplar for around $1.50-$2.00/bdft. Which is my current benchmark for material cost to spend on my hobby. I’m trying to limit my purchase of more expensive material until I feel more confident that I won’t be turning it all into firewood.

If I happen to get “harder” woods for a discounted price, then I will plan to do so. For example, I picked up some 4/4 white oak for $1.75/bdft and 4/4 hard maple $2.00/bdft a month ago.

-- paxorion

View Rex B's profile

Rex B

320 posts in 2454 days

#15 posted 02-12-2013 06:57 PM

I can offer my advice regarding accessories. About 1.5 years ago I bought the Bosch 1617EVSPK kit that many here have mentioned, and I love that router. When I bought it, I was really concerned about accessories and bought an edge guide, bushing set, etc. based on reviewers on Amazon saying they were “must haves”.

I have found that I rarely use these accessories, and from what I observe on Lumberjocks and around the web, neither do others. Get the router and start using it – you can buy accessories as you need them.

Once you get some experience under your belt, build a simple router table with a fence. It can be as simple as a piece of plywood with a hole in the middle and a piece of wood clamped down for a fence. That is by far the most useful “accessory” you can have, and once you have one you will forget all about your edge guide.

-- Rex

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