Harbor Freight 2hp Router for Router Table?

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Forum topic by DavidNJ posted 03-01-2013 06:37 AM 5677 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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389 posts in 1293 days

03-01-2013 06:37 AM

Harbor Freight has a 2 hp fixed base router for $5, $40 with a 20% coupon. I currently have a Bosch 1617 EVS with several bases. However, I’m wondering if the Harbor Freight might be better for my router table.

The Bosch has variable speed and a soft start. However, under the router table, especially inside a dust collection box, the router’s very own speed is difficult to reach. And the soft starts feature with the electronic speed control prevents you from using an external speed control. Besides, I like using the Bosch as a hand router; it has a very nice fence, plunge and fixed bases, and the Dabowiz needs to use a router.

Anticipating using the Bosch I have a Sidewinder 350 router list from Woodpeckers. That precludes using a 3 hp router and my budget would have precluded in anyway.

The Harbor Freight unit doesn’t have variable speed or soft start. But those really aren’t issues here. Electronic speed control is nice but it requires using the routers variable speed adjustment.

Is this Harbor Freight unit any good? Are there other better alternatives?



6 replies so far

View a1Jim's profile


114916 posts in 2876 days

#1 posted 03-01-2013 06:46 AM

With most HF tools it’s a crap shoot but they also have a great return policy.

-- Custom furniture

View knotscott's profile


7013 posts in 2675 days

#2 posted 03-01-2013 11:18 AM

As Jim says, HF tools can be hit or miss, but I haven’t heard any negatives about that one, and have read some positives.

Variable is definitely recommended for table use. The new line of Craftsman routers go on sale well south of $100, and get pretty good reports. The Hitachi M12VC is a good choice, but tends to stick just above $100.

The HF speed controller goes on sale in the $15 range, and could solve the variable speed concern. I’d avoid the HF router bits though…..MLCS offers a decent starter set for $40 shipped. Get 1/2” shank whenever possible if your router accepts them.

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

View upinflames's profile


203 posts in 1461 days

#3 posted 03-01-2013 11:32 AM

David, I have four of them in router tables with the external speed control, haven’t had a problem with them in two years. They are used on a daily basis, probably two to three hours total a day. I have had name brand power tools explode ten minutes into use, same with some HF stuff.

View DavidNJ's profile


389 posts in 1293 days

#4 posted 03-02-2013 03:04 AM

Thanks…I now have all the pieces for the table (I bought a template rather than make one). When it is ready I’ll get the router.

I agree with the HF analysis, some garbage some fine. Some are fine until you try something better.

View carrmatt02's profile


5 posts in 765 days

#5 posted 06-05-2015 03:38 PM

I know this is an old thread but I am faced with a similar dilemma. Looking for a router to leave in the router table. I have a variable speed controller and a soft start router as is but need a variable speed unit for the table.

View AZWoody's profile


617 posts in 523 days

#6 posted 06-05-2015 05:48 PM

I haven’t used them on a table but for a router, they are solid.

For my table, I went ahead and got a Triton TRA-001 for the above table height adjustments and changing of bits and also the horsepower.

The HF one, i use for handheld applications.

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