Harbor Freight 2hp Router for Router Table?

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Forum topic by DavidNJ posted 03-01-2013 06:37 AM 8913 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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389 posts in 2016 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?



13 replies so far

View a1Jim's profile


117114 posts in 3599 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.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View knotscott's profile


8055 posts in 3398 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


217 posts in 2184 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 2016 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 1487 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


1346 posts in 1246 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.

View TheLorax's profile


47 posts in 1260 days

#7 posted 07-10-2016 01:07 AM

I have one mounted in a table. I have no issues with it. I am also using one of the harbor freight speed controllers for it.

View josephf's profile


199 posts in 2119 days

#8 posted 07-10-2016 04:12 AM

i router mounted in a table needs to be dead nuts ,right on accurate , no slop and run true .i just think that it is less likely in a less expensive tool . even in the less expensive routers i have owned a upgrade in bearing really shows in how the router sounds when it runs . so better quality bearings make a difference ,though also with the amount of attention a copy cat router gets in the build process what are the odds that the shaft runs true . then again maybe none of that is important for what the project calls for .

View MustacheMike's profile


261 posts in 2111 days

#9 posted 07-10-2016 08:59 AM

I know they sometimes have a short brush life but like all HF power tools they usually give you an extra set.

-- You can trust Mike -" because I will never pull your stash!" See my show weekly at

View diverlloyd's profile


2770 posts in 1879 days

#10 posted 07-10-2016 09:23 PM

Beware of the craftsman ones they have bearing issues but the good news is the bearing is $2 but shipping is $15

View josephf's profile


199 posts in 2119 days

#11 posted 07-11-2016 01:02 AM

Most cities have a place that sell bearings , generall seals and belts also .The last time i bought the higher quality bearings for a little craftmen branded laminate trimmer . Those bearings made that one the smoothest of my laminent trimmers .If i recall it was 35$ for the two or one of them was 35.00 . They were more then the bearings the tools generally have in them stock at any rate .pull your bearings and bring them in ,they will match them up .
pretty much do not use the craftmen routers ,the bearings really seemed to be always needing to be replaced .

View runswithscissors's profile


2764 posts in 2047 days

#12 posted 07-11-2016 06:10 AM

I agree about Craftsman bearings. They place huge orders with specs to bring the tools in at the lowest (i.e. most profitable) price, which means the crappiest components.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

View bandit571's profile


20209 posts in 2705 days

#13 posted 07-11-2016 07:05 AM

Do you mean THIS one?

That I bought when Sears first offered this model, almost 5 years ago? Have had zero problems with. And, it will take 1/2” shank or 1/4” shank bits. Came with both a fixed, and a plunge base. It came be adjusted from above if I’d would use a router table with it. $170 out the door at the time…..

Maybe just hung up on that Craftsman name…...

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

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