a broad router question

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Forum topic by eljiggo posted 06-24-2014 10:20 PM 1451 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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21 posts in 1506 days

06-24-2014 10:20 PM

I am a relatively new woodworker. I currently own a harbor freight plunge router (the 1 1/2hp, 1/4 collet one). It works, but not well. It did its job just fine doing the first few projects, and figuring out what i wanted in router. Now, I have some money set aside to purchase a real router.

Initially I looked at the milwaukee, bosch and dewalt 2 1/4 plunge/fixed combos. It looks like they all have their pro’s and con’s but are all very similar with similar price points. In these 3, i narrowed it down to the bosch 1617. Seems like it does everything I’d want it too. I dont even think I need the plunge feature at the moment but it will be nice to have when the time comes. Another one pulling at me is the triton. The 3 1/4 model is priced very similarly to these other 3. It gets good reviews, and looks like it does a whole lot of cool things that I can grow into. The cons appear to be that its absolutely huge. Is this thing going to be overkill? Are there any routers I am overlooking?

14 replies so far

View eljiggo's profile


21 posts in 1506 days

#1 posted 06-24-2014 10:45 PM

I guess, to be more specific, I am not looking to own alot of routers. Looking for a do-all multipurpose router.

View NiteWalker's profile


2736 posts in 2544 days

#2 posted 06-24-2014 10:52 PM

The Dewalt 618 kit is the best I’ve used. The plunge base is amazing, the motor is compact and the detachable power cord works great. That said, if you decide to go for the Dewalt, get an extended warranty. The magnetic speed control ring has a tendency to break. If it does, you’ll have either a motor that runs at single (high) speed, or not at all. This happened to both of my 618’s. One still works at full speed and the other became a paperweight.

The Bosch is a nice kit too, but I much prefer the Dewalt plunge base.

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

View Holbs's profile


1843 posts in 1997 days

#3 posted 06-25-2014 12:21 AM

Bosch vs Dewalt, it seems is like comparing Ford vs Chevy :) I choose Bosch for my mainstay of machinery because I used to be a VW fanatic (rabbits and watercooled vw’s). Bosch was at the top of the food chain for spark plugs and other car parts. As I migrated to wood working, well… I gravitated to what I had lots of experience with. And it does seem 9 out of 10 folks give Bosch high praise for the majority of their power tools.
Also, I have been using Dewalt drills and power tools at work for the last 20 years. Back in the day, not many could compete with the longevity and dependability. But their hand tools now are not quality as they were years ago. I can not speak of their table saws or routers, but their hammer drills, power drills, work lights, job radio, etc… not very impressed for the price tag.
In regards to your Triton 3 1/4HP router consideration: go with the bosch or dewalt kit. For the price tag of a 3 1/4HP ($269 at amazon) vs bosch 1617 evspk plunge/fixed base or dewalt dw618pk for $199. 3+ HP would be overkill for the beginning wood worker. I think, that is more production level than hobby / amateur level.
Once you get into using the router out of the router table, 80% probably will be plunge related more than fixed based.

-- The Carpenter Bee is derived from the Ancient Greek word wood-cutter

View abie's profile


874 posts in 3738 days

#4 posted 06-25-2014 12:47 AM

I have a Trend T-4 and love it especially for the price and its attachments
Bot for $99.00 and its all I need and then some.

-- Bruce. a mind is like a book it is only useful when open.

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7980 posts in 3343 days

#5 posted 06-25-2014 12:47 AM

The Triton shines when used in a router table…’s loaded with topside convenience features that the others don’t have. They do make a smaller version with similar features.

You don’t need a bunch of routers, but if you get into woodworking even a little, it’s really nice to have a dedicated table router, and a dedicated hand router….those routers should have somewhat opposing characteristics. Light and well balanced for hand use (usually smaller), powerful with variable speed for table use (which usually means bigger and heavier). When choosing a hand router, pick the one that feels good to you….the reviews can only tell you so much.

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

View DaveHuber's profile


47 posts in 3085 days

#6 posted 06-25-2014 12:55 AM

Since it is summer, consider hitting your local flea market.

Tried and true Porter Cable 690s and plunge version can be had for about $40 and up

There is a reason PC built millions of them. Bulletproof, reliable and serviceable.

-- Dave, Oak Park, IL

View runswithscissors's profile


2725 posts in 1993 days

#7 posted 06-25-2014 02:07 AM

The PC 690 is available as a kit that includes a plunge base. I prefer the 691, which has the D handle, as that lets your controlling hand stay on the handle at all times, not having to reach up to flick a switch. Also lets you keep your eyes on the work. You can add the D handle to an existing 690.

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

View eljiggo's profile


21 posts in 1506 days

#8 posted 06-25-2014 04:16 AM

Is the OF 1400 worth even thinking about or is that well beyond my needs?

Ive not really considered the 690 as it is not variable speed. I use slot cutters fairly often which typically recommend to run at a slower speed.

View bigblockyeti's profile


5096 posts in 1688 days

#9 posted 06-25-2014 12:01 PM

There is a version of the 690 that is variable speed and listed as having more power.

View BinghamtonEd's profile


2297 posts in 2337 days

#10 posted 06-25-2014 12:51 PM

I have the Bosch 1617 and really like it, it’s never let me down in the 2 years I’ve been using it. I also own the Bosch Colt, and I use that little guy just as much as the 1617. I’d recommend a trim router to compliment whatever full router you get. I like the colt a lot, but the newer DeWalt trim routers look pretty slick.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View firefighterontheside's profile


17960 posts in 1824 days

#11 posted 06-25-2014 12:59 PM

Yes, the triton 3 1/4 is overkill. It can be used handheld, but it is very heavy. I bought mine just to put in my table and it never leaves. For handheld stuff I use my 2 1/4 hitachi with the two different bases. If you want triton, get the 2 1/4. It looks almost the same, just smaller. I’m not sure if it has a 1/2 collet though. I think you’d be happy with the Bosch. I know a lot of people are.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View eljiggo's profile


21 posts in 1506 days

#12 posted 01-04-2015 04:56 PM

I wound up getting the Bosch 1617 fixed/plunge combo. Works like a dream, thanks for all the help in this thread.

View ohtimberwolf's profile


785 posts in 2320 days

#13 posted 01-04-2015 05:56 PM

I bought one of these for under the table mount. Took that long plastic handle off and mounted an old drill in my cabinet, put a deep socket and cut off extension in the drill and use it to move the router up and down. For fine tuning I can hand turn the chuck to what I need. I don’t know what they cost now but it was very reasonable when I got mine. Just sayin…it might extend your possibilities. Here is a link if you want to see it. I have had it for about 3 years but I don’t use it every day.

-- Just a barn cat, now gone to cat heaven.

View paxorion's profile


1107 posts in 2013 days

#14 posted 01-05-2015 02:24 AM

I recommend going to a store and picking up the tools to get a feel for them. All have their pros and cons which will be skewed by personal preferences. For example, I found that my views were as follows:
  1. Bosch 1617 – I know a lot of people like this, and I’m sure it would have been a great tool, but I didn’t like the maple handles for the fixed base so I ruled it out.
  2. Bosch MRC23EVS – I have 2 of the fixed based version that I got for a killer deal. I like that it has a lot of premium Bosch fit and finish. I haven’t had any complaints on the power, but the unit is heavier than most mid-size routers. At 15amps, it’s pushing the peek power consumption of the big boy routers (think Porter Cable 7500 series, Triton TRA001, etc), and the unique power transfer design makes it incompatible with any after market lifts for table mounting. I plan on mounting one in a table since the fixed base does have above table adjustment support.
  3. Dewalt DW618 – I really like this unit. It has a low stature which makes it very stable to use. The handles have a soft plastic feel which is very comfortable. The plunge base has an integrated dust collection column which is a nice feature. I also like the fact that the guide accessories are compatible with the compact DW611 which I plan on getting in the future. This has become my go to mid-size router. One knock, this is one of the multi-base router kits that does not provide above table adjustments.
  4. Porter Cable 890 – Price is the knock I have on this one. It combines a lot of my likes from the Bosch 1617 and Dewalt DW618, but is usually more expensive.

Others to look at, include the Hitachi M12VC, Milwaukee 5615, some Craftsman routers. I never considered any of those so not much to add.

-- paxorion

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