Router size decisions...

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Forum topic by airChris posted 07-30-2009 12:39 AM 4097 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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5 posts in 3463 days

07-30-2009 12:39 AM

Topic tags/keywords: router table hp decision question


I’m just starting out with woodworking, and one of my first projects will be to build a router table into the extension wing of my tablesaw. I have a limited budget so when it comes to buying the router for the table, I’ll need something versatile. So this brings me to the question: what size router would be best to get, considering that it will likely live in the table most of the time (this is an assumption I’ve made—maybe it’s wrong). I’ve looked at the Triton 2.25 and 3.25 HP routers, as well as the Ridgid 2.25HP fixed/plunge base combo.

I originally thought the Triton 3.25hp would be a no-brainer, except that if I ever take it out of the table it’s a handful. So then I figured the Triton 2.25hp would be a good fit, except that it is only a plunge router and has no fixed base option, which led me to the Ridgid combo router. But of course, then I started thinking that if I ever need the extra power, the smaller 2.25hp routers wouldn’t cut it and I was back to the Triton 3.25hp router….and so on….

So I’m asking those that have used routers, both in and out of tables, which considerations are important? Or, do I need to just suck it up and get 2 routers, a big in table unit, and a smaller handheld?


12 replies so far

View BeachedBones's profile


201 posts in 3640 days

#1 posted 07-30-2009 12:43 AM

My vote would be go big on the mounted one, then buy a smaller one when you end up “needing” it later. But I take it I’m not the first one who’s started collecting routers…

-- You know.... I think that old wood needs to be furniture.

View PurpLev's profile


8548 posts in 3887 days

#2 posted 07-30-2009 12:50 AM

since budget is a matter here, go for the more versatile solution for the time being – the Ridgid 2.25 or the Porter Cable 2.25 or the Bosch 2.25 sets are all of great value, and especially if you’re starting out – will all have plenty of power for your needs. unless you’re popping out mouldings 24/7 a 3hp router is not a necessity.

the sets will give you the best of all worlds – 2 bases, plenty of power to start with, and the ability to work free hand or mounted to table when you need it.

if you ever “need” something more powerful, you’ll be able to get a 3hp and permanently mount it in a table, but I personally have yet to get to that point. I’m still with my 2.25hp Bosch set which is fantastic.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View a1Jim's profile


117417 posts in 3816 days

#3 posted 07-30-2009 12:56 AM

Hey Chris
I like my Triton 2.25 in my out-feed because of it’s built in lift. But I also my large porter cable in my router table. I Have read good reviews re Rigid. I prefer Porter Cable routers because of they have given me good service and availability of parts . All said and done I would suggest a router for you table and hand held.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 4060 days

#4 posted 07-30-2009 01:06 AM

Chris, I will second Jim’s opinion both on the Porter Cable recommendation and on getting at least two routers. I run a Dewalt 625 in one of my tables and for the most part use my 3HP Hitachi for my hand operations (I also have a couple of others but they only get used when I don’t want to change bits).

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View knotscott's profile


8178 posts in 3614 days

#5 posted 07-30-2009 03:22 AM

I think Jim’s on the right track suggesting two routers….you’re very likely to have two routers before you know it, and it’s best to plan ahead. One mounted permanently, one for hand use, and each of those functions usually dictates different features.

If you plan to do lots of raised panels, a big router is going to be handy. If not, most decent 2-1/4hp routers will do. Everyone is different, but I find features like one handed above table bit changes, and above table height adjustment to be very handy…the Freud FT1700 & FT3000, and the Triton routers are just a handful that have collets long enough to extend though the table for easy above table bit changes. Variable speed is a must for table routers so you can slow down the bigger bits.

For hand use, I prefer light and nimble. Variable speed is less important but is certainly ok to have. A plunger may or may not be handy for you. Handle several and go with one that feels good in your hands.

As far as brands…lots of good ones to choose from. Milwaukee, DeWalt, PC, Freud, Hitachi, Makita, Ridgid, Triton, Bosch, to name a few. The Hitachi routers are tough to beat for value…both the big M12V2, and the smaller M12VC….I really like my M12VC for hand use. The Milwaukee routers are just plain rugged, and have a good plunger. Bosch is very well made too. DeWalt has a great plunger and good DC. The two Freud’s I mentioned have nice table features. Be sure to get one with the 1/2” collet, and use 1/2” shank bits whenever possible…many also include the 1/4” collet.

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

View doyoulikegumwood's profile


384 posts in 4231 days

#6 posted 07-30-2009 03:46 AM

chris seance money is at issue at this time go for a combo kit i recommend the PC cuz its what i like and at rockler right now if you buy the combo they trow in a really nice edge guide

-- I buy tools so i can make more money,so ican buy more tools so I can work more, to make more money, so I can buy more tool, so I can work more

View sh2005's profile


97 posts in 3475 days

#7 posted 07-30-2009 04:58 AM

I have the Hitachi KM12VC, it works well for me. I have the fixed base mounted to the table, while the plunge base is used when hand routing. The router has 6 speed settings, and the lowest three speeds are sufficient for most of my needs. I doubt I will ever have a need for the bigger 3 HP routers. You can always overcome the lack of power for a particular cut by taking smaller, multiple passes. That may concern those who do production work, but for me, that means more time doing woodworking :)

The Hitachi is quiet, smooth and has the soft start feature. the only thing I have heard ppl complain about is that there is no shaft lock mechanism- You will have to use two wrenches to loosen the collet nut. Personally, I don’t really mind it. One last thing about this router is that it is same as the Porter Cable routers as far as the template guides are concern. I think, the base plate mounting hole positions are also the same.

At, it is right now going for about $150. If I have to buy a second router (don’t think I need to as long as this one runs), I would buy it again. However, there is one nice-to-have feature that this router doesn’t have – the ability to raise/lower bit height from top of the table when the router is mounted on the table. I don’t exactly which particular routers have it, but I know there are some router out there that have this feature. You will need a router plate which has provision for it. I can get by without this feature, just takes some extra time adjusting the height. Then again, there are router lifts which gives easy precise height adjustment , which I might go for in the future.

Speaking of router plate, I have heard that the heavier routers can cause the some router plates to sag. I have only heard about it, so maybe others can tell if that is really true or not. I bought a phenolic plate, there are also aluminum ones available that should be used with heavy routers.

In conclusion, you may find it more worthwhile to save money by getting a smaller router and spend that on quality bits.

View airChris's profile


5 posts in 3463 days

#8 posted 07-30-2009 09:04 PM

Lots of great replies and food for thought—thanks guys.

Here’s a twist on the original post: if I can only get one router, should it be a plunge router? It appears that many plunge routers are adapatable for table therefore negating the need for a fixed base (ie: Triton).

Or is there some other reason I’d want a fixed base router as well? (ie: is there anything I can do freehand with a fixed base that I can’t do with a plunge router?)

Also, if I opt for a smaller (ie: 2hp) router, other than speed or efficiency, is there anything that I couldn’t cut that a 3hp router would be able to? Will panel raising (kitchen cupboards) be really difficult on a 2hp router?



View woodworm's profile


14470 posts in 3829 days

#9 posted 07-30-2009 09:12 PM

Plunge router is the first choice, if I were in your shoes.

-- masrol, kuala lumpur, MY.

View Mauritius's profile


96 posts in 3464 days

#10 posted 07-30-2009 09:29 PM

When I set up my shop a couple months ago I went with the Bosch 1617evspk kit. It comes with a fixed base, plunge base and an edge guide. It’s 2.25hp and I think that’s plenty for what I’m doing. I haven’t cut any big moldings or raised panels yet but even if I was going to use some larger bits, I think with the right quality bit and multiple passes I won’t have a problem.

I leave the fixed base in the router table and use the plunge base when I need to work above the table (helpful for cutting mortises and such). Your question about needing a fixed base vs a plunge is a good one, assuming you aren’t mounting it in a table, I don’t know that there’s a reason to have a fixed base over a plunge, but I’ve often wondered this myself.

I would highly recommend getting a router with both bases, pretty much all brands sell them as part of a set, or you can pick up the plunge base separately for a bit more. I don’t think you can put a plunge base in a table (according to my Bosch’s manual anyway), and you’re somewhat limited to what you can do with a fixed base if you want to take it out of the table, and it’s a lot easier to leave the fixed base in your table rather than removing/reattaching it every time you need to freehand.

View John Gray's profile

John Gray

2370 posts in 4124 days

#11 posted 07-31-2009 12:04 AM

I have the Bosch 1617evspk kit and it works great for me. I purchased an extra base, just the fixed base no motor, from Amazon and leave it, the base, in the router table all the time it sure makes quick base changing. My son has the PC’s “same combo” and I’ve heard no complaints from him. Good luck.

-- Only the Shadow knows....................

View knotscott's profile


8178 posts in 3614 days

#12 posted 07-31-2009 02:10 AM

You can do raised panels with a decent 2 hp router, but it’ll put a lot more strain on the motor if you do a lot of them. An entire kitchen would be pushing it…you’ll need to make more passes and hope the motor doesn’t let the smoke out, whereas a 3hp router will hog right through and never blink.

If you play your cards right, you might be able to end up with two decent routers for about the same price as one of the better combo kits. Check, CPO tools, Direct Tools, or other refurb retailers for deals.

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

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