Woodworking Talk banner

1 - 18 of 18 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
570 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Is there one certain feature that's a deal breaker if a router doesn't have it? I'm starting to think work light LED's would be it for me, but yesterday I saw the Bosch 1617 combo kit and I don't think it has them. It's the router I think I'd like to have several of, one in a table, one set up as fixed, and one set up as plunge so I don't have to always be switching motors around. The depth adjustment on the fixed base was SOOOO easy to use it puts my Craftsman 17543 to shame! However, once I fart around with the depth on the Craftsman and get it set up, then I love its power, smooth cutting abilities, and most especially those LED's to let me see what's happening at the cut line.

If I used guides all the time it wouldn't matter cause I'd feel my way along but sometimes I'll freehand a cut. I've found it somewhat easier to mortise a door for hinges with free handing the cutout instead of using a hinge mortise guide. I also don't care for the kits they sell that must be nailed to the door slabs to use them. Leaves nail holes when finished so I just started free hand cutting them all and it turns out it's not hard at all. But man, is that Craftsman router ever hard to adjust! Saying it sucks just doesn't describe it!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,445 Posts
Quiet is always nice, and 1/2" shank is a must for either hand or table. I'm also a fan of routers that accept standard 1-3/16" inserts, but it's not a show stopper since it's not hard to add a base that accepts them. For freehand, I like light and comfortable....an LED is an excellent idea for freehand routing but it'd be shining in your eyes for table use. I rarely use a plunge base, but the Milwaukee base is excellent. For table use, variable speed is a must, as is ample power....the more above table adjustment features, the better.

Of all the routers I've owned, the Freud FT1700 is the one I use most in the router table....largely due to the topside adjustments....the FT3000 would be great if I had one. AFAIK, Triton is the only other brand that offers as many topside features.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,510 Posts
Ability to have 1/2" collet is very high. Other things: smooth plunge action on the plunge base, long plunge stroke (my old 690 can't handle some of the longer buts) and soft start.
 

·
Sawdust Creator
Joined
·
8,046 Posts
1/2 inch collet is a must....power....and soft start option.

Don't settle for a 1.75 hp router when there are great options out there at 2.25 or 2.5 hp for the same or less money.

I also wouldn't get drawn in by a particular brand or model. Much of the quality that reputations were built on doesn't exist anymore and you'll pay more money just to get that "legendary" model.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,932 Posts
Bought my first router in the late 60's, a Rockwell, essentially, the same as today's Porter Cable 600 series. There wasn't much choice available back then. The old bases and motors fit the modern version, I have 5 routers now, all basically the same. I use the big PC in my main router table but have several specialty router tables as well as numerous manufactured and shop made accessories that all fit the 600 series. I can leave the 600 bases in the special tables and use any of my routers depending on which is not set up for something else. The compatibility and interchangeability are pluses for me.
 

·
SS user
Joined
·
2,688 Posts
For handheld use, a 1/2" collet, two bases, the ability to accept a GOOD edge guide, power to spare. Also, a compact router for the smaller jobs. (Which are the majority, in my shop)
For table use, POWER! Mine's in a Jessem lift, but if that were not an option, I would definitely have a router that could be micro adjusted from the top.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
570 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Quiet is always nice, and 1/2" shank is a must for either hand or table. I'm also a fan of routers that accept standard 1-3/16" inserts, but it's not a show stopper since it's not hard to add a base that accepts them. For freehand, I like light and comfortable....an LED is an excellent idea for freehand routing but it'd be shining in your eyes for table use. I rarely use a plunge base, but the Milwaukee base is excellent. For table use, variable speed is a must, as is ample power....the more above table adjustment features, the better.

Of all the routers I've owned, the Freud FT1700 is the one I use most in the router table....largely due to the topside adjustments....the FT3000 would be great if I had one. AFAIK, Triton is the only other brand that offers as many topside features.
I'm using a very modest Craftsman 1 1/2 HP in a table now that has 3 LED lights but they don't shine in my face. Could be that I have the table set on a pair of sawhorses so the surface is 4 feet high. Might be up too high for me to see them. Also they're in a triangle pattern so they're spread out some from the bit opening in the table top. That would keep them from shingling directly up through it also.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
570 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
1/2 inch collet is a must....power....and soft start option.

Don't settle for a 1.75 hp router when there are great options out there at 2.25 or 2.5 hp for the same or less money.

I also wouldn't get drawn in by a particular brand or model. Much of the quality that reputations were built on doesn't exist anymore and you'll pay more money just to get that "legendary" model.
I won't be doing that. I always check out products I buy and make decisions based on how they work, not prior reputations, unless those reputations are just HORRIBLE, in which case I steer clear. However, with great reputations I still check them out and if I find flaws or problems then I pass regardless of reputation. An example, I looked at the Porter Cable 690 on display and discovered the height adjustment is done by twisting the motor in the base. I didn't like that at all so I'm not going to be considering it. The main reason is at certain settings the cord will be turned around facing me and I just thought it would get in the way. I didn't especially like the grips either. They're ok, but the wooden grips on the Bosch just seem to fit my hands like they were turned for them specially.

Also, I will be buying 2 1/4 HP when I buy. I believe the Bosch is 2 1/4 HP.

Does anyone know if the motor for the Bosch can be purchased separately like the Porter Cable motors can be? I want to set up 3 separate routers, one plunge and two fixed base (one in a table and one free hand).
 

·
Old Methane Gas Cloud
Joined
·
3,500 Posts
You have heard of Gillett razors, correct? Well routers are just like razors. The machine itself is cheap and features are relatively unimportant. It is the bits and accessories that are expensive. IMO the ratio of bit cost to router cost is about 10 to 1. A $300 router will accumulate about $3000 in bits.

Also, like razors, the accessories are important. Usually the accessories are only available from the router manufacturer. There is an exception, Porter Cable. If a company makes an accessory for a router, that accessory will first fit a Porter Cable router.

In reality, there isn't much difference in the router body itself between manufacturers. Basically it is a universal motor with a collet. Features are variable speed, soft start and spindle lock in order of importance.

The really bad news is that you probably will never achieve the ten to one ratio of bit cost to router cost. The reason is that as you approach about 6 or 7 to one, you will have purchased additional routers. I have 6 routers and only about $5K worth of bits.
(In my defense, I only bought three of the routers.)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
570 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Why is Porter Cable the big deal in routers? I know nothing of their power during use but I actually didn't like it when I saw it. I haven't seen their 890 series yet though, only the 690. If it weren't for the twisting motor to raise or lower it I'd be fine with it.
 

·
Sawdust Creator
Joined
·
8,046 Posts
The 690 has been out for decades.....and was a top notch router when the field was pretty slim. They were known to be great quality when they came out...But that was 25 years ago....in my opinion......better options have come on the market.....while the quality of the 690's have decreased...
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
6,836 Posts
The 690 has been out for decades.....and was a top notch router when the field was pretty slim. They were known to be great quality when they came out...But that was 25 years ago....in my opinion......better options have come on the market.....while the quality of the 690's have decreased...
I have a 690 and I think a 693 which is the same router with a 1/2" collet, just with an extra base. Both are about 5 years old.

A solid router is the important thing. Led lights are a plus, soft start and variable speed or nice features to have but if you add all three features to a crappy router you still have a crappy router with fancy features.

I've used my two PC routers to trim laminate, as a hand held, as a plunge router and in a table. They have performed every task perfectly. With that said I also have a rigid trim router with variable speed and soft start that is awesome. I have a DeWalt 618 with 3 bases, soft start, 1/2" collet and variable speed it has no led but I got it new in box for $36.00 which was a hell of a steal.

Now I just bought the Triton 3 1/4 hp router with superior dust control, and just about any other feature out there. It is a beast but it cost a fortune at like $300. I could have done without it but it was something I wanted not needed.

The answer to your question is
1) 1/2" collet is a must
2) 1 3/4 to 2 1/4 hp is must for hand held yet can be used in a table. As mentioned the 2 1/4 hp would be better.
3) Variable speed and soft start are almost a must
4) Different bases are very handy at times.
5) Led light is just a nice feature.

Above table adjustments are nice for table mounted routers.

I would get the best router you can for the money. Get as many of the features listed as you can without blowing your budget. Use reviews to help tell the quality of certain routers. Ryobi, Black and Decker and some Craftsman models are worth staying away from.

Just my .02
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
212 Posts
I won't be doing that. I always check out products I buy and make decisions based on how they work, not prior reputations, unless those reputations are just HORRIBLE, in which case I steer clear. However, with great reputations I still check them out and if I find flaws or problems then I pass regardless of reputation. An example, I looked at the Porter Cable 690 on display and discovered the height adjustment is done by twisting the motor in the base. I didn't like that at all so I'm not going to be considering it. The main reason is at certain settings the cord will be turned around facing me and I just thought it would get in the way. I didn't especially like the grips either. They're ok, but the wooden grips on the Bosch just seem to fit my hands like they were turned for them specially.

Also, I will be buying 2 1/4 HP when I buy. I believe the Bosch is 2 1/4 HP.

Does anyone know if the motor for the Bosch can be purchased separately like the Porter Cable motors can be? I want to set up 3 separate routers, one plunge and two fixed base (one in a table and one free hand).
I have the 1617 EVSPK which came with both plunge and fixed base. If you get the Bosch you will be happy, it's a great router. I don't think you really need two units unless you just want too. I have my fixed base mounted to my table, and use the plunge base which can be locked in the down position for freehand stuff. You can switch between bases without tools completely by hand in seconds, literally, seconds. I just leave my fixed base on the table, pop the power head out, put it on my plunge base in 20 seconds done.

If I have a complaint it would be with the dust collector accessory (add on, doesn't come with the unit). I got one, it works fine, not great and absolutely will not work table mounted...and I have the Bosch table, why they didn't make the dust collector work with their own table ..:furious:... I have no idea. The table has dust collection port, but doesn't work very well, however the fence DC, it works great.

So Router Big yes, table not so much, dust collector accessory, maybe for hand use only
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
722 Posts
rrbrown said:
I have a 690 and I think a 693 which is the same router with a 1/2" collet, just with an extra base. Both are about 5 years old. A solid router is the important thing. Led lights are a plus, soft start and variable speed or nice features to have but if you add all three features to a crappy router you still have a crappy router with fancy features. I've used my two PC routers to trim laminate, as a hand held, as a plunge router and in a table. They have performed every task perfectly. With that said I also have a rigid trim router with variable speed and soft start that is awesome. I have a DeWalt 618 with 3 bases, soft start, 1/2" collet and variable speed it has no led but I got it new in box for $36.00 which was a hell of a steal. Now I just bought the Triton 3 1/4 hp router with superior dust control, and just about any other feature out there. It is a beast but it cost a fortune at like $300. I could have done without it but it was something I wanted not needed. The answer to your question is 1) 1/2" collet is a must 2) 1 3/4 to 2 1/4 hp is must for hand held yet can be used in a table. As mentioned the 2 1/4 hp would be better. 3) Variable speed and soft start are almost a must 4) Different bases are very handy at times. 5) Led light is just a nice feature. Above table adjustments are nice for table mounted routers. I would get the best router you can for the money. Get as many of the features listed as you can without blowing your budget. Use reviews to help tell the quality of certain routers. Ryobi, Black and Decker and some Craftsman models are worth staying away from. Just my .02

I agree with all of this but would also add Milwaukee to the list of routers I love. I have a 1 3/4 hp and a 2 1/4 hp the body grip style and I prefer them over the PC d handle style. Just my 2 cents.
 

·
Old Methane Gas Cloud
Joined
·
3,500 Posts
To be a bit more specific about PC routers.

The big one, PC 7519 fits (w/o adapters) most router lifts and fits or comes with many automated routing systems. This one is more than 3 HP. Definitely not the best hand held model.

The smaller PC routers (690 or 890 series) have been around since forever. If a manufacturer builds accessories for routers, 90% or so are designed to fit PC routers first and then others later.

I'm not a huge fan of the hand held PC routers but when I need an accessory I can go just about anywhere and buy what I need and it fits. Take something very simple like a collet. You can buy replacement collets for a PC router almost everywhere, even Sears.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
620 Posts
I rarely look at new ones. I own 6 motors, all Porter Cables. One old 1-hp round top from the "Guild" days, that came with a "Door Master kit", that includes a plane body, and the adjustable hinge and strike templates.

I have one 7518 motor, one 890 series motor, two variable speed 690 motors, and one fixed speed 690,
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
620 Posts
jigs-n-fixtures said:
I rarely look at new ones. I own 6 motors, all Porter Cables. One old 1-hp round top from the "Guild" days, that came with a "Door Master kit", that includes a plane body, and the adjustable hinge and strike templates.

I have one 7518 motor, one 890 series motor, two variable speed 690 motors, and one fixed speed 690,
OOPS, To continue: and the one hp round top, or R2D2.

I have more bases that fit the 690/890 series motors than I care to think about, I have bought some separately, and others have survived the motors that came with them.

I have probably a dozen each 1/4 and 1/2-inch collets, and at least one each 6-mm, 8-mm, 10-mm, 12-mm, and 3/8-inch. The broad range of available collets is part of why I started buying PCs to begin with.

That said: if I were to look for a new router, I'd look for:

1). The quality of the collet. It must be separate from the motor shaft, self releasing, and available in multiple sizes, the more sizes the better.

2). Ergonomics. Does the fixed base fit nicely in your hand? Is the on/off switch where you can reach it without taking your hand off the handles? How easily, and accurately can you adjust the height? Same questions for the plunge base. Plus how long is the throw. And, how well does the height lock work?

3). How much does the motor weigh? The copper in the windings is expensive. The more copper in the windings, the higher the quality of the motor. Thus, the heavier the motor the more robust the motor is. So all else being equal buy the heavier router.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
15 Posts
What I look for in a router is...porter cable mostly. I have trim routers, 1 1/2 horse routers, and a 3 horse variable speed and they're all great. Some time ago they came out with a 1 3/4 horse and it was terrible. I really put it to the test though. All of my routers have seen a lot of use and aside from that one lousy one they've all stood up to a lot of use and overuse. I've killed the 1 1/2 horse guys and trim routers but that wasn't from being a poor tool that was from serious abuse. I hear good things about the hitachi 3 horse...but they're pricier than they used to be last I checked and I haven't had the occasion to shop for a second big router.
 
1 - 18 of 18 Posts
Top