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Router recommendations

This is a discussion on Router recommendations within the Starting Off forums, part of the General Woodworking category; I am currently looking to buy a router. I have never owned one before, but ...


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Old 04-30-2006, 09:34 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Question Router recommendations
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I am currently looking to buy a router. I have never owned one before, but I plan on using it in a wide range of applications. I was looking at 2.25 HP range but I thought it may be a good idea to 3 or more. I want to make sure this tool is going to last me for a long time and I don't want to find that I underestimated my power needs. My conundrum stems from the fact that 2.25 HP routers can be found in kits that can be either fixed base or plunge. Routers that are 3 or more HP do not come in such kits. I know of several applications that I want to use the plunge router on right now, but I am not entirely clear what the fixed base is for. Is it just so you can be deadly accurate on depth? Is it what enables you to route the edge of a long workpiece, or can that be accomplished with a plunge router and an edge guide? I have been looking at all the options from the various manufactures and my head is reeling with choices. Compounded of course by my lack of experience, desire to get the most versatile tool that will last me a long time. Plus I find differing opinions on who makes the best routers. Dewalt, Makita, Bosch, Porter Cable...

I apologize if this is not the most straightforward post. Understand that I am coming at this from very little experience. Any insight will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!

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Old 04-30-2006, 10:38 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Hello bradleyjere, Welcome to the RouterForums

I will not tell you which router to select. But I will give you some advice. Go to Sears, Home Depot, Lowe's or any other store in your area that carries routers and pick it up and see how it feels in your hands. Try both the Plunge and Fixed Bases. If you find the one that feels good in your hands then you will like it. This is what I did and almost drove my wife crazy from all of my trips to the stores. If you find one you like but it does not feel right then you will hate using it. I bought the Bosch because it felt right in my hands, especially the fixed base. I started out with my dads old Black and Decker router, but I wanted to use 1/2" bits but it would not do what I wanted it too. Then I bought a 2 1/4 HP Bosch 1617 EVS Combo Kit. I used the fixed base in my Bosch Router Table then bought the 3 1/4 HP Bosch 1619 EVS just recently and it went straight into my Router table. So now I have my 1617 to use for any free hand work I want to use it for. I have my Plunge base set up for doing some other things right now but can change it to the original base plate any time if I want too. I use my fixed base now for Dadoes and grooves or Rounderovers in plywood because that is what I am using alot of now. If I had not bought the Bosch 1619 on sale I would have bought another 1617. I now have 7 Routers with 3 mounted in Router tables and 2 of these are trim routers. I received my dads other B&D Router and table recently but have not used it yet.

I would not recommend buying a 3 1/4 HP Router for free hand use to start out with, it will be heavy and bulky for that, but it is your choice.

Once you start using your Router you will find all kinds of things to do with it, and will enjoy using it if you buy the one that feels right in your hands.


Good luck and Happy Hunting. I know how you feel about hunting routers I did the same thing. But liked the Bosch.
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Old 05-01-2006, 10:53 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I have used many different brands and styles of routers. Perhaps the best thing I can say is my choice was the Bosch 1617 combo kit. I also have a second Bosch 1617 motor so I have my plunge base for all free hand routing and my fixed base is ready to use on my table. (This is the best use of the fixed base) I also own a PC 7518 3-1/2 HP which is set up to drop into my table if the need arises. So far my Bosch has been capable of anything I threw at it. My suggestion is that you buy one of the combo kits with the 2-1/4 HP motors and do not consider buying a bigger router until the need arises. As far as which brand; all the brand names you mentioned will perform well. Even the low cost less power Ryobi units will do a nice job. The new Hitachi 2-1/4 HP model is styled after the Bosch 1617 and many of our members are very happy with it's performance. All of these routers have a different feel in your hands, so the important thing is for you to put your hands on them and see which feels best to you. Remember to turn the unit upside down and try the adjustments since this is how it will be mounted on your table. In my opinion you are better off buying a unit with a regular on/off switch and using an aftermarket speed controller as needed. The aftermarket units are much larger and should last longer than the tiny controllers built into many routers. Mind you many members have had no problem using the built in controllers and this is just my take on the subject. Let us know what you decide.
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Old 05-01-2006, 01:16 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I totally agree on the combo base idea - best bang for the buck and you're ready for hand or table use - also agree that 2 1/4 hp will probably get you through almost any normal job but also wouldn't recommend going for less power than that - whatever brand you look at, look closely at the height adjustment - they will all operate a little differently - I went with the Porter Cable 890 series myself because I wanted to be able to adjust height through the table top and the travel on the fine height adjustment was greater, and I'm very pleased with it, but like all have said, most important is what's comfortable to YOU - and have fun looking! Power tools are the only thing I actually enjoy shopping for (oh yeah, and fishing gear!)
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Old 05-01-2006, 02:05 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Tools and Guys

I like it
If you get some time at the Home Depot or other outlets stop right by the tools and whatch the old man pushing the kart right behide his wife and shes looking for wall paper and paint and he makes a hard right or left right into the tool dept. and she is still going down the road and his eyes are looking over are tools, he looks like Tim the Tool Man (tooooools ) and she comes back and takes the kart and she gone and he still looking ,what can I buy, ??? what can I buy ???, hahahahahaha..

The only way to buy a router is go in and play with them for a hour or two without the wife. hahahahaha... get the card out and say I will take that one and that one and that one and this too...then get your own kart and your off to the check out.
And tell the Boss they are out of paint but I did find a item or too that I need in the shop.

Bj :0
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Old 05-01-2006, 02:28 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Hi,

This is where I come in and offer what I did to pick a router...
http://www.routerforums.com/general-routing/1038-new-router-my-way.html

I also should point out that there are a lot of people who have ask this question and by using the search link you can find a lot to read... try things like "hitachi" "porter cable" ... and see maybe a few nights reading.

Once you have your first router you learn what things you like and which drive you nuts... or you decide it is easier to change routers then bits.... and if you are like a lot of us you have a pile of routers...

Remember the router can be the cheapest part of the getting started. You pay say $180 for the router but then you start buying bits... now I already have a large collection of bits and I tend towards good quality but not the most expensive bits on the market. I spent $242.94 on bits last year (that is not with tax or shipping costs).

Anyway happy reading and deciding... what ever router you get you are welcome here for more tips and tricks and help.

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Old 05-01-2006, 10:32 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Wow! I was not expecting the massive outpouring of advice! All who have replied, thank you. I can see some common threads running through the above advice and I think I have a much better idea of what to look for now. I am leaning towards getting one of the 2.25 combo kits since that will give me the most options. Since I am not experienced yet and don't know all the ways I wil be using the router, so this seems to be the most logical choice. I went to the store today and looked at the Dewalt DW618PK, Porter Cable 895PK, and the Bosch 1617EVSPK. One thing I noticed with the Dewalt was that switching the base to the plunge was difficult. The dust collection baffle kept on getting in the way of the motor. If anyone have experience with that setup let me know if that is an issue for them. I also purchased a 2006 Tool Guide book that has a rundown of these routers and rates them. If I was going by that guide I would be looking at the Bosch or the Dewalt for overall all around performance and handling. I feel that the major features I am looking for (since they are all so close in performance) are dust collection system and easy bit changes. I like the fact that the Dewalt has the dust collection through a plunge rod because I think that it will help keep the field of view unobstructed durring operation. But I like the Bosch because it seems to be more comfortable and less money.

Well, another day of research complete! I have to admit that I really enjoy shopping for tools. I love to wander around Home Depot or Menards and look at all the many options. So much to buy and so little money!!!
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Old 05-02-2006, 06:38 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I would not base my router purchase decision upon onboard dust collection. Here is my reasoning: If you are table mounted (most of the time?) this feature is N/A; If you are free hand routing the hose is small enough that it almost HAS to clog on a regular basis, added to the fact you will be dragging a hose over your project.(As if the power cord wasn't bad enough) There are work arounds available that eliminate the need for an onboard dust collection system, and to me they make more sense. You can purchase these items or build your own versions for a fraction of the cost. A simple table top dust collector that is designed into a portable tool tray and uses a 2-1/2" vacuum hose. (Not as likely to clog as a 1-1/2" hose) A floor sweep attachment can be set on your work surface to catch debris. A down draft sanding table hooked to a dust collection line will catch most all the fine dust generated by sanding and/or routing and it is a simple truth that no matter how you try and collect the swarf you will be sweeping anyways. Granted I have never tried using the $300 Fein system so maybe it works? I feel that the benefits of onboard dust collection for a router being used freehand are minimal at best. Just my opinion.
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Old 05-02-2006, 09:24 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I have to agree with Mike. I do not worry much about the dust collection on my routers and did not and still do not look at that as a big plus. The feel is the biggest thing for me. Just my 3 cents.

1 I usually use my router out in the Drive way or in the open space of my shop/Garage, so I can keep the dust to a minimum area to vacuum up. Also if I have alot to rout in the shop I will set up a back drop to help stop the dust from spreading.

2 I also find that dragging a hose over my project to be a pain, let alone the cord.

3 The times that I have used the dust Collection on my Router I still had a mess to clean up with my shop vac. Of course I could just be enjoying the fact that I am being covered in SawDust while using my Router. I always wear a Good Respirator and eye protection.
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Old 05-02-2006, 10:20 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Point made. I didn't think about the pain of extra hose to drag around while routing. I will figure out a diffent method of keeping my shop clean!

Also, I have been reading through reible's experience with the Hitachi. I had not previously considered that router to be honest. I am going to stop at the store on the way home today and give it a look. I like the sound of the really quite motor which I believed could only be had with the Makita.

Last edited by bradleyjere; 05-02-2006 at 10:26 AM.
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