Sorry to re-hash the perpetual newb questions. I know how it goes from other forums where I am one of the veterans. But I have to make a decision on a router by tomorrow, and I don't know anything about them. I was more than a little surprised that a whole forum community exists based solely on router use!
Anyway, I need to build a driveway gate, tomorrow, and want to follow plans that require me to carve a channel through straight and curved pieces of lumber. Were I just channeling through a straight 2x4, I would probably just buy a dado blade for my table saw, but the curved pieces give me an excuse to tell my wife I need a new toy!
Unfortunately, I've never even seen a router used, and only learned the meaning of the word "dado," today. The few times I've cut them, I always just called them "grooves" and did them with multiple passes of my 1/8" wide table saw blade.
I don't know how much I might want to start using this tool in the future, so I would rather invest in something that is decent and not waste money on something that will be ok for this job and broken or useless afterwards. That said, I doubt I can justify more than $150-$200, total including the cost of whatever bits I need.
I have had good experiences with Porter Cable and Craftsman, usually find DeWalt and Makita a little costly and overkill, and wouldn't mind saving a few bucks if Ryobi, B&D, or even Harbor Freight were reasonably-well regarded.
I appreciate all thoughts and suggestions.
Hi Jim - Welcome to the forum
Sounds like you have quite a project and not much time to do it. You must be working on it as we speak.
I agree with Jim on the Craftsman likely being the best bang for the buck at the moment. I'm not a particular fan of Craftsman but this one seems out of the norm for Sears.
MLCS bits are also a good choice. Decent value for the money but if you are under time constraints you may be forced to the Big Box stuff. Good Luck there if you need anything very special.
Now the bad news - routing is addictive
, well, it is but that ain't bad either. Unfortunately, it is one thing to be standing in front of a job with a decent router in one hand and a fistful of bits in the other with no clue what to do with either. I know, I been there
You said in your post you have never even seen a router used, i'll take that as a seldom. A router is very easy to handle but, like all power tools, there are a few rules that need to be followed to make it work for you. The two most important, in my alleged mind anyway; 1. The router or the work must be guided. 2. Work must be feed into the bit rotation. Think about rule 1 a second and it is no different than a table saw. You very seldom use the table saw without using the fence or the mitre gauge, or some other device to help control the workpiece. Thinking about rule 2 a second, and I doubt you have tried ripping from the back side of the saw ( except in high school shop trying to see how far we could launch wood). The main difference in the operation of a saw and a router is the axis of rotation of the cutter. Saw is horizontal axis and the router is vertical.
Good Luck and keep us posted on your project. Let us know more about it and the specific operations you need to accomplish and we will try to guide you to the safest and most efficent way to do it.