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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-04-2010, 07:12 PM Thread Starter
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Default Total Newb Looking for Education/Recommendation

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.

Thanks,
--Jim
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-04-2010, 08:53 PM
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I'd recommend the Craftsman 17453 2hp dual-base (fixed base and plunge base) router kit, with LED lights. I know that Craftsman tools are pooh-poohed by many in general, but it's got a good reputation overall here. It is currently available for $109.95 at http://www.sears.com/shc/s/search_10...n+17543&vName= and will still leave you some room to get some good bits.

I have one of these in my router stable (along with a Porter-Cable, Bosch, Freud and a Ryobi) and it really is a good router for the price. Even with the other routers, I commonly draw on this one for it "feels right" in my hands and the LEDs shining where the cutter is cutting is really helpful.

With it's dual bases, you can choose to mount the fixed-base in a router table some day and have both a handheld and table-mounted routers with one motor. After you learn just how versatile the router really is (read on around here) you'll likely add more to your stable too. After all, my 5 routers are nothing compared to some here; BobJ3 has over 50 and is an expert at using them. There's lots of very router and woodworking savvy people here!

Check out that new high-tech cordless router.. wireless and no recharging required!!
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-04-2010, 09:15 PM
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Jim,

As you probably know, the tool price is just the beginning, the bits are where you'll spend the dough.

You'll probably need something like this for your project

MLCS Slot Cutter Router Bits and Stackable Slot Cutter Set

There are lots of decent used routers available on craigslist if you're comfortable buying things that way as well.

Good luck!

Doug
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-04-2010, 09:40 PM
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Don't forget the T & G bit set, it takes two parts the norm to make the joint

MLCS Tongue and Groove Router Router Bits

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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-05-2010, 01:52 AM
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Hello Jim. Welcome to the RouterForums. Thank you for participating in our group.
Where are you located in KY?




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In woodworking there is no scrap, only firewood.



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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-05-2010, 09:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JiminKY View Post
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.

Thanks,
--Jim
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.

John Schaben

The problem with experience is I usually get it immediately after I need it.
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-05-2010, 10:58 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the quick replies. I spent the morning running a few errands and going out of the way to Tractor Supply for the gate hardware (since I knew the stuff at Lowes was not as heavy duty as I wanted). I am headed out, now, for the actual lumber and router. Luckily, Sears and Lowes are right near each other, so I will grab the Craftsman kit and bits before hitting Lowes for the wood.

I am hoping to get most of the work done by this evening, but do have tomorrow to finish it, if necessary. I appreciate your help and will report back with my progress in learning router use!

Dr Zook - I'm in the Valley Station area of Louisville.

Thanks again,
--Jim
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-05-2010, 11:08 AM
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Welcome Jim, I'm sort in the same boat as you, this forum has provide me with TONS of information on stuff, I never thought would be possible by yourself.
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-09-2010, 06:03 PM Thread Starter
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Well, as it turns out, I wasn't as quick a study as I had hoped. Despite having built 2 other wood gates for my fence, and having detailed plans for these driveway gates, I was not able to even come close to completing them on my Wednesday and Thursday off!

I did, however, get a router and all the lumber purchased, and hope to get most of it done, tomorrow. I wound up going to Lowes before Sears, and with a sale price and a 10% off coupon that I used on my whole purchase, was able to get a Skil 1825 combo--and a 3 pack of straight-cut bits--for under $75. I figured I would grab it while I had the coupon and then check reviews and comparisons against the $109 Craftsman y'all recommended. From what I have read, I think I may keep it as my learning router. It feels decent in my hand and my practice cuts with the plunge base indicate it should be fine for the job I am about to complete.

Anyway, the main hold-up in my project came when I attempted cutting the curved pieces for the top of my gates. I just could not get the first one right, and have decided to just cut curves for the top of the pieces and leave the bottoms straight across. Thus, I probably could have just used a dado blade for my table saw, although I was also having trouble locating one of those for purchase. Tomorrow, I will be attempting to set up some sort of system to get my router to cut straight 3/4" dados through the center of the 1.5" edges of my "2x4" and "2x10" boards.

Wish me luck! Any tips on getting this done would be much appreciated!
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-09-2010, 10:11 PM
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Hi Jim - congratulations on your acquisitions. Skil should work for you for what you need to do.
As I understand it, you need to rout a 3/4" dado down the center of the short edge of some 2x4 and 2x6 stock? First, you will need to rig a wide enough edge to support the router solidly. I'm not sure how wide the base of that router is but I would suggest clamping more 2x stock together to make the edge as wide or wider than the base. I doesn't need to be "extra" or "scrap" stock. You can use the fence pieces and as you finish routing one board, rearrange the stack until you get the "target board" in the right order of the stack.
Next, you will need to rig some kind of "fence" or guide to help control the router. It just need to be some kind of lip or surface you can use to guide the edge of the router plate on. I don't know how big the base of the Skil is but your guide needs to be exacly on half the diameter of the base from the centerline of your cut. This will put your dado right down the center of your cut and also assumes a 3/4" bit for the dado. If you haven't got a 3/4" bit, adjustments can be made. Repost or PM one of us to help you there.
Once you have your stock set up and fence in place, the next question is "Which way to go?". Looking down on the router, the bit rotates in a clockwise direction. Rotating that way, the cutters digging into the stock will tend to pull the router and it will want to drift to the left of the direction of travel. That's where the fence needs to be. So, if the stock is laid out in front of you and you want to move from your right to your left, the fence needs to be between you and the router, if moving from left to right, the router needs to be between you and the fence. I like the "right hand rule of thumb" for determining router direction; Make a fist with your right hand. Extend your index finger and thumb. Keeping you hand in that position, rotate your wrist palm down with your thumb pointing toward your fence (or guide edge). Your index finger will point in the proper direction to route.
Just a couple of other points. Depending on how deep a dado you need to make, I would plan on at least a couple of passes, no more than 1/4" deep. Some of that depends on the bit you have, 1/2 or 1/4" shank. I'm also assuming they are the entire length of the stock and not started and stopped somewhere.
You might tell us a bit more about the curve portion also. Are these inside or outside curves?
Good Luck and keep us posted.

John Schaben

The problem with experience is I usually get it immediately after I need it.
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