So I finally bought my first router... - Router Forums
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-06-2010, 11:13 AM Thread Starter
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Default So I finally bought my first router...

Hi Everyone,
This is my first post here, but I've been lurking for a couple days now, doing a lot of reading.

I've wanted a router for a long time but couldn't justify the cost and the fact that I'm working out of a tiny shed. My major tool setup currently consists of a 10" drill press, a 7-1/4" circular saw, and a palm sander, and a bunch of hand tools. I think of myself more as a woodworker than a craftsman... I like working with wood (I built a crude shelf, table, cabinets for the shed, work bench) but I can't say I've "crafted" anything. My projects seem more utilitarian/practical, than beautiful.

Anyway, 3 days ago I bought a barely used Craftsman router and table at a garage sale. For $25 I couldn't pass it up. I don't have the model numbers with me, but it's identical to the photos (only exception is my table has 2 wing extensions). I do remember the following:
25,000 RPM
1/4" collet.
Fixed base
Luckily I also received the manuals and collet wrench (but unfortunately only 1 bit - the others already sold).

Thinking about my new "toys" I have a few questions:

1) My understanding is to attach the router to the table the sub-base first needs to be removed. In this case mine is missing (since the router is already attached). Should I get the original plastic one from Sears for $3 or something else? I believe this is needed to use the router manually. I see someone here recommended the $20 kit from Sears that includes 6 clear bases, but I don't know why 6 are needed.

2) The router is also missing the clear plastic window. Should I get this from Sears or is it not necessary? And although the router has two openings, I believe only 1 clear window gets installed correct?

3) The table is missing the plastic inserts that go around the bit. I believe Sears sells them in a set of 5 with different inside diameters. Should I get this kit?

4) The table doesn't have an on/off switch. I'd like to install one - should I use any regular wall switch or is something else recommended?

5) According to the table manual I'm also missing the miter block (I think that's what it's called... the sliding protractor). However according to a "router basics" video on youtube the guy said it's not a good idea to use one since if the fence and miter are not perfectly parallel it will snag. He said it's just best to use push blocks. I'm pretty sure I need push blocks regardless, but should I also get the miter block?

6) The manual says the fence can also be used from the backside. Not sure why this is necessary but I know I'm missing the clear guard/dust hood on the back. Is this necessary? I don't think I can even use it because all I have is a 5 gallon shop vac with 1-1/4 hose. I do have the front clear guard as shown in the photo.

7) I saw in a video some guy using a router by hand to make a groove approx. 4 inches parallel from the edge of a sheet of plywood. He was using some kind of fixture attached to the router that had a straight edge that follows the wood edge and he can adjust how far from the edge he wants the cut. I think this would be really handy... what's this fixture called and can I use it on my router?

OK I think I've used up all my beginner questions for one day... For sure I'll have more but I don't want to become a nuisance just yet
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-06-2010, 12:57 PM
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Hi Guido

Just use it the way it is,, it's a low power router and will do many small jobs,don't drop any more money into it , pickup some bits and call it good, down the road you will want a bigger router and table that's when you want to dig into your bill fold...as far as the base plate ,it's good to put one back on if you are going to use it for a hand router..the base plate(s) are for many jobs..that's why they list 6 of them for the same router..

But I would suggest you get the speed control below, it comes with on or off switch and you can slow the router down, it's like day and night using the router ,you don't need to run most of the bits at high speed and the noise level down by tons..nothing like a screaming router to put you on edge..


http://www.harborfreight.com/router-...rol-43060.html
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Last edited by bobj3; 07-06-2010 at 02:43 PM.
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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-06-2010, 01:37 PM
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Hi and welcome. I can only answer one of youer questions from a newbie perspective, since I am a newbie to using a router for much of anything. Owned one for a while, kind of the same set up as yours, but never played with it to see what i could do.

4) The table doesn't have an on/off switch. I'd like to install one - should I use any regular wall switch or is something else recommended?

One of the first things I did to my router table (small one like yours) was to add a "safety" style switch. I opted for the big switch which has a big red paddle that says stop, in case you get into a situation where you need to drop power to the router quickly. I have since move to a larger router table in my TS extention. First thing I did was move that switch. I move to the left side of the worktop, kind of thew same place as my TS.

So far I have not need the swithc for anything but basic off on, but makes me feel a bit more comfortable knowing it is there, large, easy to find, JIC (Just In Case).
I will try to upload the Rockler version of this switch, pretty straightforward to install. Your router plugs into it and it plugs in the wall.
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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-06-2010, 01:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gweedz View Post
1) My understanding is to attach the router to the table the sub-base first needs to be removed. In this case mine is missing (since the router is already attached). Should I get the original plastic one from Sears for $3 or something else? I believe this is needed to use the router manually. I see someone here recommended the $20 kit from Sears that includes 6 clear bases, but I don't know why 6 are needed.
You will need a base plate to use the router by hand but you should consider a different one the the original since the original will accept only these types of sears guide bushings. Sears Parts Direct has a clear one (sears base plate) that will accept porter cable type guide bushings but I'm not sure the hole pattern will match your router (I would think it should but you never know). There's no picture but I bought one and it fits my craftsman router. Shipping will add another $6 or so, so you, may want to order a few items (like extra brushes for your router).

Some people recommend the Milescraft plate and guide bushing system. It comes with an adapter for PC style guide bushings too. This is a really good kit since it has the base plate, the bushinggs, PC bushing adapter and a centering cone (you'll need one of these). You may want to buy something else too since the $24.99 price on Amazon is just a penny under the $25 free shipping minimum.

I think this is the 6 base set you are refering to: six base set. As far ar as I know, you don't really need it. You won't (shouldn't) be using really large bits on your small, handheld router. Just a single size opening should be good. For those times you need a zero clearance base plate, you can make one out of 1/4" hardboard, or clear plastic (acrylic - plexiglass).


Quote:
Originally Posted by Gweedz View Post
2) The router is also missing the clear plastic window. Should I get this from Sears or is it not necessary? And although the router has two openings, I believe only 1 clear window gets installed correct?
If this is the window your writing about chip guard, you don't really need it. It makes it harder to see the cut and you should be wearing safety goggles anyway. If you want it, add it to the order above.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Gweedz View Post
3) The table is missing the plastic inserts that go around the bit. I believe Sears sells them in a set of 5 with different inside diameters. Should I get this kit?
I think these are the plastic inserts you are refering too: plastic inserts. In my opinion, htese are more dangerous than than helpful. They snap into the table with plastic tangs that wear out and can be pushed into the bit if they catch on the workpiece. You don't need them and they're dangerous.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Gweedz View Post
4) The table doesn't have an on/off switch. I'd like to install one - should I use any regular wall switch or is something else recommended?
You could mount a double box on the table with an on/off switch and an outlet (kind of like an extension cord with a switch at the end) but you don't really need it since it's not that difficult to press the switch on the router and use the locking button to keep it on. If you do, make sure you always unplug the router when changing bits (which you should do anyway).


Quote:
Originally Posted by Gweedz View Post
5) According to the table manual I'm also missing the miter block (I think that's what it's called... the sliding protractor). However according to a "router basics" video on youtube the guy said it's not a good idea to use one since if the fence and miter are not perfectly parallel it will snag. He said it's just best to use push blocks. I'm pretty sure I need push blocks regardless, but should I also get the miter block?
You don't need it and it's really poorly made. Unfortumately, the groove in your table is only 3/16" deep, so you can't replace it either. I have this table and I'm in the process of modifying it. One of the things I'm doing is adding another top which will accept guide bushings and interchangeable inserts (like the plastic ones above but better). I'm using this small table to experiment with various features before building my big table. I'll post the whole thing eventually (probably in September).


Quote:
Originally Posted by Gweedz View Post
6) The manual says the fence can also be used from the backside. Not sure why this is necessary but I know I'm missing the clear guard/dust hood on the back. Is this necessary? I don't think I can even use it because all I have is a 5 gallon shop vac with 1-1/4 hose. I do have the front clear guard as shown in the photo.
Using the fence flipped around (i.e. the backside) gives you more room to cut things like dadoes. My table came with a red bit guard for this (not clear) but I broke one of the pivot pins and tossed it. I've never used this fence flipped. It would reall easy to make a short fence with a guard so it's not a big deal for me.

I removed the plastic, spring loaded guard from the front of the fence. It just gets in the way of the workpiece. I still have it in a drawer though.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Gweedz View Post
7) I saw in a video some guy using a router by hand to make a groove approx. 4 inches parallel from the edge of a sheet of plywood. He was using some kind of fixture attached to the router that had a straight edge that follows the wood edge and he can adjust how far from the edge he wants the cut. I think this would be really handy... what's this fixture called and can I use it on my router?
It's called and edge guide and I think this one will fit your router: edge guide. They're really usefull. that said, I don't own one. I usually just clamp a board to my workpiece. This can be difficult for small workpieces but I have lots of scrap to use for spacers and supports and such. You can also make you're own with some metal rods from Home Depot and a block of wood 9and probably some other odds and ends). There are better quality guides availble but you'll have to find one that fits your router. There are also different length edge guides for making cuts farther from the edge.

Last edited by RJM60; 07-06-2010 at 01:46 PM.
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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-06-2010, 01:38 PM
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By the way, Rockler may not be the best version or cost on this, maybe someone else has a source that is a good deal? I caught mine on sale using a 25% coupon, so it wasn't a bad deal.
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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-06-2010, 02:17 PM
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Hi Guido - Welcome to the forum.
I think you pretty much have what you need to get going, except some bits. This set won't break the bank but will give you enough variety to get a feel for what you want to do:
30 pc 1/4" Shank Router Bit Set - eBay (item 130404583289 end time Jul-27-10 15:44:46 PDT)
You can use any switch with a high enough amp rating. Someone pointed out a regular light switch and recepticle would work just fine. The paddle switches are good for emergencies though.
Mitre guage, I use one on very rare occasions. Push blocks are free, shop made, and generally just work better.
Edge guide, about a year ago I thought I desperately needed an edge guide. Finally got one and have yet to use it. Clamp a straight board along the path you want to go and have at it. Easier, faster, and, IMHO, safer.
You do want to get a base plate for hand held work. Someone suggested the milescraft and I will second that suggestion. Also, while looking at Milescraft products, you will want to invest in some feather boards and at least one push stick.
Good Luck and welcome aboard

John Schaben

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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-06-2010, 04:17 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks to everyone for their recommendations - I started getting worried when I read the first reply thinking maybe my $25 "bargain" was a waste of money.

Luckily it looks like my purchase is usable for my needs (getting started with routing cheaply, until I know what I do/don't want).

Here is what I concluded from the above:

I think I found the Milescraft base plate locally at Home Hardware for $23.99. I'm not authorized to post a link but the model # is 1201 instead of 1211 mentioned by RJM60, but I can't tell what the difference is. Can someone verify I'm looking at the right thing?

I won't get the chip guard or the table inserts. I'll also skip the edge guide until I decide I really need it.

I'll install an on/off button/paddle (for convenience and safety). I'll also install an electrical receptacle next to the plug to easily unplug the router during bit changes, etc.

I'll make a couple push blocks and make/buy a push stick.

I'll buy a couple feather blocks. They're not cheap considering what they are.

I like that bit set on ebay, I think they're perfect for my budget and skill set... but I will check around locally first because I'm always afraid of customs/duties. I don't see a brand name on the ebay ones so they're probably no better than the Canadian Tire or Busy Bee ones when they go on sale 1/2 price.


Now a couple more newbie questions...

8) (using #8 to not confuse with my previous number list above) What are the guide bushings used for in the Milescraft sub-plate? The name and design suggests is supports the bit from side loads, but can that thin plastic really support a bit spinning at 25,000 RPM without melting? I must be missing something here. Is there a manual or can someone explain how this works and why it's needed?

9) To install feather boards do I need to make holes in the fence? No problem, but how about the ones mounted horizontally on the table (pushing the piece towards the fence) - how do I fix those since I don't have a decent t-track?

10) If I want to use a starter pin, do I just drill a hole somewhere in my table and drop a pin in it?

11) I found some 1/4" bits that say maximum 22,000 RPM... is this loaded or unloaded? Reason I ask is my router is rated 25k RPM but this is unloaded. Most sets don't mention RPM rating.
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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-06-2010, 05:14 PM
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Hi Guido - the 1201 set is a nylon reinforced plastic set of bushings and the 1211 has brass inserts. Either will work. The bit doesn't actually ride against the plastic, there is the tiniest bit of clearance there, with the posible exception of the 5/16 guide. No matter. Once you get your hands on some, it will become clear.
The milescraft feather board sets come with hardware that will allow you to attach them to the slot in your fence (It looks like yours is more of a groove than a slot) and to the mitre track in the table. Otherwise just use clamps. You really don't want to drill holes for them as the optimum position changes based on width and thickness of stock as well as possibly the type of bit or depth of cut. I know they are pricey for what they are and you can make your own. I've never been all that thrilled with the ones I made so I ended up buying two of the double sets of the milescraft ones.
Bit speed is a function of bit size. Not much you can do about it with a handheld router. On the table, you can add a remote speed control. I think BJ alluded to one in the first reply. Some will combine the speed control with a power switch. With that bit set from eBay, I don't think you need be concerned about bit speed. Several of us have purchased from that particular vendor with good results for the money. There are a couple of other eBay vendors whose products are a cut above also.
Hope this helps some, keep the questions coming.

John Schaben

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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-07-2010, 10:44 AM Thread Starter
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I found the 1211 inserts at Lee Valley for $27.50 - only $4 or so more than the plastic ones so I guess I'll get these. (And only $2.50 more than what I paid for my router and table!) Do you think they can be used on my table? I did a lot of reading and saw some videos where guides were used to make inlays, but they we all made on a table or hand held with a plunge router... can I do the same with my setup?

I like the speed control idea... I'll try to find one locally also. You mention it's good for the table, but not much I can do hand held. Why can't I use the speed control hand held and have it lying on the floor or out of the way?

And I think I'll get the router bits mentioned above.
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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 07-07-2010, 11:05 AM
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Hi Guido

I have about 8 of the speed control boxes and I use them all over the shop but I would not suggest you put them on the floor,mount it to a board and hang it on the work bench with a small chain so you can get to it easy...they have a outlet on the side/bottom so you can still unplug the router when you work on it..the very best safety device (switch) you will have..

Try Busy Bee outlet they should have them on hand but I would suggest getting one from MLCS,,free shipping and you will have in week or less right at your door step..

MLCS Router Speed Control and Billy Pedal Foot Switches

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gweedz View Post
I found the 1211 inserts at Lee Valley for $27.50 - only $4 or so more than the plastic ones so I guess I'll get these. (And only $2.50 more than what I paid for my router and table!) Do you think they can be used on my table? I did a lot of reading and saw some videos where guides were used to make inlays, but they we all made on a table or hand held with a plunge router... can I do the same with my setup?

I like the speed control idea... I'll try to find one locally also. You mention it's good for the table, but not much I can do hand held. Why can't I use the speed control hand held and have it lying on the floor or out of the way?

And I think I'll get the router bits mentioned above.



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