What a difference the right tools make... - Router Forums
 
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-12-2009, 11:45 PM Thread Starter
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Default What a difference the right tools make...

So after spending a week here reading and researching elsewhere on the net, I took the plunge and decided to upgrade my $30 garage sale router setup with the best pieces I could find that wouldn't break my $500 budget. For a table, I settled upon the Kreg bench top table($220), which is perfect for my garage, outside of the fact that I now need to build a sub base to get it up off the floor, but I have a bench plan in mind already.

I have paired this with a Hitachi M12V2 3.5 HP router ($183), and a Router Raizer add-on ($89) I found on Amazon which gives me above the table height adjustment for less than half of what some of the big name router lifts would have cost me, in fact if I buy a collet extension, I would be able to change bits above the table as well so that is on my list of items I would like to have.

I spent the night making some oggee miniature door fronts, and wow is this thing slick. I can't describe how quiet it is, even under load, I would say my table saw is as loud as the router is while under no load, and the cutting is smooth as silk. Another thing I love about it is the dust extraction plate that is mounted to the tob of the router sub base. Because I have one of the smaller shop vacs, I can hook that sucker up to the extraction port with the hose I already (1.5 inch) have and it pulls the dust right out the bottom. Now if I could just find a way to cut down the noise of the shop vac I would be in heaven!

Picked up a couple of feather boards this evening so I could work safely with some six inch pieces of 1 x 4 testing out the new bits and tweaking the setup, and those made a huge difference in eliminating the snipe from the cuts that I experienced with the old router and table. It is amazing what going from a router built in 1972 (yes I looked it up, the router is older than I am) to one built in the last decade can do. I also took the advice of a few others on here and decided to order a full set of 1/2 inch bits from Super Carbide Tools from ebay and they happend to arrive just as I got the router mounted in the table. I have no idea how well the bits will hold up but the ones I have tested have made very clean cuts.

So for anyone looking for a setup that won't put a huge dent in your wallet, and is a pleasure to use, I would have to say this setup ain't bad at all. Total cost was right at $500 plus the bits which put me about $40 over my budget, but thats ok because I like bologna! If I didn't have so much crap going on I would take the day off tomorrow and stay home playing with it
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-13-2009, 07:32 AM
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Hi Daniel,

Thanks for your thoughts on this set up. I had the M12V and Router Raizer a few years ago and found it to be the cats meow just as you say. It really did a nice job for me, but with the shortage of shop space and several routers, something had to go and it ended up being the M12V. Sometimes I wonder if it was the best choice to eliminate in my case

Have fun with your new toys and keep us posted with some pictures of your projects.
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-13-2009, 11:02 AM
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Yes, the right tools do make a difference. I remember when I first started woodworking about 30 years ago I struggled working with inexpensive tools. But at the time it was all I could afford. Over the years as my income grew I replaced my inexpensive "department store" tools with good commercial quality tools. For example, making consistent and accurate cuts on my 5HP Delta X5 Unisaw with a 50 Biesemeyer fence system, digital fence scale, and Forrest Combo Blades is a far cry from working with a 1HP department store table saw and those awfull fences that came with. The same can be said for top of the line router tables, fence and lift systems. There is a difference!

I don't think the difference is so much in capability as it is in ease of use and quality of result, which reduces the frustration factor and increases the enjoyment factor. And if you have an inexpensive tool that works for you, keep it and enjoy it. But if it's a source of constant frustration, put a plan in place to replace it....
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-13-2009, 11:39 AM Thread Starter
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Something that struck me as odd regarding the department store tools is that I could not find a hitachi router locally to put my hands on. Not even one of the different models from what I bought. The big box stores carry the Dewalt and PC, and then the very low end skill stuff but no one had a hitachi in the store that I could find.

I am personally a big fan of the hitachi tools as I have a few other small power tools from them that have performed awfully well and their price point is excellent. I like to buy american when I can, but these days that is getting harder and harder as even the american made tools sometimes don't meet the quality guidelines that they were once known for. I lost nearly all of my hand tools when I got divorced, well I didn't lose them but they were given to me by my father in law and it didn't seem right taking them so I am slowly gathering up wrench, screw driver, nut driver, and socket sets in SAE and metric, but man you just don't realize how much you have invested in tools until you have to replace them. The hand tools I think I will get from harbor freight as the quality isn't bad, and if you lose one it isn't a huge deal. Power tools are kind of a crap shoot, sanders and the like or items that are not requried to be perfect are ok from there as well, but the table saw and router. I have to say you are better of spending just a little more to get a good setup than saving $50 and realizing down the road that you just wasted that money because the tools need to be replaced.

That being the case what I am in dire need of right now are some decent clamps. I have a couple but they are just the squeeze clamps and I use them pseudo cabinet locks to keep my youngest out of the cabinets where she loves to play with all the cleaning supplies. I love the bessey K-body style but wow they are expensive, and other suggestions or places that have a similar style but perhaps at a slightly lower price point?

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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-13-2009, 12:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Sooner View Post
That being the case what I am in dire need of right now are some decent clamps. I have a couple but they are just the squeeze clamps and I use them pseudo cabinet locks to keep my youngest out of the cabinets where she loves to play with all the cleaning supplies. I love the bessey K-body style but wow they are expensive, and other suggestions or places that have a similar style but perhaps at a slightly lower price point?
You have already mentioned HF. IMHO, HF has about the best bang for the buck in the clamp department. About 1 in 10 of their plastic sqeeze type bar clamps end up slipping on me but they are cheap enough.

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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-19-2009, 08:48 PM
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I saw that Kreg table - are you satisfied with it ? I have all the Kreg pocket hole fixtures and clamps - they are excellent.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-19-2009, 09:20 PM
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Originally Posted by jschaben View Post
You have already mentioned HF. IMHO, HF has about the best bang for the buck in the clamp department. About 1 in 10 of their plastic sqeeze type bar clamps end up slipping on me but they are cheap enough.
I checked HF clamps out a couple times. They slip, so I won't buy.
I have a bunch of the MIT clamps from ACO hardware. At $8 for an 18" as an example, they clamp tight and stay.

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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-19-2009, 11:24 PM Thread Starter
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I saw that Kreg table - are you satisfied with it ? I have all the Kreg pocket hole fixtures and clamps - they are excellent.
I suppose a lot of it depends on what you want to do with it but most of what I do is with small pieces (no more than 12 inches in width and 8 feet in length). That coupled with the fact that my garage is also my workshop and with two small children I still need room to get my 4 door truck in the garge, the bench top table is exactly what I need. While I can't work with the truck in the garage, I can stack things along the wall where they are easy to pull out when I need them and also easy to put back without having to lift everything onto a shelving unit.

Right now my "bench" is actually a base to my brothers old bed, which sets abot 23 inches off the floor, and provides a reasonably comfortable work height for me. I do plan at some point to actually build a base and mount it on casters but right now most of what I do on the router table is trim and box joints so the extra few inches I am missing from the bench height doesn't bother me.

As for the table itself, it is rock solid with no wiggle at all in the legs. The insert is pretty decent and the table surface is smooth so sliding the pieces along it works well. The only complaint I have in fact is that the insert does not come with rings that can be changed out depending on your bit size. My grandfather has a milling machine so at some point in the future I might have him mill me a plate and some insert rings to replace the standard insert with but leveling of the insert was easily accomplished as there are two seperate leveling screws on each corner of the plate.

The fence has T track along the top and back, so it will take nearly any attachment you want to add, and the fence faces come with 1/16 and 1/32 shim rods that give you a consistent out feed surface. For the money, the table isn't bad at all so long as you aren't looking to work with really big pieces of material.

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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-21-2009, 07:34 PM
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Thanks for the feedback. I thought the kreg plate would have the rings (thought I saw one with them) ? I made a new fence today and used the pocket hole system to put it together - love that pocket hole system ! Also recessed th ekreg clamp plate into the table for raised panels I'm making.
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Last edited by ccmnova; 11-21-2009 at 08:49 PM. Reason: added pics
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