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I'm a mostly beginning woodworker new to routers. I inherited an old Craftsman 31517380 (circa 1973) from my father. It seems to run well and I don't think he used it much. I don't know how much routers have changed over the years and I'm wondering if I should invest in an new one or if this one is adequate for basic needs? I'm guessing most 1/4" bits will work with this one, but not sure if the setup is easier with new ones, etc.? I'll also need a table for it.

Thanks!
 

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John
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Hello and welcome to the router forum Jeff
Like most tools routers have improved but why not make a few small projects with old one, if you really get serious about woodworking you will probably want to upgrade but if are really serious about building a table I would probably get a new router before building it
 

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Theo
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If it runs, keep it, and use it until it dies. When it dies likely not able to find the parts to repair it, so toss it, or keep it for parts - never can tell what you might run across. I have 4 or 5 old Craftsman routers (only use 1, so lose count), they all work, the new one is somewhere between 15 and 20yo. When the one I use dies, I'll toss it, or keep it for parts, and start using a different one. Make a table. My router plate is 1/2" plywood, and I made a master so I can clone them. Will fit any router not wider than mine, just have to drill screw holes.
 

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Craftsman tools are notoriously hard to find replacement parts for. First thing I'd do is work out how to make a router table top. A piece of VERY FLAT ply will do. I'd do it in two layers, half inch on top, 3/4 under. Cut an opening with a jig saw to just fit whatever router plate you get as close a fit as possible. Cut a smaller hole in the 3/4 leaving a lip of about half an inch for the plate. You can buy a plate for many routers, but more on that in a minute. Kreg makes some height adjustment screws you put in the corners so you can adjust the plat so it's the height of the half inch top. I mention the table because it is SOOOOOO much safer to use than holding the router freehand. Many mounting plates come pre drilled for one of our favorites, the Bosch 1617. Buy the EVSPK kit with both fixed and plunge base. You can mount the fixed base in your table top. You move it up and down in the clamped base to get the rough height you want, and then it has a fine height adjustment to get it exactly right. The plunge base is great for freehand work.

The reason the collet is such an issue is that it works by compressing the gripping part a few thousandths of an inch to hold the bit in place. They are actually high precision devices and must be clean and dry, and they do wear out and are susceptible to damage.

In case you can't tell, I come down on the side of get a new router because I get frustrated with the old stuff. The 1617 will do everything you ask of it, it has a soft start so it is easier to control on startup, and parts and accessories abound. Old routers are only as good as the collet, and we constantly have new members trying to fine one because Craftsman doesn't stock old parts.

When you work freehand, you usually work with the finished side up. When you work on a table, you usually work with the finished side down. Router bits spin at 20,000 rpm and if it gets out of control, or the collet is no longer good, that thing flying loose is going to chew something or someone up. Building a table top you can stretch over a couple of saw horses is pretty easy if you have a jig saw, but put some painters tape over the cut line to reduce tearout on the plywood.Probably cost you five bucks in plywood, about 25 for the leveling gadget from some place that sells Kreg, or from Amazon. Here's a picture.

396366
 

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I'm a mostly beginning woodworker new to routers. I inherited an old Craftsman 31517380 (circa 1973) from my father. It seems to run well and I don't think he used it much. I don't know how much routers have changed over the years and I'm wondering if I should invest in an new one or if this one is adequate for basic needs? I'm guessing most 1/4" bits will work with this one, but not sure if the setup is easier with new ones, etc.? I'll also need a table for it.

Thanks!
Well Jeff there is some good advice being given. I would get my feet wet before I dove in and bought a new one. Being a beginner wood worker there are plenty of areas (Power tools, clamps wood, Etc.) wanting to use your cash. Use the router hand held on either a small project or just see what you can do with it by putting an edge on a board/shelf/table/counter top. Using a roman ogee bit or a round over bit or a chamfer bit will let you get the feel of the router and the steps needed to take to do it safely and correct. Depending on what you want to build and how you plan to build it will determine if you need a new router and if you need a router table right now.

Be safe and enjoy!
 

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I'm a mostly beginning woodworker new to routers. I inherited an old Craftsman 31517380 (circa 1973) from my father. It seems to run well and I don't think he used it much. I don't know how much routers have changed over the years and I'm wondering if I should invest in an new one or if this one is adequate for basic needs? I'm guessing most 1/4" bits will work with this one, but not sure if the setup is easier with new ones, etc.? I'll also need a table for it.

Thanks!
Welcome to the forum, ....
 

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Whatever you do, I'd make sure you don't try to do it in one pass. I try to keep it to shaving off no more than an eighth of an inch per pass, then if I'm being perfectionistic, I take one final pass just skimming the surface lightly to make it super smooth.
 

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All good advice. You will find that 99% of the work you do can be done on a table. For now you can get a piece of wood (not too thick because the 1/4" bits aren't that long) drill about a 3/4" hole for the router bits to fit through, take the plate off your router and screw on the router. Then clamp a piece of wood to use as a fence. Now you have a router table!
 

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I forgot to say welcome to the Forum. As you can tell, you can get a lot of support from the folks around here. And your "beginner" questions will be very valuable to others new to the addiction/hobby, so ask away.
 
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