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After reading reviews, watching YouTube, and lurking a bit here, I'm about to buy my first router, bits, and accessories. I appreciate y'all sharing your expertise, and as I'll be learning for a long time, it's time to join the forum and leave the shadows.

I have a few years woodworking experience, horribly spoiled by access to incredible equipment, most recently at the Dallas makerspace. In moving away, I also sold most of my tools, taking only a box or two of small stuff. Now I get the adventure of rebuilding a garage shop mostly from scratch. After its functional, my wife will appreciate me finishing the trim on the bed I built us two years ago :smile:... and my daughter wants me to help her build shelves, and, and, and...

Here's what I'm about to buy as my first router ever...
1. Bosch 1617, kit with fixed & plunge. (I'm fairly sure of this decision, but always open to input)
2. A 1/2" shank 3/4" bit for routing miter slots in plywood and/or mdf for a couple immediate shop projects. (Specific bit not yet chosen. Looking at MLCS and Rockler, but very open to suggestions.)
3. A template guide set, probably PC style, probably the $15 set at HF.
4. An adapter so the Bosch will use that PC set... just gotta figure out which Bosch par number is currently the right one!
5. A small diameter spiral upcut bit, perhaps 1/4" for use with above 5/16" or 3/8" guide, for cutting duplicate pieces from plywood while building a Ron Paulk style bench. (I'd love input here as I've never used a router for cutouts before and the bit choices are bewildering... and I suspect I may need a few of them for that much cutout work.)
6. And soon after those, a t-slot bit... but that's getting ahead...

I reviewed the excellent tutorials in the sticky threads in the template routing forum, and besides developing a sudden need for coin trays that I've never needed before, it opened my eyes to yet another template/guide size... though I think my PC + Bosch adapter plans will work fine for what I'm building now.

Why Bosch 1617? I looked at dewalt 618, Milwaukee, and wondered if I could get by for a bit with harbor freight. HF is no... 2.5 hp unit is horribly clunky in my hands and the 1.5 says it take phl 1/4" and 3/8" collets. Bosch and DeWalt both feel great in my hands, but Dewalt plunge lock lever operates backwards from both Bosch and my intuition. I rejected the Hitachi after picking it up because the plunge wasn't anywhere near as smooth, though I suspect that's just a store display issue. I like the dewalt fixed base better as Bosch knobs are small, but I expect to be mostly using the plunge base by hand and mount the fixed base in a table. Milwaukee looks good, but why pay more for it as Bosch has great holiday prices right now.

That might be a record long into, so let's leave it there.
 

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After reading reviews, watching YouTube, and lurking a bit here, I'm about to buy my first router, bits, and accessories. I appreciate y'all sharing your expertise, and as I'll be learning for a long time, it's time to join the forum and leave the shadows.

I have a few years woodworking experience, horribly spoiled by access to incredible equipment, most recently at the Dallas makerspace. In moving away, I also sold most of my tools, taking only a box or two of small stuff. Now I get the adventure of rebuilding a garage shop mostly from scratch. After its functional, my wife will appreciate me finishing the trim on the bed I built us two years ago :smile:... and my daughter wants me to help her build shelves, and, and, and...

Here's what I'm about to buy as my first router ever...
1. Bosch 1617, kit with fixed & plunge. (I'm fairly sure of this decision, but always open to input)
2. A 1/2" shank 3/4" bit for routing miter slots in plywood and/or mdf for a couple immediate shop projects. (Specific bit not yet chosen. Looking at MLCS and Rockler, but very open to suggestions.)
3. A template guide set, probably PC style, probably the $15 set at HF.
4. An adapter so the Bosch will use that PC set... just gotta figure out which Bosch par number is currently the right one!
5. A small diameter spiral upcut bit, perhaps 1/4" for use with above 5/16" or 3/8" guide, for cutting duplicate pieces from plywood while building a Ron Paulk style bench. (I'd love input here as I've never used a router for cutouts before and the bit choices are bewildering... and I suspect I may need a few of them for that much cutout work.)
6. And soon after those, a t-slot bit... but that's getting ahead...

I reviewed the excellent tutorials in the sticky threads in the template routing forum, and besides developing a sudden need for coin trays that I've never needed before, it opened my eyes to yet another template/guide size... though I think my PC + Bosch adapter plans will work fine for what I'm building now.

Why Bosch 1617? I looked at Dewalt 618, Milwaukee, and wondered if I could get by for a bit with harbor freight. HF is no... 2.5 hp unit is horribly clunky in my hands and the 1.5 says it take phl 1/4" and 3/8" collets. Bosch and DeWalt both feel great in my hands, but Dewalt plunge lock lever operates backwards from both Bosch and my intuition. I rejected the Hitachi after picking it up because the plunge wasn't anywhere near as smooth, though I suspect that's just a store display issue. I like the Dewalt fixed base better as Bosch knobs are small, but I expect to be mostly using the plunge base by hand and mount the fixed base in a table. Milwaukee looks good, but why pay more for it as Bosch has great holiday prices right now.

That might be a record long into, so let's leave it there.
welcome Ashley..

1... Excellent choice...
the 1617 won't let you down and comes w/ some of the best CS/TS out there too...
have you investigated this site yet...
https://www.cpooutlets.com/bosch-routers-and-trimmers/bosch-routers-and-trimmers,default,sc.html
2... can of worms here..
not all material is created equal... a ¾'' bit on this project may be fine but on the next it could easily be to large of a diameter...
you'll need/end up w/ an array of sizes/diameters... get what you need as you need them...
the cleanest cuts/grooves/dadoes are done in two passes w/ a smaller dia bit than the width of the cut......
as for bits..
Freud and Whiteside are excellent choices... excellent bits that are a good value and will serve you well... lots and lots of LF mileage in those two brands of bits...
and they're not made in china or VN...
the and/or MDF... go w/ wood... you won't regret it...
3... use the Bosch system... near bullet proof...
https://www.boschtools.com/us/en/bo...chments-medium-large-routers-ra1128-178102-p/
4... see #3...
the HF guides have been known to be out of concentric/off center...
this will show up in your work/project...
5... look to bearing guided bits.. lot less issues/hassle... you should be rough cutting your projects out so that you only need to trim to final w/ your router...
Can I recommend a Bosh jigsaw for that process... these saws command a lot of respect here...
https://www.cpooutlets.com/jig-saws...refv2=Bosch&prefn3=condition&prefv3=recon|new

the handles on the Bosch...
they are engineered so that you can use the router comfortably and safely at a host of angles..

NOTES...
Go to my uploads...
lots of relative information to be had...

MDF is short term and those that advocate it simply don't know materials to applications well...

Cons:
MDF is tough on tooling...
I wouldn't use it for anything that would see a lot of action, vibrations, wear and etc...
it won't hold fasteners, they work loose w/ little provocation...
MDF falls apart if it gets wet....
It's best not to damage or remove the surface, aka face, of MDF... The surface/face has compression/tension and is very different from the core...
MDF is an amalgamation of sawdust, wood chips, pulp, saw mill waste and binders... Often, cardboard has more integrity..
MDF is a pain to work with and if you have to remodel later or install hardware several times, as the more you drill/work it, the less sturdy it becomes and begins to flake/spawl...
It will also split if not pilot hole drilled and tapped...
MDF does NOT tolerate water or high humidity well.... Water/humidity begins to degrade MDF into fine particles, think wet cardboard....
Smooth shank nails won't hold and ringed will hold for a short while... Often you can remove hardware w/ just your fingers and a little wiggling..
Formaldehyde resins are commonly used to bind MDF together, so I wouldn't use it near small children or pets...
It is much heavier than similar sized real wood boards or plywood...
MDF crumbles easily, zip in the strength department...
If you have purchased anything from Ikea, you know what this is...
MDF makes for warranty recalls and hurts your bottom line in the long run...

Pros:
It's cheaper than hard wood.
It can look very "clean" as it doesn't contain knots or rings or any other naturally occurring character/warmth that real wood has...

Verdict:
Use anything else, seriously. MDF is cheaper, but you will pay for it in the long run. Especially true for cabinets. Keep in mind the weight of the MDF will decrease the amount your cabinet can hold and MDF will begin to sag all on it's own and fall apart from stress....
MDF is NOT good! Shelving tends to last for one year only, it sags even on very short spans, and the surface flakes off with the slightest wear. Think twice before going this route....

WHY I LIKE BOSCH...
2nd to none CS/TS support that's American based and absolutely painless... They been known to support their tools that have been discontinued to your benefit...
Their tools/routers are real work horses...
W/ Bosch planned obsolesce isn't one of their games and offer less all around grief for they make quality tools that protect will protect your bottom line...

Their routers are comfortable to use routers, they so are much more feature rich, sweet soft start, way better fine depth adjustment, strong no nonsense collets, and so much more...
I think/believe Bosch to be an excellent and outstanding company...

When I had problems with two of their 1617 routers... a really old abused one and and a new one out of the box.. (it sounded terrible - gravely).... only took a day and all was well even with the old one and I never had to leave the shop.....
Bosch is as close as a phone call and your mail box...

Keep in mind, that saving some money now just may cost you more down the road... Do yourself a huge favor and get a Bosch...

Bosch consistently scores high in/on all categories of quality, CS/TS, reliability and support, is as close as a phone call and your mail box...
In short... They, Bosch, respect us, the consumer...
of all the makes and models of routers that I have had.. Bosch has out lasted them all.. VOE...
 

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You don’t want to get a 3/4 inch bit to route dados or grooves to fit sheet goods. Plywood is always undersized, melamine oversized, and everything else falls in between. You want to get a 1/2 inch diameter router bit and use it in combination routing jig that allows for a good fit regardless of how thick your sheet goods are.

MTStringer has posted a build in the past of a simple jig, perhaps you could look it up.


In woodworking there is always more then one way to accomplish something.
 

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Hey, Ashley; Welcome! Good stuff, and thanks for doing your permanent profile.
The only thing I'd add to your shopping list, from the get-go, is the Bosch edge guide part# RA1054...
https://www.amazon.com/Bosch-RA1054...=2025&creative=165953&creativeASIN=B00005RHPP
I'd guess that at least 1/2 the time I spend using my 1617 and 1619 Boschs is with the guide; dados and rebates especially.
You won't be sorry you went with the 1617EVSPK. :)
 

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Here's a drawing of an exact fit dado jig. Pretty much what MT Stringer posted. You fit the material into the slot and and lock the jig down. Use a half inch bit with a bearing, rout one side, then do the other.

I have two 1617s, plus all kinds of accessories. One was for the table and was very good, the other for the plunge base. Very convenient. Have since replaced the table unit with a Triton 3 hp TRA001, which has an above top height adjustment. It's too heavy for me to use freehand, and it's excellent for the table. But I was happy with the 1617 in the table too. The knobs on the 1617 fixed base are very comfortable to me.

Bits: my preference is generally Freud because they're easy to find, work well, last a long time. However, for sets for door making, I've gone with Sommerfeld's matched door and panel making sets. Excellent bits, and because their shanks are exactly the same length, and dropping a half inch grommet in the collet, once you set the height of the first bit in a set, the rest can simply be swapped out without readjusting (and testing) the bit and cut. All my door and panel cutting sets are Sommerfeld. Marc Sommerfeld has a number of youtube videos that show how he uses the router in the table. His technique is simple and clearly shown in the videos--a good way to learn to get the most from your table mounted router--whatever brand you choose. I like the Rockler bits, but they seem a little pricey to me.

Hard to add much to what Stick posted.
 

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I wouldn't reject the Hitachi based on the plunging. I wouldn't take the plunging into account, reason being that I would mount the router to a table and leave it there. Close to two years ago I started a thread to determine how often something was done freehand that couldn't be done on a table. I'm not sure what the others found but for me I have not removed the router once. I don't think in 5 years I have ever needed the router off the table. As far as the selection of bits buy a set from MLCS and you will have 90% of what you need and 50% of the cost. Also a 3/4" bit won't fit 3/4" plywood it will fit 3/4" MDF though. Your best bet would be a dado blade on the table saw.When you determine what your "go to" bit is then buy a really good one. I'm not sure what a Ron Paulk bench is but trying to cut out shapes with a router and a spiral bit is not the best way to do things. You can make a template and then a bearing straight bit to get the work done after cutting out the rough shape with a jig saw or band saw. The only other thing I would say is don't get carried away with trying to do everything with a router. Don't get sucked into trying to use it for things best left to a specialty tool. It will take you longer to make and set up a jig then it would be to simply plug the other tool in and you will get far better results.
 

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Hi Ashley and welcome. As pointed out, all finish plywood is undersize and much is now metric sized so you'll need to use a smaller bit and make 2 cuts as pointed out with the jig Tom posted. The Bosch is a top of the line unit. I also like Hitachi as a few other members do. I have 3 of them.

I also use a dado set most of the time to cut grooves. Saw blades last a lot longer than router bits do so using a dado is cheaper in the long run. When using a T slot bit always cut a groove first and then t the slot. One of the problems when using that bit for the whole profile is that the chips aren't able to escape so it tends to run extremely hot which causes early bit failure. Same goes for a keyhole slot. Use a straight bit first that has the same diameter as the cutter size on the shaft of the keyhole bit (or slightly smaller if you can't get an exact match)and then follow up with the keyhole bit. This is where those template bushings come into play with the plunge function on your router. There are lots of jobs like that we can help make easier.
 

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Hello and welcome to the router forum, Ashley
 

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David - Machinist in wood
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Hey Ashley, welcome to the forum! You won't go wrong with the 1617 - I love mine. And the advice Stick gave, as always, is spot on and a great bit of reading.

Jump right in with photos when you can.

David
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Wow, amazing responses. Thank you all. I’m learning again… and naturally that means more questions…

1. What is CS/TS? From context, it might be customer service and technical support?

2. When Stick said, “Go to my uploads”, I assume that refers to the three files attached to the message? If not, please point me the right way. If so, thank you for those! The guide & bit information made perfect sense but it took me a little longer to figure out the jigsaw blade info… and then I was very glad you sent it. Thanks again.

3. Stick suggested the Bosch template guide system RA1128. Is this a recommendation for Bosch guides in general, or for that set as a place to get the Bosch to Porter Cable adapter I was looking for? I vaguely recall from my research that some criticized the Bosch guides and preferred an adapter to use PC guides... which is why I was headed that way. I could go either way on this and appreciate guidance.

4. I’m getting a consistent message that my immediate need to route a 3/4” miter slot may be best served by a 1/2” bit, two passes, and a jig. Sounds like a great idea. I assume that the jig DesertRatTom posted is intended for use with a top bearing bit and not a bushing... so it can be adjusted to exact width by placing the piece in?

5. Several of you said don't do my duplicate parts cutout with spiral upcut. Instead do cutout with jigsaw and then flush trim. That certainly simplifies template making (no offset) and it means I may be able to use the same 1/2" bit for this as I use in the above recommended jig when dadoing a miter slot. That means I don't immediately need the spiral upcut bits and template guides. Am I on the right track here?

6. Yes, Stick, I’ve briefly looked at CPO. I was debating purchase there vs. Amazon vs. Lowes (where I’ve been checking their feel and balance). If anyone has strong reasons to care... beyond price... I'd love to know.

7. I'm also getting a consistent message to skip the MDF and use plywood even for my jigs. That's easy to accept... time to find good post-move plywood sources.

8. Thank you for the other recommendations... bit brands, edge guide, routing groove before T-slots, and Marc Sommerfeld's videos, etc. So much to learn... so much fun!
 

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Wow, amazing responses. Thank you all. I’m learning again… and naturally that means more questions…

1. What is CS/TS? From context, it might be customer service and technical support?

2. When Stick said, “Go to my uploads”, I assume that refers to the three files attached to the message? If not, please point me the right way. If so, thank you for those! The guide & bit information made perfect sense but it took me a little longer to figure out the jigsaw blade info… and then I was very glad you sent it. Thanks again.

3. Stick suggested the Bosch template guide system RA1128. Is this a recommendation for Bosch guides in general, or for that set as a place to get the Bosch to Porter Cable adapter I was looking for? I vaguely recall from my research that some criticized the Bosch guides and preferred an adapter to use PC guides... which is why I was headed that way. I could go either way on this and appreciate guidance.

4. I’m getting a consistent message that my immediate need to route a 3/4” miter slot may be best served by a 1/2” bit, two passes, and a jig. Sounds like a great idea. I assume that the jig DesertRatTom posted is intended for use with a top bearing bit and not a bushing... so it can be adjusted to exact width by placing the piece in?

5. Several of you said don't do my duplicate parts cutout with spiral upcut. Instead do cutout with jigsaw and then flush trim. That certainly simplifies template making (no offset) and it means I may be able to use the same 1/2" bit for this as I use in the above recommended jig when dadoing a miter slot. That means I don't immediately need the spiral upcut bits and template guides. Am I on the right track here?

6. Yes, Stick, I’ve briefly looked at CPO. I was debating purchase there vs. Amazon vs. Lowes (where I’ve been checking their feel and balance). If anyone has strong reasons to care... beyond price... I'd love to know.

7. I'm also getting a consistent message to skip the MDF and use plywood even for my jigs. That's easy to accept... time to find good post-move plywood sources.

8. Thank you for the other recommendations... bit brands, edge guide, routing groove before T-slots, and Marc Sommerfeld's videos, etc. So much to learn... so much fun!
Welcome to the forum! I can't answer all of your questions but I will take a swing and a couple.
You are correct on CS/TS, and Bosch's is really good.

If you buy a Bosch router I would stick with their template guides. I have a Bosch and I find them a little proprietary sometimes, buying their accessories just makes life a little easier.

Making an exact width dado jig is the way to go with your 3/4 dado, yes you would make 2 passes but the jig makes it easy. Here is a link to the one I built, there are many ways to do it but I think this video is one of the best out there. https://www.thewoodwhisperer.com/videos/exact-width-dado-jig/ . For this jig you use a 5/8 guide and a 1/2 bit. For this kind of work I use a 1/2 down spiral bit which leaves a very clean cut.

I use MDF for templates and ply for jigs. I make my templates out of either 1/4 or 1/2 mdf. If it is a template that I am going to keep for a while I will treat the edges with a 50/50 mix of titebond and water. This "hardens" the edge and allows you to use the template over and over. The primary downside to MDF is the dust, it's toxic wear a good respirator when your working with it.
Hope this helps, and have fun!
 

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Welcome, Ashley. So glad the experts have given you loads of advice. ( I am actually a big fan of Makita Routers, but no matter.) Like that you have done, and are continuing to do your own finding out. Good luck !
 

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Wow, amazing responses. Thank you all. I’m learning again… and naturally that means more questions…

1. What is CS/TS? From context, it might be customer service and technical support?
2. When Stick said, “Go to my uploads”, I assume that refers to the three files attached to the message? If not, please point me the right way. If so, thank you for those! The guide & bit information made perfect sense but it took me a little longer to figure out the jigsaw blade info… and then I was very glad you sent it. Thanks again.
3. Stick suggested the Bosch template guide system RA1128. Is this a recommendation for Bosch guides in general, or for that set as a place to get the Bosch to Porter Cable adapter I was looking for? I vaguely recall from my research that some criticized the Bosch guides and preferred an adapter to use PC guides... which is why I was headed that way. I could go either way on this and appreciate guidance.
4. I’m getting a consistent message that my immediate need to route a 3/4” miter slot may be best served by a 1/2” bit, two passes, and a jig. Sounds like a great idea. I assume that the jig DesertRatTom posted is intended for use with a top bearing bit and not a bushing... so it can be adjusted to exact width by placing the piece in?
5. Several of you said don't do my duplicate parts cutout with spiral upcut. Instead do cutout with jigsaw and then flush trim. That certainly simplifies template making (no offset) and it means I may be able to use the same 1/2" bit for this as I use in the above recommended jig when dadoing a miter slot. That means I don't immediately need the spiral upcut bits and template guides. Am I on the right track here?
6. Yes, Stick, I’ve briefly looked at CPO. I was debating purchase there vs. Amazon vs. Lowes (where I’ve been checking their feel and balance). If anyone has strong reasons to care... beyond price... I'd love to know.
7. I'm also getting a consistent message to skip the MDF and use plywood even for my jigs. That's easy to accept... time to find good post-move plywood sources.
8. Thank you for the other recommendations... bit brands, edge guide, routing groove before T-slots, and Marc Sommerfeld's videos, etc. So much to learn... so much fun!
1... correct...
2... at bottom of every window to the left of a post is the posters pertinent information...
there is a link that will take you to any information/videos/links/images/PDF's/content that the poster has posted...
here's mine.. http://www.routerforums.com/profile.php?do=editattachments&u=86031&showthumbs=1
3... Bosch routers will take either their own system of guides or the PC style...
the RA1128 is the Bosch guide system... it's near bullet proof...
the PC system needs to be centered to the center axis of the router before use...
4... Let's be all on the same page... see picture...
and correct on the jig... it can be used w/ either a guide system or a bearing guided bit...
two opposing edge guides will work very well also...
.


5... the bit of choice is a bearing guided trim bit...
this bit has a shearing action to help reduce splintering...
Freud Tools | 3/4" (Dia.) Downshear Helix Flush Trim Bit
as you can see there is quite the array of bits...
Freud Tools - Search Results for Flush Trim Bit
6... CPO is an outstanding company to shop at/with...
I think all that are here and have used CPO are happy campers...
7... you will thank you in long run...
8... enjoy...
 

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Since you're just getting underway in woodworking, I thought you might appreciate this article, 17 Things to Accellerate Your Learning Curve, a long post intended toi do what it says. Here's the link to the post: http://www.routerforums.com/featured-topics/75457-17-things-accelerate-your-learning-curve.html

Hopefully it will give you a framework for learning. It cost me a lot of money to learn those lessons and I hope it saves you some time and expense in building your skills.

One minor change, I no longer use MDF to make things. Use ply for most projects and jigs, and save the MDF (mostly 3/4 thick) for templates and as push blocks as used in the Sommerfeld videos. I recently did a comparison of home center ply with high quality Baltic Birch ply. The HD ply with as many layers as possible is about $48 bucks for a 4x8 sheet. It will still have small voids that show up on the cut edges. This vs about $30-$40 per per 5x5 sheet of 3/4 Baltic Birch. The 4x8 is about a $1.50 per sqft, vs the good stuff (void free) at very nearly the same sqft cost. Price varies by region and source. I almost never buy the big box store ply anymore, only when I need the extra length. Enjoy the process! You can count on support from Forum members.
 
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