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New Router my way

33485 Views 21 Replies 17 Participants Last post by  dekfin6

I am posting this in several parts.

This is strictly FYI (for your information) and I am not interested in debate of issues related to the hows and whys. If you have questions I will try to answer them as I can.

I’ve just added a new router to my shop. Since we have a lot of new people here and we are always providing information on which router to buy… what type, fixed/plunge bases combos, that sort of thing, I will tell you how I decided on the router I got.

First a little background. I have had a router since about 1976, I got a commercial Craftsman ¼” chuck rated at 1-½ HP. I used this for a number of years mostly with the old HSS bits. (I got a table, dovetail jig and lots of other attachments within the next couple of years) When I felt I was being limited by the selection of bits and carbide bits were getting cheaper I made a move to a Porter Cable 690. This is a fixed base with both ¼” and ½” collets. While it too was rated at 1-½ HP it was a lot stronger router then the Craftsman. I got tired of dealing with not having the plunge base so I added that a short time latter and started buying ½” shank carbide bits. The biggest change during all this was the new bits… A major improvement! But the router was also a big upgrade so I became a lot more interested in routing. I was doing a lot of projects where a smaller route would work better so I added a Porter Cable laminate router. About this same time I became more interested in a larger router (more HP and variable speed to spin larger bits). I added a 3-½ HP variable speed and another table. (This router weighs in at 12.8 pounds and I leave it in the table 100% of the time). I then came across a really good deal on another Porter Cable 690 (75-anniversary model) so I bought it. Sometime around this time I noticed how Norm liked using a D-handle so I added that base to my collection. Yes I have a couple Dremal tools and rotozips but I don’t really think of them as routers….

I was happy with what I had and then I started watching the router workshop… shop envy, router envy, but I began seeing that it would only be a mater of time before I added another router. Then came this forum, I knew the more I thought about routers the more I could figure out to do with them and them more I could justify adding a new one.

OK we are to the place where I explain my choice. The first thing I did is to decide on how I wanted to use this router that is “what it would be for”. The prime use for me would be as a general router, it would free up one of the other router to be table mounted, and it would my “main” router. I guess this means that if I did not have another router this is the one I would buy.
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Since I do have other routers and have guide bushings and other Porter Cable attachments I first started looking at them. They have some newer models then mine and have a lot of improvements. Without getting to far into this I found the price becoming prohibitive, I had set a limit of about $200 US and the kit I liked was about $70 more then this.

At this point I decide to figure out what features I really wanted and when back to ground zero to do this. I wanted lightweight, more HP, maybe something about 2 HP*, a plunge and fixed base, soft start, variable speed. Collets for both ¼” and ½” bits, the ability to use pc style guide bushing, name brand… And then there was the “feel” of the router; it had to feel good in my hands.
*(My shop is a garage and very often the drive way in front of the garage. I often have to use a drop cord to an outlet in the back of the garage for my portable tools, which ends up being a 50-foot run. I have a 14-gauge cord, which limits me to about 12 amps.)

Time to go do a little “window shopping”. Maybe that should be “computer monitor window shopping”... After looking at several models and finding they sure don’t give you a lot of the details like weights and things online I did manage to narrow my list down to a couple of models, ones that were in the price range and had features that were on my list. Again a lot of questions were unanswered at this point.

I then went to the stores and took a look at the 4 contenders. Two of them dropped off the list but another was added. Out of this short, lets call them B, P and H, I found that I like the feel of the fixed base of B but the plunge did not feel right to me. The P was to my liking but I like the feel of H best. Since the B seemed to be a popular one on the board I went to another store a few day later to see if another one would have a different feel. The store only had two of the models but the feel on the B was better… Keep this in mind when shopping, things get dropped or messed with so don’t pass judgment based on a single one in the store. I then went to a third store and did the same general things, felt the weight, grip, and switch position, plunge action, adjustments. This was beginning to get a lot harder then I first thought it was going to be.
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Part 3

I could live with any of the three, but the best feel for me was the H, so that got a check mark on that. One was rated a little lower on the HP so it got a minus for that. When I was all done the list was down to 2. At this point the price was $200 US but I had not tried to get find the “best” price yet. I will admit the H was no. 1 and the B was in second place before this started. The H won hands down on the price. The biggest negative on this was the lack or reviews as it was a new model. One more look at them, one more check on prices, and one more look for a review.

I never did find the review but then I found a second B with an issue with the plunge at yet another store. At this point the H looked like the winner but I still had to find order it and when I did I found a place with an additional $25 off. So the H with shipping tax and router was $158.??.

I ordered it, it arrived, I played with it and gave it a test spin…… it is even better then I expected with a lot of surprises, all of them good one!

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Ed, Hopefully people new to routing will get the chance to read this and follow your example. With so many quality choices it's tough to make a decision. Spending the time to really check out which router feels the best in your hands and which features are right for you is well worth it. I had the opportunity to check out H and it seems like a sweet little machine. I still prefer the feel of my favorite in my hands, it was the best solution for my needs. Congrats on the new addition! (Are you passing out cigars? :) )
i will definately keep this in mind when i decide to upgrade my router!!!! thank you reible!!!!!!
Congrats on your new purchase Ed. Hope you will enjoy it very much.
Thanks for giving your detailed discription of your selection process. It should help a newbe make a good decision.
And if you are passing out cigars, like Mike wants, I don't smoke, but I do drink! Diet Rite cola. :D
Sorry no cigars.... for one thing it's bad for your health besides I just spend this and next months allowance.

Well darn! I wanted one of those yellow bubble gum cigars!
Thanks so much! It's really interesting to read about the entire process. I have found reviews to be very helpful when making purchases like this, and yours has really helped me to think things through.

By the way, I prefer pink bubblegum cigars ::grin::
Emmie said:
Thanks so much! It's really interesting to read about the entire process. I have found reviews to be very helpful when making purchases like this, and yours has really helped me to think things through.
Emmie said:

By the way, I prefer pink bubblegum cigars ::grin::
Did you happen to read the "review" post I did on the "H" (Hitachi km12vc)? If you are still looking at routers please read and if you have any questions let me know. I think the current good prices on this kit is $180 (US). Click the link below to see the post:

I think they are still offering the free sander??? that makes this router a very good price point to look at.

That's a real good example of how it should be done Ed. I hope those who need a little help deciding which router to buy will take the time to read your post.
What a great way to find the best gift available. The router can be the most used tool in the shop. I never knew this until seeing Bob and Rick's show. When you do give the gift, mention Router Workshop and especially this site. The knowledge here is second to none.
No one can say you didnt do your homework on this one. Congrads on the new router.
What i get out of this post is how hard it is to vote for a router for somebody else//We all look and feel for something a bit different.
I have 4 routers and while the one i have in the table does a good job, i wouldnt want to use it handheld..Its heavey and clumsy feeling.
I also have a 694 PC and 690 with a D handle.thats is ok to use handheld but i prefer using the bosch. I have all the Dust collection for it and template bushings. Also edge guide that can be used as a circle guide.
So i have no excuse for not having the right router to do the job.

Good quaility Bits are very important. Why spend Big $$$ on a quailty router and put cheap bits in it..waste of money and i think it just puts more stress on the tool.
I spend the extra money and buy Freud , FS tool or Dimar

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Shame this isn't a "sticky" post yet. Always enjoy reading how others based their decisions on "what" and "why" to buy.

Purchasing a router

Plunge or Fixed Base:[/B]

A router is basically, a high-speed motor fitted with a chuck for holding a cutting bit securely in position. The ‘Housing’ surrounding the motor and cutter, support the router and the accessories that can be fitted to it

Making the decision to buy:
Before purchasing a router speak to someone that can advise you on how the router functions, and how the various accessories that are available will increase your routers’ potential.

Reason for the router we have today;
(1) A friend recommended the brand name and model.
(2) There was a ‘Special’ on at the time.
(3) Observed an interesting article in a magazine, that looked easy to make, which required the use of a router.
(4) It was given as a present on retirement, on your Birthday, at Christmas or handed down from family or friend
(5) I was told the large router would be too heavy
(6) I always purchase the same brand of Tool.

When selecting a router some users select the same brand of tools they have been using for years, because of the success they have had with such tools; Jigsaw / power saw / planer etc.

'What I look for’ when selecting a router.

Circular Base:
Select a router with a Circular Base. Circular based routers will provide greater support when routing the edge of the projects. The base of the router can also be used as a template guide.

Template Guides.
The router should have the ability of attaching ‘Template Guides’ to the base of the router. . Some guides are screwed in position others are attached by means of a Bayonet fitting.

40mm Template Guide:.(

It is important, the router should be capable of accepting a wide range of template guides.
Details provided are ‘What I look for’ when I wish to purchase a new router. The information supplied may be of some guidance to those contemplating purchasing a router

Router Table The router should be easily adjusted for height when fitted to the router table. If your choice of router is to be placed in the router table exclusively then it is strongly recommended that the Triton Router should be the considered for this purpose

The position of the on/off switch The switch should be located in a convenient position with easy access when holding the router with the handles/knobs.*
Note; Some on/off switches also have a safety button incorporated in the switching on/off mechanism. Special arrangements must be made to hold the switch in the “ON” position when the router is being used in the ‘Below Bench Position’.

Router Base Opening:The size of the opening on the base is important. Too small will restrict the size of the largest cutter that can be used. Too large* will reduce the support to the router especially at the beginning and the end of the router cut. The opening should be large enough to fit a 40mm Template guide to the base. There should also be a clear view of the cutter during the process.

Position of the Locking Lever:The locking lever should be easily accessible, without having to remove your hand from the handle to lock and unlock the router carriage. This locking action will hold the cutter at a selected depth with the aid of the ‘Turret’. (When the router is used in the ‘plunge mode’ the locking lever is not required to be locked)

It is important to realize, the large router will produce most of the smaller projects. The small router will be limited to small projects.

Three Way Turret: The turret stop has been designed to rotate, to allow the operator to control the depth of each cut in stages. Routers with a six way turret are now available to allow the operator to rout each cut in a greater number of stages. If your router has a three way turret it is strongly recommended that the two longer screws are reduced in length to leave a difference in height of 3-6mm.

Variable Speed Routers: Since the introduction of variable speed routers has added greater safety awareness enabling the reduction in speed when large cutters are used, or when other materials are required to be cut such as plastic or aluminium. These routers usually have a ‘Soft’ start and a ‘Braking’ system incorporated.

Dust Extraction: Consideration may be given to what type of dust extraction system is incorporated in the router. Some routers have a system where the dust is extracted through one of the router columns and others are attached to the base with the aid of two screws. The shape of the base may be altered to accommodate the system through the column.

I have still to find the router that has all I want
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Well I understood that. That is the approach I took. Well sort of I guess. One of my routers just fell in my lap for five bucks at a yard sale. A Great rockler router.
dear friends,
I did not decided which router to buy,my pocket did it instead of me !
Porter cable 690 and 700's series are the way to go, no doubt about it
Thanks for the iinformative information on purchasing a new router. It was very helpful. Which routers were you looking at and which one did you end up buying?
I bought my first router based on the advise of a friend, Bosch 1618-19 combo. Does a fine job for handheld operations for a begineer, althoguh long term I want something that is not so finicky. Have had to replace the motor (through warranty THREE TIMES IN THE LAST YEAR AND A HALF.)

I felt it was too lite duty for table use, plus i wanted a dedicate table router. I read all I could find from users who did blogs, post etc. ( I just discovered this site), and pretty much followed the same steps as outlined above. Plus I had the chance to actually use the router I was considering.

I went with the PC 7518, did not think about changing bits since it was going in the router table full time.

So now I needed a lift. Again back to users input, since they will tell you what is right with the unit and what is wrong with the unit. The I went and played with them, thoguh about it, went and played agaAIN. One of the places i went was rockler, since I had thier dust collection box, but the lift into the table with the dust box, and played a bit. Talked to a couple of woodworker shopping there while I was plasying.

when it was all said and done, PC 7518, bench dog lift with cast iron plate, mounted in the router table in the end of TS. I am very happy with my set up, should have start from the begining, so i got spend extra money on stuff I could no longer use or take back.

I am a slow learner, so I never seem to start at the begining, always in the middle and have to stop, tear down and then start at step one. Wish I had found this website earlier. It is full of great info and suggestions.
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