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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
800W 30000RPM Electric Hand Trimmer Wood Laminate Palm Router Joiner Tool Device. would you all recommend this model router for sign making(letters)?..(see attached file)
 

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I know nothing about that router. It is a low end router and will probably get through a sign or three. Just don't expect a lot from it and when it does go out just toss it , you will probably get the $37.39 worth of use out of it.

Herb
 

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a plunge based Colt would be a better way to go...
a full sized 1617n wouldn't hurt either...
 
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A plunge base wourl be better. Even better would be one with a clear plastic base so you could clearly see the workpiece. A base with two knobs on it could be made of clear plastic. But in fact, that stuff is already available. The most important thing will be the plunge base, and this little router may not have one. It is very hard to start a sign by tilting the bit into the piece. It will want to run away and take out a lot of wood as it does it.
 

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Herb's comments about that router are pretty accurate. If you just want to try it first and see how it goes that might be a good way to start. Your profile says you have 20 years experience so even if you don't like sign making a better quality small router still has lots of uses. Some good choices are the Colt, Makita RT700, or a DeWalt 611, it being a bit larger and more powerful. All can be had with a plunge base which increases their usefulness. You can still use a much larger router too. I've made signs with 3 plus hp plunge routers.
 
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Depends on how large and how deep you wish to incise the letters. If you're just looking for small, simple signage then a smaller router might suffice but they're limited in what they can do on other tasks.
A plunge router or dual base gives you more flexibility that a small (generally fixed base) router and higher amp motor can help if you're producing many signs, large ones or hogging out lots of material with something like a bottom bit or eventually want to make cabinets or other larger projects.

Larger units also are more useful for table mounting if you want to do pin routing to produce a lot of the same signs or signs with common looks from templates (like borders, outlines, etc. with custom lettering added to each.
 

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I used 2 small laminate trim routers when I first carved signs by hand, each had a custom acrylic sub base that was much bigger than the original. The problem I had is I couldn't see the bit well through the small base of the router. I switched to a 1 1-2 horsepower fixed based router with a large acrylic sub base and that works a lot better for me. The opening around the bit allows me a better view of the cutting.

That router has a clear base, but the opening on the front isn't that big. You'll have to decide if you can see in there or not.
 

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I think you will be much happier with a plunge base type router for sign making. The depth adjustment on the router in your photo isn't easily adjusted for depth accuracy or repeatability. I prefer my DeWalt DWP611 with it's plunge base for tasks like this. It also came with a fixed adjustment base, but I prefer to use the plunge base for sign making and other uses that require repeatable depth adjustments. I added the optional vacuum attachment to it so that the chips are removed efficiently when my eyes and nose need to be close enough to see the router bit cutting area, like if I'm hand guiding the router while routing a sign. I also have a DeWalt laminate trimmer with 4 different bases, but no plunge base. I would not use it for sign making as it's just not the best design for this purpose, but it does what it was designed for very well.

Laminate trimmers, like the one in your photo, are designed to trim the overhang of thin materials like the hard surface materials used on counter tops. In this use, they do not require precise depth settings, and the bits used either have a bearing guide or smooth pin on the bottom end of them to act as a follower guide. The side of the bit does the actual cutting and not the bottom end, so precise depth adjustment isn't necessary.

The laminate trimmer in your photo looks to me like it might be one of the cheap Chinese Laminate Trimmers, but you didn't say who made it. A friend bought one similar to this one from a local Chinese Import Tool store, and it burned up within 5 minutes of use. He took it back and got another. This second one lasted until part way through his next job before the bearings went bad in it. He now owns a DeWalt laminate trimmer and has been using it on many jobs over the past several years without any problems at all, and he will likely not have problems with it for years to come, if ever.

Charley
 

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Oliver (Prof. Henry)
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Like Charley, I use a Dewalt 611 for my freehand sign carving, although I use the fixed base rather than a plunge. The router you show may work well enough, but Doug's comment about the small viewing area is the most critical problem with using it for sign carving. You need to be able to see the line you're following, and you also need as much light as possible. I actually modified my Dewalt housing, to create a large opening on the side opposite the normal viewing area, so I could see better, and get more light on my work. Tom pointed out another important factor: adding a larger clear base with handles makes it much easier to control the router while following your lines. I would suggest thinking about a better router if you are seriously wanted to get into sign carving. It may be tempting to start with this router to test the sign carving waters, but I suspect you may be frustrated and give up, not because you don't have the skills, but because your tool isn't the right one.
 

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I think a lot of people give up way too soon when trying something new. Practice, practice, practice is required to develop the ability to closely control whichever router you choose to use. I have a Colt with a variety of bases and it's nice, but I think the 611 is a little better for sign making, as is the Makita, which has gotten some strong endorsements when it first came out. The Colt is very nice, however, I think I might have chosen the Makita for things like sign making.
 

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Hi, Erwin.
I agree with Tom and Charley, that is a chinese router trim and you'll be fortunate if it lasts just a little.
I have one of this and I use it seldom because it becomes too hot after two or three minutes of continue use.
Do a favor yourself and put attention to the advices given by these guys.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
hey y'all just came by to say thanks for all your interest and advise. i was very fortunate enough to come across a nice BOSCH COLT palm router on craigslist for $50 bucks yesterday and the guy used it for one job. i got entire case attachments and manual and a extra bit for the price. i love it and it's exactly what probbably need for my sign making hobby(memorial roadside crosses)!
 

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Oliver (Prof. Henry)
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You scored a great little router, Erwin. Now, we're all looking forward to seeing some photos of signs you've made. Don't be shy, please share your successes.
 

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The late Pat Warner was a member of this forum and he made beautiful aftermarket sub bases for routers and one of the ones he made was for palm routers. Unfortunately when he passed away his wife shut his site down so I can't show you one but I can describe it and I highly recommend that you make one or have one made. It was a piece of clear plastic (not sure if it was plexi, polycarbonate or something else but that's not overly important) about 9-12" wide and maybe 6 or so across. He mounted handles on either side of where the router bolted on and that's what the palm router is missing. The handles on the sub base give you several times more control that just trying to grip the barrel of the router. The large base also helps because it allows you to bridge gaps without risking having the router tip into the gap.

Pat's was machined to accept guide bushings but you don't need to get that fancy just for making free hand signs and that simplifies making one greatly. Just get a piece of clear plastic 5/16" to 3/8" thick and use a hole saw to cut a hole where the bit will go through. Just leave enough room for the bolt holes to attach it to the router. All holes will have to be countersunk for the flat head machine screws that you'll be using. Mount the router and mark as closely as you can the holes for the handles, drill and countersink them and attach the handles and you are ready to go. Handles can be purchased at most stores that cater to woodworkers. If you can't find one then there are a bunch of them on line.

It's a few bucks to make this and an hour or so of time but you'll thank yourself later.
 

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Oliver (Prof. Henry)
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You can get a nicely made acrylic base with handles from MakeAWoodSign.com for $25. It was designed specifically for freehand sign carving.
 
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We've got 8 of the Colts. Good, durable. We also have several of the 1 3/4hp Bosch in both plunge and fixed. And the work horse models of Porter Cable in 3 1/4 hp. All are experienced tools that get run in a production shop.
 
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