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Router or Compact router for Router Rookie

2399 Views 13 Replies 14 Participants Last post by  NJW63
Heya fellas,

So as I started to get into some weekend woodworking, I came to a conclusion that I need to own a router.
I need help from you guys (with way more experience) to help me decide what tool will do the job for me.
As for now I'm a student, so I do the woodworking when I have some spare time, and I'm tight on the budget.

I borrowed a plunge router from a friend (Bosch POF 1200) for some dados and some plunges, and I can say that this tool is quite hefty.
As most of my woodworking projects are with recycled wood (pallet wood, mdf and plywood plates)

So, for now thanks to the covid19 epidemic the shipping cost is so high that sometimes it costs more than the tool it self.

I can only use 220-240V tools in my country, and I'm able to purchase the tools from the european amazons.

I came across a Makita RT0700 clone under various names like Katsu/Zen with plunge bases with a low price tag comparing to Makita's price.

What are you think will be better for the weekend warrior on a budget, the makita clone, or the bosch hefty plunge router?

If you have any other suggestions, I'm all ears : )
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Welcome to the Forum, Sahar...

I would submit that whether you buy the Makita (or clone) or the Bosch "hefty", is really dependent on the work you will be doing. At some point you will see the need for both.

The trim router will handle smaller jobs like edge profiling easier. But if you're planning on cutting dados, rabbets, bigger profiles (chair molding, panels, etc) you will need the bigger router.

So it's not a matter of whether you are new or not, you could start with the smaller router but you likely need the bigger plunge router later. If you're planning on eventually using a router table, guess what, you will need one more suitable for the table. The general rule is if you can't take the wood comfortably and safely to the table, do it freehand.

Also, you are not likely to find the bigger profile cutters in the 1/4" (6-8mm) shaft sizes.

The benefits of the smaller router is that it will allow you to get the feel of routing while you're learning...but you will likely outgrow it. When you do, you will attempt to do jobs more suitable for the bigger router and then you're pushing the envelope on safety.

While the horsepower is close between the two, the larger router will provide more stability when performing bigger jobs freehand.

The short answer...? It depends on what you plan to do with it.

Both Makita and Bosch are good products...can't say for the clones...most often "you get what you pay for"...

Good luck and stay safe...
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I'm really liking the Triton MOF001 that I recently bought. I don't have a heap of experience routing, but of the routers I've used it's the easiest to adjust and use and has the "built in table lift". Also comes with a very stable and useful fence and circle cutting jig. It is very good for plunging but is I feel the best for table mounting. I think it's good value too. Could easily pay 3 times as much for a "name" router and a lift.
Nick has given you some good advice Sahar. It's a challenge to figure it out but you'll change direction in your woodworking interests as time goes on. You'll also learn that having a tight budget means making good choices based on the capability of the tool and the functions it can do. Some routers are easily mounted to a simple home made router table while others are a bit more difficult. The larger router generally will have 2 chuck sizes depending on where you live which would be helpful to know. Not exact location but country of residence. Having a choice in bit sizes sometimes can make a difference in cost of bits. I typically use 1/2" shaft bits whenever possible but that is a preference of mine. Location may make a big difference in availability of certain brands/models as well but what I value a good deal is customer service. If it is very good then that adds value in my opinion otherwise when you have issues getting parts, warranty issues, and other concerns may be fruitless hence making that tool disposable which is not a desirable goal. I would rather save and buy a high quality router that will last a long time versus a knockoff that won't last long or has no available serving and or parts available. I don't believe the more you spend the better but a solid brand and well reviewed is a good way to go generally.

By the way, welcome to the forum.
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Welcome Sahar,

Not knowing your location limits our response due to lack of information. I do not own a trim router yet, but I will eventually buy one. I have a big 3 1/4hp for large profiles used mostly in my router table, and I also have the Bosch 1617 combo set with the fixed base and the plunge base. If this set or similar quality is available in your area, that is what I recommend. It is what I consider the best of both worlds, not too heavy but big enough for most profiles and can also be table mounted. My router plate can accommodate both routers and I also have an older Black & Decker plunge that I have been using for years mounted in a small plastic router table with a round over bit.
Good luck and enjoy the woodworking.

Hello N/A and welcome to the forums...

About your desire to learn... We can help as we have put together some light reading for you...
As in, we've put some helpful information together at this here link to help you get up and running in the world of routers... We hope it to be useful to you... Enjoy...
Do take some time and read the safety PDF's... PLEASE!!!
Blood and trips to the ER, we find, are very annoying... Not to mention – expensive...
Hey, Sahar; welcome! Everything that has been mentioned above. But one added note. If you want to use a plunge router in a table, you need to disable the plunge springs; the plunge mechanism has no function in table routing, so my opersonal opinion is that if that's what you want to do with it (at least the majority of your work?) why pay for a plunge in the first place? Having said that, a few manufacturers offer routers with easily interchangeable bases. The perfect solution!
Leave the fixed base in the table and use the plunge base for your freehand work.
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Routing on the table is safer and usually easier than using a router freehand. For me, the smaller routers are nice, but a good, strong table mounted router is the foundation you build your router collection on. I had a Bosch 2.25hp in my table for years. Worked fine, and with a lift, was easier to use because of adjusting from above the table. A few years ago, I replaced it with a Triton 3.25hp, which has a built in lift. As much as I liked the Bosch, the sit relatively unused these days because the small 1hp trim router I bought is so much easier to use for hand held work. But I don't try to use it for dados, grooves or rabbets.

One other thing about the Triton is it has a number of safety interlocks. When you crank it up to chang bits, the power is cut off so the motor won't turn on accidentally and eat your fingers. To use it in the table, you simply remove the spring from one plunge column and voila, it's a perfect table router. In the U.S, the Triton (TRA001) is priced less than a Bosch plus a router lift. I'm old now and the Triton is just a little too heavy for me to use hand held, thus the trim router. I have built so many cabinets that I don't have room for any more, so I'm not cutting dados or grooves anymore. But if I were, and couldn't do it on the table, I have an attachment that will let me do it. But that's only on large sheet goods. For smaller stuff, I always use the table router or table saw.

Hope this is helpful. I do suggest that you read the instruction book and keep it around. Stick will show up shortly with a link to a collection of really good router safety and operational information. Take some time when you can to go through it. There are a few things that are risky with any router, and those pdfs will cover that.

I have rarely been happy with an off-brand tool and generally wind up selling them off for far less than I paid for them. For many cheap tools, after a couple of years, repair parts are no longer available.

I'm attaching a pdf on the 18+ things that help speed up my learning curve. It's 10 pages long, with pictures. Don't try to fill your shop all at once. The basic tools for good woodworking are router, table saw, drill press and maybe a medium size band saw. For hand tools, beside the obvious, a good set of chisels, and a small block plane rank high for me. Took me about 12 years to fully equip my shop during my highest earning years, so patience helps. Some would argue for more, or have a longer list, but those are the tools that greatly improved my results. Lots of informaiton about that in the pdf.


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Welcome to the Router Forums Sahar.
Welcome to the forum Sahar. I have a heavy Freud 2000 router that stays in my table and has served me well for the past 15 years. I also have a DeWalt 618PK combo 2-1/4 HP Plunge- and Fixed-Base that I use free hand but the router I seem to use more than the others is my Bosh Colt for free hand work. It's small and light but surprisingly powerful. If you have never used a router before, something like the Colt might be a good place to start.
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