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Hello friends, this is my first post. I am building a router table with an 8 x 11 x 1/2 inch thick aluminum sheet for the insert. Problem is, my sears craftsman router won't extend its collet far enough for the bit to protrude enough through the 1/2 inch thick sheet. If it had a 1/2 inch collet, I'd just get an extension, but the quarter inch collet (from what I've read) will make any extension too frail. So, my question is: can I replace the 1/4 inch collet with an aftermarket 1/2 inch piece? If so, would it be a simple drop in replacement, or would it require more extensive modification? Finally; if this is not possible, do I have any other recourse (other than buying a new router)? Thanks all,
David
 

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Methinks you be stuck...not aware of extension for 1/4" shank and have not seen a 1/4 to 1/2 shaft adapter...

Besides the 1/2" board you are using, did you install any additional spacers that you could remove...? Maybe you have the router base plate installed also...? And are there specific bits for which you cannot the proper height...?

A 1/2" doesn't sound like it should prevent proper bit height...some of the table plates sold are 3/8"...

And welcome to the Forum...
 

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The collet being part of the shaft makes it hard to enlarge a 1/4" to a 1/2" dia. shank size. I have never seen it done. The minute I read "1/2" inch thick plate the first thing that came to mind was the depth of cut. I think that either a thinner plate or a new router as Dan suggested.
Herb
 

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OK; that was just mean. Here's the reasoning;
1) what's the HP on your Craftsman? It may be really underpowered to swing a hefty 1/2" shank bit.
2) 1/2 Aluminum sheet is massive; why so heavy?
3) folks frequently come to the Forum looking for Craftsman parts. Not a lot of good news in that dept.
4) further to #1, if you've installed a 1/2" collet you will be tempted to use any and all 1/2" bits, even if they're totally inappropriate for your router.
Other than the 1/4" trim routers, most of the modern 1/2" machines are at least 2HP or better. Even then, there are safety and practicality considerations over how big a bit, and how deep a cut one can use.
 

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If it has ONLY a 1/4 inch collet, time to buy a new router. My fave is the Bosch 1617, which has both a half and quarter inch collet. In other words, you can drop down a size, but not step up to larger. Beside that, the Bosch has the ability to mount under the table and be adjusted through the top. Sorry for the bad news. Don't drill your plate because not all bolt patterns are the same.

One more thing, when mounting your present router, did you remove the plastic base plate before mounting it? That will give you a quarter inch or so more. Also what size is your opening in the plate. It should be large enough for your largest bit. You use an insert to fit the opening to the bit, which is pretty tricky to make work yourself. That's why most of us just bite the bullet and buy a pre-fitted plate. The pix is of the Woodpecker plate which has a twist lock insert. Kreg also makes plates with twist lock inserts (Blue plate pix), much cheaper that the woodpecker BTW.
 

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John
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David Hello and welcome to the router forum

My suggestion if you really want to learn to enjoy your woodworking buy yourself at least a 2 1/2 horse with 1/4 and 1/2 collets plunge Router you should never need anything else,
No matter what craftsman router you .buy within a year maybe two you won’t be able to find the parts for it
There are a ton of used-Router’s for sale a lot have never been used
I believe in the long run you’ll be happier
 

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Many routers have 1/2" collets as well as 1/4". Don't know if your CMan router does or not. That's the first thing to consider. As Dan pointed out, though, that may be a quixotic quest.

1/2" shank won't really buy you much more height (depth?). As others have pointed out, something doesn't seem quite right. You should have a fair amount of depth for your router. Are you sure you have it mounted correctly?

Finally, I know people are in love with the musclechuck but I think extensions, in general, are a bad idea. I think the MC is safe but would be very leery of anything else. Especially on a 1/4" shank. A broken bit being flung at 24k RPM isn't fun to dodge - don't ask me how I know this. If nothing else you're gonna get more runout so things like box joints and dovetails will be a problem. Best to just bite the bullet and get a newer router with 1/2" and 1/4" collets. Having both is a very useful thing, btw.
 

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Many routers have 1/2" collets as well as 1/4". Don't know if your CMan router does or not. That's the first thing to consider. As Dan pointed out, though, that may be a quixotic quest.

1/2" shank won't really buy you much more height (depth?). As others have pointed out, something doesn't seem quite right. You should have a fair amount of depth for your router. Are you sure you have it mounted correctly?

Finally, I know people are in love with the musclechuck but I think extensions, in general, are a bad idea. I think the MC is safe but would be very leery of anything else. Especially on a 1/4" shank. A broken bit being flung at 24k RPM isn't fun to dodge - don't ask me how I know this. If nothing else you're gonna get more runout so things like box joints and dovetails will be a problem. Best to just bite the bullet and get a newer router with 1/2" and 1/4" collets. Having both is a very useful thing, btw.
That is an excellent summation on anyone's situation going forward, Phil - an a true acknowledgment of the need for a proper router plate/lift combination for all matters considered. I've been down this road and don't want to go back!
 

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Craftsman only came with 1/4" collets for the reasons Dan laid out. Even if you could find a Musclechuck that fit it, which I doubt because the shaft is probably too small, it still wouldn't have the power to drive a larger bit. Sears probably did that on purpose. The auto makers did the same thing with muscle cars. The muscle car era only lasted a few years in the mid and late 1960s until Detroit figured out that all that power was costing them too much in warranty claims so they started detuning the engines to produce less horse power.
 

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Theo
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I've got 5 old Craftsman routers, all 1/4" shank, all mounted on 1/2" plywood plates. All work very well. Didn't work so well before, until I played with the height adjustment, and that was all it took. x
 
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what those guys said...
 

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Option A --- What's the model number of the router? it may have been made with the option of 1/2 collet. (plus it will give an idea of what we're working with)



Option B--- Mill the center area of the plate down to a reasonable thickness in the area the router sits.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks for all the responses and great info guys (and so quick, too). I had no idea this was such an active forum! Nick, I did indeed remove the base plate before measuring, and there are no spacers, and thank you much for the warm welcome.
No worries Dan - 1) apparently this model comes in 3 different variations: 1/2, 1, and 1 and 1/2 HP, and I can't for the life of me find any distinguishing marks on mine (other than 25,000 RPM). 2) my router being hella heavy, I was worried about sagging/warping with a thinner sheet (although, in hindsight, maybe I could have gone thinner. 3) Bummer. 4) I didn't know that the router design (other than its own collet) dictated how thick a collet could safely/comfortably be used.
Tom, I've actually been looking at that model, and, if I can scrape the money together, is the one I'm leaning towards. Luckily I've not yet drilled my plate, but I do have those Bosch insert rings in my Amazon cart - I was going to use a hole saw in my drill press for the bit opening (I'm told to liberally use/apply machine oil when drilling) and rout the step for the insert rings (my machinist friends at the Banjo Hangout - which is where I've been getting my advice until now - say it should work fine).
Heya John, the Bosch is 2 1/4 HP - is that skirting the line regarding enough power? It does include 1/2 and 1/4 inch collet chucks, and a fixed base in addition to a plunge base.
Phil, it does indeed come with only the 1/4 collet and, even without the base plate installed, does not extend far enough, thanks.
Herb, I'm gonna be scrounging and scraping as is to upgrade my router, so I'm not sure I can drop 70 bucks on a chuck, thanks for the heads-up though.
 

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"Heya John, the Bosch is 2 1/4 HP - is that skirting the line regarding enough power? It does include 1/2 and 1/4 inch collet chucks, and a fixed base in addition to a plunge base"

If you're thinking about the Bosch 1617 go for the full EVSPK version...that's both a fixed and a plunge base included. A lot less expensive to get the 1617EVSPK package rather than the 1617EVS and then buy the plunge base later as an accessory.
I have it and am very pleased with mine. Lots of power.
Speaking of 1/4"and 1/2" shanked bits, I have a set of nice DIMAR 1/4" bits and frequently switch collets in order to use them. My preference is the 1/2" bits but for things like small radius roundovers, my 1/4" trim router is perfect for freehand edging.

DIMAR set...
https://www.kmstools.com/woodpeckers-12pc-1-4-carbide-router-bit-set-5361

That's in Cdn. $$$
 

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Welcome into the fold David. 1st question and a good one. A router table will get used very often, most likely more often then hand held and changing it out for both uses gets very old very fast. Considering all I'd take the advice of buying a new router for the table alone and make it dedicated. My 1st new router in many years was bought for this very reason and I bought the Bosch 1617EVPKS because on rare occasions I might want/need to change out the router and use the plunge base as well. I added a second later and now have a dedicated motor and digital power switch on the router table. My only 1/4" collet router is my trim router and all my bits other then those for it are 1/2" even though the 1617 comes with both 1/4" and 1/2" collets.

I'm also a big fan of the JessEm lifts and have both the Mast-R-Lift II and Rout-R-Lift II which I believe is on sale currently, check Woodcraft.com.
 

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Bosch Centering Cone - $7 on Amazon

One little tool that could make a big difference on your handheld router(s) is a centering cone. I bought Bosch's to use on both routers and get the baseplate centered for use while referencing the baseplate against a guide, with edge guides, circle cutters, etc. It's $7 - a lot cheaper than inaccurate results:

https://www.amazon.com/Bosch-RA1151...t=&hvlocphy=9013458&hvtargid=pla-433123264002
 

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Welcome to the forum David my personal opinion is to upgrade to a router with a 1/2" capacity collet. It will give you allot more flexibility of what you can do. I have a 3hp plunge router that I use table mounted most of the time. I wouldn't want to be without.It is probably 15 years old now and has sure earned its keep Collet adaptors are available to go down in size but usually not up.
I have several old routers with 1/4 collets laying around that I use for many other things. You won't be sorry if you upgrade.
 

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That's about as good as first questions get. I suggest you pop for a commercial plate, pre drilled for the Bosch. It is much easier to fit a plate to your table than mill aluminum. I've seen them in the $30 price range.

And don't dismiss making your own router table instead of resurecting an old one. It requires a really flat chunk of plywood, 2x3 feet or so, a really flat 2x4 or 6 and a couple of clamps to hold the fence down. You can use your new router to cut an opening for the plate by using some scrap wood wrapped around the plate (as shown), then use a one inch long bit with a top mounted bearing (shown) to hog out the opening.

IF you want to get fancy, glue on a second layer and make a smaller hole in it so you form a lip so the plate won't fall through. In that lip, you can put in some screws to adjust the plate height so it's level with the top. It's really pretty simple and a lot of folks here swear by their shop made tables. You could even find an old table in a thrift shop and use it, if the top is flat, or lay your shop made top on it after cutting an opening for the router.

The last drawing is of how to drill a hole slightly oversized in the plate, using a flat head bolt, so the head is below the top of the plat. It allows you make fine adjustments to the bottom or plate position so it's perfectly centered using the positioning cone mentioned above. The other drawing suggests how to cut a rabbet for the plate to sit on. The graw arrow represents a height adjustment screw. Be sure you pre drill the hole for this screw so it doesn't split the edge of the layer it goes through

This is an excellent learning project, BTW. You will be doing this kind of technique again and again as you do more projects.
 

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