EverStudious

Initial Router Recomendations

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So to expand my novice set of tools I'm looking into various routers, and I am looking for advice on what type, kind, brand, Horse Power (HP), combo, etc would be in the long term most beneficial. I am not a fan of buying one thing then learning that something just a bit more expensive would serve greater purpose later on as  I develop my wood working skills. I've had advice about getting a plunge router with around 2.5 HP.

 

Any help or tips would be greatly appreciated. 

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I have a Makita RP2301FC 3-1/4 HP Plunge Router and I'm very happy with it.

You can even install it on a router table without having to buy a router lift.

Here's a video of my Makita on a router table I made:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yF6E59fxOT8

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Daniel, I'm almost as impressed with your shop floor as I am your your router and lift, not discounting them by any means.

Neat video!

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Daniel, I'm almost as impressed with your shop floor as I am your your router and lift, not discounting them by any means.

Neat video!

 

Thanks Coops! That video was shot in my apartment, unfortunately I don't have a shop :(

 

The floor is European oak, more precisely Slavonic oak, and yeah, it is a beauty :D

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You won't like it, and im sure there will be eye rolls, but if I had to do it over again, I'd have all Festool Routers. Start with their 1400. That will be most all you will ever need.

You don't have to get into "The Festool System" to use them either (although that can be a slippery slope).

Cons:They are in metric and they are expensive.

Pros, no question they are the highest quality built router on the market. I have yet to have metric limit me in what I do with it. I am 100% Imperial Measurements fyi. The reason I skip all my other routers for this one is precision and dust collection.

I have yet to find a real difference in quality amongst the other routers on the market. Bosch, PC, Hitachi, I have them and they all have some little quality or finish hang up.

just my 2 cents, but I wish someone had told me about them before I bought my collection of routers that now collect dust instead of making it.

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Router come in different sizes. Huge plunge routers are awkward so you will want something smaller that is easier to handle. Tables should have as big as possible router motor. Very small work benefits with tiny palm routers. Unfortunately there is no one size fits all. 

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What I’m using at the moment and can certainly recommend:
Mid-size fixed base: PC-690 – I suspect most around here have between one or more…
For router table – PC 7518 Speedmatic…
For a plunge router – I’ve owned several over the years. I like the FT2200, but it’s kind of overkill… My second most favorite is the FT1400…
Small router: PC450
Trim router: FT MFK.

 

Note: None of the above would be the 'you only need one' router category... Actually, I don’t buy-in to the ‘you only need one router’ camp…

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The title of your topic "Initial Router Recommendations" is very appropriate as you will probably expand to more than one router and at some point buy or make a router table.

 

So, my first recommendation is a "feature"....and that is the router you buy should have a "soft start".  Some of the 2 1/2 HP routers have instant on, and that can be a lot of torque, if you are not ready for it.

 

Here's a link to the first router that I bought.

 

http://www.amazon.com/PORTER-CABLE-895PK-4-Horsepower-Fixed-Plunge/dp/B0000DCBKN/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1429277830&sr=8-5&keywords=porter+cable+routers

 

Based on my project list, I knew that I would be buying a router table soon after I bought the router.  The router I bought came with a fixed base and a plunge base. 

 

The fixed base is attached to my router table.  My router table does not have a lift, but with this base, I can raise and lower, and change bits from above the table (highly  desireable).  I can raise and lower the bit in increments as low as 1/128 inch.

 

The plunge base has a vacuum adapter built in.  So, when using the plunge base, I always attach my shop vac.  Routers make a lot of sawdust.  Personally, I would not buy a plunge base without some kind of vacuum adapter, either included or as an add on.

 

Moving the router motor from the table to the plunge base, or the other way around literally takes seconds.

 

I am happy with my Porter Cable router and certainly recommend it....it has the features that I wanted in a router.

 

My final recommendation is to look at all of the features of the various routers, and buy the one that meets your requirements.

 

Hope this helps and let us know what you decide.

 

Regards,

FtrPilot

 

 

 

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What I’m using at the moment and can certainly recommend:

Mid-size fixed base: PC-690 – I suspect most around here have between one or more…

For router table – PC 7518 Speedmatic…

For a plunge router – I’ve owned several over the years. I like the FT2200, but it’s kind of overkill… My second most favorite is the FT1400…

Small router: PC450

Trim router: FT MFK.

 

Note: None of the above would be the 'you only need one' router category... Actually, I don’t buy-in to the ‘you only need one router’ camp…

 

Mine are similar 

 

2-450 plunge/fixed kits

2-693 plunge/fixes kits

6-690

6-pc trim router

2 of 1400 both dead. 

1-7518 in table

 

I thinned the herd and this is what is left.

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I feel like everyone should have 3 routers....

 

Small, Medium, Large. I have 4 routers currently and they all do a fantastic job for their purposes.

 

Compact/Small Porter Cable 450PK which is 1.25HP comes with a fixed base and very nice plunge base. Great for trim work and doing small inlays..

 

Medium - Festool OF1400 which is my go to router for most things. Mortising, stop dados, etc. I also have a Bosch 1617EVS which is in a fixed base and doesn't get much use. Still a great router, but not my go to. 

 

Large - Porter Cable 7518. It sits in my router table on the lift and does all my table operations. There is a fixed base for it if I ever feel the need to put myself through actually using to do a 1 1/2" roundover on a table top. 

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==>2 of 1400 both dead.

I like the fit/finish of the router and accessory kit... It’s my favorite mid-sized plunge, but I've always wondered about longevity…

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For small jobs, I have the Dewalt DWP611PK (1.25hp). This router comes with both a fixed and a plunge base.

 

It's very easy to handle, a good learning tool.

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Many woodworkers end up with at least two routers.  That allows for one in the table, and one for free hand....food for thought down the road.

 

A table router should have variable speed to slow down big bits, and ample power for spinning them....check the amp rating instead of "HP" - 11-15 amps is generally desirable.   Topside features are nice to have, but not essential.  For hand routing, a router that feels good in hand (usually ligher weight and well balanced) is more important than a huge motor....9-13 amps is usually fine.  Get a 1/2" collet regardless of what you go with.  

 

We all have our favorites.  Milwaukee routers are among mine....the MW5625 is a work horse in a table router.  The MW Bodygrip on the 5615/5616 is really nice, and the plunge base is excellent....very stout routers.   I also like the Hitachi M12VC for hand use....very quiet, well balanced, and light.  You didn't mention a budget, but in general I'd try to stick with Bosch, MW, Makita, DW, PC, Hitachi, Festool, Fein, or Triton.  If cost is a big concern, and you need to get a bargain, I'd look into the current Craftsman line made by Chervon Power....they get decent reviews from hobbyists.  I'd prefer to avoid HF, Skil, B&D, Ryobi if possible.

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I have a PC 690 in my table and Festool 1400 for hand held work.  I dislike using routers in general so use only when something else won't do. The 690 is a little underpowered for table use, but I mostly use for small profiles and it is fine.  The 1400 is a relative joy to use.  Quieter, smoother and the accessories are great.  Using it with the track opens some possibilities for things like edge work (where you don't want or can't use a bearing guide) or cutting breadboard tenons.   The positive registration is much better than guiding along a straight edge.

 

if you can afford the 1400 I think you will be happy.  If not, the 690 will always be useful.  

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For small jobs, I have the Dewalt DWP611PK (1.25hp). This router comes with both a fixed and a plunge base.

 

It's very easy to handle, a good learning tool.

This router is an excellent choice for light duty. The fixed/plunge base combo kit is the way to go. Dust collection attachments are available for both bases. If your budget is a little tight, this can be your only router and there's not much you can't do without some patience. I liked it so much I bought a 2nd one (motor only) to reside in my pantograph so I could leave it set up for better consistency. Another nice feature is variable speed but you are limited to 1/4" shank bits.

 

I also have a Porter Cable 7518 (motor only) for lift-table duty and a Craftsman fixed base for occasional use when the little Dewalt is not enough. A dedicated router for your table is highly recommend.

 

Jasper circle jigs are incredibly handy. I recommend factoring compatibility into your choice.

 

A Festool 1400 is on my wishlist, but $555 is a considerable sum. Perhaps it's a fair price for the Mercedes Benz of routers. I don't think I would recommend it as your 1st router unless you're positive about it being a worthwhile investment.

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==>2 of 1400 both dead.

I like the fit/finish of the router and accessory kit... It’s my favorite mid-sized plunge, but I've always wondered about longevity…

 

The FT are nice as far as dust collection goes and I guess feel in the hand but I'm a boob man don't really care how a router feels. I bought two of them when I started having lung problems. They can't handle abuse that is for sure. I dropped both of mine off the bench and they died with in weeks. There is always some give and take. If you use them to the point of wearing out you probably got your monies worth or made enough off of them to warrant replacing. The PC's Id say have a longer life span its hard to kill one of those even if its left out in the rain and falls out of the back of a truck. My older ones last 20+ years with the same sort of abuse that killed the FT routers.

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This router is an excellent choice for light duty. The fixed/plunge base combo kit is the way to go. Dust collection attachments are available for both bases. If your budget is a little tight, this can be your only router and there's not much you can't do without some patience. I liked it so much I bought a 2nd one (motor only) to reside in my pantograph so I could leave it set up for better consistency. Another nice feature is variable speed but you are limited to 1/4" shank bits.

 

Mine came with 2 interchangeable collets, one for 1/4'' and the other for 1/2'' shank router bits.

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Mine came with 2 interchangeable collets, one for 1/4'' and the other for 1/2'' shank router bits.

 

I think you got your numbers mixed up or it was a mistake the dwp611 is a little router between the standard hand held and the palm router. They should only use 1/4" bits as they are closer to a palm router.

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==>They can't handle abuse that is for sure. I dropped both of mine off the bench and they died with in weeks

That’s exactly what I was talking about…

 

I have the sneaky feeling a lot of the same stuff happens in my shop, but on a smaller scale… For a one-man (with the occasional helper) hobby shop, my kit is subjected to a lot of abuse… Portable tools hit the floor with unerring regularity – I’m just not careful… If kit survives my shop, then it should receive some sort of UL-type certification... It’s not really a distinction I’m proud of, but if I manage to keep a tool for years, it should survive most any hobby shop…

 

I’ve got a couple of 690s that are at least 15 years old – can’t even guess how many times they’ve been dropped… I do like FT gear, but recognize that fit/finish is one thing, but the long-term survivability is something else… I’ve had the best luck with old-school Milwaukee (like 20+ years old made in the US), Hilti and Hitachi with Bosch gaining on the inside… For all that I like my FT kit, I’ve had to use their service group more than all the others combined – everything is always fixed for free, but still…

 

It’s going to be interesting to see how FT holds-up over time…

 

BTW: my go-to CEROS sander has developed a slight rattle -- I've been reading that the screws on the mount work loose... I'm going to strip it and glass-bed the mount -- I'll swap the bearings while the patient is on the table...

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I think you got your numbers mixed up or it was a mistake the dwp611 is a little router between the standard hand held and the palm router. They should only use 1/4" bits as they are closer to a palm router.

It came with two collets but you're right. Just checked and a 1/2" bit won't fit. Must be 3/8 then. I'm attaching a picture.

2f766c2fc0e45c087d21a8c5c438780d.jpg

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Photo's kind of blurry...

 

You may have 1/4 and 8mm collets...  Both are quite common...

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Just a quick note, I appreciate all the suggestions and the video (which was awesome). I'm going to take a little time and find out more regarding each product that was suggested. 

 

Thanks, it's great that this community exists. 

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EverStudious, I think you have plenty of evidence here that it is very easy to fall into Norm Abram mode, "We don't swap bits, we swap routers!"

I own four routers, and not one of them plunges. One of these days....

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I've got 3 routers, a triton 3.25 hp, which has been a joy to use, even handheld, a small 1.5 hp skil plunge which is almost useless, and a generic 2-2.25 I'm guessing plunge that is honestly a pain to use handheld! It's awful in a table because the height adjustment is so stiff your wrist sounds like a meat grinder after cranking it up an inch! So I guess my recommendation would be a triton, and they have 3 different sizes now.

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