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Thread: Best all around plunge router for both woodworking and finish carpentry?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Boone, NC
    Blog Entries

    Best all around plunge router for both woodworking and finish carpentry?

    I'm interested in hearing opinions about the most versatile plunge router to have around the shop for woodworking, but also for taking on jobs sites for finish carpentry tasks (pattern routing, flush cut trimming, mortises, rabbets, grooves, etc for custom doors, any odd-ball finish type tasks you can think of where a plunge router may be used on a jobsite.)

    I think a 1/2" collet capacity is a must. I have a Dewalt DW611 with the plunge kit, which would be the perfect all around router, but it's only 1/4" collet. I also have a PC690 with a plunge kit, but I need to buy or make a new round baseplate for it; the stock baseplate is off center (in relation to the bit) enough to mess up any sort of template jig (used "bumper style") accuracy. That was a frustrating discovery to find out the first time after wondering why my mortise/housing template jigs weren't coming out right....The 690 is a bit of a crude affair, but I do find it useful for a general purpose router where accuracy isn't absolutely critical.

    I don't think a 3+ hp size is necessary, but may be misguided? They tend to be too heavy and bulky sometimes to be useful in certain applications.

    To sum it up, I want to find a 1/2" collet plunge router that can handle pretty much anything I throw at as far as woodworking and finish carpentry, not be too heavy and bulky, and be designed well enough so that I don't get annoyed with using it often. New model or used model, doesn't matter to me. Effective dust collection options would be a plus, but not having it isn't a deal breaker.

    Fire away, gents.

  2. #2
    Ok. I'll bite first. Opinions are going to vary greatly.

    I really like my Festool 1400 but The price is high. I really like the functionality and mechanics of it. I wouldn't buy it as my only router though.

    I would buy a 3 pc kit like the Bosch or Dewalt options. Porter Cable is not the same as it was back in the day. There older plunge base is too clunky for me. A kit with a fixed and plunge base plus motor. Most of the time when using the router for profiling I don't want to use the plunge base but for many applications it's needed.

    I do love the porter cable 691 with a D handle. That's what we primarily have in the shop.

    Milwaukee makes a 1.75 hp body grip router I'm taking a liking to but it does not have a plunge base that I know of. It does have a sweet fine adjustment though.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Bloomington, IL
    1617 bosch does not have d handle as the cord arrangement does not allow it to attach to d handle base. That is a 1618 bosch for d.

    I like my 618 DeWalt 3 piece sets. Only have one where the speed control went out. Even it is fine as its full speed.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    N.E, Ohio
    Quote Originally Posted by Neil Gaskin View Post
    Milwaukee makes a 1.75 hp body grip router I'm taking a liking to but it does not have a plunge base that I know of. It does have a sweet fine adjustment though.
    Plunge base for 1 3/4 ho Milwaukee router

    Making sawdust regularly, occasionally a project is completed.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Central MA
    Excluding Festool, I personally think the DeWalt 621 is the best midsized plunge router available. It is very smooth running and feature rich, and I like the ergonomics.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Perth, Australia
    I would also vote for the DeWalt 621. I have the Elu version (MOF 97), but it only goes to 1/4", and I would love it to be 1/2" as well. I find it well balanced and the dust extraction is excellent. My 1/2" machine is an Elu 177e (same as DeWalt 625), but this lacks the level of dust control.

    Regards from Perth


  7. #7
    dewalt 621 had it for yrs and yrs. my go to router. I like the flat sided base. One can easy run it to a fence vs. a round base.
    Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning, the devil says, "oh crap she's up!"

    Tolerance is giving every other human being every right that you claim for yourself.

    "What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts are gone, men would die from great loneliness of spirit. For whatever happens to the beasts will happen to man. All things are connected. " Chief Seattle Duwamish Tribe

  8. #8
    I personally like Bosch routers and have about a half dozen various models...


  9. #9
    I have a Bosch, a Hitachi and a Milwaukee. I see almost no practical difference. They have all lasted many years.

    From what I read, routers appear to be like portable drills; everyone seems to love the one they have. IMHO, the better question to ask here is:

    Which brand/model should I steer clear of?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Kansas City, MO
    That's easy Prashun, the Freud V2000 - the most ergonomically difficult plunge router made.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Griswold Connecticut
    Bosch 1617 EVSPK.
    I don't own this router, but have admired it for a long time now. If I ever have to make a run of dovetailed drawers again, I'm buying a pair of them It's a very nice package. The DW 621 is also very high on my list.

    If you were closer I'd lend you my OF2200. It might change your mind about "big routers", used "in hand". I actually prefer it to my OF1400.
    The first couple of times you use the OF2200 with a big bit in it is a little unnerving. You keep waiting for it to bite and rip your arm off, but it is so smooth. As soon as you let loose with the death grip, and let it do it's work, it's pretty cool.
    I've never really been swayed by the dust collection claims for a handheld router. No matter what, they still tend to spew dust everywhere, no matter what you do. The OF2200 and OF 1400 have about the best DC available on a router, but it's not perfect. I use a Fein Turbo II vac with them, and have a mask on.
    Last edited by Mike Cutler; 12-06-2017 at 9:03 AM.
    "The first thing you need to know, will likely be the last thing you learn." (Unknown)

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Baton Rouge, LA
    I read good things about the Bosch 1617evspk but a few months after purchasing it I hated the plunge base on it. I had racking in my plunge base and the handles had some "play" in them. You also have to buy add ons to get the standard Porter cable guide bushings to fit. I will be mounting that router in a router table once I build one.

    I also have the DW611PK and would buy it again in a heartbeat. This little sucker is amazing.

    My next purchase will be an OF1400 from Festool.

    Just my opinion you will end up with at least two handheld routers eventually. One dedicated smaller work with a 1/4" collect, hence the 611. And one for larger work with a 1/2" collet.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    The Bosch 1617 EVS has the largest fixed base opening of nearly any router, so you can run large panel raising bits in it, as I sometimes do. The plunge base is very smooth and overall the router is a pleasure to use. Speed regulation is top notch. There are many accessories available for dust collection, collets, etc.


  14. #14
    I have the early (Elu) version of the Dewalt 626 3hp plunge router and have found it to be a pretty easy to use router, although a little heavy. It came with 2 collets and I got a threaded adjusting handle to use when I want it to set up like a fixed base. It's pretty accurate for repeatability and has an adapter plate for standard PC style guide bushings; they center up nicely. I guess if I wanted an "all around" site router, I'd take this one.
    But I've also got a 20 yr old Bosch 1604 fixed base that's my go to router, still runs great, so you probably can't go wrong with a Bosch set up either.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    Festool OF1400 (best dust collection and very versatile, IMHO) and if that's not possible, as others have noted DW621 plunger or one of the 12 amp multi-base kits from the manufacturer you like the best. (I have the DW618)

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

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