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Thread: Router recommendations

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
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    Texas Hill Country
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    Router recommendations

    I think it's probably beyond time for me to get a router and I'm hoping to get some recommendations from those of you with lots of experience. I'm just a hobby woodworker. These are the tasks I need/want to do and I believe a router would make doing said tasks easier:
    • Rounding edges
    • Cutting channels
    • Adding nuances to picture frames


    These are tasks I've done within the last year and will be doing again where I think having a router would have made them significantly easier. This will be my first router. I know that it also needs to have plunge capabilities to cut channels. I don't believe I need a router that is at the top end power wise as I don't see myself using it that hard on on things that I'd guess would require that kind of power. I'm most interested in ease of use, safety and reliability. Most of my tools are used so I don't mind going that route if it will save me money but at the same time getting quality. I suspect that the router probably isn't like my 1940s Delta woodworking machines where I can expect a 70-year old machine to work just as well as a new one.

    Anyway, I'm looking forward to your recommendations.

    Thanks!
    Mike

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
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    Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
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    619
    Many companies have mid size routers (2 1/4hp) with barrel type motors that fit fixed and plunge bases. I have a Porter Cable that works okay but would probably get a Makita set if buying again. You just have to pick your favourite colour. Go to a Borg and look at a bunch of them then shop around or wait for a sale on the one you like.

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    I have Festools, Porter Cables, and a Milwaukee.
    Even though I have the Festool's I really like the DeWalt's and the Bosch's. They both come in kit's with fixed and plunge bases. They're nice. I really like the Bosch 1617 kit. I might sneak a pair into the shop some day for use with a dovetail jig.
    Routers are like rabbits, they should come in pairs. You really, really, really, want more than one. I promise.
    "The first thing you need to know, will likely be the last thing you learn." (Unknown)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    New York, NY
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    1,540
    There's an Elu 3338 plunge router on Ebay right now for a buy it now price of $150 shipped. I've got a little bit older version of the same, probably one of my favourite tools.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
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    Flower mound, Tx
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    Festool 1010 is a great router for light-medium work. Super smooth and easy plunge and the ability to plunge w one hand is really nice. I have a lot of routers. The 1010 is my fav. The 1400 is a more powerful version but no way performs as nice as the 1010. It is too big and tall and the plunge is not as smooth as the 1010.

  6. #6
    The DeWalt 611 will tick all the boxes you mentioned and won't cost an arm and a leg. Easy to handle and accepts standard template guides available everywhere.

    http://www.finewoodworking.com/2011/...mbo-kit-review


    If you're going to be cutting channels larger than 3/4" x 1/2" on a regular basis you might want to step up to a 2+hp router.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
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    Central Missouri, U.S.
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    Mike Cutler is right. You may not realize it yet, but you'll end up with more than one.

    You might want to start with a smaller trim router, like the Dewalt 611. But you'll eventually find that you need more power. I also hate being limited to 1/4" shank router bits and avoid them whenever possible. IMO, the Bosch 1617 series is hard to best in the mid- power range.

    I see a router table in your future...

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
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    SE PA - Central Bucks County
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    For a "first" router, I personally believe that one of the multi-base kits are the way to go so one has fixed base when it's most appropriate and plunge capability when that's required for the work...with one motor. That makes the acquisition cost reasonable. The multi-base kit I have features the Dewalt DW-618 motor which is a 12 amp (~2.25hp) router that can do good work, including swinging mid-size bits in a table setup if needed. (It's not appropriate for the largest cutters in a table, however) All the major brands have similar kits and motors available, so "pick your favorite color" and enjoy!
    --

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

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Colorado Springs
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    Personally I think the small laminate trimmers, such as the Dewalt 611 or Bosch Colt (both of which I love) are a little too small for a do it all first router. But definitely next on the purchase list. The Bosch 1617 is a great choice, can use both 1/4Ē and 1/2Ē chucks. Has an optional plunge base. Std base fits almost all available special templates for things such a lutherie work, etc. But why stop there? Looking around in my shop I see a Makita 3 1/4 HP 280, another laminate trimmer Rigid which I canít recall buying and rarely use, a Porter Cable 7518 in router table, and a Porter Cable 690? retired after a well used life. I think youíre getting the point. Itís a disease. But I for one am not yet ready to look for a cure.

    Happy routing,

    Jon

  10. #10
    I agree with you guys that most people will end up with several routers - but did you buy them all at once ? Nope !

    I also agree that a 2.25hp DW618 -or- 621, Bosch1617 or a PC890 kit would make a better all arounder if you're only going to have one router. But you're not. See above.

    So, given Mike's stated needs - a trim type router kit would probably make more sense for his first router. It will be easier to handle and learn on than a "bigger" more powerful router yet it will easily put an ogee or roundover edge on even walnut. Which do you think will be easier to add nuances to a picture frame with ? Something liek the 611 will also do groves as long as you';re not trying to hog out 3/4" x 3/4" grooves in something like ipe'. And the 611 is very nice for inlays, much easier than any 2.25hp unit.

    He makes no mention of raising panels or making moldings on a router table, something a lot of us end up graduating to. But it's rarely what we attempt out of the gate. If it is, most will tool up for that initially and then come back here looking for a rec on a good handling handheld router for edges and inlay work.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Texas Hill Country
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    347
    Guys,
    This isn't the first time I've considered buying a router and as I started to checkout some of the models suggested I recall what has kept me from taking the leap and buying one - the incredible amount of poor reviews for routers like the Dewalt DW618 and the Bosch 1617. I'm sorry but I am unable to pull the trigger on a product where the number of very low reviews approaches 20% (1 in 5!). With respect to the Bosch 1617 there are so many reviews complaining about the poor design of the motor casing and how it engages with the bases which leads to a lot of trouble removing the router motor when needed. Add to that all the comments regarding the Bosch about proprietary methods of operation that make it impossible to use other templates and such that are almost industry standard excepting Bosch and that every thing has to be purchased separately. I hate that kind of corporate arrogance! Anyway, it just made me remember why I haven't bought a router. Sigh.

    On a good note, I did check out the Dewalt 611 review and the 1 & 2 star reviews combined totaled 3%. That's more like it IMO. It seems underpowered and I'm wondering how it would perform cutting a 1/4" x 1/4" x 12" channel in BB or cherry or walnut? And will it be able to cut coves should I want to add a nuance to a pic frame? Anyway, at this point, I think that's the direction I'm leaning.

    Anything I should know about the Dewalt 611 before buying? Any add-ons I should be considering?

    Any additional feedback, more recommendations, etc are appreciated.

    PS
    I overlooked checking out the PC890 suggested by Dave. A quick look and it appears that's an older model and no longer being made. By series, does Dave mean the current model like the 892? Which appears to have 15% 1&2 star reviews. Shaking my head but I'll read them to see where the problems like with this router.

    Thanks,
    Mike
    Last edited by Mike Manning; 05-16-2018 at 8:37 PM.

  12. #12
    Join Date
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    Mike...consider this: online reviews typically skew to the negative for almost anything because folks are more inclined to complain about an issue than they are to praise something that's satisfying. That's the reality of how people act.
    --

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

  13. #13
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    Feb 2005
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Becker View Post
    Mike...consider this: online reviews typically skew to the negative for almost anything because folks are more inclined to complain about an issue than they are to praise something that's satisfying. That's the reality of how people act.
    Jim,
    I understand that to some degree and that's why I actually read the reviews. Definitely a common thread with the Bosch 1617 which I mentioned. I'll have to go back and finish the reviews on the DW618. Also, how do you explain the only 3% negative reviews for the DW611? Just an anomaly or maybe a more reliable product? Blows your theory out of the water though. Just sayin'. ;-)

    Mike

  14. #14
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    Feb 2005
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    I just caught that Dave Sabo mentioned inlay work. That is definitely something I have been thinking about. Could the DW611 handle that?

  15. #15
    First, 5 reviews is nothing. Not even a sampling in my opinion. Don;t get hung up on 20% negative. How many units do you think Bosch has sold of those? It's been around a while and if it were crap it would be discontinued. All brands have negative reviews, even festool which costs $500 and everything is xtra.

    Second, bosch's quick change template system is first rate and available within a couple of days via mail at a competitive price. Often less than a PC branded set. They're carried by many specialty woodworking stores too. The same templates work on ALL of their routers. There's even an adapter at less than $10 if you want to use the ubiquitous porter cable type. Festool on the other hand has three different template systems for three routers, no adapters and cost double what bosch and pc cost. I have all three systems and the bosch is the best if you're switching between collars frequently, like for inlays. I prefer quality PC brass ones just for feel though. They're also available in stock right now at tens of thousand of locations across the country if I need one this minute.

    Third, the PC890 is the base motor and the 1-5 designation told you what kind of base(s) came with. A D-handle , plunge base as well as the fixed base were sold in all sorts of combos. Same with Dewalts' 621 series. Knock on the PC is that the speed controller craps out on more units then it should. Otherwise its a fine tool. Mine are going on 15 years no problem, one i a router table.

    Add on's to consider would be an edge guide which is handy for grooving work, already mentioned guide bushes, and dust collection shrouds if not included with the router you select. Some guys like to buy or make aux baseplates for the compact routers depending on the task. i/e dovetail work and some edging.

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