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Thread: Do I need a "D" handle for a router?

  1. #1

    Do I need a "D" handle for a router?

    I'm still trying to decide which router to buy, and I'm still torn between the Bosch 1617EVSPK and the DeWalt 618PK. Since the DeWalt is available with a 3 base kit and the Bosch is not, would I be better off with the DeWalt? My real question is, what router operations need a "D" handle? I really don't understand what purpose the "D" handle serves, so I'd just like to know whether it's something that I need to consider.

  2. #2

    For what it's worth I've the DeWalt 618PK. For hand routing I actually prefer the d-handle - it feels as though I have more control.

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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    San Francisco, CA
    I use routers a lot, and have never felt any need to have a D handle. To me, two symmetrical grips feels fine. I think the D handle is just one of those things that some people like, and others don't -- y'know, like vanilla ice cream versus chocolate.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Canby, Oregon
    I've had both a Bosch and a DeWalt router for more than ten years and have had no trouble with either piece of equipment...except for a start switch that went haywire on the DeWalt after 4-5 years. All three of my routers get used 4-5 times a week, and I clean them up after each day's usage.

    Regarding the D-handle, I've always enjoyed using two hands (and arms) when I operate a router without a router table. If I were to use a router one-handed, I'd probably have some sore muscles and tremror shortly after I turned the power on.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Long Island,N.Y.
    I am much more comfortable with the D handle router. You keep both hands on the tool at all times. Trigger turns it on and off. I threw the toggle base into a table. Turn it on, run the wood, turn it off. Both hands on the wood or both hands on the router.

    "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
    B. Franklin, 1759

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Lorain, OH
    I feel more comfortable with a D handle also. Like others have said, it lets you turn the router on and off without taking one of your hands off the router.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    I also happen to like the D-Handle for edge work and the trigger grip is quite comfortable to me. It's also the right choice when you have to "one-hand" it for certain operations.

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

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Wyoming, MI
    Quote Originally Posted by Jamie Buxton View Post of those things that some people like, and others don't -- y'know, like vanilla ice cream versus chocolate.
    That must be the craziest thing to be typed, ever.

    As for the D, I don't like them. I suppose it's more like some folks like asparagus dipped in molasses, some don't.


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Hammond, IN

    just bought the dewalt kit...

    the dewalt kit is the first router ive ever owned, -ive used other peoples routers, but thats neither here nor there-- but tell you the truth the d-handle is the only base ive used with the thing.. i feel like i have better control with it for the edging/flush trimming w/templates that ive used it for than i would with the 2 knob variety..

    i mean- the thing feels just like the dewalt 378 framing saws ive used for years, and that goes a long way towards my piece of mind..

    just the opinion of an(hopefully) ex-framer who's (hopefully) moving on to finer things..

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    State Capital, WI
    D-handle for sure! I can't live without the easy on-off and great stability. I mounted the fixed base in the table, use D for hand routing, and have the plunge for mortising etc. Like I said the best thing is the easy on-off! $0.02 for free - Rob
    oops ....1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10 - yup all there, whew!

  11. #11
    I like the D handle for non-table use also. You don't use a D handle router with only one hand - maybe that misunderstanding is why some people don't like them . In fact, the big advantage of a D handle router is that you always have two hands on the router because you can turn it on and off with the trigger on the D handle. With many non-D handle routers, the on/off switch is in a place where you have to take one hand off of a handle to operate the switch (example: PC690 which has the switch on the top of the motor).

    Soft start routers are not as bad as the old fast start routers, but when you're only holding the router with one hand, the startup torque can twist it out of your hand, causing damage to the work or yourself. It certainly won't happen often, but it only has to happen one time to send you to the emergency room.

    Last edited by Mike Henderson; 05-13-2007 at 10:55 PM. Reason: Spelling
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  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Sumter, SC
    I also prefer the "D" handle router. It is used much more than any other router for hand held applications. I get a better feeling of control with the "D" handle.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Webster Groves, MO
    Blog Entries
    I use the D-handle exclusively when routing dovetails on my Akeda jig. The on/off trigger is very handy. When I bought my 618pk kit, I didn't think I would use the D-handle base either, but of all the bases, it's the one I use nearly for everything.

  14. #14
    I have both Routers. I use the closest one for whatever task I have at hand, but prefer the Bosch. The Bosch is a little louder, but the dust collection is excellent when paired up to a good shop vac. I use the Bosch fixed base if the cut requires precision. The adjustment is backlash free and very precise either in a table or on the workpiece.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Spokane, Washington
    I have a D handled Bosch, mainly for the trigger switch, so that I could turn it off easily whilw maintaining two hand control. I like the router just fine, but if I were doing it again, i'd probably go for, or at least check out, the Milwaukee 2 base 5616-21. While the Milwaukee kit lacks a D handle, it does have a unique body grip, which allows easy access to the switch without needing to remove a hand from the router, and comes with the plunge base. I was unable to get the Bosch in kit form with the D handle, and a plunge base is expensive to buy seperately.

    Popular Woodworking has a review of two base router kits in the current issue (June), and gave the Milwaukee kit the Editors Choice award. Might be worth checking thae article out before you buy. I have no complaints about the Bosch router, other than it's not available in a kit with the D handle and a plunge base.

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    -Woody Allen-

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