View Full Version : budget plunge router
11-02-2005, 12:25 AM
Hi. I am looking to purchase my first plunge router. I have not done any routing before and am pretty much a novice.
One of the things I first compared is the warranty. Hitachi seems to have the best warranty (5-year). I have a credit card which doubles all manufacturer's rebates on items I buy with the card, so warranties mean a lot to me.
That said, is there a good place to start? Definitely looking for under $200.
11-02-2005, 03:33 AM
A large Plunge router is not a good choice for a first router. A 15 amp plunger is total overkill for non-table use, unless you are a commercial solid surface installer. That router works great in a table, so does the Freud. But most people who buy a large router for exclusive table use, prefer a fixed based router.
Now, back to your needs. In your situation, I would recommend a router combo kit, in the 2 1/4H.P, 12amp range. I have the Bosch 1617EVSPK kit. I was in Costco yesterday, they had that kit, for under $200. The cheapest I've seen on the web was around $125. Its a soft-start/variable speed unit. To me that is MORE important than H.P.
All the other brands are over $135, on the web. The Bosch has a unique, micro depth adjustment.
A 12 amp router works fine, in a table or by hand. The varible speed comes into play, according to the diameter of the cutter. The larger-the slower. Even with large panel raising bits, with speed at 10K rpm's, you will need to make three or more passes, but I still do that many passes with my Freud in the table.
A 15 amp plunge router is too top-heavy to do 95% of hand-held use,
the bits that are that large to require a 15 amp router, requires that its in a table, anyway.
With a combo kit, you get the best of both worlds.
11-02-2005, 06:40 AM
Hey Adam, I have a little different approach at choosing a router.
The combo kits are great. You do get both in one. I suggest that you go out to a place that has many different brands and models. You can find yourself using the router for long periods. It should feel right in your hands. Are you comfortable holding and moving it around? A variable speed router is nice to have if you are going to turn large bits. Soft start is real nice. No start up torque twisting the router in you hands. Does it use Porter Cable bushings? Those are the standard bushings for many of the major brands. This may not seem important now, but when you need them and can not find them then you'll understand.
11-02-2005, 08:25 AM
FWIW, I can give some advice on what router NOT to buy. My first was a Craftsman fixed base router (Model 315.175100). I took it back complaining after 5 or so months, got it replaced, and still have (and hate) the replacement to this day. The twisting height adjustment, in my opinion, worked VERY poorly on both, got stuck often, and was not easy to make fine adjustments on. But what really turned me off to this router was that it seems like they make the fan blade with a very cheap kind of plastic, and it is right up front under the grating the seperates the working area of the router from the motor. Long story short, one of the fan blades let go, the rest soon followed, and they all shattered in the housing and came flying out of the router. Pretty scary few seconds right there.
Not sure if anyone else has had the pleasure of this experience...
Tim II (The new Tim, that is)
11-02-2005, 01:45 PM
I would not suggest the big Hitachi for your first plunge router. It is big, clumsy and sloppy. Also, you may want to avoid the 3hp Freud, it is inexpensive but its engineering will frustrate the daylights out of you.
I think the best router in the world is the 2 1/4hp DeWalt plunge. It has a flat side to the base and is smooth as silk.
"Better to ask than remain stupid."
11-02-2005, 02:02 PM
> Not sure if anyone else has had the pleasure of this
>Tim II (The new Tim, that is)
I had that same exact experiance took the second one back and got my money back, invested it in a PC 690 combo kit and haven't looked back since
11-02-2005, 06:48 PM
A plunge router is mainly needed for stopped cuts. You need that mortise in the middle of ... Well the plunge is good for that.
A big 3+ HP router is VERY DIFFICULT to use for hand routing applications. A 3+ HP router is best for router table use.
The best way to pick a router is to find the one that fits your hand the best. Get the one that you like the feel. That is so much more important than warranty or price.
There are some general true-isms that are related to routing and routers.
One is never enough, two are a livable solution and three are rather good.
The cost, over a life time, for router bits is 10 or 20 to one. $200 for a router, $2000-$4000 for bits.
A table mounted router will be used for 95% or your routing tasks. (Laminate trimming excepted.)
Of the 5% of the routing tasks remaining, 80% will not require a plunge router, most of the remaining 20%, a plunge router will make the cut easier but again the plunge is not required.
As odd as it sounds, a plunge router is an inexpensive substitute for a router lift in a router table. The plunge router is an ideal choice for use in a router table.
To spin large or pannel raising bits, more than 2 HP is usually required. Large bits should never used in a hand held router. (Major safety reasons.)
So if some one comes to me, asking which router to get, my advice is a smaller one with multiple bases. (Plunge and fixed.) If the router has 1-1/2 to 2-1/4 HP, you'll find it sufficient. Be sure that the router has a 1/2" collet. (Usually a 1/4" collet or adapter is included in the kit.) Variable speed is nice but not really needed on the smaller routers because you'll not be spinning large bits in a smaller router. But most of all, get a router that is comfortable to you and how you work. It has to feel right in your hands.
Currently I have a 3+ HP VS Porter Cable table mounted router and a smaller the Porter Cable 690 kit. For 25+ years I had only a Craftsman 7/8 HP router with a 1/4" collet and I survived nicely.
This is one of the few times that smaller is a bit better and realize that you will get the larger one to mount in that router table you are going to build. (Build? Yes you are!)
11-09-2005, 10:12 AM
For hadheld work I would not wory about power, I would worry about haw it feels. Different people like different brands. I would take a look at the Dewalt 618d,PC 691xxx,or maybe the Bosch kit that comes with 2 bases but Amazon has a Milwaukee bodygrip that is recon. for $129. I would say the last is a pretty good deal.Good routers under $100 are very very hard to find. Happy hunting.
11-09-2005, 05:53 PM
Maybe you can get something out of my router story:
Since I'm the only capable male in my condo building, I get called on to do all kinds of stuff. Last year I was asked to make a sign denoting "resident parking only" to put by our driveway. I said OK, and later decided that it was the perfect excuse to buy a router. Being cheap, I started out with a Rotozip with the plunge router attachment. Works well for what it is but I was carving this into a big old piece of mahogany and it was nowhere near powerful enough... it would have taken a week because I couldn't hog out very much on each pass. I did use it on the piece of plywood I used for a template though... worked well for that.
So now I knew I was in the market for a real router. I went to Menards and they had either a Black and Decker or a Freud in stock. I got the B&D (see reason above) but after realizing it had a nonstandard base that didn't accept template bushings I decided to take it back. Now I knew what I wanted for sure: a common style base (easily replaceable) that took template bushings.
Ryobi had just released a combo router kit that year that seemed like a good deal (they don't seem to make it anymore) so I was at Home Depot trying to find that when I noticed a Porter-Cable 690 combo kit on the "sale" table. It had obviously been used, but not very much... it's very similar to the 694VK kit they have now, so a plunge base and a fixed base are included. I paid $100. It's a great router... tons of power, the base I wanted, and it almost instantly felt very natural to me, which was a big plus.
So my recommendation is for Porter-Cable... the kit costs $199, or the fixed version costs $139... I would have gladly paid full price for it if I had gotten a chance to use it first.
I would imagine that the other big boys are similar... just stay away from B&D and Skil and you should be fine. Note: I don't know anything about the Skil routers, just B&D.
Jim in PA
11-10-2005, 07:45 PM
I had the $99 Skil combo kit ... there was a little play when clamping the base on. Couldn't return it since the box was long gone, so I sold it (fully disclosing the reason I didn't like it). I bought the Bosch combo it (1617EVS or something like that), and woo hoo! I like it.
I should have ordered it from Amazon since they give you some extra goodies, but I didn't. The one annoyance has been that I needed an adapter to use the PC bushings.
>I would imagine that the other big boys are similar... just
>stay away from B&D and Skil and you should be fine. Note: I
>don't know anything about the Skil routers, just B&D.
11-11-2005, 03:16 AM
I'd like to recommend you check out the DeWalt DW621 plunge router. Not sure how much they are going for right now, but they are a very good router. I've got one and am very happy with it. It's built well, simple and easy to understand. Personally I've had very good luck with DeWalt tools. Also buying tools is like anything else...you get what you pay for. ;-)
11-11-2005, 12:52 PM
Buy the Bosch Brand bushings. They only fit Bosch routers. They are a lot more stable than the P.C. style.