View Full Version : Need router buying advice
Hi, I'm new to woodworking, I recently want to make a bed and a bookcase. I'll need a router to cut the groves and stuff, I will be using the router only once in a while, my question is how much power do I need and what chuck size should I get? Should I save money and buy a quarter inch or should I go for a halfinch, is 1.5 horsepower enoughfor occasional use? I'm really not going to use it much. Also, is electronic variable speed control with softstart that important?
When I first started out I went to Sears and bought a 1 1/2 hp fixed base router(no soft start) and for just using a few times it is fine. It is a 1/4 inch bit and it is not the quietest machine in the shop, but it will get the job done. I have since increased my love for woodworking and bought a Porter Cable 2 1/2hp plunge router w/soft start. It was only 4 times the amount I paid for the Sears router, but if you are going to expand in what you do, it is well worth it. Your choice should depend on how much you plan on using it. Another thing to think about is looking at auctions (real, not online) and garage sales. You can pick up the same kind of tool for less money. Good Luck!!!
11-12-2000, 10:40 PM
I would go with a small router at first to get started. A sears craftsman 1/4" would be a good one. I have one I purchased just starting out (14 years ago) and still use it today. I have a larger 3-1/2hp 1/2" router I use in a router table much like a shaper, but the thing is much too heavy to use free hand all the time.
Roger S. Thomas
11-15-2000, 10:30 PM
I recommend a Porter Cable 690. It is a good reliable workhorse of a router. It has both 1/4 and 1/2 inch collets. It has a notorious knuckle busting two wrench collet that makes changing bits a pain, but its solid reliability makes up for it. It costs about $150. Sears 1 1/2 Horse is a good router for $50. You said you were new to woodworking. The router is one of the most fun tools in the shop. You will use it much more than you think. You might be surprised how quickly you want to move from 1/4 inch bits to 1/2 inch bits. Be prepared. the router itself is CHEAP compared to the bits. Have fun and watch your fingers.
11-16-2000, 02:14 PM
the Porter Cable 690 Package is the way to go.A fixed base& plunge base makes a great combo!!! GOOD LUCK
12-14-2000, 03:29 PM
I also agree with the above statements. Get a good one (I use the PC 690). I started with the craftsman and since moved up. You will use it much, much more than you can imagine.
As a minimum, buy a 1 1/2 horsepower that will take both a 1/4 and and 1/2 inch bit. The PC 690 is an excellent choice. DO NOT BUY THE SEARS. My first router was a sears. I almost gave up on routers until I bought a good Bosch. I currently have about 16 routers and none of them are Sears products.
12-15-2000, 10:46 AM
The advice to bypass the Craftsman and go to the PC 690 is a good one. Just about every woodworking professional I know has one. Another factor to be considered is the human element. When using tools of a lower quality there is always the frustration factor. Using high quality tools can be inspiring.
Also look at the work you will be doing and see if the plunge base is something you can use. There is something to be said for using the right tool for the job. If you find you really like this kind of work, the money spent on the Porter Cable will not be wasted. If you don't, you have a tool that has a higher resale value. Just call me first!
I highly recommend a 1/2". You will be limited with 1/4" bits. Plus they chatter considerably bore than 1/2". I also suggest at least a 2 horse and would really consider a 3 hp or better.
Hitachi has a 3 hp with 1/2" and 1/4" collets, is light weight, and dependable. I agree with the other postings, don't get craftsman. PC, Dewalt, and Bosch are the best.
Good luck with your choice. You will love using a router if you get a good one.
12-16-2000, 04:47 PM
There have been a lot of good responses on this thread, but I thought I would add my 2 cents.
I bought a sears router about 20 years ago, and a bit assortment to go with it. I used it twice. The setting was very hard the bits were a dissaster, and then the Da** thing stopped working. I gave up on routers for many years. I just thought it was easier to do other ways.
I bought a shapper and made lots of molding for my house and general furnature work.
I then bought a Leigh dovetail jig and it uses a router. I went with the Leigh show demo guy recomendation and bought a PC router, the large 3 hp unit. I then found what a router was capable of doing. I since bought the PC 690 and have used both for lots of different Projects.
The message for the few that haven't got it yet, Poor quality tools are a total waste of money. In some cases they will work for a while and quit. But, more important, they can cause you to loose interest in the tool or the whole field of woodworking.
Good tools set up correctly, allow even a beginner to feel that they can do good work.
Over the years I have gained confidence in my abilities and have produced some pieces that I am very proud of and would be willing to put up against all most anyones work. Part of that is increased skills, but a lot of it is getting the right tools, setting them up correctly, and keeping edges sharp.
Always save until you can buy a good tool. You will save in the long run and in some ways in the short run as well.
12-17-2000, 11:27 PM
I too purchased a 7/8 HP Craftsman router close to 30 years ago. I got some cheap and cheaper bits along with the auxillary edge guide. It has served well BUT that router is NOT for building furniture! It has been used for everything including furniture with modest success. The trick with my router was to build a table for it (Before I knew there was such a thing.) and 90% of the time the router is just hanging there in the table and working. I have had to repair the router many times and lately it is just worn out. Most of the frequently used screw holes have been tapped out to larger and larger sizes.
Recently I purchased the Porter Cable VS 3 1/4 HP router. This is currently in a router table and the only real complaint is that the depth adjustment guage is not designed for use in the router table. This router is really too big to handle for use outside the table. It can be done but the router is a handful.
I also purchased a Porter Cable 693K at HD for $188. This is a 1 1/2 HP model with two bases, plunge and fixed. This one is great for all hand held operations and I highly recommend this router kit.
12-18-2000, 10:44 PM
I think everyone starts with a craftsman router, I did. The old 7/8 horsepower one. After several years it is still working. But that is not the issue. The important issue is what kind of work you would like to do. My guess is that you want to round over edges and in that cases, any router you choose will be fine. However, if you want to make frame and panel doors for example. The best router bits for this task are 1/2" shanks and they are "large", I mean "large, like 1 1/2" to 3" in diameter" and they are scary! These babies need horsepower and "low speeds" that only a variable speed router will provide. The PC690, which is the standard which all routers are measured against, has a 1/2" shank, but it does not have variable speeds. There are aftermarket accessories which can control the router speed, but you run the risk of burning out the motor. Ask yourself, "What do I want to accomplish?" Rounded edges will be accomplished with the least expensive router you can buy. Beyond that, come back to the web. P.S. I have a sweatshirt that reads "The man who dies with the most tools, wins!" I don't have 16 routers, I lose!