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  • Router Type Choice

    I have been shoping for a router, and wondered about the virtues of a plunge versus conventional adjustable routers. I have studied routers enough to understand that the Milwaukee routers that are adjustable from above the table, would save me the cost of the adjustable lift brackets. I went as far as to visit Lowes today, and hold the various brands. I am impressed with the Milwaukees, but am not sure these would work as well, since the ones i have seen from Milwaukee are not plunge routers. How important is the plunge feature, and do you folks think an adjustable Milwaukee is a good choice for a begining woodworker like myself.
    thanks for your trouble, i would appreciate your opinions.
    If it won\'t fit you need a bigger hammer!

  • #2
    I can't tell, are you looking for suggestions purely for table use, for hand use, or for both?

    Dave

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    • #3
      I expect to be using it on a table, for the most part. In my first post on this forum earlier this week, i noted i hope to be making some cabinets, of course a router will play a big role in this project. Having never owned or used a router, i naturally have questions. Of course i am sure there are specific uses for each of them. I figure to be making dovetail joints, as well as cabinet doors and drawer faces, and various other joinery techniques as needed. I saw a router on a new jig on this forum recently, that made both mortice and tenons, and i will likely do some of that as well. Specifically, what benefit is the plung feature on any given router? And secondly, have you any experience with the Milwaukee routers that are adjustable from above the table? I do expect to have the router in a table once i get going with this project. I am not certain i would use one handheld much at all, although i can imagine there is a great deal about this project i do not forsee. thanks for your reply, i do appreicate them.
      If it won\'t fit you need a bigger hammer!

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      • #4
        I would suggest on of the combo packs that Bosch, Makita or PC have. I've got the PC combo pack, and am very happy with it. You get both types of routers for a decent price.
        Support Our Troops!
        www.mnpatriotguard.org
        www.patriotguard.org

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        • #5
          I agree, a combo unit is the way to go when your starting out. You will find a lot of uses for the plung router once you have one. I have had the PC combo since they first came out, as well as a PC 690 fixed based router and two PC8529 2hp plunge routers. All have served me well. I am partial to PC tools as I have used them for over twenty years and found them to be very reliable and comfortable to use.
          Jerry K.

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          • #6
            I, to, am going to jump on the COMBO bandwagon. I purchased the Bosch 1617EVS combo kit and have been nothing but pleased with its versatility. I eventually bought (not certain how economically feasible it was) their under the table base. Nevertheless, mine is used under the table, fixed free hand, and plunge capabilities.

            The thing about looking at a tool not only is as Dave suggests what are your needs, but also what could your needs evolve to. Sometimes this isn't a clearly defined answer, but should you purchase the Milwaukee (forgive my spelling) you may later have a need for plunge routing. The one thing I did do is purchase a book just about routing and the various uses and so forth to see what one could do even though I never had any experience doing it. However, if there are some techniques that you see yourself employing in your cabinetry buidling / Honey-Do list, you may not want to limit yourself to just a fixed-based option.

            From my own research, another consideration is your presumably going to be using some type of raised panel / rail & stile bit for your cabinets, I think most people who are familar with the topic would suggest buying nothing less than 2 HP. Most of the combo kits (i.e. Bosch, Dewalt, and Makita) are all rated at 2 1/4 HP. I think, and someone correct me if I'm wrong, but PC hasn't gone from their kit and 1 3/4 HP. I realize it may not be a lot more power and some PC users may have actual experience using this router under the table with raised panel bits.

            What the combo kit does give an new enthusiast like myself (or at least this is how I rationalized the purchase) is the ability to use a powerful enough router to turn larger bits with care, give my under and top of the table capabilities, yet is still light and comfortable enough in my hands to perform fixed base or plunge-based routing. Those companies, Bosch, Dewalt, and Makita have all made recent entries into the COMBO kits with 2+ HP. PC also has one rated slightly lower. Any of these are a good starting point if some PC users can clarify with experience whether or not 1 3/4 had any problems with these types of bits -- I don't know.

            While it is not mentioned, make sure when your shopping router bits (I'm sure a discussion in itself), I would stick with 1/2" shank bits, particularly with cabinetry. Make sure the kit, if you choose to do so, has collets for both 1/4" and 1/2". It's just safer. Good luck. Send some pictures when you get cranking on these cabinets, I'm curious to see how they come out.
            Patrick<br />patrickssmith@cox.net<br />members.cox.net/patrickssmith

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            • #7
              Just want to briefly suggest that if you can, I would try to get the back issue of American Woodworker #99, which is an issue devoted to routers. It has their review of combo kits, a nice plan for a good looking router table and some other tidbits of which one is their recommendation to look into 3 HP machines if your planning on routing a lot doors. Either way, I think you would find the information helpful.
              Patrick<br />patrickssmith@cox.net<br />members.cox.net/patrickssmith

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              • #8
                I own a DeWalt 1 3/4 combo kit. I really like it. I leave the fix base mounted in the router table. The motor assembly drops out of the base with a tool free quick release mechanism so changing bits in the table is a snap. When I need to route off the table, I just put the motor into the plunge base. DeWalt also make a 2 1/4 variable speed version of the motor. I really liked the Milwaukee you talk about but chose the DeWalt in favour. It is very reasonable priced too.

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                • #9
                  I had the PC 1 3/4 hp router mounted in a table and have made quite a few raised panel doors with it. It has performed very well, I am changing to the router in the extention on my T2424 table and will be mounting one of the 2hp routers in that.

                  I have used the PC690 (1 3/4 hp) for many years and picked up a couple of 2hp routers real cheap. Both of these router are real reliable and I find more and more uses for them with every project.
                  Jerry K.

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                  • #10
                    Definitely don't overlook the Dewalt Combo. I have the 2 1/4 HP version and have used it in a table, free hand and plunge with no problems. Variable speed and soft start are a must as far as I'm concerned. Especially if you're going to get into cutting panels. The through the column dust collection on the plunge base does a great job too.

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                    • #11
                      OK folks, i get the message, you have to have both a plunge and fixed base routers. May i ask, what specifically do you do with a plunge router that you can't do with the fixed base units? Also, if more power is desirable, what about the Hitachi 3 1/4 horse plunge base unit that Lowes sells for around $200? That is the most power on any router that i have seen so far. I guess that would be a good unit. thanks
                      If it won\'t fit you need a bigger hammer!

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                      • #12
                        what specifically do you do with a plunge router that you can't do with the fixed base units?

                        Middle of stock cuts. To make a cut into the middle of stock with a standard base router, you have to tilt the machine and lower it whilst running. It's not impossible, but it is imposing. Plunge routers are a recent invention, if memory serves they came out in the 1980's.

                        M12V is well respected for table use, not as well for hand use. Big, heavy, not a lot of features. Great pricetag.

                        One of the best web sites regarding routers is Pat Warner's. Pat is very opinionated, but has definitely earned the right. http://www.patwarner.com .

                        Dave
                        (Dave's list: Porter-Cable 690, Bosch 1617, DeWalt 621, Freud FT2000e)

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                        • #13
                          FYI, I actually regret my first router purchase. It was the first tool I bought and I went cheap (Black & Decker plunge- I made my first piece of furniture, an oak coffee table, with only this router and a jig saw). With that said, I read this post because I'm now looking for a new router. Looking back, I wish that I had gotten a combo for my first purchase. My router spends a good amount of time under a table (bought the table at Lowe's, another mistake). The plunge router I have is aweful under the table. It actually requires flipping the entire table upside-down to make depth adjustments. As you can imagine, fine tuning is a nightmare. However, the plunge has come in handy for making cuts in the center of a workpiece and it isn't a bad router for top work.
                          From what I have read, the Bosch EVS seems best though Dewalt has gotten some talk. I also believe that it is worth the extra money to get soft start and variable speed. Now that I do have a plunge router (though cheap), I may get a big 3 Hp for under the table purposes only. This is definitely the way to go but you don't want the big 3 Hp machines off the table. I believe that the 2.25 Hp combo machines give the best of both for a first purchase.

                          You have probably put some thought into your router purchase. One you get the router, deciding on bits is just as difficult as the router decision, if not more. They are not cheap. Go with 1/2" shank if your router can accept them and go with carbide over HSS. Some more experienced members of this forum probally disagree, but I am glad I bought a set. I haven't used every bit in my set, however, having the bit I need when I need it is great and having extra edging possibilities makes routing more fun. MLCS has gotten good reviews. Good luck!

                          http://www.mlcswoodworking.com/

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                          • #14
                            I got the DW621 as my first router. It is nice and works well but is over kill for some edging projects. In retrospect, I would have to agree that getting a combo would be best to start and the price (at the time I bought mine) was not that much different. Keep in mind that you will end up with more than one anyway.

                            BTW. I was looking at routers and saw a Freud FT2000e at one place and a Freud FT2000ep at another place. They both looked the same to me. Does anyone know what the difference is?

                            Rob

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                            • #15
                              Thanks so much. I looked at the links and one in particular, Patwarner dot com, is packed full of great router info. I am studying that and the others too. The router choice is becoming much clearer now. I am beginning to grasp a good bit of this stuff now. thanks so much.
                              i plan to post more questions, once again i do greatly appreciate the help in these matters.
                              If it won\'t fit you need a bigger hammer!

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