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Shopping for a router

by Tom
posted 07-07-2015 05:15 PM

26 replies so far

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

6739 posts in 3467 days

#1 posted 07-07-2015 05:28 PM

I’d seriously consider getting one that handles 1/2” shank bits, they almost always come with a 1/4” collet as well and give you so many more options. Also, a plunge router will do everything a fixed base will do, but not vice versa. A set of bits with 4-5 bits may not be a bad idea, but the larger sets will have several you’ll have little use for…I’d get them as needed, and specific to the task at hand.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View CB_Cohick's profile


493 posts in 2225 days

#2 posted 07-07-2015 05:30 PM

I think you just jump in and swim, but it doesn’t hurt to look around and see who is drowning either, lol. The first router I bought was a Ridgid laminate trimmer. I still use it today, and it has been a great little router for me. I was limited on bit diameter though, so I built a router table and bought a Craftsman 2 hp router and a lift. Now I am finding I want to run even bigger bits, so I am saving for a 3 hp PC 75182 and a bigger lift. I own several Ryobi tools, though not their router. They all seem to work, but I end up wanting better quality eventually.

-- Chris - Would work, but I'm too busy reading about woodwork.

View marc7101's profile


23 posts in 2041 days

#3 posted 07-07-2015 05:34 PM

Hi there. The Bosch colt palm grip is very popular in the basic fixed base class. Far better quality than the Ryobi. I’m not that keen on Ryobi tools. Personally I prefer the Dewalt, just feels easier to control than other models I’ve tried.

-- Marc-

View dhazelton's profile


2839 posts in 3270 days

#4 posted 07-07-2015 07:12 PM

I have a Sears router from the mid 90s that works fine. But I always wanted the Bosch Colt and bought a refurbished one at CPO Bosch. MUCH easier to use, especially if you want to put a bead or round over on one by stock. Only thing I don’t like about it is you have to take your bit out to put it back in it’s case.

Look at CPO Bosch / Dewalt. The Dewalt palm grip with the plunge base option is how I would go today, and they may have those refurbished as well.

View Tom's profile


182 posts in 2034 days

#5 posted 07-07-2015 07:21 PM

One reason I’m looking at the Ryobi is cost. I don’t have a huge budget for tools (I also collect Lego and they’re not cheap) and the projects that I’ll be starting with will be small. If I do get into larger projects then I’ll re-evaluate my tools and upgrade if needed.

View Robert's profile


4315 posts in 2454 days

#6 posted 07-07-2015 10:09 PM

If you can find one, I don’t think you can go wrong with either a Porter Cable model 690 plunge or DeWalt 616/618.
Look for used ones. People don’t part with them easily so I would also check pawn shops.

They will handle 1/2 shank bits which you will eventually want and they have the power for heavier molding cuts.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View Woodmaster1's profile


1617 posts in 3561 days

#7 posted 07-07-2015 10:41 PM

I have 3 porter cable 690’s and a triton 3 1/2 hp. Both are great routers. I use one 690 and the triton in tables. The other two I use freehand. I would make sure what router you buy has a 1/2” collet.

View NiteWalker's profile


2741 posts in 3551 days

#8 posted 07-07-2015 10:52 PM

I started with a $50 ryobi router and a ryobi bit set too.
I got my money’s worth.

That said, it’s really hard to beat a 690. They’re amazing routers and built to last. I use one in my router table.

Edit to add:
A really great combination (fixed and plunge bases) would be the bosch 1617evspk. The 1617evs is the smoothest running router I’ve used. It’s a great set.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 3461 days

#9 posted 07-07-2015 10:53 PM

Fancy, high dollar routers.

For a first router, look at Harbour Freight, fixed base, 1/4, 3/8, 1/2” collets, 2hp. It will do everything you want, even with putting it in a table.

I have used one in a table for 3 years and one free hand for 6 years. No problems so far, but of course, it is Chinese and is going to explode just as soon as you unbox it according to many here.

Of course, the Bosch, PC, Dewalt, Ryobi, Triton, Milwaukee, and hundreds of others are also built in the same chinese factories.

Oh, and it’s about $50 on sale.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View Stewbot's profile


199 posts in 2058 days

#10 posted 07-08-2015 12:03 AM

I know a lot of people would advise you to go with a plunge router because its more versatile than a palm router, and can do everything a palm router can as well, but if this is not your end all router purchase then I would recommend the Bosch colt palm. It small but has a lot of zip to it. I paid $80 for mine, but i believe it was a sale price. I think that plunge routers (with strong motors) can be a little intimidating at first if you have not used a router before. If you dont operate a plunge properly, it can jump away from you. A palm router can as well, but is easier to hold onto. I will always use my palm router even while owning a plunge router. I think they just feel nice in your hands, you can see the bit very well, and are just nice to work with. (although not advised, and im not recommending this, im just saying…you can plunge a palm router into your work, but you dont just drop it in there, you ease it in from an angle). Even if one day you do end up with a plunge router as well, i bet you’ll still reach for your palm for some quick round-overs etc. (assuming no table). Regardless of what you get, if this is your first router, im very excited for you. They really are a great tool to own. Its one of those tools where once you own it, you wonder how you ever got along without it.

-- Hoopty scoop?

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3664 days

#11 posted 07-08-2015 12:13 AM

I started out my woodworking life with that Ryobi router and the router table it came in. I outgrew the table but that little router is still going strong despite a lot of use/abuse over the years. One of my best “bang for the bucks”.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Holbs's profile


2373 posts in 3003 days

#12 posted 07-08-2015 12:23 AM

seek out local auctions, or online auctions. Would be surprised at what medium / great routers go for.
I started out with the Bosch 1617 EVS kit (plunge & fixed). I have since acquired a Bosch Colt. And just yesterday, ordered the Bosch MR23EVS for my future router table cabinet.

-- The Carpenter Bee is derived from the Ancient Greek word wood-cutter "xylokopos/ξυλοκὀπος"

View Rob's profile


704 posts in 4045 days

#13 posted 07-08-2015 12:29 AM

It doesn’t matter what your first router is. Chances are, you’ll buy another one or two or three or…more later.

-- Ask an expert or be the expert -

View diverlloyd's profile


4060 posts in 2831 days

#14 posted 07-08-2015 12:29 AM

Go to some local auctions routers here go for 20 or less. I have a craftsman it’s 4 years old and has went through 3 bearings. The bearings were $3 with $18 for shipping. Turns out they are the same bearings as some motorcycles so my local machine shops has them in stock and made in the USA for $2. It has maybe 8 hrs of work time on it. Anyways check for your local auctions

View dhazelton's profile


2839 posts in 3270 days

#15 posted 07-08-2015 12:42 AM

If you’re going through that many sets of bearings there is something seriously wrong with how your machine is constructed. Move up from Sears.

View alittleoff's profile


548 posts in 2250 days

#16 posted 07-08-2015 01:09 AM

I have 2 routers, the bosch evspk 1617 and the colt palm router. Both are great routers. I find myself using the small colt more than the larger 1617. You can’t go wrong with a bosch but there’s other good ones out there. Just look around for sales and something you like.

View dawsonbob's profile


3916 posts in 2729 days

#17 posted 07-08-2015 01:42 AM

If I were you, I would click on this link,default,pd.html?ref=pla&zmam=31282435&zmas=47&zmac=724&zmap=bshr1617evspk-rt&kpid=bshr1617evspk-rt&gclid=CjwKEAjw8e2sBRCYte6U3suRjFESJAB4gn_gWxGkz__vhIpzuuTwnq0zsVsSai0m3eZV2Zw9tubyQBoCshDw_wcB and buy the Bosch 1617EVSPK-RT kit. It’s refurbished, but with everything a brand new one has, and with the same warranty as the new one.

This has both the fixed and plunge bases, a hard molded case and accessories. The 1617EVSPK new is about $220. Refurbished, however, it is only about $165. Yes, it’s a lot less for refurbished, but the same kit as new.

-- Mistakes are what pave the road to perfection

View runswithscissors's profile


3124 posts in 2999 days

#18 posted 07-08-2015 04:49 AM

I agree with several others, that a 1/2” collet is highly desirable. As far as I know, Ryobi makes nothing but 1/4” collet routers. All routers that I am aware of with 1/2” collets also include either a 1/4” collet (such as Porter Cable), or an adaptor bushing that lets you use 1/4” bits. If you get one that is limited to 1/4”, you will soon run into its, er, limitations.

I’ve had 1/4” bits in larger configurations break on me. I only use them in small diameters.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

View dannorocks's profile


65 posts in 2152 days

#19 posted 07-08-2015 06:52 AM

I have 3 routers I bought at an estate sale for less than $60 and they all are great investments. Yeah they are older Craftsman’s fixed based and a Skil plunge routers, but they all work fine and I haven’t any issues. I did buy a new PC 890 series router for my router table. I wanted to make sure I got a fair sized motor with variable speed so I don’t burn up material. I’ve used Rigid’s palm router and thought it was pretty nice, but I can’t complain at all about my PC 890. Maybe I’ll eventually get a Bosch Colt, but for now 4 routers is more than enough for me!

The fixed base Ryobi will be a fine starter router even if it has a 1/4” collet. If you eventually upgrade to a larger router they usually come with a 1/4” adapter for the 1/2” collet. If you do get a palm router later then you got a bunch of 1/4” bits you can use for that. If your just starting out looking to round over material, make rabbits, and dado’s you ought to be fine. Learn how to make good edge guides and take your time laying out before cutting material. Sometimes it might even wise to remove only half what you intend, then remove more later, that ought to help your 1/4” collet bits last longer.

View knotscott's profile


8406 posts in 4349 days

#20 posted 07-08-2015 09:29 AM

If you’ll be using it for hand use, get a router that feels good in your hands, If for table use, get one with ample power and variable speed. The advice to get a router that accepts 1/2” shanks is spot on. Milwaukee, Bosch, PC, DW, Makita, Hitachi, Triton are all good routers. Refurbs can save some money. For bottom dollar, I’d look to the newer Craftsman line made by Chervon Power….they have a very good track record as low cost routers go. IMO you can do better than Ryobi for the money.

Strategies For Choosing Router Bits

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View marc7101's profile


23 posts in 2041 days

#21 posted 07-09-2015 02:58 PM

The Bosch colt palm grip is an excellent router for someone starting out. Easy to work with. Only 1/4 inch bits though. Amazon selling refurbished ones for $74. Good deal I think. If you need something that can take 1/2 inch bits, the Porter Cable 690LR is a good choice. Selling refurbished at around $100.

-- Marc-

View pintodeluxe's profile


6297 posts in 3787 days

#22 posted 07-09-2015 04:31 PM

I have never been happy with a Ryobi tool, and I doubt their router is an exception.
I like my Dewalt 618 routers. They get used way more than my Bosch and Porter Cable Routers.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View johnstoneb's profile


3165 posts in 3146 days

#23 posted 07-09-2015 04:50 PM

x1 rwe2156. I have both the PC 690 and Dewalt 618. Both good quality routers with both 1/4” and 1/2” collet. You can usually find one or the other on sale. I would give the dewalt the edge over the PC. The dewalt has a better switch. I had to replace the switch on one of my 690’s shortly after I got it.
You will find the 1/2 router bits are stronger. The 1/4 shanks will break much easier than the 1/2”.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View runswithscissors's profile


3124 posts in 2999 days

#24 posted 07-09-2015 06:03 PM

For hand held routering, I prefer a D handle with a trigger switch. Gives you much more control, and having instant on/off under your trigger finger feels much safer.

Porter Cable, Bosch, and Makita have them. Probably others, too.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

View exelectrician's profile


2339 posts in 3401 days

#25 posted 07-10-2015 06:49 AM

Like Lay’s chips you can’t have just one. Last time I counted I have 5,, no, make that six…

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

View MT_Stringer's profile


3183 posts in 4205 days

#26 posted 07-10-2015 11:46 PM

I have two Bosch 1617 EVSPK combo kits, a DeWalt 611 Combo kit and a Triton 3 1/4 hp router. One Bosch and the Triton are mounted in a table. The other Bosch and the Dewalt compact router is used for hand held stuff.

The Bosch combo kit should last you a long time. I have used them a lot in the past several years with no problems encountered.

The fixed base fits under the table for table routing and the plunge base is used for hand held operations.
At one time, I bought a router/table combo from Harbor Freight. It worked OK. Fit and finish were average but the table legs were sharp and easy to cause injury. The router was hard wired to the switch so it couldn’t be removed from the table. I finally gave up on it, mainly because the table was too short for the things I rout.

Good luck in your search.

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

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