The good and bad. . .

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Review by USCJeff posted 07-05-2008 05:16 AM 12150 views 0 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch
The good and bad. . . No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

I have not been giving much praise to HF tools that have a motor or battery in the past. There are the occasional decent values though (The Dust Collecter is nice for a small setting, for example). This router has a ton of negatives. The adjustments are sloppy and the collet seems less secure than a Dewalt and Bosch router that I use as well. The attacthments such as the edge guide, aren’t very precise either. That said, I still am glad I purchased it. I got it for under $20. I only use this router with a bearing guided flush trim bit and it does that function very well. I use that bit more than most, so the convienence is nice. I imagine it would handle small profile and tiny groove bits as well, but I have another router for those functions. I’ve mounted it into and outfeed table on my bandsaw for simpler trimming. I’ve had bad results with more aggressive bits, so I couldn’t promote it as a versatile router. I have a Bosch Colt Trim router and there is no comparison. The Bosch costs a little over 4 times as much, but it operates like a full-size router with small and medium bits.

I have heard some praise regarding Grizzly’s $40 trimmer. I wonder how much better it is at double the cost. In short, I love it as a one trick pony, but it is terrible compared to any other versatile router I’ve used. I’d say get one if you want to save a little time on bit changes for a highly used bit. Of course, it could die any day and I wouldn’t be shocked. Hope that helps.

-- Jeff, South Carolina

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1065 posts in 4917 days

16 comments so far

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Scott Bryan

27249 posts in 4671 days

#1 posted 07-05-2008 12:48 PM


This is a nice review. It sounds like this is a passable single purpose router but for $20 it does look like a decent buy.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View spoonman's profile


38 posts in 4488 days

#2 posted 07-05-2008 04:05 PM

okay, forgive me for being a miser. but I love harbor freight for the simple fact that it’s dirt cheap. (just bought 8 sets of 1” pipe clamps for 2.49 a pair.) I also have the chicago electric 1 1/4 horsepower plunge router from HF. LOL the thing has gone south several times. But has always been resurrectable. It’s not nice, or fancy, and the plunge lock can be less than friendly. but for the 25 bucks. I have more than gotten my monies worth out of it. that being said, I so gotta buy me a new router. thanks alot. LOL

-- I came, I saw, I pondered...

View John Gray's profile

John Gray

2370 posts in 4734 days

#3 posted 07-05-2008 06:36 PM

My take on HF is as you indicated just don’t buy electrical, battery powered, or their corner clamps. I bought their 4” angle grinder and sparks shoot of every time it’s turned on. If you can go to a HF store and look at the items before you buy

-- Only the Shadow knows....................

View Don Niermann  's profile

Don Niermann

219 posts in 4821 days

#4 posted 07-06-2008 03:07 AM

HF is junk in any electric tool, don’t waste your money

-- WOOD/DON ( has the right to ones opinion but not the right to ones own facts...)

View USCJeff's profile


1065 posts in 4917 days

#5 posted 07-06-2008 09:11 AM

I don’t disagree in whole with the junk comments. I’ve gotten my fair share of just that there. However, many of their products are very passable and obviously inexpensive. Most would agree that things like screwdrivers, sockets, and other simple tools have little variance in quality for a hobbyist. I’ve hit and missed with clamps. The 3/4 pipe clamps don’t compare to other low end ones and especially not the high dollar clamps. Most serve their purpose fairly well if you can except having to get toss 10% of them as unusable. Hardware is a good find for my tastes as well. I like to have a decent variety of machine and wood screws on hand. They make it cheap to do so and screw quality is negligible in many ways. In short, hit and miss.

-- Jeff, South Carolina

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 5095 days

#6 posted 07-07-2008 01:29 AM

I bought a 3hp router there 4 yrs ago and put it in my router table. Now I’m no contractor, nor do I make a living at doing carpentry anymore, however, that being said, my son and nephews used it to finish out my entire house insideout with some very nice trim, some maple others #2 select pine, windows, doors and baseboard. Plus my nephew used it for some of his other jobs at the time for a couple yrs. So it’s seen its share of work and I still use it with good results. So I must have been one of the lucky ones. Other electric tools I’ve bought there I’ve used a few times and they’ve gone south as you’ve said. But I still like the place and will get hooked into buying stuff there, shop rags, little glue brushes, compressor tools, whatever. I’m just a born junkpicker.

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View USCJeff's profile


1065 posts in 4917 days

#7 posted 07-07-2008 05:09 PM

I’m with you Mike, I’ve got a lot of rags, glue/foam brushes, and other quality negligible things there. I’ve got the dus too, as I’ve mentioned. A wannabe Workmate and a outfeed roller support stand both had hardware that broke within days of use. Hit and miss, but like you, I keep taking shots at things I think the quality won’t be a factor in. I was surprised in a digital caliper I got there. Highly accurate and has good life for the watch size battery.

-- Jeff, South Carolina

View glennl's profile


24 posts in 4476 days

#8 posted 07-08-2008 01:58 PM

I couldn’t agree with you more! I go to the local store pretty often. I’m a bit leary about their power tools; hjowever for “consumables” (i.e. sandpaper, 1-2 use bits, etc) they’re a great source. Also, I have been impressed with the wood clamps and the aluminium bar clamps!

-- GlennL, New Jersey

View Randy Sharp's profile

Randy Sharp

363 posts in 4521 days

#9 posted 07-10-2008 10:44 PM

The HF router sounds like a good deal for a dedicated 1/8 – 1/4” roundover bit. Might save a little time in the shop, especially if you’re doing multiple routing jobs and want to quickly knock off an edge.

-- Randy, Tupelo, MS ~ A man who honors his wife will have children who honor their father.

View spaids's profile


699 posts in 4542 days

#10 posted 07-11-2008 03:20 PM

Sorta off topic but since we’re talking about HF. Anybody try there Laser Arbor Guide on their miter saw? I keep getting coupons for this thing making it only $10. The problem is my local HF NEVER stocks it and you can’t use the coupon on line. They claim they stock it and are just out but I’ve checked every week for over a month and they are always “out”.

-- Wipe the blood stains from your blade before coming in.--

View Dan'um Style's profile

Dan'um Style

14186 posts in 4832 days

#11 posted 07-11-2008 05:35 PM

I bought this same router about 10 years ago from HF.

For the 20 bucks it is ok for occational use.

Device finally gave-up a couple months ago. Plastic base broke

My next small router purchase will probably be a used name brand found on craigslist.

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

View USCJeff's profile


1065 posts in 4917 days

#12 posted 07-11-2008 09:23 PM

Thought I’d add a note as the timing was ironic. I was flush trimming 3/4 cedar attached to a 1/4 melamine/hardboard template last night and the bit climbed about 1/4” upwards out of the collet. I can deal with a lot of short comings, but that is a bit scary. I tried to check the variables (bit, collet, etc.) and couldn’t put my finger on the problem. The bit shank is fine and the collet was prperly tightened. That leads me to believe the collet must have loosened under load. I might have to stick to my Bosch trimmer.

-- Jeff, South Carolina

View Kindlingmaker's profile


2659 posts in 4375 days

#13 posted 09-30-2008 09:30 PM

I have this little router and it is cheap and it does have its cheezy problems but it is less than $20 but it will do some nice touch ups and if it quits running then into the trash and I will not be cursing the loss. At the cost of one of the better trim routers I would have to fix it and parts usally cost more than a new one. HF is a good place to get a lot of items until I win the Lotto.

-- Never board, always knotty, lots of growth rings

View christopheralan's profile


1126 posts in 4569 days

#14 posted 11-13-2008 05:00 PM

I got a simple heat gun from HF a while back for really cheap, and you do get what you pay for. I had sparks shooting out at my project and got the crap scared out of me. I stick to buying non-plug in tools from there now.

-- christopheralan

View rsmith71's profile


269 posts in 3891 days

#15 posted 01-30-2010 07:44 AM

I’ve picked on HF my fair share but they do have good deals too. I bought a benchtop Central Machinery oscillating spindle sander there this year for $99 and I’m more impressed with it than the Delta BOSS or the Grizzly at twice the price. Go figure.

-- Robert - Haven Wood Crafts

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