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I'm weighting my options for purchasing a separate router for a benchtop router table, and I wanted to properly spec my requirements. While more power and features is better for future-proofing (and if money and space wasn't an issue), I am curious what the right router would be appropriate for my situation. As it stands right now:
  • I am restricted to a benchtop router table. I have to transport it in the house (no garage) and have to carry it out of the house to use it.
  • I have a Dewalt DW618, and have been investing in some OEM accessories (router guide)
  • I don't anticipate doing a LOT of panel raising in the near future
  • I do intend to grow my collection of routers over the course of time, and one-day when I have dedicated shop space possibly 2 router tables (on a table saw wing, and one stand alone one)

My questions are:
  1. Would a 3HP router be overkill for a benchtop router table? Is ~2HP sufficient to meet my anticipated needs?
  2. In a benchtop router with an open base design, how useful has a lift been for you?
  3. I'm currently leaning towards using the fixed base for my Dewalt DW618 and swapping the motor out. However, I do intend on one day dedicating a motor to the router table. When that day comes, if you were in my shoes, would you (a) stick with a Dewalt-centric router collection (b) get another router combo set like the Porter Cable 895 for lift capabilities, or© completely diverge and get a purpose-built router like the Triton
  4. If the table is properly affixed to a stable surface, is there even a noticeable difference between a 1.75HP (e.g. Porter Cable 690/Dewalt DW616 with no soft start) and 2.25 HP (with soft start) router in a router table
 

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My opinion (where I have one): I'd skip the larger routers for a benchtop table. Stay with the 12-13 amp ones for that. I would get one that has built in table capabilities, and skip the lift. For me that would be a Milwaukee, but there are a few others that have them as well. The small Triton is very nice, maybe to nice to dedicate to a table. I've always had a lift, but it's not been in a benchtop table. But when I bought mine the newer routers weren't on the market, so while I love a lift and find it useful; I'd be hard pressed to recommend one with the newer routers, except the very largest ones. In a table I don't see soft start as all that important, but variable speed is (IMHO) an absolute must. Lastly, and this is only a guess,but with the larger bits you might notice the difference between the 1 3/4 Hp models and the 2 1/4 HP models, but that is strictly a guess.
 

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No router is actually 3HP. You'd be much better off comparing the amperage draw between two routers because the HP ratings are all bullshit.

A true 3HP router would draw somewhere north of 27 amps at 120VAC, which is obviously impossible for residential electrical applications.
 

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I have a hitachi km12vc with the two bases and had the fixed base mounted in my table for many years. I got tired of taking it out to use free hand and to change the bits. I needed a new router and maybe a lift. Instead I got the 3 1/4 horse triton and love it. It never comes out and has the lift capabilities I need to be able to change the bits etc. I think my 2 1/4 hitachi had plenty of power for raising panels, but It figured I might as well upgrade that aspect anyway. I think you would probably be happy with the 2 1/4 horse triton , but I'm not sure if it has the 1/4 and 1/2 collets. Whatever you get make sure it has both collets and not a collet and an adapter. I've heard they suck.
 

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My Triton 2 1/4 has both collets (true collets, which I also prefer), though I suppose they could drop that as "cost savings" somewhere along the line.
 

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Well, the Triton 3 1/4hp model is a heavy booger but it works great. Kreg makes a simple plate with the hole predrilled so the bit height adjustment shaft can fit through. crank it up, the shaft locks, change your bit with one wrench.

My plate isn't attached to the table. It just sits there. I pull it out when I use the table for other things. I made a filler plate to cover the holes.

I also have a pair of Bosch 1617's. If you get the combo kit, the fixed base can stay attached to your insert. To change bits it is easier to lift the plate/router out - two wrenches required.

In the past, I have had the Bosch in a temporary table top that I have clamped on the workbench (supported with an adjustable height stand). I also attached it to a B&D workmate. The only problem is those setups are fairly low so bending over can be a pain! :)

I can raise my current table top up as high as 39 inches. That makes routing a breeze. I used to be 5'10". :-(
There are several mfg's that make combo units. The plunge base is nice to have for handheld operations.

Good luck in your search.
Mike

Table saws Wood Creative arts Machine Table


And now, I use this.
Table Wood Engineering Gas Tool
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
No router is actually 3HP. You d be much better off comparing the amperage draw between two routers because the HP ratings are all bullshit.

A true 3HP router would draw somewhere north of 27 amps at 120VAC, which is obviously impossible for residential electrical applications.

- jonah
As I understand it, the amp draw (most relevant for direct drive) equates to the watts (calculated by voltage, useful for comparing 120V vs 240V like with Triton and Festool routers) and infers horsepower. So something like this:
  • 11amp x 120V = ~1300watt => 1.75HP
  • 12amp x 120V = ~1400watt => 2.25HP
  • 15amp x 120V = ~1800watt => 3.25HP
    Anything more than 15amps would likely pop most residential circuit breakers, so not necessarily the best thing =) At any rate, if I were to rephrase my question, should I look for a 12amp/1400watt or 15amp/1800 watt motor?

Thus far, the common consensus seems like the 12amp/1400watt router would likely serve most of my needs (for now)?
 

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Thanks for answering that Fred. When I was researching my bigger one, I found that some people got a 1/2" collet and a 1/4" adapter, but then I found out that newer versions had both collets. I wasn't sure what the 2 1/4 had. I've loved every minute of mine. It is really big and heavy though and I would not want to use it free hand.
 

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My opinion (where I have one): I'd skip the larger routers for a benchtop table. Stay with the 12-13 amp ones for that. I would get one that has built in table capabilities, and skip the lift.

- Fred Hargis
I don't want to step into the never ending debate about router HP, but you would be better off with the smaller series….no matter what you call them. Your electrical calculations are correct as far as they go, but the routers (and shop vacs) don't draw that amperage, I think it's called locked rotor load (peak, then it dies) or something like that.
 

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Sounds good to me. I suspected that a big-boy router would be better suited in a lift on a router table. It also sounds like whatever I get, I should opt for some form of above table height and bit change.

Now onto my other question:
I'm currently leaning towards using the fixed base for my Dewalt DW618 and swapping the motor out. However, I do intend on one day dedicating a motor to the router table. When that day comes, if you were in my shoes, would you (a) stick with a Dewalt-centric router collection so that my accessories can interchangeably be used (b) get another router combo set like the Porter Cable 895 for lift capabilities, or ( c) completely diverge and get a purpose-built router like the Triton
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I don t want to step into the never ending debate about router HP, but you would be better off with the smaller series….no matter what you call them. Your electrical calculations are correct as far as they go, but the routers (and shop vacs) don t draw that amperage, I think it s called locked rotor load (peak, then it dies) or something like that.

- Fred Hargis
I agree. That debate would deviate from what I am asking, and probably better suited to a different forum topic (for anyone interested enough to start it…)
 

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While I like having interchangeable accessories for my hand held routing, I see a lot (a whole lot) less advantage to that in my table router. One exception: the collets. I have some of the less common sizes (8 MM and 3/8") for my hand held Milwaukees, and that's also what I have in my table (Milwaukee). Otherwise, the rest of the stuff doesn't have as much use (at least in my shop). So, I would not be avoiding other makes just for that (interchangability) reason.
 

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By all means, use the Dewalt until you get something more permanent in place. The Dewalt 618 is a favorite in my growing collection of routers. I use the fixed base and plunge base frequently for handheld operations.
For the table, I like the new class of routers that offer above-the-table adjustments and easy bit changes without a separate lift. Many of the routers designed this as an afterthought, so the bit changes are not easy. Two routers are different… Freud FT1700 VCE (no longer made, but available on the used market), and the Triton. My Freud is a 13 amp / 2-1/4 hp and it has plenty of power (will cut raised panels no problem).

Look closely at the lift mechanism on the P.C. 895. The collet doesn't extend high enough for true above-the-table bit changes. It is a clumsy two-wrench (bent wrench no less) affair that I doubt you will be happy with.

So I would get one of those two models (Freud or Triton) for the table, and really take advantage of your Dewalt as a handheld router.
 
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