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1644 Views 18 Replies 14 Participants Last post by  Loren
For routers is there certent brands better than others. I've used craftsman before but I don't like how it worked. I'm looking to buy one but didn't know if one was better than the other.
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There are entire books just on routers out there. To sum it up would be difficult unless you can give more specifics on the type of work you are planning to use the router for. Will it be mounted to a table, a lot of edge work, cutting deep dadoes in hardwoods, etc.

Most of the major brands will provide you with a quality machine however some features will vary amongst them. I personally use a Hitachi 2 1/4 HP combo unit. It comes with a plunge base and ton of accessories such as guide bushings and multiple base plates. It is also powerful enough that i use it in my router table. I probably wouldnt expect it to run a big raised panel bit but for 90% of most shop tasks, it has perfromed up to my expectations.

The newer Craftsman "Industrial" routers are very highly rated as well. They are leaps and bounds better than the old 1 1/2 HP models you see all the time pop up on Craigslist.

Give us some more detail on what you plan to use it for…
They all spin router bits more or less the same.

They vary in how they handle, ergonomics and features.

DeWalt has a patent on through-the-collumn dust collection,
for example. It's not a bad feature.

Some routers have a hole in the base so you can drill
a matching hole in your router table top to adjust the
height from the top. I have a Milwaukee with this
feature, though I've never used it. The Milwaukee
is a "bodygrip" router which suits me because I hold
a router by the body anyway.
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Many people like the Porter Cable 690's as well. I have a Bosch 1617 evs, but it requires a $5 adapter to take standard guide bushings. Not a big deal, just something I didn't know when I bought it.
Stick with a major brand and you'll be fine.
My favorites are the bosch 1617evspk and the dewalt dw618pk; just be sure to get an extended warranty with the dewalt.
I have Makita, Ryobi, Porter Cable, Bosch, Milwaukee, DeWalt and a couple of old 1/4" Craftsman routers.

For hand work I love the Makita D handle router. I like the bit changing spindle lock on the Bosch. but I will never buy another Craftsman power tool. I have a number of their newer tools and their motors are not so good any more.

I do a lot of edge work using the base of the router for a guide and find that some are not at an even size- say 6" for doing you calculations and others have the base plate that is not keyed to the router frame and they are not concentric with the spindle so you cannot use the base as a guide accurately. I made a new Lexan base for one of the routers that is exactly 6" and is right on for being concentric to the spindle so I can trust it.

It all depends on what you want to use the router for. If you use pilot bearings on the bits, any of them will work okay!
As long as you stick to a major brand, your likely to be happy with your decision. If you're planning on using it by hand, purchase (or at least shop) at a retailer where you can put your hands on the tool to see if you like how it feels in your hands. Variable speed and soft start are nice features to have and more and more manufacturers are including these in their new designs.
I recently bought a Hitachi router which seems to be OK. I didn't see anybody mention it, so I thought I would.

Some things you might care about are :

Fixed speed vs. variable. (you need slower speed for large bits. Variable gets you there.).
Ease and precision and stability of depth adjustment. (My old Ryobi was very hard to adjust depth).
Noise. Some are quieter than others. (Hitachi is quieter than most.)
Brushless vs. brushes. (brushes wear out. Brushless is more expensive. Hitachi brushes wear faster, I hear.)
Weight. For handheld, very heavy may be tiring to use.

I have the Dewalt 618, Bosch 1617, Freud FT1700, and a couple trim routers. The one I reach for most often is the Dewalt. It handles the best for cutting dados, and dovetails etc.
The Freud is tough to beat in a router table, but I don't think they make it anymore.
+1 on the Hitachi. I just got the Multiple Base kit 2-1/4 HP Hitachi and it is awesome. Very smooth, easily handles any tasks I want to throw at it (Haven't tried a big panel bit yet).
Paul, I feel the opposite. I prefer heavy for handheld use as it is less jittery when moving. I do a lot of inlay work and it helps to smooth out movements when I am close to the line.
The former Ryobi-made Craftsman routers didn't have the best reputation, but for a while Craftsman offered one made by Bosch that was excellent….that model is no longer available. The new Craftsman routers made by Chervon Power get largely good reviews for good value. Routers from Milwaukee, Bosch, PC, Hitachi, DW, Makita, Festool, and Fein tend to be very well made.

There are some brands that tend to be better built than others, but comparing brands can be tough because the models and features can change over time, and the countries of origin can change. Some brands like Craftsman even change manufacturers. What was true a few years ago, may no longer apply. The intended usage is also important to consider. The average weekend warrior may not need the ruggedness that a professional carpenter needs, and may not need to spend as much to get a router that's capable to meet their needs. A router intended for table use will generally have different features than one intended for hand use. Your application and budget should determine which is best for you.

If this router will go in a table, be sure to get variable speed. Bigger motors are better for spinning larger bits, but cost more and tend to be more cumbersome for hand use. Whichever you choose, I'd get one that accepts 1/2" shanks.
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Almost everybody has more experience with a router than I do. I defer to your experience.

I think there probably is a sweet spot where the weight is just right for the task.

I was only listing some of the factors I considered in my recent router purchase. I bought the 2 1/4 HP Hitachi not because it was lighter than the more powerful model, but because it was less expensive. But it seems heavy enough for me, using it with a dovetail jig. I wouldn't want a heavier one for that purpose.

I have been using the 3 1/4 hp Hitachi MV12v2 for a few months now and I love the thing. I use it hand held. It's under two hundred dollars to buy, it's a beast but still easy to use. I find excuses to use it for things. It plunges two inch 3/4 mortises and doesn't even blink. It's a great router to use.
I use a HF 2HP fixed base in a table and another as a hand held.

They both work as well as my PC 690 and my Makita.

I have been waiting for them to die for at least two years and they seem to be as strong as ever.

Just my 2¢, and I'll probably get flamed for it.

For speed control I use an HF Router speed control. It's never gotten hot and also just keeps going and going and going.
Thanks for all the information. What I am going to use the router for on the edges of wooden signs. My wife and me are starting to make wooden signs with sayings on them. So I'm mainly going to use it on the edges of signs.
For edges, one of the compacts by dewalt may be all you need.
I have 2 Hitachi mod. 12VC combo units that work very well. I use a DeWalt mod. 625 on the router table and a Ryobi trim router. All work well for what I use them for. I also have an old Craftsman router, it just don't make the grade but it does do a good job sitting and collecting dust. I hear that the Porter Cable 690's as well as Bosch do a great job but, I've never owned one or tried one.
For contoured sign edges I would just get up a cheap 1/4"
router with a teardrop sub-base so I could push down on
the middle of the sign and help balance the router.

I've bought several used routers at yard sales over the years
to leave set up for particular cuts. Considering how long
carbide bits stay sharp, you may be able to set and forget
the thing for years.
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