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What is Your Favorite Router and Why?

5539 Views 31 Replies 25 Participants Last post by  doordude
My favorite tool in the woodshop is a router - it always has been. From the first 5/8 hp Black and Decker I ever laid my hands on I realized this is a tool with unmatched versatility. From inlays, to pattern routing, or just a simple edge profile - these tools can do it all.

So what is your favorite router and why? Also, what routers have you tried that you didn't like?

For me I like the Freud FT1700 fixed base in my router table. At 13 amps it has enough power to raise panels, and the above-the-table adjustments are quite convienent.
For my hand router I really like the Dewalt DW618 three base kit. It comes with a fixed base, plunge base, and a D handle base. The fixed base has a low squat stance and is very stable for edge profiling or dovetailing. The plunge base offers through-the-post dust collection and works as well as any dedicated plunge router I have used. The D handle puts a locking switch at your fingertips, and sets the handles in a wide "V" configuration which is very stable.
Routers that havn't worked for me are the Hitachi M12V 3.25 hp plunge. The 1/4" sleeve-type collet wouldn't hold a router bit. Even after replacing the collet, sleeve, and bit the position of the bit would frequently slip.
An old Craftsman fixed base 1hp router failed me when it would no longer hold the depth setting. But it was old and well-used.

I would be particularly interested in any feedback on the Porter Cable 890 with the vac-post handle. That looks like a nice setup as well.
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Having only owned one so far I may be a poor judge, however, I have had it for over 10 years. Its actually the M12V that didn't work for you! :) That beast of a router has been in table and hand use for me and its always had power to spare. To be honest, I have never used 1/4" bits and so far haven't had the need to. The router is a little heavy for hand use though.
I only have 2 routers. One is an old Master Mechanic router with a plunge base and it works good for me, although it is hard to find accessories for it at the major stores. I also picked up the Craftsman combo router a while back and have used it in my table and free hand on multiple occasions. It works great! I may have to pick up another router just for plunge work, but that won't be soon.
I've got a bunch of them but my favorite is probably my trusty PC690. Nothing fancy, just reliable. I like my big Freud plunge for above the table stuff and my big Triton for under the table stuff.
I have a PC 690 I keep in the router table. It was my dad's and has lasted me a while. That puppy is workhorse.

Last year I was given an old Craftsman router-who knows how old it is-the motor sparks a little but it does free hand work well since I can leave my PC 690 in the table.

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I've never shopped around for a new router, so sorry to disappoint. :)


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Makita 1/4" plunger was my first. Use it for light duty work. Next is the PC 609 w/ fixed and plunge bases. Use it for the DT jig and hand held stuff. Table work is done with a Freud 2 1/4 hp 13 amp VS. It adjusts from the top (in the table). Like 'em all, and have no probs with any of them.
My mid-sized Triton; it is my router table workhorse; plenty of power and it's so convenient having the ability to do above table depth adjustment.
Just bought the Dewalt DW612; also a very good router, small enough to do one handed trimming with, but powerful and easy to adjust.
Can't wait to see what A1Jim has to say. :)
I've got that Hitachi M12V in my router table and have been very happy with the performance. Never tried using 1/4" bits in it though so I couldn't comment on your problems with that. This beast is a little heavy for hand work outside of the router table but I have used it that way on a few rare occasions. Only problem I had with it is the handles are a bit fragile. I had to replace one that broke with what I thought was a minor bump. I've been extra careful ever since.

I've got an old Craftsman 1 HP 1/4" router that I use for hand work because it is lighter and easier to manipulate but I've never tried to push this router too hard.

I am looking at the Bosch 2 HP as a possible replacement for the Craftsman because it has a little more oomph and can handle 1/2" bits.
I own 5 routers. Without question, my favorite is the Festool OF 1400 EQ. It has the right weight, power, balance, etc. and everything works very smoothly. Micro adjusting the depth of plunge is easy. One great feature that I have not seen on any router is their ratchet approach to bit exchanges. You place a wrench on the nut, hold down a button and loosen or tighten with a ratchet motion. Very slick.

As much as I like this router, I am not sure I would buy one if I could not find a good used one at a good price. They are expensive. As great as mine is, I am not 100% certain that I would pay full price for a new one. I also like a Makita of a comparable size and the Makita is less than half the price.
I have owned a Craftsman 1hp commercial router for 40 years and it has been a work horse for me. I cuts anything you throw at it. That was when a hp was closer to a hp than it is today. I like it because it has the trigger in the handle and I feel those are safer. When a motor turns 25,000 rpm you don't want to tangle a bit in the front of your T shirt. I have used other Craftsman router and some that I just plain don't want. One has a different base and the lock on the arbor is plastic. It is just not a good router. I have used PC routers. Some are okay with the D handle but not as comfortable as the Craftsman. I don't like routers with 2 knob handles at the base and the toggle switch at the top part of the motor. Those jerk around when you start them. Just a preference like everything else.
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I got the Ridgid 2 1/4 combo pack, can't remember last time i used it, it's in the bag on a shelf somewhere. By far my favorite router these days is my Veritas. Still haven't gotten around to making a table for it.

K, sorry to be the hand tool jerk, just couldn't resist.
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LOL, I'd love to see a table for a router plane. I've been wanting to get a router plane and have bid on a few on ebay, but alas.
That answer would be like choosing which "Child is my favorite"......Of the 18 routers and 6 router tables…...I like them all equally. Each one has it's own purpose !(I don't like changing bits)
Funny thing is…..I'm leaning towards only using non powered tools… those nine 9,(stanleys, millar falls, sargents) #71's, 271 and one shop made brass one count too.
I also have a few routers (Festool, PC, Makita, Milwaukee) and Jessem router tables, however my current favorite is the Festool MFK 700 trim router, easy to control and use on edging and I really like the ergonomic grip.

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I've owned 8 or 9 (old Cman, Freud FT2000E, PC690, Bosch 1617, Hitachi M12VC, Freud FT1700, Milwaukee 5615 kit, Milwaukee 5625, and Hitachi M12V), and my favorite is probably the FT1700 too….love the topside features. One handed topside bit changes without as much as removing the insert is great. I'm also pretty fond of my Milwaukee 5615, 5625, and Hitachi M12VC…the 5615 has a great plunger and the BodyGrip design is good, the MW5625 is a beast, and the M12VC is light, quiet, and capable, and happen to run me $67 shipped.

My Linksys WRT54G has it's moments too!
My Bosch Colt is the first one I pick up if it's handheld and 1/4" bits. The PC690 is in my small router table and will probably never leave it. The PC7518 in the large table covers the big stuff. I can't say enough good stuff about the Bosch.

And Brandon, that Craftsman was sold in the late 1970s. After Dad died eight years ago, mine turned up in his storage shop. I know the date because I bought one new when I was working on my first home. I never figured out where it went. Now I know…
My first was the Hitachi M12VC (2.25hp). So smooth, fairly light, quiet for a router. The plunge base wasn't so great but I always used it as a fixed base.

I really like my Triton 2.25hp for under the table, but hate using it handheld.

The Dewalt 611 compact router is really a gem. I love the visibility and how easy to maneuver the router is. It has excellent plunge action in the plunge base. With the optional dust collection ports it makes less of a mess than it could (though nothing like a Festool). I wish it took 1/2" bits.

Those are my three routers. I do not dare try the Festool routers, because having been bitten by the Festool bug recently I know I would love any one of them.
Hey Brandon, I have one of those too! I bought it new back in the Jurassic and it still gets occasional use.

Currently, it is one of four routers:

Bosch 1617 (variable-speed plunge router), about 15 years old

Porter-Cable 890 kit with fixed and plunge bases, about three years old

Rigid palm router, about a month old

The Bosch remains my go-to router for hand-held operation. The PC mostly lives in the router table. I occasionally use it with the plunge base.

The Craftsman router was, until recently, permanently set up with a Sears circle-cutting jig and was used solely for making woofer and tweeter cutouts and rabbets in the speakers I build. That jig broke and I have yet to make a new one.

I really like the Bosch with one exception. It feels good in the hands, the plunge release comes right to hand, the depth stop works well. However, mine has never plunged smoothly. I have tried others in stores which work better. I have disassembled it to try to find out why without success. It's still quite functional, so I've lived with it.

The PC works pretty well in the router table. I like the ability to adjust bit height from above the table, but it's not as smooth or as easy to finely adjust as a dedicated router lift. The power switch is in an awkward location, something that has been fixed in later versions of this same router.
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I had that same craftsman router too. Don't tighten the height stop knob too hard or it will break the metal key inside! For the era it was well thought out though - mine came with a light and locking trigger switch- features that most routers were not equiped with.
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