Choosing the Right Router

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Forum topic by Hobbywood posted 10-12-2010 04:39 PM 4438 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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7 posts in 3537 days

10-12-2010 04:39 PM

Since most anyone has had more experience in a wood shop than I have, I would like some opinions on which router those of you who use a router regularly prefer,why and for what purposes.

I have a small shop which is 12’ x 24’ in its entirety. I partitioned off the cutting area (11 ft x 11 1/2 ft) and the finishing area is about 12 1/2 by 11 1/2 ft.
Bought my machines while I was working and got them paid for. Now that I am retired I am outfitting my shop. I built myself a router table and purchased a router table top (24” x 32” w/ fence (6 in. high) from MLCS. I like to do research on the major products that I intend to purchase so I am now searching the router market. At Woodcraft they have Porter Cable 2 1/4 and 3 1/4hp as well as Triton 2 1/4 and 3 1/4hp. I like the looks and the price of the Triton as the Triton 3 1/4 is on $40 more than their 2 1/4hp but in talking with a friend of mine who also does woodworking as a hobby, he says he likes his Porter Cable 3 1/4hp router just fine. Best tool in his shop he says. He said he bought a Chicago 3 1/4 hp router for his router table and the Porter Cable for his other routing. So far his advice seems reasonable as the Chicago router, which is probably affordable, but I question whether it may also have more run off than the PC.
I am planning on building picture frames, small banks(Post Office Box type), maybe kitchen cabinets and then a king sized bed.
I attended a seminar at Woodcraft on the router and was told that a 2 1/4hp router would suit me fine unless I planned on using one of the larger shapers/cutters making raised panel cabinet doors and then I would need the 3 1/4hp router.
The young man conducting the seminar said to get a router with several bases if possible. My friend asked me, “Why not just buy another router and leave one under the router table?”
Should anyone have any advice it will certainly be appreciated as I do not want to buy the wrong thing to begin with. Not a good way to start.
Thanks in advance
[email protected]
Mint Hill, NC

11 replies so far

View GaryL's profile


1099 posts in 3132 days

#1 posted 10-12-2010 05:06 PM

As of last count I think I’m up to 12 routers including 2 laminate trimmers ( which I use the most for edge work) all of which are Porter Cables. Three are mounted in tables, with one them being a 3 1/4 HP for the panel work as you mentioned. I got stuck in this rut so that wrenches, collets, etc. are interchangeable, excluding the trimmers. I have yet to kill one. The oldest probably being 18 years old. So I guess this means a thumbs up for Porter Cable routers. This does not include their other tools. That’s another topic. My D-handle is the base I use the most. Give you a firm, comfortable, controlable grip.

-- Gary; Marysville, MI...Involve your children in your projects as much as possible, the return is priceless.

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3476 days

#2 posted 10-12-2010 05:53 PM

Hobbywood: Most people know more about this than I do, too, but …. a couple things:

1) I have a table mounted Milwaukee 5625 and absolutely love it. As you can see from the reviews, or from other online sites, LOTS of people feel the same way about this router as I do.

2) Before I left California …. I LATER found out … that THIS guy lives about three blocks from where I WAS living in California (D’OH!). His knowledge of All Things Router is amazing. His reputation, among WW seems to be excellent.

Best of luck !

-- -- Neil

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3376 days

#3 posted 10-12-2010 06:11 PM

I think you are well advised to have a router that is dedicated to a router table and one or more handheld routers. There is no need for a plunge router for the table and, IMO, every handheld router should be a plunge router.

There are routers for tables (PC 890) that accommodate above the table height adjustments but none of them work as smoothly and precisely as a true router lift. I didn’t think I needed or wanted one until I bought one. Now I would not be without it. Router lifts only support certain routers so think ahead and get a router that can be used with a lift. You may not want a lift now – - but you might in the future.

I agree that usually 2 hp m/l is all you need unless you are doing raised panels with big bits. The big powerful routers have a lot of torque and, IMO, they are harder to handle in handheld use. I own 1 dedicated table router and 5 hand held routers including one “big boy”. For hand held use I always prefer the comfort and feel of a mid-powered unit (2 hp) and only use the big boy when I really need the power (which is seldom).

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View jusfine's profile


2422 posts in 3228 days

#4 posted 10-12-2010 06:14 PM

I have had a number of PC routers for many years as well, they have all performed well for me.

Also have Milwaukee, Makita and Festool routers, but the workhorses are the Porter Cable for router tables, plunge cuts, etc.

All the best!

-- Randy "You are judged as much by the questions you ask as the answers you give..."

View knotscott's profile


8253 posts in 3677 days

#5 posted 10-12-2010 08:37 PM

The amp ratings on routers is a better indicator of usable power than the inflated horsepower ratings. You don’t need the big 15 amp (3-1/4hp) routers, but for table use they do have a much easier time spinning the big bits, and tend to last longer as a result. If you plan to use it for hand use, I’d get a smaller 11-13 amp router (~ 2hp)....or better yet, a 15 amp router for table use, and an 11-13 amp router for hand use. The multi base kits are useful for hand use, but not necessary for table use. Multiple routers is more expensive up front, but is definitely more convenient, and you end up with a router more suitable for the specific task.

Of the routers you mentioned, I’d lean toward the Triton for table use. It’s got very convenient above table features that the others don’t have. PC makes some nice routers, but that brand is being “repositioned” as more of a consumer grade product than in the past, so what you get today might not be what your friend (and many others) have….that doesn’t mean you should avoid PC routers, but is something to be aware of. I’d dismiss the Chicago Electric router completely….too many other great choices.

I’d add the Freud FT3000 and the Milwaukee 5625 to the list of 15 amp routers for the table, and the Freud FT1700, Milwaukee 5616, and Hitachi M12VC to the list of smaller routers. Both of the Freud routers mentioned have similar above table conveniences as the Tritons….it’s really nice to do one handed above table bit changes without removing the insert or the router. There are also great choices from Makita, Bosch, DeWalt, Ridgid, and Craftsman.

Bottom line is pick a reputable router that you’re comfortable with and that makes sense to you, and choose decent quality 1/2” shank bits whenever possible.

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

View traupmann's profile


124 posts in 3089 days

#6 posted 10-12-2010 09:26 PM

I have half a dozen routers, except for my original Craftsman (maybe 30 years), I have stuck with Porter Cable. But I tend to be a brand whore. The only disappointment I’ve had is with the 890 model in the table. The dust caused the plastic on the side to bind, however, as a plunge router is works great, no chips & dust to clog it up. I got a 3 1/4 hp for the table with a router-lift and I have been happily butchering whatever is in the way—even faster.

-- chas -- looking for Serta sponsorship to go Pro...

View dbhost's profile


5767 posts in 3534 days

#7 posted 10-12-2010 09:49 PM

FWIW, I am loving my Hitachi KM12VC fixed / plunge base routers. (I have 2 of them). They are powerful, smooth, and for a router, quiet. The variable speed works great, and the plunge is silky smooth… It’s not the fanciest router on the market, but it does what it does exceedingly well…

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View Greedo's profile


473 posts in 3262 days

#8 posted 10-12-2010 10:02 PM

i have actually bought the Bosch 1617EVS last week for use in my router table as i already have the 900 and 1300w bosch plunge routers for handwork. but let me tell you that router is the most amazing powertool i have, i love it so much that i constantly alternate between plunge and under table work. switching the bases takes 20 secs and is verry smooth. i prefer it over my two dedicated plunge routers, the plunge action is incredibly smooth and easy and the visibilty and feel is better.
if i had known this, i would have bought 3 of these.

View Cato's profile


701 posts in 3614 days

#9 posted 10-14-2010 03:07 AM

good thread here for me, as I have always just had the PC 690 with 3 bases, but have been considering a router table and trying to decide what router would be the best for table use.

I like the idea of the above the table bit changes, but haven’t looked into a router lift or what bucks that involves.

Thanks for the post hobbywood!! good responses and advice from all.

View BertFlores58's profile


1698 posts in 3224 days

#10 posted 10-14-2010 11:20 AM

I have 3 routers, MAKITA 3HP-this is the best router I have but not variable speed, OZITO (I had recondition several times and plunged mechanism but still working) variable speed, and a BOSCH trimmer.. I am still looking for one that has a variable speed with high torque because of mortise works I am doing… Some of the variable speed routers tends to lessen the torque at low speed adjustments.

-- Bert

View brtech's profile


1059 posts in 3224 days

#11 posted 10-14-2010 03:19 PM

BertFlores, over on CNCzone, there is a thread on a “SuperPID” aftermarket router speed control a guy known as “Romanlini” is designing. The key to what he is doing is to paint a dot on the spindle and have a sensor pick up the dot to directly measure speed. His circuit then drives the motor to maintain the speed, adding power as needed. He can get the speed down in the 5000 RPM range with all the torque the router can deliver.

It’s designed for DIY CNCs (I’m building one of those at the moment), but it would work well in a router table. It may be a bit more awkward to work handheld.

The thread is:

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