so, should I go 3.25 or 2.25 HP for my first router?...

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Forum topic by Millo posted 03-04-2011 08:54 PM 5811 views 0 times favorited 41 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Millo's profile


543 posts in 3659 days

03-04-2011 08:54 PM

I know this is an often-asked question, but please humor me should you have the time to do so…

I didn’t want to get power tools until after a while of going (maybe two semesters), once a week, to the local community college’s woodshop but that is proving to be a waaaayyy slower process than previously thought for completion of projects and thus trying out methods of joinery, etc. In that woodshop some tools are awesome, some tools are standard, and sometimes the tools are badly set up or have broken parts, like a biscuit joiner I used last week that after setting up height/depth adjustments for this mini project it wouldn’t cut straight because one of its plastic parts was broken.

Thing is, the router is awesome for joinery, but I don’t own a table saw yet. Oops. This SEEMS TO MEAN it’ll be difficult to mill stuff to measurements taken FROM THE PIECE which APPARENTLY is a more accurate procedure than trying to join parts off a cutlist. Would it even make sense for me to get a router at the moment? I’m tempted to take advantage of this situation as a way to start my power tool collection, because it has to start somewhere. I’m in no hurry…well, in very little hurry.

Now after seeing that Triton routers are going to be on sale @ Woodcraft I am tempted to buy a router, since I have read many good reviews on these. I think the answer is 2.25 but I’m sooooo tempted by the larger number.

Thus far I’ve gathered: 2.25 is better for hand-held operations, 3.25 for table operations.

Well, I know I’ll want a table-mounted router to do rabbeting/dadoing on sheet goods. For profiling I’m thinking it shouldn’t be a problem to do it on the table, as opposed to handheld—provided it is on a board or on outside edges as I assume it’s a difficult operation on inside edge of a frame, for example. Am I right or wrong? I know that for projects for myself I will not be using too many ogee profiles or panel-raising. I know I will want to get into sliding-dovetail joinery quite a bit for solid-wood construction. I do not plan to get a dovetail jig soon (out of being funding-challenged) but they have a few Leigh jigs at school, and I think one or two of the Porter Cables…but I know I will want to get into box-joint and dovetail joinery. In fact I was thinking of doing a bit of dovetailing for next project using one of the Leigh jigs at school (this project will be started on March 22nd or 29th). Do I need a bushing guide to use the Triton on Leigh jigs or do Leigh jigs come with dedicated bearing-guided bits? What size bushing, you reckon?

I know I WILL want try my hand at router-based inlaying (most free-hand as opposed to template, but also go the template route for some geometrical shapes I have in mind). 3.25HP might be dangerous for that—or is it just as safe or even safer than 2.25 if set at low speed? I know speed setting is mainly for controlling the speed at which the different points along a bit radius rotate, but it should make a difference also—I think—on how easy the tool might be to control in various scenarios. Any enlightenment you might want to offer on this subject?

A friend had offered me a Hitachi (either 2-1/4HP or 1.75HP) not too long ago but I just went “let me see” and never touched the subject again as I was consciously avoiding cluttering the garage even more w/ power tools before having a good organization plan for it. This would be a lot cheaper than getting any of the Tritons, because of the included accessories w/ the Hitachi. I can’t remember what was included but the price was very negotiable on his end (as in $100 or less).

Which one you think I should get and what accessories?

41 replies so far

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4257 days

#1 posted 03-04-2011 09:01 PM

Smaller is better for handheld use. 3 HP routers are H-E-A-V-Y.

The big routers can do certain things in one pass, but these are
heavy cuts that are beyond the range of most of the joinery
and detail oriented cuts used in furniture making.

I’ve had a Dewalt DW610 for years and it’s only rated at 1.5 HP and
there’s plenty of power in it. It’s not a very modern router but
the power is fine for almost everything except raising panels in
one pass.

View Bertha's profile


13571 posts in 3302 days

#2 posted 03-04-2011 09:02 PM

I’d buy a PC690. When your future needs get better defined, there will always be room for it in your shop. I bought a big 3.25 plunge router based on the numbers & I find that I just rarely use it. If you’re buying a quality tool, I wouldn’t worry too much about growing out of it. Good luck, my friend!

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Bertha's profile


13571 posts in 3302 days

#3 posted 03-04-2011 09:11 PM

Me & Loren must have been typing at the same time. The 3+ HP routers are really nice for under-the-table use but are a bit of a luxury, for me at least. In addition to the weight that Loren mentions, they’re also WIDE & can be a bit awkward ant tippy. Here’s a Freud 3.25, a Triton 3.25, & a Porter Cable 2.25:

See how wide the big boys are? See how the PC’s knobs are low? It’s just a nicely balanced, good all around router, in my opinion. There are many good routers in this category, Dewalts, Bosch’s, etc.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View rickf16's profile


392 posts in 4190 days

#4 posted 03-04-2011 09:13 PM

If I could afford it, I’d get a 3.25 monster and dedicate it to my router table. This way I’d have plenty of power when it comes to raised panel doors and other heavy profiles. I have a 2.25 Makita and while it worked okay for the doors of my entertainment center, I had to go slow and make multiple passes. If you want to try free hand, a palm router, like the Bosch Colt, would be a nice addition. They are small enough to be controlled but still pack a nice punch and at a reasonable price. Just my two.

Good luck

-- Rick

View dbhost's profile


5777 posts in 3841 days

#5 posted 03-04-2011 09:14 PM

The 3+ HP routers are downright beastly for handheld use. I have a 2.25 HP Hitachi in my router table, and I haven’t run into a situation yet where it couldn’t handle the bit I wanted to spin. Even some decent sized raised panel bits are no problem for this router…

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 3879 days

#6 posted 03-04-2011 09:22 PM

A good overall router is in the 2 to 2 and 1/4 range….The smaller and lighter the better. Hand routing requires good control and steady pressure….I typically find the lighter smaller routers to fit that requirement and would also recommend you take a good look at the newer trim routers and kits….Trim Routers are typically 1 Hp…they are really light…very compact and can do alot of the stuff you do by hand….I use my Bosch colt alot more than my bigger hand router….it is really easy to manuever…light so I can be very accurate.

The bigger routers are great for tables as mentioned…..I use my table router alot….I do alot more profiling on it then I do with my hand held….It is as easy to set up my table (router lift) and Incra LS Fence as it is doing a hand routed profile. I do recommend a 3+ Hp router for the table….but a 2 1/4 will work well as long as you do not try to cut too deep in one pass.

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3683 days

#7 posted 03-04-2011 09:32 PM

I own 4 mid-sized routers (1.75 – 2.25 hp) and one heavy duty router (3+ hp). In theory, there will be occasions when the extra power of the bigger router would be good to have. In reality, the big router is, virtually, never used and I regret buying it.

Note that the big one is a plunge router and plunge routers are not good for table use.

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

View pintodeluxe's profile


6040 posts in 3422 days

#8 posted 03-04-2011 09:34 PM

1.75-2.25 is best for hand routing. 2.25 will also do anything you need it to in a table. I sold my 3 hp Hitachi, it wasn’t any fun to use. I like the Freud FT1700 fixed base, and the Dewalt 618 combo kit.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View Millo's profile


543 posts in 3659 days

#9 posted 03-04-2011 09:44 PM

Hmm… it seems the smaller router is more versatile, which in the case of owning only one tool, is more important than ridiculous amounts of power. Well, thanks guys for your recommendations!

Now, is the Triton 2-1/4 HP easy to adjust accurately for various depths? I found I think only ONE review that mentioned it was a PITA to accurately adjust depth at rates/increments not pre-determined by its mechanism.

Anyone out there using this router on Leigh dovetail jigs (the ones they have at school)?

...oh, of course I will also cutting mortises on all sorts of projects and grooves for to accept panels on profile-less (square) or chamfered, mortised frames on frame-and-panel doors. Also, trying some tongue-and-grooving and bread-boarding… are all these operations ok for a 2-1/4HP router?

View NathanAllen's profile


376 posts in 3753 days

#10 posted 03-04-2011 09:45 PM

I can think of nothing more frustrating than a Leigh without the instruction manuel.

“Do I need a bushing guide to use the Triton on Leigh jigs or do Leigh jigs come with dedicated bearing-guided bits? What size bushing, you reckon?”

Below is the link for their bit selection site:

You don’t “need” to have a Leigh bit to make it work, but the 8 degree angle is required based on the angle of the guides. Whiteside makes comparable bits, just have to search by the Leigh Number to locate them. In face all the Woodcraft by me stocks are the Whitesides, and they work fine.

A standard PC or other bushing set will have the two most popular sizes you’ll need 7/16 or 5/8. The Leigh e7, e8, e10 are great, but certain routers also require an adapter which adds to the price. Below is the link to their compatability chart

As always, before throwing in anything more expensive than pine grab a copy of their well written instruction book to familarize yourself with their use of in and out for dovetail adjustment.

View Huckleberry's profile


218 posts in 4462 days

#11 posted 03-04-2011 09:50 PM

Since this is your first router I would go with a 2 hp combo kit. One that had the fixed base and plunge base. That is a wise first step in router purchases. The top three are the Craftsman, Rigid, and Bosch. I went with the craftsman for about $100 on sale. The Rigid brand now has a lifetime warranty so I feel that is even the better one to go after.

-- I cut it twice and the damn thing is still too [email protected]#$%

View wasmithee's profile


58 posts in 3302 days

#12 posted 03-04-2011 10:13 PM

I use my Colt for a lot of cuts, my PC 690LRVS for dovetailing, my Triton 2.24 is coming out of the table so that I have a plunge router, and I just bought the 3.25 to go into my table.

While the Porter Cable is a good quality router, the two wrench bit changes can get tiresome. I understand that many professional shops have numerous of these routers and set them up with different bits so they don’t have to change them as often.

The Triton 2.25 is a nice unit. I’ve used it hand-held many times and I like it. It weights ~ 3lbs lighter than the 3.25 hp unit. It has a single wrench bit change which is really nice. It hasn’t bogged down on me at all in the table, but I haven’t tried to cut any raised panels with it.

I have an extra PC 690LR still in the box that I need to sell which I got with the biscuit jointer I recently purchased.

View jdon88's profile


19 posts in 3262 days

#13 posted 03-05-2011 07:04 AM

I may have to reconsider my original plan for buying a bigger router. The only time I used a router was in a class I recently took and it was a Makita 3HP plunge model 3612 I believe. It felt good and easy to use but I had nothing to compare it to. Makita isn’t making that model anymore, the replacement is a 3.25 model that i was going to start saving for. maybe I’ll go with a smaller one.

View Millo's profile


543 posts in 3659 days

#14 posted 03-05-2011 07:49 AM

OK I’m back. Berhta, thanks for your pic, that illustrates things quite well. The 2000 watt motor is quite bigger, but the base is the same. I was wondering if I had been reading incorrectly that plates that fit Porter Cable’s 7518 could fit both the 3-1/4 and 2-1/4 Triton models. That explains it. I know very little about routers, even though I’ve used them at the shop.

NathanAllen: they have the manuals at the shop, but it seems I’d need to study the manual before getting into the shop for cutting. Thanks for pointing out the website.

Thanks everyone—lots to think about.

View iamwelty's profile


265 posts in 3724 days

#15 posted 03-05-2011 03:51 PM

Both… you really must get both… one for your table, one for hand held, one for your dove tail jig, a little bitty one for laminate and small stuff… Ooops… I think we’re over two…

-- There is a fine line between eroticism and nausea...

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