Few Router questions

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Forum topic by ofgortens posted 08-01-2008 03:51 PM 1974 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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12 posts in 4645 days

08-01-2008 03:51 PM

Topic tags/keywords: router fixed plunge 3hp 2hp raised panel

First of all, this would be my first router purchase. This summer I have had access to my father-in-laws shop which he has 3 routers + delta shaper for his raised panels, etc.

I am wanting my first router to be able to do raised panels and pretty much do everything as I will not have to funds to buy a shaper anytime soon. I am planning on building my own router table, etc. There are 2 questions that I have before purchasing one.

1) Fixed or plunge? I have seen that this is a debate among a lot of woodworkers. This router would be 90% of the time in the table and be used there. Is there one that is better than others? I am wanting to adjust the height of the router from above the table (don’t know if one does that and the other does not)

2) In order to raise panels, some have said that you will need at least a 3 hp router to raise panels and handle the rail / stile bits w/out burning the wood badly. Is this true? Should I just go for a 3 + hp router and not have to worry about being disappointed with a 2 hp router or something?

Any advice is appreciated!

-- Austin 'ofgortens' , John Deere

13 replies so far

View CharlieM1958's profile


16292 posts in 5277 days

#1 posted 08-01-2008 04:59 PM

If you plan to do a lot of raised panel work, something in the 3 HP range would be best, but then it’s not going to be very convenient for hand-held work. If you really want one router to suit all purposes, I highly recommend the Triton 2 1/4 HP that I reviewed here.

I keep my Triton in the table almost exclusively, and use my Poter-Cable PC690 otherwise. But again, if you only plan on owning one, theTriton bridges the gap between small and large routers very well.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View sIKE's profile


1271 posts in 4813 days

#2 posted 08-01-2008 05:05 PM

Look into 2 1/4HP multi-base kits. The will give you one router motor and 2 or 3 changeable bases. Fixed/Plunge/D-Handle. My dad has the Bosch one and really likes it.

-- //FC - Round Rock, TX - "Experience is what you get just after you need it"

View Hrolfr's profile


174 posts in 4725 days

#3 posted 08-01-2008 05:43 PM

I just picked up a dewalt with 3 changable bases from woodcraft for about 300 but I think it was well worth it…. ok so I really it was y 2nd router purchase and I am a real noob and all but after the research I have done on the subject it was the best choice for me…... look to spend atleast what you pay for the router on bits and goodies….. I learned the hard way about cheap bits and cordless lamanate trimmers see my blog on the wooden cross I have been working on… the failure one….

-- Hrolfr

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4073 posts in 5123 days

#4 posted 08-01-2008 05:57 PM

I second Charlie’s endorsement, only from the “I want it” standpoint. I have been following this router for a couple of years, but have put it on the back-burner in favor of other tools I needed more. It will be the next full sized router I get.

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over two decades.

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1526 posts in 5184 days

#5 posted 08-01-2008 06:12 PM

I’ve got a teeny little Festool OF1010 for hand-held work, and a monster Porter Cable 7518 with a Jessem Mast-R-Lift for the table, which replaced an old el-cheapo Craftsman 1¼HP router (yes, I ran that in the table).

The Festool is a plunge router, and the one problem I’ve had with it is with bearing bits: Sometimes I’ll accidentally twist the lock and it’ll rise up a bit and then the bearing gets too high and it can cut into my pattern. But it’s got a stop for plunge depth, so I’ve never had an issue with going too deep. The only thing I have to compare it to is that old Craftsman router, and on that front, for handheld work I think plunge routing is indispensable. I find myself doing too many stopped grooves for shelf rails and such to use a fixed base effectively.

On the table, I’ve done a bit of panel raising, and I think if you’re patient you can get around most burning issues by cutting less, although obviously there are some cuts (like the female portion of sliding dovetails) for which that doesn’t work. So I’m not sure that burning is a function of lack of horsepower, but I will say that a good router with little runout that can run slowly is awesome for the table.

If I had to have an all-in-one, I think I’d look to the Tritons, but one for the table and one for hand-held lets me pick and choose the features I want for each. However, I’m slowly coming to the conclusion that weight might not be much of a drawback for handheld work, it’s less likely to be jumpy, and your patterns and guides need to be pretty solid anyway. I think the big 3¼HP routers are probably too heavy, but if you take your time on the panel raising, do lots of passes, the 2½HP router should work fine.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View ofgortens's profile


12 posts in 4645 days

#6 posted 08-01-2008 06:31 PM

Thanks for the comments. I had read some reviews on various plunge routers and the Triton’s do seem to have some good reviews and the price is affordable. It just might take a little bit more time making more passes with raised panels and other heavy routing, but the 2 1/2 HP routers can do that as well. I guess I won’t be doing raised panels so much that I would need to go for a heavier 3+ HP router.

I have been using a PC fixed base 3 HP router for the summer and like the power, but do not like the 2 wrench under the table requirement to change the bit everytime as well as the height adjustment for the bits. Sounds like the plunge routers fix that problem as well as the single wrench bit change with the ratcheting mechanism.

-- Austin 'ofgortens' , John Deere

View Timber4fun's profile


218 posts in 4659 days

#7 posted 08-01-2008 06:37 PM

If you plan to keep the router in your table, you probably want to focus in on a fixed router setup. Just my two cents. As others have mentioned, some routers have a kit where the motor can switch between a fixed and plunge base. This way you get the luxury of both types, but only need to purchase one router. Personally I have a Bosch router that sits in my table and a Porter-Cable router that I use free hand. I have two bases for the Porter-Cable router (fixed and plunge). I use the fixed base primarily with my dovetail jig. I use the plunge base primarily for mortises and the like. To each his own. Good luck.

-- Tim from Iowa City, IA

View ND2ELK's profile


13494 posts in 4833 days

#8 posted 08-01-2008 06:45 PM

I bought two routers for my new shop. The Bosch 1617EVSPK 2.25HP Electronic VS Plunge & Fixed base router combo kit. Fixed base could be put in router table. I decided to buy the Porter Cable 7518 3.25 HP 5 speed router for my router table. You are talking about $550 for the both of them. If you do not want to buy two routers like I did, then go with the Triton.

God Bless

-- Mc Bridge Cabinets, Iowa

View Loren's profile (online now)


11158 posts in 4707 days

#9 posted 08-01-2008 06:49 PM

Buy the fancy new router for the table and pick up a “beater”
on Craigslist cheap. I have a few beaters with 1/4” collets that
I leave set up for specific cuts.

Ideally you want a heavy 1/2” router in the table and a lighter
router for topside use. I use a laminate trimmer and a little
Festool router like Dan has often. If you are a router-table
guy you’ll prefer table setups to heavy topside routing anyway -
and for door joineery yopu can get away with those matching
cope-and-stick bits for a while before you have to do real

For most cabinetwork mortising capacity is not essential – it’s
a luxury. Modern glues are so strong that the little stub tenons
the matched bit sets produce are plenty strong.

Nobody mentions what a large amount of work it is to make
a kitchen-full of hardwood raised panel doors without a wide-belt sander.
Take my word for it… it’s hard work. As a pro I usually outsourced
my doors to big shops that had the equipment to do them fast.

The round biscuits HERE
are a cheap solution to making frame joints with the strength of
a loose tenon without all the hassle of making and fitting the tenons.

Even though you CAN mortise with a plunge router it’s not nearly
as much fun as doing it with a horizontal mortising setup. Mattias
Wandel designed a simple one that looks easy to build. Check it
out HERE and also his
other crazy inventions like a wood pipe organ and machines that
do nothing at all HERE

View Dwain's profile


622 posts in 4918 days

#10 posted 08-01-2008 07:25 PM

I would agree with what most have said. I originally bought the Bosch kit three years ago with your same thought. I love the router. Still, a year later, I found myself purchasing the Hitachi M12v2 for under the table. (Actually, I bought two, as they were at $112.00 at the time) I don’t know what your budget is, but you can find a big 3HP router from Hitachi or Freud at around $125 several times a year. As a basketball coach will say, “You can’t teach tall” Well, there is no substitute for horsepower. Don’t worry too much about the doo dads, focus on the horsepower, and a variable speed machine. Once that is purchased, as mentioned before, buy the cheap used router for hand work. Eventually, you will upgrade to something nicer, but until then use an oldie until it dies.

-- When you earnestly believe you can compensate for a lack of skill by doubling your efforts, there is no end to what you CAN'T do

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1526 posts in 5184 days

#11 posted 08-02-2008 05:47 AM

Re ” not like the 2 wrench under the table requirement to change the bit…” with the Porter Cable, my lift picks that puppy up high enough that I can change even my monster bits above the table.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View FFURNITURE's profile


21 posts in 4645 days

#12 posted 08-02-2008 06:24 AM

I’m with DWAIN. I first had a Freud, and now I have the Hitachi.

Plunge is not so important on a Router table, only if you are freehanding.

The idea about replacing them is the smartest thing, since they are inverted, and breathing that which will kill them, dust. Spending more on a router wont delay the inevitable.

But the best high horsepower fixed base is the Porter Cable.

-- Clamps are like dollars in the bank, you NEVER can have too many!

View fshrmn43's profile


9 posts in 4658 days

#13 posted 08-02-2008 12:06 PM

Go with the PC 7518 you definately won`t be dissappointed.

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