First Router Recommendations

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Forum topic by Woodgirl posted 02-25-2013 08:10 AM 18755 views 0 times favorited 33 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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20 posts in 2459 days

02-25-2013 08:10 AM

Topic tags/keywords: router dewalt question

Hello, I am new here.Hopefully lumberchicks are welcome with the Lumberjocks?I am looking to purchase my first router.I am looking at the Dewalt DW618 or Dewalt DWP611 and I’m wondering which would be the best first router.Ive only used my grandfathers ancient Porter Cable so I don’t have much experience to make a decision.My first instinct would be to go for the smaller DWP611, bc of its smaller size(maybe easier for a woman’s smaller hands to control?)How much of a big deal is it that it only accepts 1/4 bits for a beginner?Will I regret it down the road?Also, for my first router should I be worried about its ability to be mounted on a router table later.Im assuming that with the smaller model,I wouldn’t have that ability?I would appreciate anyone’s advice and input as Im a newbie to the world of routing.Thanks in advance!

33 replies so far

View owennbw's profile


15 posts in 2486 days

#1 posted 02-25-2013 08:46 AM

I have always regretted going the route of a smaller tool and always opt for the biggest tool I can afford, within reason. i would advise a router you can mount in a table as I rarely remove mine from the table. A 1/2” collet opens up a much wider selection of bits as well. The router is so versatile if you want to make use of its full capability that I would get the best you are able. I have never made the comment “I wish that tool was smaller”. I would also look for a router that has both a plunge and fixed base. A little more $$$ on the front end saves you long term.

Welcome to LJ’s

View nwbusa's profile


1021 posts in 2827 days

#2 posted 02-25-2013 08:53 AM

Welcome to LJs, Woodgirl. I own both the Dewalt 611 and 618 kits. They are both good tools and I have never had a problem with either.

The 611 is very handy to use as it is lightweight and compact, and the LED lights in the base really help illuminate the work surface. Downside is that it can only use 1/4” shank bits. I use this router the most when hand routing.

The 618 is heavier, more powerful, and can spin 1/4” and 1/2” shank bits. I use this tool in my router table pretty much exclusively.

If I was buying my first router, I’d get a 2.25 hp name-brand tool that can use both size bits (and with a fixed base and plunge base). After that I would consider a trim/compact router. My two cents! Good luck.

-- John, BC, Canada

View AlaskaGuy's profile


5415 posts in 2850 days

#3 posted 02-25-2013 10:17 AM

A lot depend on what you going to use it for. I like Dewalt routers and have several of them in different sizes. I love the little 611 compact for all my light duty needs. That’s to say most all my edge profiling, round over, trimming Formica, champers, light duty template routing, making continuous biscuits and other slotting task. when I need something with a 1/2 shank router bit for bigger cut my next most used is the Dewalt 621 plunge router. The ergonomics to the 621 takes a little getting use to but after a while you get use to it.

The one Dewalt router I haven’t use much (because I dropped it right off the bat) is 618. I’ve heard lots of reports that the speed control on the 618 has been troublesome and I don’t know if that issue have been addressed. If it has that could make you a good non plunge first router. You just have to move up the line as you need more power. Like I said it depends a lot on what your going to use it for. Someday you might what the 625 to put in a router table.

Routers are like potato chip, you can’t just have one.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View knotscott's profile


8343 posts in 3916 days

#4 posted 02-25-2013 10:45 AM

For table use, variable speed is a must on larger bits…..1/4” shanks are far more likely to snap than 1/2” shank, so I’d strongly encourage you to look to bits with 1/2” shank, especially on the larger bits that require the speed to be slowed down.

I’ve found the Hitachi M12VC to among the lightest and quietest of the 11 amp routers. It’s got variable speed, is very well balanced and easy to handle, and goes on sale at very attractive prices often. The KM12VC comes with plunge base kit too.

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

View Woodbum's profile


898 posts in 3606 days

#5 posted 02-25-2013 01:20 PM

Woodgirl: Welcome to the world of woodworking, and to LJs! We are happy to have young people taking up the craft, as it is now mostly old guys like me. Dewalt makes good routers, but so do a lot of other manufacturers, If I were to buy my first handheld router, I would go with a Bosch 1617 EVSPK. It is a two base kit, with both 1/4 an 1/2” bit capacity that will be very versatile for you. The only downside is the guide bushing setup. It does not use the typical PC guide bushings, but you can buy the dedicated Bosch guide bushing set up as an accessory. I have several Dewalt tools, and own eight routers from different mfg including a Dewalt fixed base and a trim router and would maybe buy Dewalt again, but I try to avoid buying into the Black and Decker family. Your grandfather had good taste, but the new Porter Cable routers do not match up to the older models. I like my Bosch 1617 as I have small hands too and it is easy to handle, but I like my older model PC routers too. It is really personal prefernce, but again, the Bosch 1617 will fit all of your current and future needs for quite a while. When you get ready for a table mounted unit, you can always mount your fixed base (or an extra one) in a table, and use the plunge base for your handheld needs, or you could opt for a router lift setup and buy a dedicated router/motor for the table. I use Woodpeckers PV2 lifts and PC 7518 motors.

Do not buy a too small, 1/4” bit capacity only. You will regret it and upgrade to something more utlitarian. Good luck, work safely and above all…have fun.

-- "Now I'm just another old guy wearing funny clothes"

View Ken90712's profile


17784 posts in 3730 days

#6 posted 02-25-2013 01:36 PM

First off welcome. You will love it here. Everyone is really nice and willing to help .

All the info above is very good and true. I have been woodworking all my life. I like many here I have 3 or 4 routers. When you’re first beginning in woodworking it is understandable shopping around for the best one. The biggest thing is you have to ask yourself is it going to live in a router table mostly or be used for free hand. You want one with adjustable speed to slow it down for the bigger bits, and to take 1/2 bits. You’ll find 1/2 bits are less prone to vibrations and flutter. You can always use 1/4’s with a collet if needed. The Dewalt combo kit won best overall in Wood magazine a while back. Being able to convert it to a plunge router is a nice option.

If it is going to be in a table you might want to consider a Triton. I don’t know if you are aware of this or not, Triton Routers Do Not requires a lift. This will save to hundreds of dollars not buying a lift. I have they’re 3 1/4 Hp and love it. Before you mount it to the table you just remove the plunge spring. With a template you drill a hole in your plate for the above the table tool height adjuster. The router bit changes are above the table as well with an auto lock, so it stays in the table once mounted. You only have to reach under the table to turn the main power switch off for you to be able to raise the bit all the way up and engage the auto lock to change bit, and if your locking the bit height for repeated cuts. There are videos and here is a review from Fine Woodworking.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View Roger Clark aka Rex's profile

Roger Clark aka Rex

6940 posts in 3976 days

#7 posted 02-25-2013 01:36 PM

I agree with knotscott’s recommendation, the Hitachi is a great all round router and for a lady, not too heavy.

-- Roger-R, Republic of Texas. "Always look on the Bright Side of Life" - An eyeball to eyeball confrontation with a blind person is as complete waste of Time.

View bondogaposis's profile


5558 posts in 2892 days

#8 posted 02-25-2013 01:37 PM

For a first router I would go w/ the larger one. They are both good routers but the larger one is going to be more versatile. In the end you will spend more money on the bits than the router. You will not regret getting 1/2” shank bits as they are more stable and make a nicer cut. Another plus is that the larger one will go in a table. Once you put a router in a table it becomes a lot more versatile tool. Routers are like potato chips, you can’t have only one. So eventually you may get the other one. Another point is that the DWP611 is a palm router it is intended for one hand use. If you are new to routing and maybe smaller than the average male, which is what tools are designed for, you may be glad to have those two big knobs to hang on to, on the 618.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View kizerpea's profile


775 posts in 2908 days

#9 posted 02-25-2013 01:48 PM

+ 1 on the bosch 1617 EVS..spend a little more cry about the money…then b glad u did..


View Woodgirl's profile


20 posts in 2459 days

#10 posted 02-25-2013 05:52 PM

First of all, I would like to thank everyone for your advice&kind words.This community is truly amazing in its resources&helpfulness of the people.I was a little hesitant to join, being a woman&relatively new to woodworking.I see now that is not an issue here.Thank you for that.I posted this question early yesterday AM, but being that it was my 1st post, it had to be approved before it was posted, so that took a little time.In the mean time, l went to a local indoor tool flea market to check it out.I ended up grabbing a Hitachi M12VC for $65 and he threw in a Ryobi router table for $25 more.I was glad to see the Hitachi as one of the recommended models here.I know the Ryobi table probably isn’t the best, but for that price,it will get me started.I spent so little,that I came home &ordered the Dewalt 611.Overkill?Maybe.But one of my least favorite things to do is switch tool set ups&adjusting things.I figure I can mount the hitachi in the table&use the Dewalt for hand routing.I feel I made a good score.For less than $240 I got 2 name brand routers&a starter router table.The Triton is something I am interested in looking at for when I am ready for more HPand a “big girl” table.I can’t wait until my son goes to bed tonight so I can try out my new toys.Thanks to everyone again!!!

View Roger Clark aka Rex's profile

Roger Clark aka Rex

6940 posts in 3976 days

#11 posted 02-25-2013 07:19 PM

Woodgirl, I think you did extremely well and made great decisions. You won’y regret either routers.
WE truly do understand your “correct” observations about keep changing stuff, that’s why you will find some around here have a dozen or more routers. :-)
Well done.

-- Roger-R, Republic of Texas. "Always look on the Bright Side of Life" - An eyeball to eyeball confrontation with a blind person is as complete waste of Time.

View Woodbum's profile


898 posts in 3606 days

#12 posted 02-25-2013 07:45 PM

Good job! You did very well. Your rationale is solid and well thought out. You are on your way.

-- "Now I'm just another old guy wearing funny clothes"

View knotscott's profile


8343 posts in 3916 days

#13 posted 02-25-2013 09:31 PM

Nice deal! Now you need some bits. Something to consider…..router bits spin in excess of 20,000 rpms, and on occasion they can shed a piece of carbide that’s not brazed properly. Router bits can be purchased from ridiculously cheap to outrageously expensive. You don’t need to spend a fortune to get decent bits that are properly made, but I’d be very cautious about buying the cheapest ones you can find.

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

View Shawn Masterson's profile

Shawn Masterson

1325 posts in 2489 days

#14 posted 02-25-2013 10:27 PM

Porter-Cable 7518 is my choice for a table router. It’s a pure monster to use handheld but doable. I got two of them at an auction for $45 each. as far as handheld I use a cheap C-man laminate router ever for profiles. it has plenty of power even for flush trimming 1x material. those are my two go-to routers for starters, but a good modest sized plunge router is good to have around. It really is amazing how compact routers have gotten. The DWP611 is $120 @Amazon. I have been thinking about the DWP611 as a replace for the C-man, but can’t bring myself to replace a good tool till it craps out for good. I got the c-man on close out for $30, and that was over 5 years a go.

View gawthrrw's profile


207 posts in 2988 days

#15 posted 02-25-2013 11:50 PM

I agree with the Bosch router. I bought it as my first router combo and its still the most used in my shop.

-- Rob, Dallas TX

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