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Which Router (Woodwork) To Buy?

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A few months ago I posted here for help in buying power tools and got some excellent responses. Having purchased most of the tools I need, and been slightly surprised at the results I've managed to obtain with them, I've decided it's time to really step into a pair of man trousers and buy a router.

I have several jobs in mind, some of which would benefit from a plunge router and some of which would require a fixed router and table. I looked at the deWalt combi routers, but they're hideously expensive, and considering that my Screwfix cordless drill kicks the crap out of any of the big brands for 1/3 of the price, I was wondering if you guys have any suggestions?

I know there was a router thread on here a few months back, but I don't think it was updated with what the OP or others actually bought, and what experiences they had. So I'd really welcome thoughts on plunge, fixed or combi routers, tables, and specifically recommended makes which don't necessarily cost the earth. I'm happy to pay for quality but not just a shiny badge.

Most of the jobs I have in mind are joinery related, but obviously I would like the option to expand my erm, talents.

Really appreciate any replies - responses from me might be a tad sporadic for the next couple of days but I will be reading and replying whenever possible.

Cheers :)

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I started out with a cheap B&Q half inch plunge router in a set that included a gazillion cutters. It's a piece of c7ap and I had to modify the plunge clamp to get it to work properly but it did the job ok ish. The cheap bits are usable. Plunge depth is pretty small which is what caused me to upgrade to a Trend T11 which is night and day better but far more money than you want to spend. Ryobi are worth a look for a good compromise between quality and price.

You can make your own router table - lots of vids on youtube. A good one costs hundreds to buy.

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With a bit spinning at 22K rpm, I'd avoid the really cheap ones. Axminster own brand are cheap enough, and will have been through some sort of QA. I wouldn't want to stand near some unbranded cutter at those speeds.

Are you planning on having this in a table, or freehand? If in a table, you just need a big old motor - no point in paying for fancy features. But you do need to buy the rise/fall mechanism, without this it is useless. The Americans build their own tables and get a "porter cable" unit and bolt it in. For table router, I'd get a s/h big bosch/dewalt/trend half-inch unit and wallop it in.

Hand held - IMO you're better off with a 1/4" machine - more heftable, more controllable. For hand held, you need all the guides - because there is nothing more depressing than ruining some piece of work as you let it wobble. Can't really advise on these (i've got an expensive one...) - but the cheap ones work, they just vibrate more and make a lot more noise, have poorer (no) dust management capabilities.

Note that dust management is mandatory - these things make a vast amount of dust - so you're either outside and let it blow away, or inside with a big vacuum. I can fill a bin bag with saw dust pretty easily in a single session. Ear defenders and face mask are mandatory - dust will make a mess of your lungs in short order.

My set up:

Festool OF-1400 - quiet, small, great dust extraction, perfect for handheld work.

Festool OF-2200 - damn big for handheld, but running it on tracks and with the accessory kit, it is controllable. Again, great extraction capabilities.

ELU MOF 177 - in the router table.

(yes, that list is way more than you want, but I use it a lot...)

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Guest eight

I have a friend with a top notch (ie. well into six figures) CNC router so I usually get him to do stuff for me. Last time I inadvertently asked for a couple of bits too few so rather than bother him again I copy routed the pieces using a Lidl router bolted into a bit of 18mm MDF as an improvised table. It worked, but everything already said about dust is true, even with as much surplus material already removed as possible.

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I stick with bosch and makita power tools for work because they are a good balance of value and performance. I use a small makita plunge router fairly regular and it runs fine and has paid for itself many times over. Never owned one myself, but I believe Trend routers are highly regarded. It might be worth looking for a second hand deal on a quality router instead of chancing it on a chinaland special. Most brand name powertools are repairable - I have a couple of fairly cheap bosch power drills which must be into their second decade of hard use, just keep replacing bearings, switches and brushes instead of buying new ones.

+1 on dust extraction and ear and eye protection with a router.

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Excellent advice on the safety front, many thanks! I learned my lesson with the dust form a circular saw recently, and I'm not exposing myself to that again.

I take the point on cheap brands, although I did find this thread on another forum where several people highly rated the Draper one I linked to above. Seems in the early days at least, they were badged Trend kit, but I don't know if that's still the case. But I am wondering - it looks like £140 odd against £400+ odd, and I just don't think I'd every get the £400 worth of use out of an expensive one.

That said, if that's the case, then maybe it makes sense to befriend someone who already owns decent kit. That;s kind of proxy manliness, and a lot less expensive...

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In 1992, Black & Decker started a major effort to rebrand its professional quality and high-end power tools to DeWalt. Currently, DeWalt manufactures and sells more than 200 different power hand-tools and 800 accessories. In 1994, DeWalt took over the German wood-working power tool producer ELU. DeWalt increased their line of tools using ELU's technology. DeWalt is now a popular brand of tools for commercial contractors.

Source :- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DeWalt

And here they are still, after 25 years and they haven't changed a thing!

Routers_zpsbrurxf7c.jpg

£250.00 :- http://www.tooled-up.com/product/dewalt-dw625ek-1-2-electronic-plunge-router-2000w-240v/1578/?Referrer=googleproductlisting&gclid=CLbug6SH_8oCFcO4Gwod0ngElw

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Thanks ntb - the idea of making my own table had occurred to me, so I'll check out the vids on youtube. Ref the router, what do you think of this chappie:

http://www.yandles.co.uk/draper-expert-1300w-230v-router-53113/p15396

With a Draper badge I'd expect it to be £50. It used to be a half decent brand 30 years ago but not these days. I'd avoid, especially at that price. Having said that, I've just read that thread and it's hard to argue with actual experience. I would want to get one in my hands before coming down one way or another.

If you're happy to atart with a 1/4 and 3/8 router you can get a Ryobi for £70:

http://www.direct-powertools.co.uk/PBSCProduct.asp?ItmID=13921999&AccID=103701&PGFLngID=1&gclid=CjwKEAiA0ZC2BRDpo_Pym8m-4n4SJAB5Bn4x1HdXByw-HtREIirPSZhxNBBbnfsQ698SNkJ1IYHXdRoCRAnw_wcB

If you are happy to spend on a step up, Hitachi are a good bet. Not far off Makita and Blue Bosch and quite a bit cheaper.

Have a look at Record Power for decent extractors (with full spares backup). I got a used RDSE/2 viaEbay for £90. Recently had to change the suppressor on it. No problem getting the part from them.

The Trend T11 is also derived from the Elu btw.

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Power tools, engines, sheds! Man talk! :blink::D

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I would have said Hitachi for something with a decent quality motor at reasonable money. Ordinarily I would say, with power tools, by the best tool anyone makes, except with cordless where, unless you want to be carrying half a dozen different chargers and battery packs around defeating the object, you've really got to make a commitment to a limited number of makes.

However, in this case, it might be better just to get a cheap one and a cheap set of bits and see how much you use it. I'm doing a boat interior and haven't used a router that much really. I'm not really that big into woodworking though I don't really see the point of knocking up endless stuff in wood that's more expensive and inferior to commercially available things just to say you made it yourself. Although, although don't get me wrong, I do see the pleasure in making stuff but, like with the boat I simply don't see it as a good use of my time cutting, jointing and gluing dozens of identical cupboard doors, when you can get something identical commercial, just to say you made it all.

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I would have said Hitachi for something with a decent quality motor at reasonable money. Ordinarily I would say, with power tools, by the best tool anyone makes, except with cordless where, unless you want to defeat the object by carrying half a dozen different chargers and battery packs around defeating the object, you've really got to make a commitment to a limited number of makes.

However, in this case, it might be better just to get a cheap one and a cheap set of bits and see how much you use it. I'm doing a boat interior and haven't used a router that much really. I'm not really that big into woodworking though I don't really see the point of knocking up endless stuff in wood that's more expensive and inferior to commercially available things just to say you made it yourself. Although, although don't get me wrong, I do see the pleasure in making stuff but, like with the boat I simply don't see it as a good use of my time cutting, jointing and gluing dozens of identical cupboard doors, when you can get something identical commercial, just to say you made it all.

How do you stop the canons rolling backwards in rough seas? :wacko: I'll bet you are a pirate in real life. Yo ho ho!

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Yep generally the things I want to make are of my own "unique" design and therefore not available to buy anywhere. There's probably a very good reason for the lack if commercial availability, but you can't stop a man when he's got a power tool stiffie and a half baked idea.

I think SNACR makes a good point on not spending too much and seeing how you get on. It is very possible that I might decide routing is not for me once I've had a couple of pops at it.

But right now I'm like mortise and tenon? Phwoaar!!

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How do you stop the canons rolling backwards in rough seas? :wacko: I'll bet you are a pirate in real life. Yo ho ho!

It's on a canal so it doesn't get very rough.

I'm toying with the idea of going on the Bristol Channel with it under the Severn Bridge people do quite regularly but think it might be a bit wreckless.

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I forgot to add some more safety stuff.

Long hair, loose clothes and dangly sleeves are a definite no with all power tools but routers can be a bit grabby so take extra care. They like to tear out tendons from flesh if they get a chance.

Also, familiarise yourself with the correct direction of cut. Right to left on a clockwise router hand held and the opposite when used upside down in a table. They can bounce when you go the wrong way. (Someone confirm I've got this the right way round, I am old and confused).

Yes Mr Pin. This thread is for men with wood. ^_^

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Yep generally the things I want to make are of my own "unique" design and therefore not available to buy anywhere. There's probably a very good reason for the lack if commercial availability, but you can't stop a man when he's got a power tool stiffie and a half baked idea.

I think SNACR makes a good point on not spending too much and seeing how you get on. It is very possible that I might decide routing is not for me once I've had a couple of pops at it.

But right now I'm like mortise and tenon? Phwoaar!!

The main allure of the router is the ease with which, with very little skill, you can put ornate profiles on the edges of ordinary bits of wood that look like something that could only be achieved in a commercial manufacturing environment.

In reality I would say I have mostly used them for cutting slots into edges to attach trim pieces and fitting worktops into corners. The majority of people I've ever come across, who are big into woodworking, seem to primarily produce wooden storage solutions for woodworking kit.

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It's on a canal so it doesn't get very rough.

I'm toying with the idea of going on the Bristol Channel with it under the Severn Bridge people do quite regularly but think it might be a bit wreckless.

Wreckless is good for ships. Reckless isn't. :huh:

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I forgot to add some more safety stuff.

Long hair, loose clothes and dangly sleeves are a definite no with all power tools but routers can be a bit grabby so take extra care. They like to tear out tendons from flesh if they get a chance.

Also, familiarise yourself with the correct direction of cut. Right to left on a clockwise router hand held and the opposite when used upside down in a table. They can bounce when you go the wrong way. (Someone confirm I've got this the right way round, I am old and confused).

Yes Mr Pin. This thread is for men with wood. ^_^

Blessed are the carpenters! Chisels are dangerous enough for me. :blink:

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Wreckless is good for ships. Reckless isn't. :huh:

I think that typo has actually arisen because I was typing whilst simultaneously thinking about being shipwrecked in the Bristol Channel.

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I think that typo has actually arisen because I was typing whilst simultaneously thinking about being shipwrecked in the Bristol Channel.

It's OK. There are some good pubs nearby.

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Guest eight

Also, familiarise yourself with the correct direction of cut. Right to left on a clockwise router hand held and the opposite when used upside down in a table. They can bounce when you go the wrong way. (Someone confirm I've got this the right way round, I am old and confused).

I think it quickly becomes apparent. If you're doing it the wrong way it doesn't really work.

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Some trend models are copies of the old Elu designs as well, which were great swiss made routers, trend versions not as well made apparently. Dewalt as mentioned bought up brand and now same units in yellow though arguably not as well specified but same pattern. Advantage with MOF96 / MOF177 derivatives is they have the largest availble no. of compatible aftermarket accessories / jigs / tables / bases. Festool 0f1010 is small, really quiet and a sweet little router. Some of the Triton models have nice features if you want to mount them under a table so that you can get away without a faffy lifter arrangement and dewalt do a really nice palm router that looks like it would make a good trimmer.

First hand held router I'd look for a second hand MOF96E or OF1010 (has 8mm standard collet, get the 1/4 inch as an accessory for cheaper tooling). If you want to do worktops, large furniture second hand 177E, if you can find a good one, this model more likely a tradesmans tool and beaten up, find one from a hobby woodworker and could pick up a bargain, I got a 96E for 10 quid last year from car boot with a bit of rust from bad storage, still works fine after bit of cleaning.

In the end thoguh you'll spend even more on tooling. Tornado bit sets from Rutlands are pretty reasonable middle range, you will only use a few out of a set but they still make a good buy as inidividual bits are comparatively more expensive.

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