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I'm just getting started in this hobby, but one of the things I know I'll need for the projects* I want to build is a router and router table. My funds are modest, but I'd rather save my pennies for another month or two and get something which will be good for the long haul than just get whatever's on sale at the local big box. I do want quality, but I'm not big into bells and whistles. I generally prefer used and US-made to Cheap Chinese Crap, but good older equipment may be hard to find at a reasonable price and it's possible that I'll want or need some features that the older models may not have.

 

Can anyone make recommendations about what has worked for them and what they might advise for me?

 

* (Immediate projects: General home repair carpentry and cabinet making. Longer term, want to build some custom furnishings. There's a plan for a DIY grandfather clock up on the Shopsmith website that I'm salivating over, but that will be a couple of years down the road.)

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You almost have to buy used if you want a US made router anymore. Even Milwaukee (my favorite, the 5624) has moved to Asian ownership/manufacturer). I'll suggest criteria for the router instead of a brand (maybe). I would look for a 13 amp (+/-) router, these are more commonly labeled 2 1/4 HP. Make sure you have variable speed, and it needs to have COLLETS for 1/4" and 1/2" at a minimum. The collets are important, some of them come with an adapter, it's a split...I really hate split rings. The units with interchangeable bases, plunge to fixed, are a lot more flexible with what you can do. Such a router is light/handy enough for hand held use, and will handle any bits that can be used hand held. It's also heavy enough for router table use, though the large panel raising bits may tax it on the upper end (just take multiple cuts). I'd suggest you look at the Bosch routers, they still seem to be very good quality...the 1617 kit would serve you well. I mentioned the Milwaukee 5624, and the one I have is very good. I can't speak to the quality of the newer models, mine are all NA made. There are others, I'm sure everyone will chime in with their opinions and favorites.

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My wife accuses me of having a router fetish since I have 7 total but here’s my router table setup.  Under the table top I have a Bosch 1617 ESV.  I bought the top from MLCS and built the cabinet under it.  I bought a second plate and took it to a friend’s machine shop and opened up the top hole to accommodate a raised panel door cutter.  The Bosch is a shade underpowered for the 3 1/2” RP cutter but if you don’t get crazy deep cuts it works well.  The lower cabinet has 6 drawers and double door storage underneath for all of my routers.

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Eric, several suppliers offer bare router tables. some with fences included. Rockler, Kreg, Infinity are a few. But, a decent lift and router would be needed. I really like Jessem lifts. They provide different inserts for their top plate to accommodate different size bits.  Mine lifts a Porter Cable 7518. It's a variable speed, 3.25 hp motor. Buying the motor only will save a few bucks. And, I like the power the 7518 has.

A capable router table set up, is not an inexpensive proposition. But, I've never regretted my purchase. 

 

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2 hours ago, Fred W. Hargis Jr said:

You almost have to buy used if you want a US made router anymore. Even Milwaukee (my favorite, the 5624) has moved to Asian ownership/manufacturer). I'll suggest criteria for the router instead of a brand (maybe). I would look for a 13 amp (+/-) router, these are more commonly labeled 2 1/4 HP. Make sure you have variable speed, and it needs to have COLLETS for 1/4" and 1/2" at a minimum. The collets are important, some of them come with an adapter, it's a split...I really hate split rings. The units with interchangeable bases, plunge to fixed, are a lot more flexible with what you can do. Such a router is light/handy enough for hand held use, and will handle any bits that can be used hand held. It's also heavy enough for router table use, though the large panel raising bits may tax it on the upper end (just take multiple cuts). I'd suggest you look at the Bosch routers, they still seem to be very good quality...the 1617 kit would serve you well. I mentioned the Milwaukee 5624, and the one I have is very good. I can't speak to the quality of the newer models, mine are all NA made. There are others, I'm sure everyone will chime in with their opinions and favorites.

I agree with this and have the Bosch 1617 that I really like.  But I visited a shop last week where he had one in his router table.  He said it was very hard to adjust the height while in the table.   There is a dial to micro adjust, but once you get past that range, you have to push a different lever, slide up or down to a different notch, then run the dial the other way until you get it set.  That made sense to me.

If you want to just build your own table, here's a plan and 30 minute video.  https://videos.popularwoodworking.com/learn/course/benchtop-router-table/video/video

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1 hour ago, kmealy said:

If you want to just build your own table, here's a plan and 30 minute video.  https://videos.popularwoodworking.com/learn/course/benchtop-router-table/video/video

Paywall. I'm not opposed to paying for content, but I'd like to feel that the content is worth it before I put my money down. Do you have any links to pictures/videos of such a bench in action?

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Alot of good advice from the others.  And as @Gene Howe posted a good lifting mechanism and router will set you back a few pieces of gold, and your 1st unborn child. :D    The specs @Fred W. Hargis Jr suggested is a great place to start as you consider a purchase.  To that I would add the question, how do you want this as a piece of equipment in the shop?  As a stand alone unit on a mobile cart?  Add a wing to your tablesaw with a router plate installed?  Benchtop for convenience and storage?

 

Here are a few suggestions.  

 

For ready to go action and a not to bad on the wallet this is a nice set up.  A friend bought one and he likes it alot.  At first he used it on a benchtop, then made a cart for it so he has all his bits and guides and jigs in one place and is mobile for longer pieces he runs through it.

 

Bosch Benchtop Router

 

 bosch-router-parts-ra1171-64_1000.jpg.be8aa8651982780f8aec26e20bebe793.jpg

 

Mount a extra wing to a TS and add a plate, lift mechanism and router of your choice.  Will take time away from other projects but a good investment long term.  Downside?  You cannot use the TS and leave the Router bit set above the table at same time.  Can be a pain at times.

 

1877542757_FinalDesignFront_LI.jpg.8fdad42a596acd3af3471370e0996e97.jpg

 

Build your own from scratch.  A key element would be ABOVE the table bit changing.  So much easier and convenient. This unit is meant to have a round over bit in it all the time and stays set at same height for the most part.  But has above the table bit changing, a lift mechanism that can be locked in place, the motor is ventilated to over overheating as well as built in dust collection.  This also takes time but is a good long term investment.  Here is a link to the one I built couple years ago.  Notice I posted my progress as I went and received a lot of design input that really enhanced the final design.  

 

Router Table

 

 

 

IMG_0803.JPG.6fea4ebeea91f14f2093df5cb817fe4b.JPG

 

 

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Here's a free source for ra router table. If you can locate an issue of ShopNotes #121 it has plans for a router lift.

 

https://archive.org/details/ShopNotesMag/page/n31/mode/2up

 

You might try here for the router lift-

https://pdfslide.net/documents/shopnotes-issue-121.html

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1 hour ago, ehbowen said:

Paywall. I'm not opposed to paying for content, but I'd like to feel that the content is worth it before I put my money down. Do you have any links to pictures/videos of such a bench in action?

?? I just had to register and got in for free

2 hours ago, Gene Howe said:

Keith, that height adjustment difficulty is not a problem with a good lifting mechanism. Not cheap but, ya only cry once!

True but if cost is a consideration.   BTW, the guy I visited had the Bosch router table and the Bosch router.

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I built the NYW version modified. Seems it is very popular and have seen many modifications of it.

Video was apparently transferred from old video tape. 

Had a Dewalt 625 in it for about 20 years and the bearings burned up. I made a router lift with allthread and a platform and small lazy susan bearing to go under the router to lift. For all the tinkering if I had to do over would get a lift.

 

 

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3 hours ago, John Morris said:

Hey Eric, aren't you a Shopsmith guy? You got a router table built in!

139 bucks if you can swing it.

 

 

I believe that some pieces of that came with the machine I bought, but I thank you for the catalog entry; it's not visible on the main web site. I'll add that to my very long "wish list"...

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