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Recommendations For A Router and Table?

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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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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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  • 2 weeks later...
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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