Broken router collet - what did I do?

hoosierdocDecember 1, 2008

I just bought a 2.25hp Dewalt router kit. I was using the fixed base with a 3/4" Skil bit to cut a groove in four 2x4s laid side to side. The first pass went fine. The end of the second pass, the bit fell out, along with a piece of the collet. We're talking sixty seconds of use. I had the bit set in the collet per directions, even pulled it out the 1/16" as suggested. It was tightened, base was flat, I dunno. Manufacturing defect? User error? It's my first "good" tool and it breaks after a minute of use. Rather frustrated, not to mention the day of routing and shelf construction I lost out on.

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I should add... this was my first time using a router too...

    Bookmark   December 1, 2008 at 7:49AM
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I'm wondering what "piece of the collet" fell out. Could it have been undertightened and simply unscrewed itself? Could you have overtightened it, breaking the collet with excessive force? Can you post a picture?

    Bookmark   December 1, 2008 at 9:45AM
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I can post a picture later, but to summarize: approx 30% of the circumference of the collet was missing, I loosened the nut then the other pieces fell out. It's like someone cut each little piece off the circular housing that holds it all together.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2008 at 10:09AM
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What kind of Skil bit?

    Bookmark   December 1, 2008 at 10:39AM
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If it's the removable portion of the collet, I'd make them replace the collet. If it's the conical recess in the shaft itself, they have to take back the router and give you a new one. I've never had a collet break in any case, with Bosch (x2) Porter Cable (x2), ancient Skil, Makita, or Dewalt.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2008 at 9:05AM
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Here's the image of what I have. On closer inspection, I didn't do a very good job getting a perfectly straight cut. I was using a piece of wood clamped as a straight edge. The bit is a straight cut 3/4" Skil.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   December 2, 2008 at 11:12AM
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My guess is improper heat-treating of the collet. It's exceedingly unlikely that this is your fault. Return for warranty repair/replacement.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2008 at 4:21PM
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OK... so back to lowe's, exchange the router, get a "new" one. I get it open and it's a used model. Hrm. Back to the same project. 17.5" of routing 1/4 inch at a time to total depth of 3/4". I get done with my 12th pass and pop, out comes the bit after a noisy pass. Another broken collet. When I went to unscrew the nut, it was loose.

Is it like a lug nut where you tighten, drive, then tighten again? The instructions specifically say you don't have to really strain to tighten, and I give it a good tug, then stop.

At this point I'm blaming my novice (read, first time ever) routing skills rather than a quality manufacturer for a double break.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2008 at 6:04PM
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Return the thing and get a Porter Cable router.

The bit shank may also be undersized and causing the collet to break.

If you have a dial caliper (or micrometer) that measure to 0.001 inch you can check the shank diameter.

Dewalt is owned by Black & Decker, and is getting to be just as bad.
B&D trashed there own name so badly they have had to change to other names they have purchased.
The have recently purchased Porter Cable, so expect the quality there to tank next.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2008 at 7:45PM
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Try getting some better bits. I would also use the 1/2" shank bits for 3/4" diameter cutters like what you are doing. Make sure your router bits come from a quality manufacturer. Look for bite made in USA, Italy, Germany, or another first world manufacturing place. Most bits made in China are poor quality. Cheap router bits are a safety hazard, brand new ones will lose the cutting tips on the first use- sending the tiny sharp projectile like a bullet across your shop. One of the best values in quality made router bits is Woodline.

Here is a link that might be useful: router bits

    Bookmark   December 4, 2008 at 12:02AM
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I took the advice and returned the Dewalt for a Porter-Cable. Just feels like a better tool in my hand. Nothing is loose, balanced well. Quieter operation, smoother cuts, and no broken collets! I couldn't find a half inch shank or a better bit for the cut so I just went with what I had. Instead of three passes, I did 3/8" twice and worked great.

Thanks for all the help with this! I'm sure I'll be back with another roadblock for my workbench in a month...

    Bookmark   December 5, 2008 at 7:56AM
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FWIW, I'm very happy with my DeWalt plunge router. I can only speculate about what went wrong, but the sort of breakage you were seeing is not typical.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2008 at 11:20AM
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3/8" x 3/4" is way too much to chew at one pass.

And on a 1/4" shaft to boot!

Get a router book and learn how to use the tool correctly before you hurt yourself.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2008 at 12:57PM
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The bit keeps slipping out of the collet no matter what force I use in tightening. Is this a replacement item? Can anyone suggest a fix on the problem?

    Bookmark   February 25, 2009 at 5:08PM
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Are you bottoming out the bit when you stick it in the collet, i.e. pushing it in all the way until it can't go in any more? That will prevent the collet from holding the bit properly. If you already know this than try another bit. If it has the same problem get a new collet. Collets are a common replacement item any real tool place (not Blows or Home Repo) should have.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2009 at 1:57PM
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Proper technique in inserting and tightening should prevent this problem. Do you have any friends who are experienced with routers and could give you a hands-on lesson?

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 3:31AM
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