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Need help assembling starter routing kit

Posted by weedyacres (My Page) on
Sun, Mar 9, 08 at 22:53

My DH's birthday is coming up and one of the few tools we don't own between us is a router. I'd like to get him one for his bday, but need some advice on what to include: router, table, table with built-in router, starter bit set, how-to book(s), or ?? Other tips on what to include or avoid?

We're avid DIY-ers, and I envision us getting some good mileage out of it, constructing some built-ins for our bare house and whatever else our little minds can concoct.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Need help assembling starter routing kit

I think you need to clarify what you need this router for, which I realize is challenging if you haven't got any experience with what they're capable of. Do you primarily want it for cutting rabbets or dadoes, or for cutting decorative edges on boards, cutting mortises for butt hinges, flush-trimming laminates? Does it need to be a plunge router? Do you envision building frame and panel cabinet doors? Narrowing the focus would make it easier to suggest particulars.

I've never found much use for the starter bit sets. They always seem to be a mixture of bits that get used all the time and bits that hardly get used at all. I prefer buying individual cutters.

RE: Need help assembling starter routing kit

First, get a basic router book, one that explains the types and what ways they can be used.

Look at kits that contain fixed and plunge bases plus the router motor. Porter Cable 690 series is a long time successful design, but DeWalt and Makita have good kits also.

Small and inexpensive router tables are usually frustrating to use. My experience is that buying a router(kit) and then getting educated on buying a top and building a table is a much better process.

Starter bit kits generally have 12 bits---of which you will use maybe 5-6 tops. Kits of different sizes of the same design---roundover bits, for instance---make more sense. But, to start, buy several bits with pilot bearings(no table needed to use)---I'd recommend a straight, cove, ogee, chamfer, 2 different sizes of roundover, and maybe a couple of profile bits you like.

I also recommend buying a router that allows 1/2" shank bits to be used(the above kits all have that feature as well as 1/4" shank capability) since the 1/2" shank bits are much safer for learning---that diameter shank seldom if ever breaks.

A clamp on straight edge, simple or one that had a guide and mounts for router/circular saw is also a good addition.

RE: Need help assembling starter routing kit

Thanks to both of you. I don't know how far we'll go with our routing, but I do see dado-ing and putting edges on shelves in the near future, and cabinet doors if we can get good at it. What does a plunge router do?

RE: Need help assembling starter routing kit

A plunge router allows you to raise and lower the bit to and from a preset depth while the bit is spinning. This is useful in certain situations, such as cutting stopped dadoes. The mechanism to allow this is more complex, so plunge routers are more expensive.

RE: Need help assembling starter routing kit

Making raised panel doors with a router generally requires a 3+ HP sized router with speed control. (The larger the diameter of the bit, the slower the speed at which it is run.)

Actually, many dedicated plunge routers are less expensive than fixed base models. There is a bit of a learning curve associated with either model, so reading that basic book will allow you some advance knowledge.

RE: Need help assembling starter routing kit

I agree with all the above -- brand names, bit sizes, assortments, etc. I would add Bosch to the short list, too.

I recommend buying one of the kits that has a fixed base and a plunge base in one. This allows the best of both worlds. In normal use, you can leave the fixed base attached to a router table and just swap the motor. In those instances where you want a fixed base, just remove it.

See the link below for lots of information on routers.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pat Warner's Web Site

RE: Need help assembling starter routing kit

Thanks everyone for the advice and additional links. I went shopping yesterday and narrowed it down to 3 options, all have fixed & plunge bases, 2 1/4 hp, variable speed, and 1/4" and 1/2" collets:
Porter Cable $259
Dewalt $239
Bosch $219
I found some reviews online and one put the Bosch on top (don't know if it was the exact model, but appears so). I can't tell much to differentiate the features except that the handles are wood on the Bosch and plastic/rubber on the others. I'm leaning toward the Bosch for the review and the price; let me know if I'm about to do stupid.

I also looked at router bits and got a little sticker shock ($25-35 each). I think I will do a starter kit even if we won't use them all. I found a set of 18 1/2" bits that included some roundovers, straights, and ogees for $80.

I wasn't able to find a book on routing in particular, but did find one on constructing built-ins, which will be our initial focus, and it's got some instructions about routers, so I think that will get us started.

Thanks again for all your help and advice.

RE: Need help assembling starter routing kit

Any of the three will be just fine.

That starter kit sounds better than most I have seen---but I buy a bit as I need it after the initial kits I bought.

Amazon/woodworking stores will carry a book called Woodworking with the Router, authored by Bill Hylton and Fred Matlack. That book is one of the top 3 or 4 available. Pat Warner, aka Routerman, also has authored several good books.

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