please help me choose between the following fixed/plunge combo routers:
Ridgid R2200 comes with bonus Plunge router base, $179
+ has led light, clear plastic base. Fixed base under router table adjustment via table top
- push button/one wrench bit removal system, on off switch
Fixed Base Router-R2200 at The Home Depot
Milwaukee 2-1/4hp EVS multi base kit $235
+ Fixed base under table adjustment via table top
2-1/4 Max-Horsepower EVS Multi-Base Router Kit Includes Plunge Base and BodyGrip Fixed Base-5616-24 at The Home Depot
Makita 2-1/4 HP Router Kit # RF1101KIT2 $249
2-1/4 HP Router Kit-RF1101KIT2 at The Home Depot
I would absolutely get a Porter Cable, anything from the 690 series. It's 1.75hp but I've cut clean through cherry, maple, etc. with no issues at all. If you're set on a larger router, I'd still go with Porter Cable. They are legendary for a reason, and there are millions of compatible accessories.
Consider Bosch also...
I worked with both Porter Cable and Bosch for a few weeks and decided to buy the Bosch. It's quieter and more powerful.
2.25 HP Plunge and Fixed-Base Router Kit-1617EVSPK at The Home Depot
I have owned a PC690 since the early 80's, and bought the plunge base for it in the late 80's.
It is a versatile machine for my home and hobby projects, but required a replacement armature and bearings in the late 90's. About that time I picked up a used Black and Decker Pro model 444 from a cabinet shop going out of business, and have used it for the heavy work since then.
While I'm not actively looking to replace the PC690, I must admit that it has several features that make it clunky and dated. It was definitely not designed to be used under a router table, where it lives most of the time in my shop. Under the best of conditions it takes two-and-a-half hands to change bits smoothly. The add-on plunge mechanism is adequate, but doesn't operate as smoothly as others I have tried - and sometimes I find it very locked up when I try to change bases..
It looks like the PC model 890 addresses several of these shortcomings in its design, but I haven't used that machine yet. Unfortunately, Home Depot and similar stores have no provision to let you do even a cursory "test drive" before buying a power tool. It's the wrong time of year, but woodworkers' shows usually give you an opportunity to do a test cut or two, practice changing bits, etc, before making a decision to buy. Of course, finding a friend who already owns the tool you're interested in would be an even better situation.
I picked up a PC 9690LR and didn't like the lack of a soft start plus fine bit height adjustments when mounted under the router table were difficult. Also didn't like that the cord ends up twisting around with the motor in the process.
My broke down Craftsmen i've had for the past 25years had a trigger on/off that i liked so i decided to bring home the Bosch MRF23EVS from home depot today.
I like the handle trigger on/off and LED light clear base. Although convenient i'm not convinced i really need a plunge base for the few speaker holes i'm cutting and decided to put the money into abetter fixed base model. We'll see how it goes...
2.3 HP Electronic VS Plunge-Base Router with Trigger Control-MRF23EVS at The Home Depot
I probably need to get my head examined for spending so much but i returned the fixed base and ordered the fixed/plunge combo kit - 2.3HP Router Combo Kit-MRC23EVSK at The Home Depot
I've been using routers for years - this is the best so far:
You'll really want variable speed (sometimes you just need it))
You can't go wrong with Bosch either.
A little story about high quality tools. I have a rule, I always buy good stuff- not always the most expensive, but always top quality. I broke this rule a couple weeks ago and got a variac off of ebay. I tore my project apart five times before figuring out the variac was bad. Never again. You will never regret spending money on good tools.
And, you know the rule that tools don't count when you figure out a project's cost, right? ;)
What did you end up buying?
BTW...I hope you have a few bucks left, you really don't want to miss out on this one.
This is a wonderful bit for all speaker builders, cut smooth as silk, easy to use, bearing on top and bottom.
Only about $40, maybe sound like a lot, it does a lot.
Down Shear Trim Router Bits with Upper Ball Bearing by Amana Tool
I have the Rigid with both plunge and fixed bases and am reasonablly happy with it. The Porter Cable, Bosch, Dewalt, Makita are all good tools. The woodworkers seem to be going for the Triton. Porter Cable is so much the de-facto standard, there are more accessories that fit.
Bosch Bosch 1617EVSPK came out on top as best tool in the WOOD 2008 tests.
My old cheap sears has a lock on the spindle that stayed in place so you could hold the bit and wrench with your two hands. The Rigid takes three hands. The third to hold the lock pin in. I am going to make some kind of spring clamp for it. I also found the plunge stop can slip.
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