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paulc

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I want to invest in my first router and have seen a cheap jcb model in Argos - 1500w/ 1/2inch collet / 6000-26000rpm collet depth 50mm with 5 bits, for £60 , should I invest in a better model or will this suffice as a starter kit ? What specifications are important when buying a router ? Cheers for the help , paulc.
 

Midnight

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Paul... for the price you're talking.. you're gonna struggle to find 5 decent router bits..... let alone the tool to twirl them with. I wouldn't expect too much from a tool built to that price.
Personally.. when in your situation, I bought the best pro spec router I could afford, the Freud FT2000E... liked it so much I bought another identical one; installed one in the router table permanently, the other serves as hand held and back up for the first.

Look in the tool polls section to see what the other guys use... some sound advise there.
 

mhannah

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Yes, but let's be serious here for a second...doesn't the Freud cost around 300 quid??

Paul, I have the JCB from Argos and am very pleased with it..it has done everything that I have needed of it perfectly.

I have also used a Freud router (not sure if it was the FT2000E or not) on an evening class. I honestly couldn't see what it did that the JCB couldn't.

Also, what type of warranty do you get with the Freud?
Since it's in the "professional" category, I think they may only offer a 6 month warranty. The JCB comes with a 2 year warranty.

I'd say the JCB would be a good first choice...and if you find there's something that it can't do for you...you can always upgrade later.

Just my opinion.

Mark.
 
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Anonymous

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I confess my first router was a Wickes own brand, 40 quid with 5 cutters. It did for a while - still works, but is not used. Problems with it were:

Columns weren't parallel, so the plunge was impossibly stiff
Large diameter bits actually cut into the base plate (due to the non-parallel columns).
The on/off switch intermittently didn't work
The on/off switch was a dead-man switch, so no permanent on/off, so no router table fixing
No soft-start
rubbish dust extraction.

All that sounds bad, doesn't it? But, as an introduction to routing, I reckon 40 quid for a year's use, with the learning experience, was well worth it. Even the cutters are still in use, except the 6mm one which snapped very early on!

I've said this many times in the past - although I agree with 'you get what you pay for', when introducing yourself to a new technology/skill/art, why not start cheap to see how you get on. If you do't like it, you've not wasted huge dosh. If you do get on, you can move up to the decent, expensive stuff, and appreciate more fully the better quality.
 

Newbie_Neil

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Hi all

I would agree with ES and say just go out and buy one. Purely as a starter I would suggest the Trend T3, about 35 pound, which is a quarter inch machine. You'll find that it will get you into routing and all you'll need is a few cheap cutters.

As you progress you'll probably want a half-inch machine and a table. Start small and see if you enjoy it.

I know that Mark hasn't had any problems with his but IIRC I've seen a few bad reprts on the JCB.

Whatever you do, I hope you enjoy it.

Cheers
Neil
 

Neil

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Or the Bosch POF500A which DaveL spotted for £25 on offer at homebase:

https://www.ukworkshop.co.uk/forums/viewtopic.php?t=1520&highlight=bosch



Very similar to the T3. It is £70 in Machine Mart so this looks like quite a bargain - if fact at £25 I would get one myself just to have as a spare (or to start adopting Newbie_Neil's trick of having a router for every cutter :wink: ) if I lived in the UK.

I bought the JCB from Argos when it was on offer for about £38. It seemed quite good for the money but I took it back because the opening in the base was very small - in fact it wasn't possible to use something quite 'normal' such as a 1/2" roundover bit in it. I guess you could take a file to it though...

Apart from that it was OK - soft start, chunky fence, 5 cheap router bits included, quite nice plunge action etc. etc. I didn't like the fine adjust on the plunge depth guide though - would last about 5 minutes if you ask me :roll: It is a good option if you don't want to spend too much, and don't want to use big cutters, but at £25 I would start with the Bosch.

Just as an aside - if you want to get one of these starter packs of router bits, I would recommend the Trend sets for about £17-£26 depending on shank size - I have the 1/2" set, and they are a cut above (sorry :roll: ) the usual cheap sets by the likes of Nu-Tool etc. Here is the 1/4" shank set: http://trend.industrialsuperstore.co.uk/cutter.php?id=9316

NeilCFD
 

Midnight

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Yes, but let's be serious here for a second...doesn't the Freud cost around 300 quid??
Well.... actually....no... £300 would just about pay for both of mine...

I'll be honest.. I haven't set eyes on the JCB so I won't comment on it farther... but I CAN say what the Freud has...

Firstly.. bags of power; 1900 Watts worth with electronic soft start, variable speed and constant speed maintenance under load.
Secondly.. a huge edge guide c/w a very accurate micro adjuster
Thirdly.. built in micro adjust depth control.. worth its weight in gold when table mounted.
Fourthly… half inch collet with a quarter inch collet reducer.
Most importantly... for me at any rate... it's built like a tank

To date the only moderately weak point I’ve found is that when using the tool in the table for LONG periods, a good airflow around the motor is essential to keep it cool.

When compared to the likes of the Trend T9, it’s only the aftermarket accessories made for the Trend that put every other manufacturer to shame.
 

Noel

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Mike,

Got to agree with you the Freud is a proper tool.

Mark,

As Mike mentions price is nowhere near £300, £140 for mine about a year ago. I'm pretty there is no such thing as a 6 month warranty on any appliance of any description (sourced legally, anyway). Minimum is 12 months.

Rgds

Noel
 
G

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To my mind there is no point buying a cheap router 'for a start'. If you are serious about using a router buying cheap means you are paying twice as you will inevitably want a better one. Most of us have bought cheap tools and regretted it when we have had to upgrade for a better,easier to use,more accurate product.
 

mhannah

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Ah..sorry...I used a Freud machine on an evening class recently.
The instructor was bragging that it cost 300 quid when he bought it...admittedly a few years ago.

If you have a look at the JCB machine, you will find that it too has a lot of power - 1500W, soft start, 1/2" and 1/4" collets (and a third weird size too!), a very large fence and micro-adjusters.

I was also told that many of the pro machines do have only a 6 month warranty. I didn't check if this is true or not...would be good if someone can confirm. The reason was that the machine's components have an mtbf (mean time before failure) which is measured in hours. They therefore make a distinction between a diy machine which will typically be used for under 1 hour a week and a pro machine which could be in continuous use for 20-30 hours a week.

I guess the point I was trying to make is that the "get what you pay for" mantra isn't always true these days for the exact reasons demonstrated in this forum....if a manufacturer prices their product too low, many people will dismiss it as "cheap rubbish" without even looking at it.

Mark.
 

Midnight

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Mark, I’m sat here with the manual for the Freud right in front of me. It comes with a limited one year warranty, and it’s definitely marketed at the pro end of the market.

Now… god knows I’m no expert on this… but what I’ve seen / experienced is tat when one of the hobbyist machines goes belly up, it’s time to dig a shallow grave, say a few kind words… and replace it…….

Alternatively, pro spec machines are built to last for years. That’s NOT to say that they’ll do so faultlessly…it’s a given that eventually, any well used machine is gonna need some time in the shop for service/repair etc. The difference is that they’re designed and built with that in mind; parts are available, repair networks established etc.. That said, having seen what Freud can do for the price, there’s no way I could justify the price of a T9, Makita or Bosch etc….
 
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Anonymous

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Just got a cheap router from Index half price £13.99 with 5 bits works a treat, (don't know for how long though.) :lol:
 

Martin

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A few years back I bought a Bosch 1300ACE from a local tool shop and was surprised to hear that the warranty was 6 months. The reason given was because it was part of Bosch's professional (as opposed to consumer) range.

This was at least 3-4 years ago, so perhaps things have moved on now...

Martin.
 

Noel

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Haven't looked at it for sometime (like years ago..) but the 1300ACE docs indicate 12 months with the proviso (as in the Freud) that the tool be used in the correct manner intended etc, etc.

Rgds

Noel
 
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Anonymous

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My twopenny worth on this subject is as follows:mad:

I started with a 1/4" £30 router - rubbish. Inacurate, noisy, vibrates and poor quality all round. Went into the bin in the end even though it still 'worked'

Moved up to a 1/2" £70 'budget' jobby. Not so bad and I was quite impressed until I got a Trend T5 for my birthday!! The £70 was used no more and eventually sold.

The analogous comparison is Hillman imp to BMW 750i :lol:

Trend is quieter, lots less viration which lead to CLEANER CUTS and less fatique during prolonged use. Also the plunge lock was more reliable and easier to use, slides parallel and smoother operation, fence (aluminium casting, NOT a piece of bent steel sheet!!) has micro adjuster and depth has micro adjuster. £130 from local supplier. Oh, and it has an on-off switch rather than a trigger to hold :lol:

Later, after reading every review I could find and looking hard at every router I came across, I got a Porter cable 1/2" router (for next birthday) and again took a huge step UP in quality. Quieter, less vibration than even the Trend, deeper plunge even better fence made completely out of aluminium extrusion with very good micro adjuster and this is the machine I mostly reach for.
I still use the Trend a fair bit though.

Moral from all this dribble? Cheap routers are CHEAP in every way and in my experience very poorly engineered. Poor quality, vibrate and do not perform well when compared to their more expensive breathen. You really do get what you pay for :wink:


I'm ehausted after that little rant. Must go and lie down somewhere :oops:

Cheers

Tony
 

Aragorn

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Hi Tony
I don't disagree with what you've written, but... how about these staggering price drops recently?

What I mean is - my very first router was the little Bosch 1/4" collet jobby (can't remember the model number, something like POF600ACE??) Anyway, it was fine for me for a while and I still use it now as a laminate trimmer when I need a small light router. It cost around £100 when I bought it years ago, but now it's £25 in B&Q apparently. It's no worse a machine just because it's cheap!

For £25 a beginner can't really go wrong! They'd get a feel for using a router and get used to how they operate. If the time comes that they need to upgrade to a pro model, they will have a better understanding of what to look for. Just IMHO!
 

Martin

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I'm with Aragorn on this one. I also started off with the Bosch POF500, which cost me the best part of £100 new. Since then I've upgraded to beefier (professional class) 1/4" and 1/2" routers for hand-held and table use (still use the POF500 though).

As a beginner, or someone slowly building up their workshop it's difficult to justify 200+ for a good quality router, especially if you've never used one before (I think the GOF1300 cost me around £250 when I eventually upgraded - but I'd been using the POF500 for years by that point).

As Aragon says, a small router like the POF500 gives you a good introduction and is still useful even when you've upgraded later on. Whilst I agree with the mantra of "buy the best you can afford", I think it's worth making a distinction between very cheap tools and say fixed machinery, where buying cheap is so often a false economy (I know, I've done it once or twice).

That said, I would still recommend sticking with brand name products such as Bosch or Trend if buying at the cheaper end. The B&Q offer looks like a real bargain...

Martin.
 
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Anonymous

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Aragorn":1z4w4sxj said:
Hi Tony
I don't disagree with what you've written, but... how about these staggering price drops recently?

!
Sure Aragorn I don't disagree with this point one bit. However, there is a difference between cheap and good value for money. A decent router that has dropped in price or is on offer will clearly be a good investment.
My warning is against cheap, often unbranded or own brand routers that are low quality chinese (or elsewhere) imports. I believe the JCB router, for instance, is very similar to loads of unbranded ones I have seen around in Macro, Homeabase and B&Q.

Cheers

Tony
 

Aragorn

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Hi Tony
Yep point taken. An important distinction to make!
So to anyone looking at a first time router, sounds like getting along to B&Q for the Bosch is the best deal at the moment.
 
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