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Router newbie - what power router do I need?

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HarryB2019

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Hi everyone,

After a long break from woodwork I am looking to get back into it with a few projects in my new house. The first project is a kitchen island made from birch plywood, which I am really excited about!

I am looking to buy a router. The thing I am unsure about is how powerful I need it to be - the most taxing thing it's going to need to have to do is produce 12mm wide grooves about 12mm deep down the length of the 24mm birch ply. Similarly some rebates to match.

What would you guys say is the minimum wattage to pull this off with just a few passes? Plan is to invest in decent cutters etc. The main thing is I want is as compact a router as possible , i don't really like the idea of a big unwieldy thing as I will be using it freehand and would much prefer something with more precision than raw power.

I have seen this thing which looks pretty neat: DEWALT D26204K

But again not sure if 900w powerful enough.

Really interested to hear you're thoughts and recommendations!!!
 

Trevanion

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I'd really be looking to use a 1/2" router with about 2000W for that kind of work, that little palm router will stuggle in my opinion and if anything will be more unwieldy than a bigger router due to the lack of mass.

For an extra £20 you can buy one of these Dewalt 1/2 Routers which will be an infinitely better machine for heavier work like that, those palm routers are really only designed for light trimming cuts, small housings and mouldings. You can buy a much cheaper router too but if you're already willing to spend £250 on a little one you may as well push the boat out.



DeWALT DW625EKT Router TSTAK Case

Then buy one of these groovers at the corrosponding size for around £40 with the arbour and a bearing to get the correct depth:



Heavy Duty

With that combination you'll make very short work of the job.
 

Blackswanwood

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That Router should be able to handle it with a series of passes but I would personally be looking for a model that has a 1/2 inch collet and a bit more oomph. I have a Dewalt DW625 which is decent machine.

Edit - Trevanion beat me to it!
 

HarryB2019

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Thanks for the replies guys. Trevanion you make an interesting point about the heavier mass been more stable - hadn't thought of that! The DeWalt dw625 does look decent. I have also seen the orange triton machines which seem to get a lot of love and are pretty cheap, so might look into them too.

Trevanion regarding the wealden groover bit you recommended - I haven't seen these types of bits before - do these have advantages for cutting dado's/rebates over a standard straight cutter?

Cheers

Harry
 

spb

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Those slotting cutters are for cutting a groove in the edge of a piece - the router base sits on top of the board, the bearing runs against the edge to keep the depth constant, and it cuts in from the side. If your grooves are in the middle of the face, you'll want a straight cutter; for rebates a bearing guided cutter (link) has the big advantages that you don't need a separate rail or straightedge to guide the router.
 

Sideways

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Take more, shallower passes, have more control, make fewer mistakes.
A good 900W 1/4" machine will do the task you describe perfectly well and be far easier to freehand on smaller work.
 

Trevanion

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I haven't seen these types of bits before - do these have advantages for cutting dado's/rebates over a standard straight cutter?
Ah, I think I may have misread the original post! You mean running the router down the length of the face of the board rather than the edge, right?

If that's the case you could be wanting a regular straight bit for cutting the trenches out, but it's still a task better suited to a larger router, in my opinion. You can do it in several passes with a lighter 1/4" machine adequetly enough though.

The bit I linked to is a grooving bit which you would use with the router to groove along the edge of a workpiece rather than using a straight bit and plunging into the edge which is an unstable operation because of the lack of surface area for the router to rest on which can make it a bit tippy either way. Since a groover bit is designed like a saw blade and has a larger diameter than an average router bit it clears away waste far more efficiently than a straight cutter doing the same operation.

For your rebates I would rather use a bearing-guided rebating bit rather than a straight bit and a fence but that's mostly down to personal preference more than anything else.

I would also add that decent extraction is pretty necessary for routing, not only are you cleaning the mess (and it can be a god-almighty mess!) at the source it makes it easier to see what you're doing.
 

HarryB2019

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Thanks for the advice everyone. Indeed, I am wanting to route the grooves in the face of the plywood, not the edge - sorry, I didn't communicate that very well. I can see what the grouting cutters are for now - more like a tongue and groove joint. I am after the more standard 12mm dado i.e. for supporting 12mm shelves.

I think the bottom line is a smaller router will do the job, but with more passes required. This has potential positives in terms of control but will clearly take longer etc. If I was going to buy a larger router I would like one which is easy to handle, smooth plunge operation etc - If anyone has one they really like let me know.

On another note, I am planning on getting one of these along with a straight edge clamp for the job:


What do people think/has anyone used it? Does this change the advice on which router to purchase?

Cheers

Harry
 

PerryGunn

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Although it doesn't really address your original question, are you really sure that freehand is the way you want to go? It's a fair amount of setup work for each dado - which is fine for a couple of cuts but, presumably, you're going to be cutting a fair number for your island.

A router table and fence would make things faster and more confidently repeatable e.g. one setup and you can cut your dados in multiple boards and know that they're all parallel to, and exactly the same distance from, the board edge.
 

Mike Jordan

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There is no question in my mind you should buy a substantial 2000 watt router which will do all you want and be an investment for future needs.
Don't waste money on jigs and gadgets, make your own it's easy to do.
You can pay up to £200 for a stair trenching jig or make your own in about 30 minutes.




W
image.jpg

This is a jig for grooves of any width, there is a how to make it video on YouTube
 

pe2dave

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Agree about 'keeping on track' - Shame to spoil the workpiece when the router slips.
It needs support 'both' sides to retain a straight line.

Take care and a 1/4" job will manage, multiple passes, less force needed.
Be aware though, they should give the router away free, since the price of a moderate bit collection is far greater :)
 

HarryB2019

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Although it doesn't really address your original question, are you really sure that freehand is the way you want to go? It's a fair amount of setup work for each dado - which is fine for a couple of cuts but, presumably, you're going to be cutting a fair number for your island.

A router table and fence would make things faster and more confidently repeatable e.g. one setup and you can cut your dados in multiple boards and know that they're all parallel to, and exactly the same distance from, the board edge.
I have thought about this, my worry is that the pieces will be too large to really benefit from a table setup. For example, as part of the design I need to route a channel down the centre of a 1.6m X 1m piece of ply. This is quite large to manaoever over a table, and would require a distance of 80cm between the fence and cutter. The other issue is I don't have a proper workshop setup, as we have just moved in - I will be working out of a conservatory.

In some ways this also relates to your point about homemade jigs Mike - it's a little bit of a chicken and egg situation since I don't have an setup that facilitates accurate jig making. I will give it some thought though as you make a good point about the cost.

Cheers

Harry
 

pcb1962

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Yes, you would need a very large router table to route a shelf housing in the centre of the side panel of a cupboard. As Mike J said above you can make a jig very easily, search youtube for 'dado jig', or you can just clamp a straightedge to your panel but a jig would be much better. I also agree that a 1/2" router is best suited for this job. When looking at those bear in mind that some such as the Triton have a raise and lower mechanism built in which will be convenient if you ever want to use the router in a router table.
 

bp122

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You have a few options with the routers, but was everyone here has said, you need 2000W and A1/2" collet.

Cheapest option is to buy Screwfix points under the brand Erbauer stuff, but if you want to keep the tool for a few years, invest in quality.

You could buy used, lots of Hitachi, dewalt and Bosch out there.

Brand new would be either Triton or trend (like this one)


Or you could buy DeWalt or Bosch.

Personally, I have a Triton 2400W one and I have invested in a good quality router bits (avoid the cheap sets)
 

Yojevol

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I agree with the advocates of a large m/c for this particular job but as an investment for the future a mid size router is going to be a better choice.
I started off with a cheap 1/4" 800w unit which had it's foibles but I learned to live with them. It was only when I built my table that I invested in a 2kw m/c.
Later on I felt justified in replacing the 1/4" and went for A DW625 which can take 8mm cutters. This is now my favourite. The 2kw jobby rarely gets used as my 1/2" cutters are now mostly used in the spindle moulder which replaced the router table.
There is a huge choice in the mid range market. Why, because most users find this size to be the most versatile
Brian
 

eezageeza

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Make a dado jig as Mike suggests - it'll make life much much easier. There's loads of tutorials on Youtube.
I've cut lots and lots of dados using a jig very similar to the one Mike pictured, using a 1/4" Bosch router, and taking a couple of passes to get down to the depth required, so if you prefer a smaller and easier to handle machine, you'll be fine with that.
 

HarryB2019

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Ok guys, thanks for all the really helpful advice so far. To me it basically sounds like people have completed similar processes with both larger and smaller routers, with differences arising in the time taken/jigs used depending. So I suppose the question comes down to what is the smartest investment, and which will be the most enjoyable to use for this job.

The reason I am edging towards something smaller is because I think it will be easier to control the machine and hence easier to be precise, and with less chance of catastrophic error! From what people have said I will probably go for something half way, perhaps around 1600w. I want something that is very easy to use handheld, smooth plunge, quiet motor, good visibility. I am going to keep an eye out on Black Friday for a good deal - any suggestions let me know!

In terms of cutters, I see lots of people giving wealden cutters a lot of love so I will probably go for some of these.

Again, thanks for all the advice. First time back to this forum for some time, always impressed by the knowledge everyone has!

Cheers
Harry
 

Yojevol

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I agree with the advocates of a large m/c for this particular job but as an investment for the future a mid size router is going to be a better choice.
I started off with a cheap 1/4" 800w unit which had it's foibles but I learned to live with them. It was only when I built my table that I invested in a 2kw m/c.
Later on I felt justified in replacing the 1/4" and went for A DW625 which can take 8mm cutters. This is now my favourite. The 2kw jobby rarely gets used as my 1/2" cutters are now mostly used in the spindle moulder which replaced the router table.
There is a huge choice in the mid range market. Why, because most users find this size to be the most versatile
Brian
Oops just checked. Mine is a DW 621 @ 1100W. I bought it s/h, it seems to be a bit of an oddball. I can only find a 120V version online at present.
Brian
 

Terrytpot

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My first router was a 1/4" cheapie from B&Q for about £35? many years ago. I then added a substantially bigger 1/2" one, again from B&Q and still pretty cheap. The first one died after a year or two but as it was very easy to use and not as unwieldy to use I picked up another but eventually replaced it with a Bosch 1/2" one I picked up in the states on a holiday (along with a 110-240v transformer) and also relegated my original cheap 1/2" device for use in a router table even though that was my plan for the Bosch as its bit hight could be altered through its base like on the tritons. I've since also added the Makita 18v item to my collection which I seem to reach for the most now as its so easy to control. For a 1/2" wide and deep grove I would , out of the choices available to me, use my 1/2" Bosch for its power and mass but would still be planning on taking at least 2 if not 3 passes per trench whilst running the base between a pair of guide edges (one each side to prevent the cutter from wandering on a path of its own choosing). Any of my routers would be capable but the ease for them and the pleasure for me still makes the choice the same.Screenshot 2020-11-24 at 15.08.02.pngScreenshot 2020-11-24 at 15.25.58.pngScreenshot 2020-11-24 at 15.30.49.png
 
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Spectric

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Hi

I have been routing 12mm grooves into some redwood pine for an oven unit and most were done on my router table that has a Triton Tra001 fitted but some were done in my woodrat that has a Dewalt 625 fitted. Using a straight 12mm cutter the Triton made faster progress and when I changed over to the arbour mounted cutters because the grove kept clogging it was even faster. The Dewalt did well but the Triton had the edge.
 
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