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Our Recommendations

Appealing as their price is, we do not recommend the two smaller Craftsman routers, because they do not accept 1/2-in. shank bits. The Ryobi routers are good machines for hand held use, with large holes in their bases, but the motor does not separate from the base, which makes them much less convenient for router table use.

The Milwaukee and DeWalt machines are tried-and-true routers that have
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given many of us years of excellent service. However, the DeWalt has a fairly coarse depth-of-cut adjustment and the Milwaukee, though it has a reputation for endurance in production settings, is fairly expensive, and lacks features that matter in the small shop. Neither the DeWalt nor the Milwaukee have variable speed, for example, which we consider an important feature.
Our three recommended routers are:
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  Editors' Choice: Bosch 1617 EVS

This router epitomizes the new breed of mid-size routers. It has electronic variable speed, lots of power, soft start, a large hole in the baseplate, comfortable handles (wood, bless them!) and a lever lock for the motor. The magnesium housing makes this router one of the lightest and easiest to handle in the bunch. The well-engineered micro-adjust device for depth-of-cut makes this router extremely good for router table use. All in all, a great router. The price is around $209.

Best Buy: Porter Cable 690

The Porter Cable 690 is another traditional design that has proven itself in use. It lacks variable speed, and the small opening in the base, which will not accept even some common bits like a 3/8-in. rabbeting bit, is a pain. However, the price is good ($160) and this machine stands out because of the optional plunge base ($89). In fact, one of the best deals on mid-size routers is the combination package that Porter Cable offers; one 690 motor, one fixed base and one plunge base for around $209. There is also the dust collection accessory ($45) which we use with great success in our own shops, and is unique to the Porter Cable 690.
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  Editors' Choice: Makita RF 1101

This is the other mid-size router with electronic variable speed, and it also has lots of power and the convenience of a lever lock. On the downside, it has that darn small hole in the base. However, it's the low noise level that we love about this machine. You have to hear it to appreciate it.
The price for this quiet routing is $210.
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Midsize Routers Features Features (continued)
Tool Test
Our Recommendations
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Tools & Materials: Tool Test • Midsize Routers • February 2001
 © 2001 American Woodworker Magazine®
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