Popular Woodworking 2003-08 № 135, страница 78

Popular Woodworking 2003-08 № 135, страница 78

BUYING YOUR FIRST ROUTER BITS

In this article we've told you how If you're likely to be using your

you can buy an entry-level plunge router only occasionally, the bar-

router to handle a great many gain Roman ogee bit will likely

routing tasks without spending a take care of your needs for the next

lot of money. It would be an over- year or two without any concerns.

sight not to address the other part Our suggestion for an entry-

of the router ... the bits. level router owner is to buy two

In shopping for router bits, regular-price router bits. For most

you've probably noticed they fall router users this would be a V4"-

into two price categories: regular or 1/2"-diameter straight bit plus

(which seems high) and discount either a roundover bit, or a rabbet-

(which seems like a bargain). ing bit with interchangeable

After speaking with some bearings to adjust the rabbet size.

router bit experts we determined With two of these bits in your

that there are only a couple of tool cabinet, much of your routing

areas where savings can be needs will be taken care of, and

achieved in making router bits. The you'll get a good feel for the

materials used can be of lesser quality of the bits.

quality, or the assembly process Next, to supplement your

(primarily mounting the carbide to higher-priced bits, purchase a

the bit bodies) may have lower "starter set" of less-frequently

quality control standards. If either used bits from one of the bargain

of these areas are the reason for dealers. They'll be available for

the bargain you may be disap- those times you need an unusual

pointed in the bit's performance profile, and also will let you evalu-

with extended use.That doesn't ate the bargain bits.You can then

mean they should be excluded as decide which price category seems

an option. It depends on your the right choice for your routing

routing needs. requirements.

Quality materials can make all the difference in a router bit. How the carbide is made is one crucial step.Above you see carbide blanks from the Freud factory in Udine, Italy, ready to be brazed to the tooling.These blanks have been through a number of rigorous spot checks to guarantee quality and conformity. Even a few degrees temperature change during the heating process can ruin tens of thousands of dollars of carbide.

76 I Popular Woodworking August 2003

just one wrench. All the routers tested here have collet locks.

There are multiple ways to set the plunging depth of a router. The simplest is a rod that slides up and down and can be locked in place. When the rod hits the router's base, the tool stops plunging. One common variation is the "turret depth stop." This is where the depth rod hits screws or steps that are in a rotating turret on the router's base. The turret depth stop allows you to make deep plunge cuts easily in small increments, which is good for the motor and the bit.

"Rack-and-pinion" depth stops allow you to dial-in the depth of the rod, while others merely free-fall. "Fine height adjustment" is a separate knob that lets you fine-tune your plunging depth in small and measurable increments.

The Test

Because the routers included in this test are designed as entry-level routers, we didn't test them to the extremes that we would ask of a professional router. We did, however, think they should be held to certain levels of scrutiny, and here they are:

We tested each router for noise using a decibel meter held 2' from the router (running without cutting wood). Any noise at 85 dB and higher can cause hearing loss with extended exposure.

We also cut 1/2"-wide x V4"-deep grooves in plywood using quality double-flute carbide-edged bits from Freud. Costing about $15, this bit might not be the choice for first-time router users, but we think it should be (read "Buying Your First Router Bits" at left). We then measured the width of the groove with a dial caliper and compared its average measurement to the diameter of the bit used to make the cut. This difference gave

us a sense of the runout of the tool and an indication of the accuracy of the router.

Also, while cutting similar grooves, we tested the amperage draw of each router both while it was free-spinning and while it was under load, cutting a groove. The smaller the variance between these two readings can be evidence for a more efficient motor.

As criteria for the test we selected the more feature-laden model from each manufacturer, with a maximum price of $125. While the $69 router may look very attractive, spending the extra $20 will add beneficial features that will greatly improve your satisfaction with your new router.

And the Winner is ...

Needless to say we were attracted to the two-base router kits. They offer good versatility for a reasonable price. That said, the Craftsman costs $120 (only $50 away from a professional-grade plunge router) and it is handicapped by its single 1/4" collet and single-speed motor. The Skil kit is priced $20 lower, offers two collets, variable speed and even a clever task light. The Skil is our choice for a bargain in the entry-level router category.

Of the dedicated plunge routers, we can't recommend the Chicago Electric router from Harbor Freight. While the Black & Decker router performed OK, the bit runout was the highest tested and it offers only a single 1/4" collet. While initially swayed by the allure of dust collection, the payoff wasn't there during testing. The Ryobi performed exceptionally, with perfect runout results, plenty of power, good ergonomics and two collets.

While a tight race, we recommend the Ryobi as a solid choice for a first (or third) plunge router for your workshop. PW

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