Popular Woodworking 2003-08 № 135, страница 79

Popular Woodworking 2003-08 № 135, страница 79

BLACK & DECKER RP400K

Black & Decker: 800-544-6986 or blackanddecker.com

The Black & Decker router entered the competition with one particular feature we were pleased to see - an integral dust collection port. In addition, the fit and finish, as well as the smooth plunge action and overall feel of the router, gave a solid, quality presentation.

Featuring a 2-horsepower (hp), 10-amp motor with variable speed control and soft-start, the RP400K lacks a fine-adjustment knob, but the rack-and-pinion depth stop almost functions in that capacity, lending an easier depth setup. The rubber over-molded grips are comfortable and the router feels good in your hands overall.The router has a flat area cast into the base, which helps maintain even spacing against an edge guide.A standard round base may be out-of-round slightly, and if the router is rotated during a pass it can ruin the cut.

One limitation of the router is its single V4" collet. When using the router we found that the runout was the worst tested. This was surprising in light of the tight plunge mechanism, indicating the shaft may be the culprit. We also were disappointed to find that the through-the-column dust collection didn't perform as well as expected. In fact, after a couple of passes we decided the hose was more inconvenient than the dust itself - so we disconnected the hose. Also lacking is a way to attach template guides.

Overall the router performed fine, and it was the quietest tool in the test. It was disappointing that the dust collection didn't live up to our expectations, and we'd prefer tighter tolerance in the shaft runout. It's OK, but there are nicer routers available.

CHICAGO ELECTRIC 41348

Harbor Freight: 800-423-2567 or harborfreight.com

On paper this Chicago Electric router looks like a great deal.At $80 it's the least expensive of the bunch and boasts a 21/2-hp, 12.7-amp motor with three collets, (V4", 3k" and V2" ), an edge guide, roller guide, 5/8" template guide, 3/8" carbide straight bit and an extra set of brushes for the motor. But once the router arrived, it didn't look as good as it did in the catalog.

On opening the box we were greeted by crude castings with visible surface voids. The overall fit of the plastic to the metal was poor and the router looked cobbled together. It was very heavy. We didn't want to make too much of a deal about how it looked, so we went to work with it. The first thing we noticed was that plunging the motor on the base made a grating noise from the fine-height adjustment mechanism. Beyond the sounds of metal rubbing on the threads of the mechanism, the

rubbing affected the smoothness of the plunge action. We noticed significant play in the column during plunging operations and that the base plate was warped by .090".

We decided it was time to stop criticizing and just turn it on. To mount the 1/4"-shank straight bit in the sleeved insert collet, we had to apply much more pressure than expected and the bit still managed to slip out of the collet three times before completing a 4'-long groove. At this point we stopped testing and called Harbor Freight. The company shipped a new collet without too much discussion. When it arrived, the collet was 1/s" longer and significantly better machined and we were able to complete our testing.

Ultimately the router performed OK, but while this is a very affordable router, it's not necessarily a bargain.

CRAFTSMAN 17533

Craftsman: 800-377-7414 or www.craftsman.com

Offered with both fixed and plunge bases, this 2-hp,

9.5-amp router kit has some nice features, but it falls short of grand praise.This is another router that offers only a V4" collet - we prefer the versatility of having both a V4" and V2" collet. It's a single-speed router, so you cannot operate larger bits at slower speeds. We were happy with the performance of the tool, which has a smooth solid plunging action and adequate power. An innocent-looking plastic dust collection attachment is included in the kit, but don't underestimate it. When we routed grooves with the dust collection enabled, we were pleased to see all the dust disappear, even pulling it up from the bottom of the groove - very nice!

Changing from the fixed to plunge base is made less convenient by the use of a threaded-knob release on the plunge base, while the fixed base offers a much easier lever-release latch. Sliding the motor into the separate

bases isn't a smooth process and requires some wiggling and adjusting to seat everything properly. Once in place, however, both bases offer nice performance, and they both are outfitted for template guide inserts.

Overall this is a decent but ultimately average router, with its strongest recommendation being its two bases. When considered against the similarly priced Skil two-base kit, it falls a bit short because of its V4" collet and single-speed motor.

www.popwood.com

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