router advice needed


Well, I’ve already jumped on the good tools are well worth the money bandwagon. My router was of the $35 variety, and I’ve had no end of problems with it. Today, while in the middle of a cut, the router bit started to come out. This thing just isn’t safe. I’m going to get a new one, and need some advice. I’d like to keep it under $200 if possible, and have been looking in the used/reconditioned market on


For a plunge router (what I’m interested in) does 2 1/4hp vs 1 3/4 hp make a difference?

Better to go with a new sears craftsman/skill (the lower end) or a reconditioned porter cable?

Is 1/2" colled really necessary? The only template bit I was able to find is a nice freud one, but it’s a 1/4" shank, and I was using the adapter with my current POS router.

Thanks for the help. If I had the dinero I’d go with a shiny new porter cable or dewalt, but that’s not really an option with the higher HP models right now.


Take a look at the Dewalt DW 621 plunge router. i think they are pretty close to your $200 mark. I got one with my lockbox kit and its a great tool. It has a 1/2" collet wich lets you use bigger faster cutting bits.

Hi Pat-

My nickel’s worth…it’d be two cents worth, but there is inflation after all -

Router horsepower is utter hogwash. Look at amps, not claimed ‘horsepower’.

But more important is how easy it is to use. Bear in mind that the power you need to cut foam is such that any cheezoid laminate trimmer can do it. So, you want to find one with comfortable, easily accessible controls, like depth adjustment, plunge lock, a relatively easily serviced machine, that sort of thing.

I have, and like, a Porter-Cable 693 plunge-base. Amazon has the kit, plunge and regular base, for $170 - do a search for ‘porter cable plunge router’ - ( ) It comes with 1/4" and 1/2" collets, and you may find a use for those both - most of my bits are 1/4" but for big plunge stuff in wood (mortising in wood post and beam construction) the 1/2" is handy.

Rather than template bits, you want the template following collars that attach to the base, in the hole there. When ya think about it, the top-bearing pattern bits won’t help you much when half ways down with the bit, y’know? You got nothing but cutter down there and it’ll cut pattern as happily as it’ll munch into foam and wood stringer. They can be had relatively cheap. I would suggest the brass ones, so if you screw up your steel or carbide tool is hitting soft brass and it doesn’t go KERBLOOIE on ya. The term ‘shrapnel’ comes immediately to mind.

Reconditioned means, half the time, that some joker sent it back and P-C went through it all over again and double checked that it was up to specs. They are fine.

Anywho, that’s my call - I’m used to mine, but if ya get a chance, handle some before you buy.

hope that’s of use


Thanks for the responses. I’m going to get onto amazon tonight and order something. So far, I haven’t had any reason to cut foam, but that may change later this summer. The hws fish is taking much longer than I thought.

I’ll check out both the dewalt and the porter cable, and see what looks like it would work best for me.


Hey SuperFat’,

Howsit? I sat next to you at the Cerritos Forum.

Doc’s comments are all good.

I love my Porter Cable 690. I have the accessory plunge base also. Most of the routers that come with a plunge base built-on are way more heavy duty than you need. The basic PC 690 is a great router for most projects and the plunge accessory base works fine. Unless you plan to run larger diameter bits like raised panel bits tounge and groove bits, you don’t really need a heavy duty router.

Generally, anything you do on a surfboard won’t require much power. Get a router that will allow you to change between 1/2" and 1/4" collets. That way you could use both. It’s really a matter of torque. If you’re using a long slender bit, at larger diameter bit, or are engaging a lot of heavy work, you’ll want to use the 1/2".

Which everone you get, get one that the height is adjusted by a twisting the motor within the base. The rack and pinion type are hard to fine tune.

Buy the guide collar kit. That way when you’re using your using your handy plunge base, you can lower your straight cutter in nice shallow steps and still stay within the template. That would be really handy on a heavy stringer or a mortise joint. You wouldn’t want to hog all that out in one pass.


I know a cabinet maker that had a carbide come off on him. It hit him in the thigh with such force that it penetrated to his femur slicing through a major vessel just missing his femoral artery. In the small amount of time it took him to tell someone, his shoe was filled with blood. They drove him straight to the hospital. The doctor said another couple minutes and he would’ve been dead. The investigation by the insurance company determined that the carbide was not properly fluxed when it was brazed on. It failed and impaled.

Yikes! that’s one doozy of a story Ryan. I guess I was closer to disaster than I realized today when I noticed the bit drifting out of the collet during a cut. In terms of routers, I’m going back and forth right now between the Porter Cable 693LRPK, and the DeWalt DW616PKV. For about the same price the DeWalt comes with a vacum attachment… but I don’t think I’ll ever use that. Of course, now that I’m buying nice tools they might last a while and stay with me if a real workshop ever happens. I’m really tempted to get the porter cable, just because I’ve heard such good stuff about that brand from friends in the construction business.

In terms of bits…I’d only buy good bits. The current template bit I have was more expensive thatn my old router.

Got any good projects going on now Ryan? THe real reason I got a router in the first place was because of a way Bill Thrailkill showed me to do wooden fin boxes down at Cerritos. Worth the drive just for that.


Pat I had trouble with the router I had and since went to a trimmer for the router jobs , smaller lighter easier to use. Cheaper.


I have two broken longboards I’m fixing. Very slowly I might add. I’m a bit of a perfectionist and I’m not that skilled or experience. Bad combination. Plus, just busy with life. I’ll be making my first board this summer. After I get these broken ones done.

Bill Thrailkill was very cool. All the speakers were really generous to come and share their knowledge. I plan the make the next one. Hopefully, you can too.




post some pics of your longboard repairs!


Yeah, I’ve considered the laminate trimmer. The wooden fin box requires me to rout out a 1" deep hole into some doug fir…pretty beefy wood. I think for that job in particular I’ll need the extra stability/power of a full sized deal.


Lots of good advice here. Just wanted to throw in my 6 cents. (Dang! that inflation again!)

I would also suggest Makita routers because they just work good and they fit all the criteria mentioned by others here: Well thought out. Easy to use. Lots of useful features.

I do disagree with Doc on top-bearing pattern bits though. I use them to cut for fin boxes and you can’t get any more accurate…as long as your template is accurate, because the template is exactly what you get. As far as the bit wandering into the wrong places when it’s lowered too far: pattern bits come with 1" deep shafts that will easily cut deeper than required for finboxes. But yes, the bearing has to be on a solid template edge.

The main drawback I’ve experienced to the threaded guides that screw into the router base is: if the bit is not exactly in the center of the guide, there will be variations in the cut. On my old Porter-Cable, when the bit was raised and lowered, there was a little slop in the movement, and the bit ended up just off center most of the time. With a pattern bit it’s not an issue.

Just my 7 cents. (What the…?)



I plan to post them when I’m done. I’d like the final product in the shots. Plus, I think I’ll wait until I’ve ridden it a couple times to make sure it’s holding up.

I’ve way overdone the details. I’m such a rookie. Worried about every little thing. I tried to color match the resin which added to my frustration. The color matching didn’t work out for a couple reasons which I understand now. The whole thing has been a huge learning experience. The best part is that I’ve become better with my tools so I’ll be more prepared when I do build a board. I’m looking forward to that.


Whoops, sorry - I obvously didn’t say it right;


I do disagree with Doc on top-bearing pattern bits though. I use them to cut for fin boxes and you can’t get any more accurate…as long as your template is accurate, because the template is exactly what you get. As far as the bit wandering into the wrong places when it’s lowered too far: pattern bits come with 1" deep shafts that will easily cut deeper than required for finboxes. But yes, the bearing has to be on a solid template edge.

What I meant to say was that the template or pattern bits are fine, if your template is tall enough or your first plunge deep enough so that the ball bearing whatsit, collar is on the template.

However, as I tend to make deep cuts in several passes, especially on the mostly woodworking I do with the beasties, and I make most of my own templates of relatively thin plywood scrap, I find that usually my first pass isn’t deep enough to contact the template with the ball bearing collar on a pattern bit.

Instead, I use the screw-in base collars, a straight or spiral upcut bit and make my templates oversize to allow for 1/2 the difference between collar diameter and bit diameter. This works okay, especially if it’s hard stuff you’re plunging into. If I was set up for just foam, it’d be a very different thing.

My experience has been that a little slop is acceptable, say 1/16", if it’s just carving into foam, and for most of the heavier wood stuff I do it’s a helluva sight better than I am gonna get tenons cut to in, say, an 8" x 6" x 15’ chunk of green oak that will be stuffed into the mortises with the longest pipe clamps you ever saw and bolted pretty well into the bargain. And for cabinet-grade dovetail stuff I use a standard base, 7/8 HP Porter Cable which works nicely with the dovetail jig and doesn’t need to be doing any plunge work.

Anyhow- that’s the way I use 'em

best regards


I have used mine to put grooves in Blue Gum ( fairly hard wood) fin box size . It worked.

Aloha superfat,

Enjoy the ride!