Powerhouse Routers Loudon TN
Lenoir City, TN
Dixie Lee Jct, TN
What's the one thing you need most when you're shaping dozens of raised panels on a router table? Power! These 3-hp monsters deliver plenty. There are two completely different kinds of 3-hp routers: fixed-base and plunge. Both types have 15-amp motors with variable speed (a must for big bits), soft start (so your arm isn't wrenched when turning the machine on in a hand-held cut) and feed back circuitry (which helps the motor maintain rpm as it bears into a heavy cut). There's a huge difference between fixed-base and plunge routers, however, in how easy they are to use in a router table. Adjusting some of these big routers can be a real headache. Few of them have been specifically designed to be used upside down in a router table, but some manufacturers are clearly catching on.
A fixed-base router is our first choice for use in a router table. It has two distinct advantages: it's easy to change a bit quickly and it's easy to adjust the bit's height. Making a coarse height adjustment is a simple matter of loosening a clamping mechanism and twisting or lifting the router's motor (Photo 1). To change bits, all you have to do is remove the router motor from the base (Photo 2). The collet is right out in the open.
A fixed-base router has two independent parts: the motor and the base.
Changing any bit on a fixed-base router is a breeze. All you've got to do is remove the motor.
A powerful plunge router is a great tool for cutting large dadoes and mortises, but the features that make it handy for hand-held work get in the way when you hang the machine in a router table (Photo 3). Adjusting the bit height is awkward on most plunge routers because there's no coarse height adjustment. Instead, you end up turning and turning a micro-adjust knob. Changing bits can be even more of a hassle, particularly when the bit has a large diameter, like a panel-raiser (Photo 4).
A plunge router doesn't come apart. The motor is permanently mounted on
Changing large bits on a plunge router can be difficult, particularly if the base has a small opening. You can't retract the motor to give
you more room around the collet.
Router Table-Friendly Feature
Discombobulating problems crop up when you turn a router upside down and tuck it under a router table. Labels are difficult to read. Switches are backwards. Whether you choose a fixed-base or a plunge router for your router table, here are some features that make any machine safer and easier to use. Unfortunately, there are only two 3-hp fixed-base routers on the market. The Porter-Cable 7518 has been around for quite a while, and was our Editors' Choice when we last tested 3-hp routers in AW #78, February, 2000. The new Milwaukee 5625-20 is even better. Both routers pack plenty of pow...