Monday, February 27, 2012
Two Palm Routers Will Enter One Will Leave!
So awhile back I knew the time had come to get into the palm router game. I know some woodworkers are loyal to one brand and their shop is a "Jet Shop" or a "Powermatic" shop. My tool collection seems to be pretty varied although I have exiled ALL that is Harbor Freight! So when I started my research on palm routers there seemed to be two major contenders for the title.
Soft-start reduces start-up torque.
Constant Response Circuitry monitors and maintains speed under load.
Quick-Clamp System allows motor to be easily adjusted or moved from base to base. Liar liar pants on fire says I.
Convenient front spindle lock for fast, easy one-wrench bit changes.
Rubberized grip and unique finger support pockets provide additional support when trimming edges.
All-metal straight-edge guide directs router along edges of workpiece or up to 3-5/8" from edge.
Fast and precise depth adjustment system with micro-fine adjustment dial.
Accepts 1/4" shank bits.
The Bosch Colt found for about $90 as a stand alone or $180 as a complete package with lots of accessories and bases.
Variable speed dial lets you match speed to workpiece and task.
And the Dewalt DWP611PK which runs about $115 stand alone or $180 with the plunge base.
After going back and forth and talking to a few fellow woodworkers and Bosch owners, I finally settled on the Bosch Colt stand alone. So I grabbed it at Rockler and headed home to flush trim some book case parts. I soon realized my mistake... In paying attention to mostly price and not extensively handling the product in the store I made an impulsive purchase. I realized my mistake the first time I tried to adjust the bit height... it was difficult and not precise. Basically it's a twist the unit to unlock adjust-ability and then twist the motor back to lock it in place. The problem with this is that it just doesn't have that "I'm totally in control" feeling when adjusting the bit height. I started to play the "No that's too low... no now that's too high." Eventually I got fed up and visions of returning it started to cloud my mind. I first decided to give it a fair shot before sending it packing. The adjustment clamp seemed to be holding on too tightly to allow easy adjustments so i tried to fine tune it's hold. My efforts to dial in that adjustment clamp failed miserably. While routing a small dado I noticed the motor slowly slipping lower. That was it back to Rockler you go young Colt. If there is a company out there in the woodworking industry that understands customers service it's Rockler. I took the Bosch router back and explained that I wanted to get the DeWalt instead they took it back with a smile on their face and I paid the difference. After getting in a few uses on the DeWalt I quickly realized it was by far that better of the two routers. Large adjustments can be done quickly by squeezing two unlock tabs on the side of the base and fine adjustments are accomplished by twisting the adjustment ring for slow fine adjustments. Plus the DeWalt includes creature comforts like bottom mounted LED lights, slow start, and easy spindle lock button, and a base that has better visibility than the all metal Bosch base. I haven't tried the plunge base yes but if it functions as smoothly as the fixed base I'm sure I'll have no issues.
My father-in-law said it best "Buy right and cry once." I this case if you're looking to jump into the arena of palm routers I'd tell you just get the DeWalt you won't regret it!