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I want to invest in a router, I want to get the best deal I can for around $130. I have looked that the Dewalt DW618 but wanted to see what recommendations I could get. It will not be used a lot but have a few projects I want to work on. Looking at a fixed base to start for economy and also something that can be used as hand held or mounted in a table.

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For your budget of $130, only the small 1HP mini-routers are available.

Available in fixed base as well as plunge base.

Limited to 1/4" shank router bits, which is suitable for small tasks.

A plunge base can be purchased separately, at a later date, as funds become available.

I have two of the Bosch VS (variable speed) models, various bases, fixed and plunge.

When it first came out, only a fixed base was offered.

With the high demand, for this router, Bosch came out with a plunge base.

This is my go-to router, for all my smaller tasks.

This router can used in a single-hand.

Bosch offers more accessories, over other brands/models.

Check out Rockler, for the mini-router accessories, they offer.

If your plans are for larger tasks, then you'll need a larger router, in a 2-1/4HP to 2-1/2HP model.

These models have chuck adaptors for both 1/4" and 1/2" shank router bits.

These routers start at approx $150; however, with fixed base only.

A plunge base can be purchased separately, at a later date.

Porter-Cable offers the 890 series, with VS, fixed and plunge base, for about $200.

Porter-Cable offers the most readily available accessories, on todays market.

Check out the accessories that Rockler offers.

If you can save up some extra coins, I'd suggest the PC in the VS model. 

I have a couple of the Porter-Cable routers, and have been in use for over 10 years.

I have the fixed base mounted in the router table, and the plunge base for hand-held routing tasks.

It can be easily moved from the fixed base to the plunge base, without the use of tools.

Bosch offers the 1617EVS---2-1/4HP, fixed and plunge base.

Also an excellent router.

Some accessories offered by Bosch, are limited to the Bosch routers;

whereas, the PC accessories, can be used on various makes/models.

My first router, about 40 years ago, was a hand-held single-speed model, limited to using 1/4" shank bits.

This sufficed for all my routing tasks and trim work.

It worked well for edge dressing, moldings, making rabbet and dado joinery, when making cabinetry.

I still use it occasionaly---it has features, that are not offered on todays router market.

It was offered by Craftsman, when they had industrial rated tools.

NO---it's not for sale---it's too valuable to me, as this time.


The Porter Cable 690LR available from Rockler runs $159.00 (slightly higher than your $130 budget) but includes both 1/4 and 1/2 inch collets.  Lowe's offers the 690 LR for slightly less at $149.00.  

I own two of the 690 models one has both the fixed and plunge bases for freehand work, the other is mounted in the router lift on my router table.  The 690 is a 1.75 hp model.  It has always been powerful enough for everything I've used it for both freehand and in the table, however I have not attempted to make raised panels or used any other wide bits.  The one thing I wish it had was variable speed.

If you can save a little and buy the 890 that Ken mentions it may be worth your while.  Since it is a higher horsepower model, has variable speed and includes both the fixed and plunge bases.  Shy of attempting to do production work the 890 should be able to handle all your woodworking tasks.  If you can live without both bases right away and the variable speed feature, then the 690 may suit your needs.

And like Ken my first model was a smaller Black and Decker single speed, 1/4 inch collet only model, I used since the seventies.  I finally had to retire it when the on/off switch melted causing a fire inside the housing.  I now have a pair of Porter Cable trim routers for small work.

Hope my 2 cents worth helps, Don

ps. and yes I am partial to Porter Cable routers

 buy a lot of reconditioned Bosch power tools - they work great, might have a few scratches, but cheaper ... and you can get a Factory Reconditioned Bosch 1617EVSPK-RT 12 Amp 2.25 HP Combination Plunge AND Fixed-Base Router Kit (a GREAT router) for only $169.

I probably shouldn't recommend a specific supplier, but if you google "Reconditioned Bosch 1617EVSPK Router" you'll probably find this deal.

This is the set I have and it is well respected.

amazon had the Dewalt for $123 the other day but I see it is $138 now. But it is a 2.25 hp and variable speed. They say it comes with the 1/4 and 1/2 collets. It is only a fixed base but it is my starter so I don't feel I will need a plunge base yet. Thought it sounded like a good deal. Any thoughts?

 Is it better to have the smaller ones for smaller jobs or will the bigger 2.25 hp models do well for both. I really am stretching my budget to spend 140, wont go any higher. Hoping to buy one that will do both. I really know nothing about this right now just trying to learn and stay in my budget. :)

I still see the lower price on The Dewalt should do you just fine. Its a good size for multiple tasks. Hint: stick with 1/2" router bits. The best advice I've heard for those wanting to buy a bit set is to buy a low cost set, such as the MLCS set, and then replace those bits used the most with higher quality bits.

Thanks, I really appreciate all the feedback. I know the Porter Cable and Bosch are higher rated, just can afford them for now.

I've got the DW618. You will not be disappointed. If you can, spring for the kit that includes the plunge base. If I am not mistaken, the 618, Bosch 1617 and Porter Cable 890 share a base mounting pattern, so when it comes to mounting it on a router table, you can have more options as to the mounting plate.
I also ended up picking up the DW611 - which is the mini-version of the 618.

Hi Tim,

I'm also in the market for my first router and am on the fence between the DW611 palm sander and the regular sized 618. I'm a novice DIYer and will likely be using it for the occasional woodworking project. I can also tell you that edging such as roundovers and chamfers are going to constitute the majority of its use. Since you have both, which would you recommend? I don't have a routing table yet, but it might be a possibility someday. The two related questions I have are 1) is there a noticable difference in performance between 1/4" and 1/2" shank bits as far as edging bits are concerned, and 2) do you find that there are tasks the 618 doesn't do well and that a small sized router such as the 611is essential? Thanks!

Tim Grace said:

I've got the DW618. You will not be disappointed. If you can, spring for the kit that includes the plunge base. If I am not mistaken, the 618, Bosch 1617 and Porter Cable 890 share a base mounting pattern, so when it comes to mounting it on a router table, you can have more options as to the mounting plate.
I also ended up picking up the DW611 - which is the mini-version of the 618.


My 618 is primarily used in my table, and I use it for most everything, including edge treatments.  It will get pulled out of the table when I use my dovetail jig.  

Most of my edging bits are ¼" shanks, so have no issues going into the 611. Other than edging, I will use the 611 to cut hinge mortises and to shallow for inlay.  For hinge mortises, I will use a 3/16" straight bit and cut about 1/16" deep.  For inlay, I use a 1/16 straight bit, and I'm only cutting 1/32" or less deep.

The 611's performance is sufficient for many things, but keep in mind the torque will be harder to control with the smaller base. You can get by with the 611's 1.25 HP - I got by with a circa 1982 Craftsman that had the same 1.25 HP, but the base was a full sized base.  The key with using one as small as the 611 is keeping control of your cuts.  Make several passes taking shallow cuts (about 1/8" max, depending on bit size), and ensure the motor's speed matches the material and bit diameter.  

Differences between shank sizes are most noticeable with harder woods (maple, hickory) and larger bit sizes. The bits with ¼" shanks will chatter more than bits with ½" shanks.  I will notice it the most using a rabbeting bit through maple or hickory, but will still notice it when using a round over bit as small as ¼" (I have not noticed it with the 1/8" round over bit).  The chatter will require the piece to sanded more.

Rockler also makes a table to hold palm size routers.  If you go with the 611, get the DW611PK, which includes the plunge base.

Given the option between the 611 & 618, I would go with the 618. It is more versatile and more powerful.  You may find yourself wanting to pick up a nice facing bit to create a custom picture frame or molding that is only available with a ½" shank. I can get by without my 611, I'd be lost without my 618. 

Hitachi KM12VC combo set is $140.00 at Menards after their 11% rebate is mailed in. I have this set & it is a tad heavier than other routers in it's class but it's virtually vibration free. The handles are very comfy & the plunge base is smooth and solid.

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