Router Woodworking

Extracted from A Routing Outing:

Figure 1
The industry standard in mid-range plungers, DeWalt 621. Switch, motor lock and plunge all actuated with both hands on the ball knobs, no other plunger with that safety and convenience.

The 621 is the industry standard in mid-range plungers; (the Bosch 1166, however, is a very close quality second). The 2 H.P. variable speed, soft start 9 pound plunger makes the most ergonomic sense and has the best plunge action of all plungers. Formerly an Elu, it still has the same quality without compromise. DeWalt and Bosch are masters at speed control and this one is predictable, handy, accurate and most appreciated. The 621 was first to do something about chip collection. The left side, large diameter plunge tube doubles as a conduit for chips and dust. The vacuum funnel over and around the cutter makes it difficult to change cutters. Hauling a vacuum hose with the router is an adversity but can be relatively painless with practice.

Most plungers have 2 step trigger switches (except Bosch 1166, PC 6931, and Makita RP1101) and they all have their safety quirks. The 621 switch cannot be accidentally fired. The on/off switch, plunge and plunge lock are all managed with your hands on the armored and comfortable ball knobs. The 621 is king in ergonomics but not stability.

The base casting is much shorter than it is wide. The short dimension is in the direction of normal router travel, and therefore easy to tip. Engage a lot of work with the cutter and you may just tip it over as you rout. It is more of a problem while edge routing. The cutter is not centered in the casting and this too accounts for its instability. My cutter hole centered, oversized (7-5/8" diameter) round replacement subbase is essential here if you want to control this tool.

Figure 2
Final depth adjusted without turret. With the cutter at zero on the work, the plunge depth will equal thickness of brass spacer. So many things spontaneously rotate when in a 25,000 rpm vibratory environment. I can't believe the final depth of the adjuster will stay in the same place plunge after plunge.

The collets are good and spindle locked with a single wrench. The router must lie on its side for you to make a cutter change; do not try and rest the tool on the motor cap. Has double insulated motor with a short (8ft.) wire set. The depth stop is 2-stage. Rack and pinioned to rough position, then with an internal fine screw adjuster, the final depth end point can be set.

Perfect for right side up use, not handy for upside down, under the table use. An aftermarket accessory for fine adjust is an option, a klutzy product for this router tech. The tool has no up-stop, a convenience and safety feature I wish it had. I remove the turret stop from all plungers. A precise and final depth end point is easier to set right on the casting anvil (see photo).

The plunge stroke is 2-1/4", about right for this tool. The plunge glide is excellent. A plunger, above all else, should plunge well. The spring load renders the motor near buoyant on the plunge tubes. In spite of its idiosyncrasies, if I could have but one router, this would be it.

Figure 3
Shown here with my 7-5/8" round plate upgrade. Note the collar guide acceptance and that the cutter hole is centered on the diameter. Casting webbing is sharp enough to cut, debur for your safety.

Notes and safety

1) If the exhaust tube is not hooked to a vacuum hose and is facing you, you will get chips in your face.

2) Don't trust the pencil fine adjust for repetition. Trust it for first plunge, but not thereafter.

3) In my view, cutter height can be adjusted to + or - .001".

4) A tippy tool, expect adversity without an over sized subbase.

5) More than one router is necessary to address all types of routing. If I could have only one, however, this would be it.

6) Collar guides are difficult to install with vacuum funnel in play.

7) 2 step trigger switch is often complained about; I don't have a problem with it.

8) Have no idea what cryptic numbers are on pencil depth adjuster.

9) Would restrict router bit diameters to <2" and flute lengths to 1-1/2".

10) A waste of router when upside down in a router table, but can be done.

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Copyright © 2009-2014 Pat Warner
Last modified: Tue Nov 11 07:06:37 PST 2014