2. WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF ROUTERS?
Routers fall into two main categories, plunge and fixed base, with plunge bases the most popular type in Europe.
They allow faster adjustments and safer operation as well as being more useful in general routing applications.
The fixed base models are favoured in North America for both hand held and inverted within a table, often set up with a set position for moulding cutters.
Within the table, setting the cutter height is where a fixed base model does have an advantage as the adjustment is made by fixing the fixed base to the underside of the router table and winding the router body through the base which offers very easy control.
A plunge router has to be adjusted by pushing against the plunge springs which from the underside of the router table with restricted space can be difficult to control.
Adjustment from above the table is always an advantage and the Trend T11 router is designed to make any adjustments easy to achieve from above, allowing fine, controllable adjustments for precision set ups.
Dual base routers are an alternative to dedicated fixed or plunge models and can give the best of both worlds by having a fixed and plunge base using an interchangeable motor that fits both bases.
There can be limitations on the plunge depth with the dual base types, but the fixed base option is a popular choice as they can have smaller base footprints and can be used as a palm router for easy one handed control, especially on edge moulds.
3. ROUTER ATTRIBUTES
With plunge routers the most popular design on the market, they all have similar attributes that follow a common style or design, but while the basics can be similar, the layout and operation of the controls and other adjustments play an important part in using any router safely and easily.
4. ROUTER SIZES
While the control and adjustment attributes are important, for hand held work, the smaller 1/4in collet router is the most popular and offers easier control for most basic moulding and other work where the router is used for finer detail.
Although limited to smaller cutter diameters, some of the smaller routers are capable of using an 8mm dimeter collet to allow some bigger bits to be used or to minimise cutter shank strain on bigger profiles by using 8mm shanked bits.
Although capable of doing the finer work of the 1/4in models, and capable of taking ¼, 8mm and 1/2in shanked cutters, the 1/2in collet routers tend to be workhorse models first and foremost, designed for heavier trade work such as commercial jig use; kitchen fitting, stair building and the like.
They should still have the same adjustments where possible but depending on the model, could be very basic in some of the fine adjustments or speed control options.
Plunge depth can also vary dramatically so attention should be paid to what your intended use will be as some jigs need a router with deep plunge capacity to be able to use them safely.
Some 1/2in collet routers also have smaller motors which make themlighter to use so more controllable on intricate work but could struggle on some of the bigger applications if worked too hard; essentially, the bigger the motor the more you can work the machine.