Router for first build

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Gianluca Angeloni
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Jan 21, 2014 10:52 am

Router for first build

Post by Gianluca Angeloni »

Hey everyone, this is my first time on Musical Instrument Makers Forum, it seems like a really great community and I can't wait to be a part of it.

Me and my brother have been fixing up and repairing guitars for about a year now and we finally went to the local lumberyard and picked up some Zebra wood for our first official build. This is our first time shaping our own body and pickup cavity, opposed to building around a pre-made one.

So here's the question. We have a local tool shop that sells discounted tools, and we're in need of a router. There are three routers there in particular that are near our price range and here they are:

1. Porter Cable 690LR (Fixed Base only, 1-3/4 HP, 27500 rpm) - $130
- I definitely like the price of this and reading other forums, the PC 690 has been some what of a gold standard router from what I hear. But the lack of variable speed has me concerned and lack of a plunge base (Separate plunge base is $140). I also like the size of this router.

2. Porter Cable 895PK (Fixed and Plunge base, 2-1/4 HP, 10000-23000 rpm) - $240
- I like the variable speed and 2 different bases. The thing that worries me is it seems a little big for intricate work and the base is plastic.

3. Bosch Colt PR20EVSK (Fixed, 1 HP, 16000-35000 rpm) - $100
- A little worried about the 1HP. No plunge base (Separate plunge base is $100). Size is nice, I've heard nice things about this little guy.

So which would you recommend, maybe a whole other model all together. I guess the main criteria for me are: Plunge/Fixed, Variable Speed, HP, Size.
The price is somewhat flexible, so do I really need a plunge base or would just pre-drilling suffice, do I really need lower variable speed (eg. 10000rpm), is 1 HP too little, is 2-1/4HP too much for simple pickup cavities. And is it really harder to handle and do intricate work with a larger router opposed to a small palm router.

Thanks very much, any advice is greatly appreciated.

Note: I understand that Zebra Wood has very high tendency to tear out, but I'm definitely buying this router for other woods in particular.


-Gianluca

Steven Wheeler
Posts: 10
Joined: Mon Feb 06, 2012 10:52 am

Re: Router for first build

Post by Steven Wheeler »

Greetings Gianluca and welcome to the forum,

The PC690 will serve you well if your budget is tight. This is the router I suggest for first time buyers. You can get along just fine without the plunge base by drilling the pockets first. You don't need to start lowering your rpm's until your router bits get over 1" in diameter (follow the bit manufacturers recommendations).
The PC895 is a nice upgrade if you can afford it. The extra power and features will come in handy in the future.
The Bosch Colt is a nice tool and what you would want for routing binding channels. Not what you would need for pattern routing or pickup cavities.

Practice using the router on something other than your guitar. Get some construction grade lumber and make a few bodies first. Much cheaper that way.

Steve

Bob Hammond
Posts: 629
Joined: Sun Jul 22, 2012 4:13 pm

Re: Router for first build

Post by Bob Hammond »

I would think that any of those routers would work just fine. What might be more important is taking the time to learn to set up and control the router. A template (storebought or made carefully by hand in the shop) and guide bushings would be good place to start, along with choosing a suitable bit (e.g. a template bit with a bearing, or a spiral bit). Don't try to hog off too much or too deep in any pass. Cut some cavities in the scrap softwood, and then try some scraps of hardwood.

Gianluca Angeloni
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Jan 21, 2014 10:52 am

Re: Router for first build

Post by Gianluca Angeloni »

I'll definitely look into doing some practice before I decide to route the final piece.

After doing some research and looking at some reviews, I think it's wise to go with the PC895. It may be more expensive now, but if I ever do decide to get the plunge base for the PC690, it'll be more costly down the road.

I guess I might as well ask another question that's been weighing on my mind.

-When it comes to bits, I have no experience with routers and which is used for what. What is recommended for pickup cavities, truss rod cavities, etc.

-What's a good brand, I've heard good things about Freud, and I know it's good not to cheap out on bits because that makes or breaks the project.

Thanks for all the advice

Gianluca

David King
Posts: 2682
Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2012 10:01 pm
Location: Portland, OR
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Re: Router for first build

Post by David King »

Freud and Whiteside are fine. They are probably all OK but the micrograin ones seem a little sharper when new.

Michael Lewis
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Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2012 1:22 am
Location: Northern California USA
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Re: Router for first build

Post by Michael Lewis »

Take a look at Makita routers. They have a variable speed (RF1101) about the same size as the PC 690, comes with 1/4" and 1/2" collets. I use one in my duplicator and have used it for several years with no problems. Available for about $150 but not plunge. Nice router, plenty of power, smoother and quieter than my PC690.

Bob Hammond
Posts: 629
Joined: Sun Jul 22, 2012 4:13 pm

Re: Router for first build

Post by Bob Hammond »

Regarding bits, I like the spiral types. The down-spiral gives you clean surface edges but drives chips down into the cut, which could be a problem with deep cavities. The up-spiral may tend to create fuzz at the surface edges but gives better chip clearance. Since cavities would be covered and the outer edges will probably be sanded anyway, this wouldn't be a problem. The depth of cut and the feed rate are more important, and this will depend upon the species of wood, so you'll need to practice. The speed variability (rpm) is less important.

When you install a bit, make sure that you clean dust and chips out of the collet first. Make sure that there's enough shank in the collet, but don't 'bottom out' the bit in the collet. I put rubber O-rings on the shanks of my bits to insert them to a desired depth, and this also allows me to use both hands for manipulating the spindle lock and wrench. It's a good idea to make a wood block to store your bits so that it's easier to find them and so that they don't bang into each other or fall off the bench.

Joel Nowland
Posts: 81
Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2012 6:01 pm

Re: Router for first build

Post by Joel Nowland »

I have 20+ routers mostly 3hp models from Makita, Porter Cable, Hitachi, Ryobi.

3 or 4 years ago I bought a 2hp Ryobi plunge router $100.00 or so and I think it's as good as any and works great at any price.

The best is easily the Makita 3hp plunge router with soft start and quick stop. Built like a tank.

The best router bits I have owned are from Whitesides with Magnate at a close second. These are tho only two places I buy bits from now.

Joel

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