I started out on this woodworking journey in 2010. I already had a 18v starter set of tools for homeowner use – a circular saw, a drill, a reciprocating saw and a light – but nothing that would be considered a proper woodworking tool. I needed to install a interior door, and had to remove the material to install the hinges. I found a router forum and made my first purchase – a Craftsman 17543 dual base router. Life has gotten significantly more expensive, but cooler, in the roughly sixty months since.
I recently sold that router, as I mentioned in a previous post. The decision to sell was not an easy one, mostly because it was my first real tool. My first router that precipitated at least my first two router tables, if not first three. I converted one of my first work tables into a huge router table, then started down the path of more conventional units. I cut many, many things. Cut many, many profiles. It even made my only two picture frames to date. For almost four years, it has pretty exclusively lived in a router table of some kind, be it dedicated, or a table saw wing.
So, why sell, and why now? Well, the answer to selling was that I hadn’t used it in forever. It was my second router table setup, as I had purchased a Triton 3.25hp model some time back and that lived in the dedicated router table. While I have room for two router table setups like that, and will probably one day find it very useful to have, I don’t have a use for it right now. The other Craftsman I have is the same attachment pattern, and can bolt right up to the table saw wing router spot (either side, since the Craftsman saw I have has predrilled holes for one).
The other Craftsman is your handheld, right? Yes it is. It has three bases: fixed, plunge and fixed D-handle. The fixed could easily be mounted in the saw. The reason for the timing is that I gave in and bought a Festool OF1400, as I’ve basically hinted at over the last couple of weeks. The decision to go this route was not lightly considered – I debated it for nearly a month, and pulled the trigger right before the price increase at the start of the month. What it basically boiled down to me was the ability to fit seamlessly into the system. The dust collection, the guide rail, among others. The big reason that I’ve actually probably been considering it for nearly a year is the LR32 system, making holes in bookshelves and etc. Once I have that on hand, I’ll discuss it further.
After using it for the better part of two weeks now, I can see the other Craftsman for sale as well. Both Craftsman router are pretty superb. In fact, when I first got the Festool I was really unsure as to if I was going to keep it. Compared to the Craftsman, the routers themselves are really close in quality and use. No, I’m not kidding either. If you were deciding between the current Craftsman offering (the 27680; it’s a 28084 (my remaining) without a D-handle base) and the 1400, if you went with the Craftsman you would be well-pleased with some money in your pocket. If you weren’t otherwise invested in the Festool system, that is. Good dust collection, good ergonomics (with the slight caveat of the on/off switch), good construction, a very handy LED light (a noticeable omission of the Festool), compatibility with standard guide bushings…there is a lot to like about the Craftsman. As there are with other makes and models.
The accessories are probably what completely pushed me over the top with the 1400, though. The edge guide for the Festool is much better than the Craftsman, as it is wider and taller and registers better on the stock. It also allows for fine adjustment. The chip catcher you can use for edge profiles really does make a difference in dust collection. Having the guide rail attachment is like having a ready-made fluting jig. The indicator on the base of the router where the middle of the bit is – a fantastic inclusion. Ratchet lock collet? Again, awesome. I can also cinch down the rods with one turn of one knob, which is nice. I like being able to remove the dust chute without a screwdriver.
Not to say that the router is without faults. I think the depth turrets are crude, at least in looks. The depth lock on the knob is a bit awkward, perhaps I will get used to it. Not having an LED really hinders bit visibility a lot.
I’ll have more to say about this router later, but my initial impressions (the ones after the initial initial) are that it is a great router, and well worth the money. It’s rare to say that about something that is double the price of the competition, but most of Festools are, and they are.
The other Craftsman is also going to go up for sale, towards the workshop rebuild project. I just can’t see myself reaching for it much anymore. With all the accessories, hopefully I’ll get some measure of return. If I ever need a dual table setup, Ill get another Triton.