The Cheap Router Question

I’m just getting started and considering the purchase of my first router. $200 to $300 is more than I can pay for one of the ones that everyone talks about. The Black and Decker is $80 at Lowe’s. Is it good enough or do you have another suggestion?

Ellis Wallentine: A lot of people start out with an inexpensive router, and it serves them well– at least for a while. Most of those sub-$100 routers offer only 1/4″ collets, so your choice of bits will be limited, and they generally have fixed bases so you won’t be doing any plunge routing operations. The reason they have the small collets is that these routers aren’t powerful enough or sturdy enough to handle heavier and more demanding tasks, for which 1/2″ shanks are the way to go.

You’ll also be underwhelmed by the quality of the adjustments, locks, etc., on a budget router compared to a higher priced brand, but if it does the job for you, the answer is ‘yes, it’s good enough’.

Lee Grindinger: Get the cheap one. Soon enough you’ll be hooked and drooling over that monster router you saw at such-and-such store. It’s all a conspiracy, you know, kinda like drugs…we get you hooked on the cheap stuff in full knowledge that you’ll be back for the better model, and a planer…and a saw…and a drill press…and a jointer, etc. Seriously, the cheaper tools are a good place to start. Test the waters before you dive in.

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