Router recommendations

I'm gearing up to start a Lake Union Swift in the spring.  I built a couple CLC kayaks many years ago and have most of what I need in terms of tools.  I know I can use a block plane, sanding blocks, etc. to round over the many edges (inwales, outwales, floorboards, and more) on this boat, but my family is begging me for Christmas ideas, and I think I'd like to get a router.

What models do you suggest for small boat building?  I recall researching this years ago, and was close to pulling the trigger on a Porter Cable model that could swap in a plunge base, but I'm not sure how useful a plunge router would be for me.

I'd also like to get a small router table I can attach the tool to, as it seems like in some cases it's preferable to bring the wood to the tool rather that the tool to the wood.

I generally prefer to get high quality tools over cheap stuff that can be finicky, but I also don't want to over buy.  Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.


8 replies:

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RE: Router recommendations

I have a Porter Cable router that served well during my boatbuilding project. Unfortunately, the Porter Cable brand was acquired by Stanley Black & Decker.  They've discontinued the PC line of routers. Dewalt routers (also by SB&D) get good reviews on the woodworking sites.

I used the router in handheld mode on the boat, and with a router table for making mouldings and certain other parts. For the table, I purchased only the tabletop, fence and router plate. This mounts on sawhorses when in use and stores easily when idle.

RE: Router recommendations


RE: Router recommendations

   I have an old Porter Cable with a plunge base, but can't say I've ever used it to plunge. As far as portable or mounted on a table,  I almost always have used it mounted on the table.

If I were to buy a router today I would probably look at how well it hooks up to a dust extractor. We went that way for the random orbit sander and working almost dust free has made a world of difference.

Sorry, but after having said all that, I can't accually answer your question of brand, or model  


RE: Router recommendatio

   I have a couple of DeWalt routers (2 hp and 3hp) in diffeent tools (horizontal slot mortiser and router table).  Excellent value.  I also a Festool router which I use when I want a hand held router. Like all Festool products it is a superb piece of engineering.   When boat building a tend to use my Makita trim router for small handheld operations.

RE: Router recommendations

Router tables are easy to build instead of buying. I built a router table from scraps that I had leftover from a boat build and a piece of 2x4 that was laying around in the garage. The tracks were the only thing I bought specially for the project. The fence is secured in the tracks with 1/4" bolts and handles that I had around the shop. The total cash outlay specifically for the table was about $8.00.

Here's my homemade marine grade okoume router table clamped to a workbench with the router installed.

This shot shows the table, the movable fence, the tracks that it rides on and the shopvac attachment for dust collection.



RE: Router recommendations

I've done similar, mounted my big 1/2" Porter Cable plunge router into a side table extention I built for my venerable Craftsman 10" table saw. Lexan inserts for the top are made up to mount smaller trim routers when they're more convenient than using that honking PC.

I also have and use a 1/2" Makita plunge router but its rectangular base makes using in a table-mounted configuration more troublesome than the round-base models.

If at all possible it's best to connive some means of vacuum dust capture with these things. Routers are the most awful producers of dust & chips when used without some thought to where the removed wood is going to end up. Mounting them in tables whenever possible makes adding some dust-capture method more functional, and do please mind those exposed router bits!!

If you use table-mounted routers you should fashion some means to minimize the cutter exposure in the interest of safety. Things can happpen fast particularly with larger bits, there's no time to react when an operation goes awry.  

RE: Router recommendations

   Yes the Porter Cable 690 is "the '' standard router that is very versatile.  It is small enough to fit in a medium sized hand but will also fit in every generic router lift table and is appropriately powered.  It is the "OG'' of routers.  You wont go wrond here untill you either need a very big and powerful router for big profiles in hard wood or a very small laminate trimmer.


RE: Router recommendations

I too have the Porter Cable 690 - with fixed and plunge bases.  I actually bought a 2nd fixed base so that I can leave it permently attached to a router table.  It's a good router and I've had it for a long time and have gotten a lot of use both in and out of a table.

I don't know what you want to use a router for - if it's just rounding edges the 690 might be overkill.  It is big enough to require two hands to safely operate.  I've been getting into more decorative woodworking lately and thinking of a getting a small router that is easier to control on smaller pieces, and could be used single handed (a "palm" router). Maybe something like the Bosch Colt. I think a small router would also be perfectly up to the task of rounding edges, and could get into tighter spaces. 

I don't have a small router, so I can't recommend one - I'm just thinking about the pros and cons of different models based on how you might want to use it.

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