Harbor Freight Router? Thumbs up or thumbs down?

fred hargis

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Wapakoneta, OH
I've read some posts where guys bought them and thought they were the schizzle. But for me, I still avoid anything at HF that has a power cord on it.
 

Vaughn McMillan

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My general rule of thumb is that if it's used for anything requiring precision (like a router), chances are that Harbor Freight is not a good choice. I do have a few of their tools with cords on them that have served me well (particularly a close quarter drill that I use as a bowl sander and my dust collector), but for something like a router, I'd rather have something built to tighter tolerances.

Charles' recommendation to look for a refurbished model is good advice. I've had a lot of success buying refurb power tools. This place is a good place to start looking. They carry a lot of the major brands:

http://www.cpooutlets.com/on/demand...default/Default-Start?ref=milwaukeeOUTLETlogo
 

Kevin Sadaj

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144
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Michigan
Thank you, gentlemen! CPO Outlets is my new "favorite" store. I've been wanting a Porter Cable router. When it arrives in the mail, what will I tell me wife???? Say I won it? :)
 

glenn bradley

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9,722
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SoCal
Of all the tools I have made buying mistakes on . . . poor quality routers were the ones I replaced fastest. Save up your money, go with a quality tool. The answer to the question of who makes a quality router today is tougher to answer though ;-) DeWalt and Porter Cable have both felt the smiting hand of Stanley Black & Decker. Milwaukee routers (owned by TTI/Ryobi) have become hit and miss as to availability. Triton still seems to be high quality but, the 'different' controls add a learning curve for hand held use. Bosch America is still holding their own but, have never felt comfortable in the hands for me. A router is a very tactile tool for hand use and what is perfect for one may not suit another. Try to get your hands on any router you plan for hand held use if possible. Make sure you have 1/2" shank capacity (unless it is a trim or palm router) for bit stability and yes, when it comes in the mail you start jumping up and down shouting "I won! I won!"
 
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Scott R Smith

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542
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Humid Gulf Coast
My only input on this is to consider:

1. collar grip strength. Will it be a Pain later on, as in crushed parts that won't let go, or wears out quickly.

2. the variable speed. How touchy is it. I have had 2 plunge routers. A cheaper craftsman and Bosch. the Bosch has more precise speed control. More precise everything.

but price plays a part in all decisions too.
 

Vaughn McMillan

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Of all the tools I have made buying mistakes on . . . poor quality routers were the ones I replaced fastest...
I've still got a cheap no-name Chinese router I bought for dirt cheap on eBay when I first started getting back into woodworking. I've never even installed a bit in it. I could tell right out of the box that it was junk, and a potential safety hazard too. It's so bad that I can't bring myself to sell it on Craigslist, or even give it away to someone who's just starting out. Probably the next time I go back to LA I'll cut the cord off of it (I save power cords) and toss it in the trash.
 

Rob Keeble

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12,636
Location
GTA Ontario Canada
I've still got a cheap no-name Chinese router I bought for dirt cheap on eBay when I first started getting back into woodworking. I've never even installed a bit in it. I could tell right out of the box that it was junk, and a potential safety hazard too. It's so bad that I can't bring myself to sell it on Craigslist, or even give it away to someone who's just starting out. Probably the next time I go back to LA I'll cut the cord off of it (I save power cords) and toss it in the trash.
I also have one like that, its called Black and Decker ...:rofl: Bought it when i first discovered home depot and thought they were the greatest thing since sliced bread, then i woke up one day and came to my senses. :rofl:

Kevin you have had good advice this is an item well worth spending a few bucks on. In this category you get what you pay for. If you can muster the coin you wont go wrong with this one.
http://www.cpooutlets.com/milwaukee...lt,pd.html?start=13&cgid=routers-and-trimmers
 

Carol Reed

In Memoriam
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5,535
Location
Coolidge, AZ
Back in the day when I was teaching woodworking, I had an outside rep for a bearing house come in and tell us about bearings. He said (at that time) there were only 8 bearing companies in the world. All of them strove to make bearings to military specs. Some bearings made it and others didn't. They were graded accordingly right down to barely turns. Each had a market, depending on the consumer price of the item. Guess where HF probably rates?

A router spins very, very fast. Bearings are crucial.

There is another factor besides money. How badly will your underwear be damaged when the thing comes apart in your hand under load? How high will your pulse jump before you have a heart attack under the same circumstances?

I have always thought about that bearing rep when I had my hands on a router. And yes, I did have a HF. It had sleeves rather than bearings. It seized one day and that was the best thing that ever happened to it.

Glad you found CPO. The most bulletproof router out there is a Porter Cable 690. No variable speed, but solid as a tank and accepts 1/4", 3/8", and 1/2" shanked bits. Hard to kill one of those and dirt simple to keep running. Might check Craigslist as well.
 

Leo Voisine

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East Freeetown, Massachusetts
Thank you, gentlemen! CPO Outlets is my new "favorite" store. I've been wanting a Porter Cable router. When it arrives in the mail, what will I tell me wife???? Say I won it? :)
Tell her that it is the best value for the dollar spent.

It is a ONE time expense that will last a lifetime.

The Ryobi Router already died and you need to replace.

Sooo - your purchase is ALREADY based on replacement of an undervalued purchase.

You do NOT want to be repeating that same mistake again - and again.

The PC Router is the last time this money will be spent on THIS router.

I could run all the numbers - but - I already know - you PC will outlast 3-4 low cost routers and perform better.

To me - it's an easy decision.
 
Messages
1,505
Location
Austin, Texas
Every Ryobi tool I have bought has gone to the great hunting grounds on Craigs List, "as is"

I don't invest real money in anything from Harbor Junk. 4 wheel dollies and furniture pads, yes, but not much more.

Currently I have a couple Bosch routers and a couple Bosch sanders... my current favorite for economy tools.

Festool 1400 is my favorite router, but I only have one, and you will never be happy with only one router. Hence the Bosch.
 

Bill Arnold

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Thomasville, GA
Late to the party again! But, let me say this about that: To say that anything with a power cord from HF is junk is poor advice. To be honest, most the the stuff I get at HF is in the supply category but I have a few corded tools from them. One of the best items I've bought there is their trim router - actually have two of them that I bought in 2002 and wouldn't be without them. I also have a PC 7310 trim router that cost five times as much as the HFs, but I go to the HFs way more often.

As to larger routers, I have a PC 75182 in a lift in my router table. For handheld work, I have three Bosch 1618EVS routers with fixed bases; also have the plunge base for my Bosch routers.
 
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