Tool Test: Craftsman Three-base Router Kit
In our June 2007 issue we reviewed two-base router kits. You can read the full review in Adobe PDF format by clicking here. One of the routers in the test, from Craftsman, was nearly identical to the router from Bosch. As summer ended, we began to get calls and e-mails from readers telling us that the Craftsman router was not to be found. Following up, we learned that Sears had discountinued this model, and would be replacing it with a similar router in a three-base kit, including a D-handle base along with the plunge base and standard base. We’ve had the new router in our shop for a few weeks, and here are my impressions of it, comparing it to the earlier kit and the other routers we tested.
The price of this kit is around $200, similar to other tools in the group, and the same as the previous kit. The motor had plenty of power, but it was louder and had more vibration than the earlier one. The on/off switch can’t be reached without taking a hand off the tool. It also has an electronic soft-start feature that takes several seconds to reach operating speed. The motor housing is flat on top, so it will sit upside down on the bench when changing bits. A spindle lock engages with a pin for one-wrench bit changes. Changing bases was relatively easy, but with the fixed bases, the fine adjustment override has to be pushed in before clamping the motor in place. The override also needs to be pushed to remove the motor. When this is done with the motor unclamped, the motor will drop if you’re not holding on to it.
The plunge mechanism has a strong spring, works smoothly and locks by pulling the lever down. The fine depth adjustments are a little sloppy on all three bases, and can be reached from above for adjustments when mounted in a router table. Unclamping the motor to use the fine adjustment changes the height slightly, so zeroing in to a final measurement can be awkward. The base plates hold standard template guides and are made from a clear plastic that is flexible and not quite flat. All in all the router would have rated in the bottom half of the group we tested. There are some nice extra features; vacuum attachments, an LED work light and a decent fence. If having the third base is more important than the quirks, it might be considered a good value.
More information on this tool is available from Craftsman.