Skil 1 3/4 HP Fixed Base Router

A general purpose router for occasional use where price is a compelling factor

skil_1810

Skil 1 3/4 HP Fixed Base Router



Fixed based routers are a staple in many workshops, for both professional and hobbyist woodworkers alike. They can also be a good choice for the novice woodworker and the DIYer. In general, they tend to be inexpensive, there is a wide range of models to choose from, they're smaller than plunge routers, ideal for table mounting, and excel at edge shaping, mortise work and template work.

One limitation is that you can't begin routing in the middle of a work piece, as you can with a plunge router. Plunging with a fixed base router isn't safe; the router can wander erratically as the bit cuts into the wood or the cutter can snap off. While it's somewhat of a cliché to state that routers are the most versatile power tools in the workshop, I don't think any craftsperson or furniture maker could do without one (or two).



The Skil 1-3/4 HP Fixed Base Router (model 1810) is a consumer-grade tool, geared to the first-time tool owner, hobbyist, and occasional DIYer. The motor housing is made of an ABS plastic, while the base is made of cast aluminum. A thin rubber overmold covers the handles. The on/off switch is conveniently located on the right handle and can be easily operated by two fingers; on top of the handle, and easily accessibly by your thumb, is the lock-on button. The router is well balanced, and I found it comfortable to use.
 

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On/off switch and lock-on button easily accessible
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Base lever clamp (A) and base release lever (B)
The base is held onto the motor housing by means of a base lever clamp (there is no rack and pinion mechanism here). To make a coarse depth adjustment, or to separate the base from the housing, you open the base lever clamp, press a base release lever, and then pull the base downward or upward; pressing a base release button enables you to retract the base from the housing.
 

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Removing motor housing from base is easy
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Motor housing showing collet lock
You can make reasonably accurate fine depth adjustments by opening the base lever clamp, and then turning the pop-up fine adjustment knob. I found that even if you leave the base lever clamp closed you can still easily turn the pop-up knob (though this is not recommended by Skil). One full turn of the knob raises (or lowers) the bit by approximately 1/16", which provides some level of precision for general woodworking, though not sufficient for fine woodworking. There is a depth scale that is straightforward to use, but it doesn't lock in place (and can be all too easily inadvertently moved out of position).

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Changing bits is relatively easy without having to remove the base
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Depth scale doesn't lock in place
Changing bits is very easy. An opening on one side of the base is large enough for you to reach the collet lock with a thumb, and then insert the supplied wrench to tighten or loosen the collet chuck. The base plate has a 2-1/16" opening. Template guides can't be attached directly to the base plate. To use them you'll need to buy the optional template guide adapter. As well, there are holes in the base that enable you to attach optional edge guide rods. I really think that both of these items should be included as standard items; they're almost essential if you want to get the most out of your router.
 

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Base plate requires optional guide adapter
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Oddly shaped dust port requires optional adapter in order to connect the shop vac hose
The dust port is oddly shaped, and requires you to purchase, yet again, an adapter to use with your shop vacuum. Routers churn out a lot of dust and wood chips that can obscure your work; sucking the debris away keeps your work cleaner and reduces the chance of routing outside your layout lines. Be careful if you attempt to remove the chip deflector window; the small tabs that hold the window in place easily break.

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The Skil 1810 has a 1/4" collet and 1-3/4 HP 9 amp motor that spins the bit at 25,000 rpm; more than enough power to spin any 1/4" shanked bit up to about 1" diameter. For larger bits you need progressively slower rotational speeds.

Routers are confoundedly loud, and this one, at 104.1 dBA under load, is no exception. Vibration is not excessive, but noticeable. The Skil 1810 could be mounted in a router table, as long as you limited usage to small diameter bits. However, you won't be able to use this router with most commercial dovetail and mortising jigs, as they require a plunge router. 



The Skil 1810 is a bare bones router that has the basic features needed for edge routing. It has good balance, easy enough bit change-over, a reasonable, if somewhat less than precise, height adjustment system, and ample power for 1/4" bits. If you're looking for a general purpose router for occasional use where price is a compelling factor, then the Skil 1810 just might fit the bill.

KEY FEATURES:


  • 1 3/4 HP, 9 amp motor 
  • 25,000 RPM
  • 1/4" collet
  • Collet lock
  • Depth scale
  • Micro-fine height adjustment
  • Die-cast metal base
  • 6' poer cord
  • 10 lb weight
  • 1 year warranty
  • Includes: collet wrench, instruction booklet

MANUFACTURERSkil
AVAILABLE FROMTool and equipment suppliers nationwide
RETAIL PRICE$79.99
MODEL #1810
MADE INChina
Carl Duguay, January 2010
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