I don’t think I’ll ever forget the excitement I felt on the day I bought my first router, a shiny, all cast-aluminum Rockwell Speedmatic D-handle. What manly joy it gave me to trigger that tool on and hear it scream as it plowed through a thick plank like a John Deere tractor furrowing a field. Now, several decades later, an embarrassment of router riches graces my power tool cabinet (I’ve often fantasized about how cool it would be to have one router for each bit!).
But if I had to choose only two models from the vast ranks of these versatile portables, I’d pick my Elu model 3337 plunge router and PORTER-CABLE 310 trim router. Although neither is currently in production, these two noble routers are my “deserted island” selections because I use them more often than any of the other routers I have on hand. The Swissmade Elu just oozes European class and precision and employs a blend of sensible features that make it a versatile woodshop player. I regularly use it for such diverse tasks as plowing dadoes and grooves, plunging mortises, cutting precise dovetails and shaping flutes, coves and ogees. For stable, edge-referenced routing, the Elu comes with the largest, sturdiest fence on the planet. The 3337 is such a smooth, dependable performer that I can easily imagine a retired James Bond having one in his tricked-out workshop (careful, that isn’t really a hand plane!). The Elu packs enough power to handle all but the biggest helicopter rotor- sized panel-raising bits. Yet it is light and portable enough that even woodworkers lacking a British secret agent’s strength and stamina (yours truly included) can easily handle it.
Speaking of size and weight, my other router pick is a bit of a pit bull: PORTER-CABLE’s 310 trim model is more potent than its smallish stature portends. It’s my first choice any time I’ve got to run a 1/4″ shank bit (the only size this router’s collet accepts). The reason is that the 310 is compact and easy to maneuver, yet it packs more punch than other trim routers I’ve used. It’s sized just right for my grip, so I have good control when tackling a delicate task, such as routing a sign or decorative plaque, jobs made even easier when the 310’s motor is mounted in my favorite accessory: The MicroFence plunge router base. Setting bit depth is a quick and easy task, thanks to the 310’s simple threaded body and adjustment ring design. And because this mini PORTER-CABLE is so light and handy, it’s a breeze to use for edge shaping work on horizontal or vertical parts, say when rounding over the edges of a large bookcase or furniture piece. I’m just glad I bought two of these little beauties before they decided to discontinue them.