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Routers? HP?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by tplyons, Jan 16, 2004.

  1. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    I went to route a pickup for a Gibson EBO in my P-bass a little while ago, and I used my dad's old router, a 5/8 HP B&D that worked pretty well, though it didn't quite have the power to glide along while cutting, I pretty much had to route layer by layer, shaving off about 1/8" or maybe a little more every time.

    How many horsepower would you recommend for work on instruments?
  2. I have 3 routers at the moment and the smallest is 1 hp. I wouldn't go lower than that for use with hardwoods. The other two are 1¾ and 2 hp respectively and they will definitely chew up some wood. You can definitely go bigger but the
    motor frames for things like 3 HP routers can get pretty big. The 3 HP Porter Cables are some of the best on the market but their beef makes it more difficult to work with smaller cuts. I think that 3hp is about where you want to stop for hand routers.

    Your approach of incremental cutting was spot on for the situation. In fact, even with higher HP routers, I like to do the same thing in hard woods. With the bigger ones, I would be taking deeper passes but the idea is the same. Hand routing a body in one pass isn't a great idea anyway. You get all kinds of bit chatter, burn, and generally not the best finish of cut.

    Larger routers offer some other benefits as well. First, a lot of them are equipped with both ¼" and ½" collets. Very handy when the only bit that will do the job has a ½" shank. Another thing is that their mass is greater and that makes for smoother cutting. The heavier frames really dampen vibrations.

    Hope this helps
  3. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    The Porter Cable 690 or equivalent is a superb router. I think it is around 1.75 HP, but there may be a new version of it out that is 2HP. Get the plunge base.

    Hambone is right, though - you'll always be doing cuts in multiple passes for the reason he has listed.
  4. Prahainspring


    Oct 22, 2002
    New Jersey
    So I can safely assume that my 3/4 HP router wont do the job? :p
  5. No, my reference was to his going out and purchasing a router for the job. If you've already got a router, it's just going to HAVE to work isn't it?:D
  6. While we're on the subject of routers and stuff here's a decent "rule of thumb" concerning depth of cut and keeping it clean...

    Don't do full plunge cuts deeper than the bit is in diameter. If you've got a 1/2 inch diameter bit, go only 1/2" deep with a first pass. Use incremental cuts for the deeper routs and you'll get a better finish.
  7. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    Re. pup cavities (well, any cavities) there is another method:
    use point free drill bits (Furner bits??) in a drill press, to remove the bulk material. Then use the router and the template to finish the sides of the cavity.

    Works great, but you do need a drill press with depth control.
  8. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    I use a forstener bit and just clean up the bottom with the router in addition to the sides (with a template, of course).
  9. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    i have a porter cable 1.5 horse, non-variable speed router. no plunge.

    I think the plunge is imprtant now that i'm using a router without it...

    don't know about the variable speed thing but my uncle the cabinet maker swears by his...

    i'm curious about this removing material with bits and then finishing with the router. matt and hambone, do you two think this is a safer route to go then slapping the template on and cranking up the router ? Personally I'm terrified at the prospect of the impending pickup routes that i'm about to do...
  10. There's nothing wrong with doing that way at all. One distinct advantage is there's less to clean-up or what you do have to clean up is heavier and easier to get. The router really throws stuff around. Just be sure to use flat bottom bits or pare down the center nipple on a forstner bit.

    When you get the inlet mostly cleared of material and start routing, you probably won't even feel much resistance against your bit. That's what the hogging out has done for you. The bit will only be cutting an amount of material right up next to the pattern.

    Be a little nervous, go slow and you'll be fine. ;)
  11. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    You'll of course the template either way, right?

    Anyway, doing the hogging with the drill press will just mean that you are doing less with the router and taking lighter cuts. Taking lighter/shallower cuts is always a good idea with the router, and as you have observed the drill press is a lower stress tool. I used to do my cavities the whole way with the router but in the end less time/load on the router is better.
  12. mslatter


    Apr 8, 2003
    I'll throw in my three cents:

    It's safer for both you and the wood to use the drill press first. Routers are pretty easy tools to use, and easy to get a little over-comfortable with. But I maintain a healthy fear of getting careless and grooving a Roman ogee across my forehead.

    Router bits are more sensitive to wear and cost more than drill bits.

    As for variable speed, it's easy to add to a fixed speed router (unless it's a soft-start) through an external speed control. Look at www.mlcswoodworking.com for a $20 option.
  13. Bassmanbob

    Bassmanbob Supporting Member

    I've been investigating various tools to build my shop. I finally bought a router after researching the topic for about a month. I was going to go with either the De Walt or the Bosch 2 HP kits until Porter Cable came out with the 890 series. It has gotten rave reviews by at least two woodworking magazines, but it's so new, I had to buy it on line. It's a little more expensive, but I hope I'll never have to buy another ever again.

    The Porter Cable 890 series comes with a 2 1/4 HP motor but is comfortable like a 1 3/4 or 2 HP router with out being too bulky like the 3 HP routers. I got the 894 PK which has both a plunge and fixed bases. The handle of the fixed bass also has a built in vacuum attachment. It's got a clear base so you can vissualize your work better.

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