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Most Helpful Reviews
I have had this for 2 years. The power switch has stopped working and needed replaced 3 times. The first time it was still within warranty so I just returned it to Sears and got another, the other two times I replaced it with factory replacement parts. I don't even use the power switch much as it spends much of its time installed in a router table. The plunge base is also a disappointment. Even when it was new, it didn't work very smoothly, now I wouldn't trust it to be used as a plunge router (despite my rigorous lubricating and care). Just spend the extra money and get a good Porter Cable. As others have mentioned, it is a rebranded Bosch, so avoid those too.
This router is really a re-branded Bosch 1617EVSPK. Sears doesn't offer a 3/8" collet, but you can buy one from Bosch Service Center if needed (I did), as well as any other part or accessory for it that Sears doesn't offer. I'm using it in a CNC machine - I design what I want to carve on the computer, and the CNC machine takes care of the rest. The router motor has been great for this application. The variable speed has helped out a lot as I carve a variety of materials and need to adjust the speed often. Lots of power, never have bogged down on me. Router bit changes are easy enough as the collet is setup to "release" the bit with an extra 1/4 turn so no having to fight getting a bit out. Extra long cord with nice strain relief. Buying the Sears 2 year extended warranty for about $35 isn't a bad deal either (ask about it if the warranty isn't offered to you when you buy the router). If you ever do have a problem with it, even on a Sunday at 4pm, you can hit any Sears store and get an instant replacement. I went to turn in on after owning it 18 months and it wouldn't turn on. Headed to sears with my receipt (KEEP YOUR RECEIPT IN A SAFE PLACE - tucked in the manual is a good idea) and they replaced it on the spot with a brand new one. I looked at quite a few routers before buying this one and knowing that I needed the variable speed and lots of horsepower for what I was intending to do, I have not regretted buying this model at all, even though I did have to replace it once so far under the extended warranty. I'd definitely buy it again along with the extended warranty for peace of mind.
Reviewed well in magazines, but two and a half years of moderate, approximately twice weekly use, has done for it. 95% has been in a router table, where the on-off switch regularly furred up with sawdust and needed stripping down to clean out. Not difficult, but a real pain. Now, the main bearing has given up. I suspect that this is due to having been used upside down in a table - the bearing position doesn't closely support the collet, so there's been lateral as well as vertical pressure on the bearing assembly. Mine had around 6 thou of runout towards the end of its life, which is quite a lot and was possibly the reason for its moderate at best cut quality. Whatever, it's dead now. By the way, this was a royal pain to set up in a table - the mounting holes in the fixed base are non-standard - fine once I'd got it done, but I won't be doing it again. This also means that non-Craftsman accessories won't fit. This router has been superceded by a 3.25 hp PC machine designed to be used in a table. I suppose the Craftsman would be OK if you only make light demands of it, and use it hand-held - the features are quite well thought out, in particular, the plunge base works pretty well.
Power, versatility, and performance have made this a great router for me. The ease of switching bases is a plus, but the ease of adjusting the depth gage is what I really like. Only performance drawback is that the power switch is not on the handle-holds (not sure how that would happen with the changing of bases anyway). I have not had any issues with this router related to its performance. The speed adjustment was something that I wanted, and has been imperative when using larger bits. One "cosmetic" related flaw was that the "Craftsman Professional" seal was just a sticker, and came off shortly after I began using it. It has been a great router.
This router would be fine for a hobbiest that is not looking to do much, however, if you want to use it with templates, different baseplates, etc - you're out of luck. Like all other Craftsman products, you have to buy the Craftsman accessories. From a business standpoint, I see where they are coming from, but from a consumrer's standpoint, I am frustrated. If you buy one of their bandsaws, you need an oddball blade, if you buy the routers - need craftsman router tables and accessories, it's like this for a lot of their products. Just make sure when you buy a product that you have checked for availability of replacable parts. As for this router, spend the same kind of money (maybe a bit more if there aren't any promotions) on a PC893 - you'll be very pleased with the results. This is by no means deserving of the craftsman professional category.
I got the router as a gift about a year ago. Worked great on my first project several months ago. When I pulled it out for a new project, I started haveing periodic problems where the router will not power on. Now it wont turn on at all, it looks like the speed control or soft start circuit is toast. Hopefully it will be covered under warranty or I can get the part for a reasonable cost.
This is a great Router, I love everything about it... except that the holes in the base are all in a non-standard location, so I can't find any mounting plates for my router table, nor any bases with a collet system. If they'd fix this standardization, they'd be all set with a great product