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designing and building with wood channels my creativity and challenges my mind.
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Monday, April 11, 2011

My bosch 1617 Router Review

My Bosch 1617 router was the first tool I purchased in my woodworking "career".  I got it some 13 months ago, one month longer than the standard factory warranty.  The on/off switch on this router broke yesterday, making now a great time for me to submit my review of this tool.

Why I bought it in the first place:
I bought the Bosch 1617 combo package from my local Rockler store for a few good reasons:  first, it's a 2.25 HP router, which is fairly powerful for a general purpose router.  Second, the combo package comes with both a fixed base (for use in a router table) and a plunge base (for use in hand-held applications).  Third, the 1617 is priced very well: i still can't find a 2.25 HP router with both types of base for the price of the 1617 combo pack: around $230.  The 1617 came with wrenches, and two collets: a 1/4" and a 1/2".

Using the 1617:
my Bosch 1617 router has served me well in the last thirteen months.  I used both the plunge base and the fixed base (in my router table), and found both bases to be easy to use and generally worry-free.  The variable speed dial is a useful feature, allowing me use a wide variety of bits in different tasks.  The 1617 has done a good job of flush-trimming 3/4" plywood and MDF, circle-cutting, tongues-and-grooves, and even shaping the profiles of raised-panel doors.  I never encountered problems with burning or overloading the machine, even with the huge panel-cutting bits, which are so big they barely fit through the hole in my router table.

The durability of this tool is now in question, as far as I'm concerned.  A couple of months ago, the fixed base broke.  It wasn't really due to a defect, but when I dropped the fixed base on the concrete floor of my shop, the case broke - a hairline fracture up the side of the base.  It was rendered useless and I had to go out and buy an aftermarket router lift in order to use the 1617 in the router table.  I was a little disappointed that it broke from such a short fall - around 3 feet.

Then, yesterday, the router stopped running.  The motor isn't blown (no smoke, no smell, and I wasn't overloading the motor at all).  More likely, there's a break in the power cord, or the on/off switch is broken.  Somebody from the local Bosch service center told me it could also be the variable speed dial.  Unfortunately, the service center told me it would be three weeks before they could replace the switch.  Three weeks?!!  I called Bosch for help.

Customer Service:
As with many companies (Festool is an exception), the customer service rep at Bosch received me coolly, and didn't want to offer much help.  I asked to be transferred to tech, and the people there (again, as with most tool companies) were much more helpful.  I give kudos to Bosch tech support.  Still, I'm on my own with fixing my router, unless I want to pay a fortune and wait three weeks for the local service center.

Final Verdict:
From a capability perspective, the Bosch 1617 router offers a lot of power and features for a very nice price.  I am not impressed with the failure of the tool at this young age of 13 months.  The router has been well cared for and never taken to a job site.  That said, the power switch on my Delta jointer broke a couple of months ago, and the power switch on my Rockler mini dust collector also had to be replaced after only 6 months of service.  I am hoping that this isn't par for the course, and many of my other tools don't start failing now, too.  At least it's a switch and not the motor.

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