Aimed at competent DIYers and professionals.
Pros:- with optional fixed base and LED lights and variable speeds this router is very versatile.
Routers have become “must have” tools for pretty well most woodworkers – professional or amateur.Like most pieces of kit, the more you can afford the better, and this kit from the Draper Expert Range seems to be pretty comprehensive – enough for many woodworkers to stretch their routing capabilities if required.
The router kit arrived in a robust blown plastic case with each piece firmly in its own slot with enough space to accommodate the cord and the inevitable other odds and ends that will accumulate. A nice touch I thought was the rubber buffer in the lid that prevented the guide bushes housed in the base from coming loose in transit. A minor point but thoughtful and useful!
The router motor with cord and electronic controls comes packed as a separate unit from the base – in this kit the plunge base is the one included. A fixed base can also be used with the motor unit, and this can be purchased separately.
The advantage of the separate base system is that the user can choose whatever one best fits the bill for the job in hand. Many big routers for example, find themselves being used under router tables. The facility to remove the motor unit easily for bit changing and for non-router table use adds a lot to the versatility of the router package.
To start getting the tool together ready for use it is necessary to unclip the motor clamping lever and line up the geared rack in the recess. Then simply press the motor down into the base and tighten the clamp. This ensures that the motor and base are held together firmly.
Packed into the lid of the box is a pressed steel parallel guide fence. Unusually, along with the wheeled edge follower, this is held in place with a wingnut. Another thoughtful touch, as anyone who has ever had to pack a power tool into a case will confirm.
There is also a pressed steel spanner, three guide bushes, a centering pin, a trammel point, a dust extraction port and two collets enabling ½ inch and ¼ inch cutters to be used in the router.
With all of the above, most users will be able to rout circles, follow templates, follow edges, curved and straight, and do freehand routing with guide pin cutters. Frankly, that is just about most of what competent router users would do with their routers so the kit should find many friends.
Accurate routing is an absolute requirement for router users and the base of this kit reflects this. Made almost entirely from cast alloy it feels light and strong. The plunge mechanism is protected from dust by gaiters and there is a three-stop depth turret and a depth stop pin with micro adjuster to help get the exact depth of cut required. The depth of plunge is held firmly by a sprung lever adjacent to the right hand side handle and this works positively without having to apply excess pressure on it.
The motor unit is pretty well thought out too. Machining of the alloy parts of the housing is smooth and accurate, meaning that it will fit smoothly and snugly into the base.
On the left hand side of the motor unit is a sealed toggle switch. This is protected from accidental starting by a three-sided ledge arrangement around it. On the top of the motor there is a yellow dial to set speeds for the motor – a range of 12000 to an impressive 25000 rpm. Another good safety feature is the power-on indicator next to the cable inlet to the motor.
Near the collet there is a simple and effective spindle lock system as well as a very effective three LED worklight that comes on automatically when the router is switched on.
The operator is encouraged to make use of the other features, and to attach fences and other bits as they are pretty simple – neither fiddly or a hassle to use. For example, the guide bushes are attached by pushing them through the transparent plastic base and then tightening a nut on the top. The plastic base is adjustable so that the cutters can be centred using the centering pin provided.
Routers used to be renowned for the nasty whining noises from both cutters and motors, but more recently they have become a lot quieter. With its soft start motor – a good feature on a router in my view, the Draper is no exception. At the lower rev range there is a quite civilized level of noise, and at 25000 rpm the noise is not excessive, but I had the feeling that the top speed will rarely be used because most users won’t need to go there – it is very fast.
While using this Draper kit on a variety of tasks, I could appreciate many of its virtues. It can be bought at very competitive prices online and in store and as is the case with so many Draper tools, you do get a lot for your money.
I mostly used the router with biggish ½ inch shank cutters so I never really had to use the higher speeds that would be associated with smaller diameter cutters. The router was always easy to control and it is easy to set the basic parameters for accurate working as they operate smoothly and stay set in use. Being part of the Draper Expert range, users would expect no less.
Features that came to my attention as being a little different from the competition were the thoughtful case arrangements already mentioned. I also liked the really good flexible plastic used for the dust extraction spout and base. They seemed to be very flexible and strong – not brittle, which promised a longer and more practical working life than other comparable router kits. Lastly, the position and brightness of the three LED lights, I found, were really useful. No doubt there is a comment to be made on my less than perfect eyesight, but the level and position of the illumination helped a lot in using the router.