THE distinctive shape, colour and operation of Triton routers has always made them look and feel different from the competition, write PETER BRETT.
There are many thousands of happy Triton router users who would be very happy to note the TRA001 heavy duty, 2400 W Dual Mode Router carries on the old Triton traditions.
Unpacking it from the carefully designed box, anyone vaguely familiar with routers would realize it is indeed a beast designed to do heavy-duty cutting. A tool that would easily find its way into a professional tool kit not only for its sheer grunt, but also because of its 68mm plunge depth and maximum cutter radius of 55mm.
The TRA001 is packed with features for accuracy and clean cutting. Some new versions are different from the conventional design of bygone routers.
However, once you do get used to them the Triton system looks and feels perfectly logical. In my opinion, the ‘designed-in’ safety features put it steps ahead of the competition. There is something inherently dangerous about a sharp cutter whirling around at 21,000rpm and the Triton keeps exposure to an absolute minimum as well as making ‘accidental starting’ almost impossible.
Safety is key
These systems make perfect sense when you examine some of the other features of the router. One of the main ways the Triton designers keep our fingers away from whirling cutters is to put strong, transparent plastic guards around the baseplate. There is a standard vacuum outlet included so dust and chippings can be safely removed, thereby protecting eyes and lungs.
However, this means changing cutters has to be done with the router collet moved all the way down to be in line with the baseplate where the supplied spanner can be fitted to the flats of the collet for cutter removal. The geared system plunge is best used for this as it works very positively and engages the automatic spindle lock for one-handed cutter changes.
Triton is designed to be stood on its head so it is easy to achieve safe and highly visible cutter changes. This arrangement is even more logical when the router is used in ‘router table’ mode, where cutter changes take place with the cutter above the level of the table for maximum ease.
Another major safety feature is the on/ off switch design. This has a sliding door on it that has to be pushed in and the router switched to the ‘on’ position for the motor to operate. Once the rocker switch is turned ‘off’ the sliding door snaps shut preventing the switch from being operated. You have to deliberately choose the ‘on’ option so there’s no chance of accidentally activating the motor with a careless movement.
When changing cutters, the switch has to be in ‘off ’position and the sliding door closed, for the spindle lock to engage.
Basically, it means no cutter changing without accidental starting being triggered. No other router I use can make that claim.
Turrets, depths and adjustments
One of the easiest adjustments to spot is the milled wheel on top of the motor housing that controls the motor speed.
It has five positions, but the speed increase is from 8,000 to 21,000rpm.
Bigger cutters need to go slower because of their higher peripheral speed, while smaller cutters can go faster. Just watch out for burning if the feed rate is too slow or the cutter is blunt.
There is a small rotatable three-stop turret on the base of the router. By using the spring-loaded depth stop (with locking screw) depths of cut are easy to set.
However, for users who wish to use this router with the optional router table – a great accessory in my view as it increases the versatility and accuracy of the tool many times over – then there is the option to use the winder handle. This is used to wind the cutter to the selected depth.
Although, it is important to follow the instructions when fitting the router to the router table, it is not difficult to do. Also, attaching the router to the table improves safety and increases speed. The rack and pinion cutter depth-set system makes it easy to change cutters without removing the router from the table. As a result, there is no need for the more common practice of dealing with a sharp cutter and a spanner underneath the table.
This way that way, another way
As well as being able to choose to use the TRA001 on the router table, users can also have the choice of collets as both a 12mm and a ½ inch collet are supplied. It is fairly easy to spot the difference because the ½ inch collet is bigger than the 12mm one.
In the UK, most router cutter stockists offer ½ inch cutter shanks as standard, and it is definitely not a good idea to fit a 12mm shank cutter to a ½ inch collet or vice versa.
Other features include a solid pressed steel baseplate and fence assembly for accurate edging cuts and circle routing.
Since the base plate is in one piece and the securing nuts and bolts are all captive it does save that awful moment when you realise you have lost the screws, as sometimes happens to me with other routers.
The motor has a soft start and has a constant under-load speed and is remarkably restrained in terms of noise and vibration, even with a big cutter on board.
Above all, my overriding impression is still of a big and powerful router with all the capability one needs for demanding jobs.