The Bottom Line
- Operating Instructions one of the better user's guides from tool manufacturers
- Underside depth adjustment on the fixed base is very nice functionality
- Automatic spindle lock when collet is extended allows one-handed bit changes.
- Switching motor from fixed base to plunge base (or back again) is difficult
- Plunge base's plunge mechanism is not very smooth
- Fixed base has different bolt pattern for mounting to router table than most other routers
- The underside depth adjustment allows bit changes above the table when used on a router table.
- The 4-position turret stop on the plunge base seems to be a bit close to the slide guards.
- Plunge base release mechanism is positioned so that one has to reach for the lever to lock the plunge mechanism.
- On/Off switch for the motor is a bit tricky to use, but one can get used to it with some practice.
- Documentation is better written than the owner's manuals from most other router manufacturers.
Guide Review - Review of the Freud FT1700VCEK Fixed Base & Plunge Router Kit
I then moved on to testing the fixed base, and was truly impressed. The motor is quiet, starts smoothly and adjusts speeds quickly. The on/off switch is a bit tricky to use, and cannot be turned off without removing one hand from the router (unless you have exceptionally large hands), but works well once you get the hang of it. The height adjustment is quite accurate, and is devoid of some of the looseness that other routers exhibit when adjusting the depth of cut. The base is solid and stable, and the motor strong enough to cut smoothly with little drop in speed when under a load.
However, when the unit is used in a router table, it really begins to show off its strengths. The FT1700VCEK includes a removable adjustment knob that allows not only for accurate height adjustments from above the table, but it also can raise the collet up above the table to a position where the bit can be changed without removing the router. Better yet, the spindle lock mechanism is engaged when the collet is extended above the table, meaning that bit changes can be easily accomplished with one hand!
When switching to the plunge base, the router kit begins to lose its luster. Removing the motor from the fixed base requires the user to depress the spindle lock mechanism in order for the motor to be removed. This is a pinched finger waiting to happen.
Once the motor is removed from the fixed base, the spindle lock mechanism must be depressed to place the unit in the plunge base. After the motor is secured, the plunge base is functional, but truly lacks the refinement found in the fixed base. I would expect most users will end up working mostly with the fixed base.