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The Bosch 1617EVSPK Router Combination Kit is Bosch’s bestseller in the router combo kit market where you get one motor and two bases (fixed and plunge) which means you don’t have to buy two individual machines. In effect you get two routers for not much more than the price of one.
Some of the features that make the Bosch stand out are its excellent micro-adjust dial for setting cutter depth on the fixed base, the comfortable wooden handles and easy bit changing in fixed-mode, all in one package for under $200.
The components in this combo kit are the 16176 EVS motor, RA1166 plunge base and RA1161 fixed base. One of the nice features of this Bosch combo is that the fixed base is exactly the same as the one used in their dedicated fixed-base routers, and that means you can adjust the bit height from above a router table which is a major plus. In general the bases supplied in combo kits are not quite as feature-loaded as their dedicated counterparts.
Just as with the Dewalt DW618PK you can change from one base to the other without needing any tools by using quick-release latches. All 3 components are made from aluminum, and with the wooden handles on the fixed base the whole thing has a quality feel to it.
What to look for when buying a Router
Due to its incredible versatility, every wood worker needs a router at some time, and plenty of people have more than one. However, with the huge range available, it’s not easy to choose the one that’s best suited to your needs. In this review we’ll take a look at a number of the features that you should be considering such as router power ratings and variable speed, router bit size, accurate depth setting with fine adjustment control and the various advantages and disadvantages of a Fixed Base Router vs a Plunge Router.
Powerful Motor with Variable-Speed
When looking at routers, one of the most important feature to look for is the horsepower rating of the motor. In line with all the other router combo kits on the market the Bosch 1617EVSPK uses a powerful 2-1/4 hp 12 amp motor which gives you enough power to push some bigger 1/2-inch shank bits through the stock without bogging down. Equally as important as the power is a variable speed motor as the larger the bit, the slower the cutting speed needs to be – if you use a large bit at too high a speed you will burn the stock. The Bosch 1617EVSPK motor has a wide range of speed from 8,000 to 24,000 rpm which allows you to accurately match the speed to the type of stock and the size of cutter.
To limit the tendency of the router to twist in your hands at start-up, the majority of routers have a soft start feature and the Bosch is no exception. This gradually increases the speed up to full speed and in addition to preventing any jerking and easier handling on start-up, it results in reduced strain and wear and tear on the motor itself, leading to longer motor life.
Smooth with Minimal Vibration
The Bosch motor is also particularly smooth; all routers vibrate to a certain degree and the less the vibration, the smoother the cut and the better it feels in your hands. We found that the minimal vibration of the Bosch 1617EVSPK plus the added benefit of the wooden handles on the fixed base, makes it extremely easy to use. This can make a big difference if you’re using the router for long periods at a time.
What Size Router Bit?
The bit shank size of the router is another important factor in deciding on a router. The two most common bit shank sizes are 1/4″ and 1/2″ and you should consider the projects you want to complete and the availability of bit sizes you need for these projects. The most common shank size is 1/2″ and you will find a much larger selection of bits available in the 1/2″ size and you will also find that some of the more specialist bits (mainly used by professionals) only come in 1/2″.
Also, the larger the shank diameter, the less likely the router bit is to vibrate during cutting. Excessive vibration of the cutter will give a poor cut, and, as a general rule, you should always choose the largest shank diameter cutter your router will accept. To make life easy, the Bosch comes with both 1/4-inch and 1/2-inch collets so you can use pretty well any cutters on the market.
Accurate Depth Adjustment
A router is a precision tool, so, whether in fixed base or plunge mode, they need to have a means of accurately adjusting bit depth. In fixed-base mode, depth-adjustment mechanisms come in one of two basic types – dials or rings. On the Bosch 1617EVSPK there is a micro-adjust dial for setting cutter depth on both bases, with settings down to 1/256-inch on the fixed base. In use, we find that dial adjusters tend to be easier to set fine tolerances.
Additionally, when using a router table, the Bosch fixed base also allows you to adjust the height from above the table – a feature generally only found on dedicated fixed-base routers.
Do You Want a Fixed Base Router or a Plunge Router?
A fixed base router is one on which you set a specific depth, and that depth stays consistent while using the tool. A plunge router, on the other hand, allows you to plunge the router bit downward and into the stock, make the desired cut, and then lift the bit back out of the stock. Obviously it’s a matter of personal preference, but in general, a plunge router is used for hand held routing when making a stopped cut (one that does not go all the way to the edge of the stock e.g. a mortise) and a fixed base router tends to be used in a Router Table and for hand held routing when a stopped cut is not required.
So, before the advent of router combo kits like this, you would have had to decide on what type of work you were planning to do before deciding on which one you should buy (unless you planned on buying one of each). Luckily that’s all changed with the introduction of router combos, and kits like the Bosch 1617 EVSPK provide everything you need for both fixed-base routing and plunge-base routing.
Smooth Plunge Action
A basic requirement of any plunge router is that it should plunge smoothly and shouldn’t stick when moving up and down. The best possible cut will be achieved when you can lower the cutter smoothly into the workpiece and out again; any stickiness or jerking can spoil the cut. We found that the plunge action on the Bosch was particularly smooth, even when more pressure was applied to one handle than the other.
How much should you expect to pay?
We found the best price on the web for the Bosch 1617EVSPK at around $200
What’s in the box?
The kit includes everything you need to get started with plunge and fixed base routing; EVS Motor (16176), Plunge base (RA1166) and fixed base (RA1161), Fixed base chip shield and plunge base chip shield, 1/2-inch and 1/4-inch collets, 16-mm and 24-mm bit change wrenches, T-handle above-the-table height adjustment wrench & carrying case.
What are other people saying?
Some of the comments received from users around the web
- Best router for anyone, great quality, good price
- You’ll love this combo kit Bosch 1617EVSPK 2HP
- I can’t say enough about this router combo set!
- I would highly recomend this product
- Wish we hadn’t waited so long to purchase
Given the huge number of reviews (550 and counting) it is to be expected that there will be a few unhappy customers. The important thing is to determine whether there is any pattern to the complaints – our conclusions gained from a thorough reading of the disappointed customers is that there is nothing that stands out as a particular problem with this router, apart from one early complaint (acknowledged by Bosch) was that dust got into the power switch when using the router inverted in a router table, and as a result the power switch is now completely dust-sealed eliminating this problem.
What kind of warranty is there?
This routing system is backed by a one-year limited warranty, 30-day money back guarantee, and one-year service protection plan.
The Bosch 1617EVSPK Router Combination Kit is Bosch’s bestseller in the router combo market. One motor and two bases (fixed and plunge) means you don’t have to buy two dedicated machines – two routers for not much more than the price of one. Features that make the Bosch stand out include its micro-adjust dial for setting cutter depth on the fixed base, comfortable wood handles and easy bit changing in fixed-mode.