|Festool OF2200 Router Ratings||Click here to view on Amazon|
The Festool OF2200 is Festool’s top-of-the-range dedicated plunge router, which packs in so many innovative features that you really don’t know where to start – ergonomic offset grips, tool-free hinged base system, retractable spring-loaded dust shroud, double locking plunge columns and ratcheting spindle lock to mention just a few. It also has the smoothest plunge of pretty well any router on the market and easy, intuitive macro and micro depth adjustment and just about everything else anyone could think of in a router.
It’s also one of the very few routers to have a magnetic spindle brake which is a faster, more reliable method of stopping the motor and also prolongs the life of the motor compared to a mechanical or electronic brake.
What to look for when buying a Router
Of all the woodworking tools available, a router is probably one of the most versatile. Due to its incredible versatility, every wood worker, including beginners, will have a need for a router at some time, and many 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, and the choice seems to get better every day. However, there are a number of features that you should always 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. What ultimately matters is power, cut quality, how easy the router is to use, and how comfortable it is to hold while you’re using it.
FESTOOL’s amazing, top-of-the-range plunge router, the OF2200, packs in so many innovative features that you really don’t know where to start
Powerful, Variable-Speed Motor with Soft Start
When looking at routers, one of the most important feature to look for is the horsepower rating of the motor. The Festool OF2200 is quoted at 2200 Watts which equates to just under 3-hp, putting it in the top power bracket for routers. If you are considering a heavy-duty plunge router like the Festool, you will probably want to use it to cut mortises and this is where you need the power that a 3-hp motor gives you, allowing you to plunge easily into the stock and remove large amounts of waste in a single pass. For heavy-duty tasks like this, you’re helped by the fact that this is a large machine weighing 17.2 lbs which helps with stability and makes it easier to control.
The motor itself has a triple bearing design (bearings at the top, middle and bottom of the spindle) meaning the spindle is won’t wobble which is particularly important when using such a powerful motor at high speeds.
With such a large and powerful machine a motor with soft start is essential in order to control the torque on start up and prevent the router from twisting in your hands, as well as resulting in reduced strain and wear and tear on the motor itself, leading to longer motor life.
If you choose a powerful router like the Festool OF2200, you’re also likely to be taking advantage of the ability to use large cutters, and so variable speed is also a must so that the motor can be slowed down for larger bits. The rule is, 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 Festool has a good range from 10,000 to 22,000 rpm.
Router bit size
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. The Festool OF2200 comes with a 1/2-inch collet and although some people may see the lack of a 1/4-inch collet as an omission, there’s really not going to be much need for one.
When it comes to changing bits, the Festool has a number of useful features that help make it easy:
Ratcheting Spindle Lock
There is a ratcheting spindle lock which you use to disengage spindle movement and loosen the collet with a ratcheting motion. In practice this works extremely well and means that you don’t end up skinning your knuckles when the collet suddenly loosens.
Change the Bit Above or Below the Base
The combination of the widely spaced plunge columns plus the 80mm of plunge travel means that there is plenty of space to access the collet and change the bit above the base. Alternatively, if you plunge the whole way the collet actually extends 10mm below the router base and so you can change the bit that way.
Tool-Less Hinged Base System
Continuing with the theme of easy access, changing bases is also extremely easy on the Festool OF 2200 using the spring loaded release lever – you simply insert the two base hinges into their slots and snap the base securely in place in seconds. The base system also facilitates quick and easy access to template guides which are secured under the base.
Accurate Depth Adjustment
All routers, whether fixed base or plunge, need to have a means of accurately adjusting bit depth. The Festool OF 2200 has a number of depth adjustment features that enable perfect depth setting
- Excellent 80mm of plunge depth travel
- Micro-adjustment knob for adjustments down to 1/256-inch
- Four position depth stop turret
- Locking depth stop rod
Fixed Base Router vs. Plunge Router
What’s the difference? Simply put, 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.
The Festool OF 2200 is a dedicated plunge router and has a number of innovative features that make it stand out from the competition:
Smooth Plunge Action
A basic requirement of a plunge router is that it should plunge smoothly and should not 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 Festool was the smoothest of anything we’ve come across.
Double Locking Plunge Columns
A lot of plunge routers only lock onto one of the plunge columns, but the locking mechanism of the OF2200 locks against both of the plunge columns which guarantees that there won’t be any movement. The plunge depth is locked with a single twist of the locking knob located at your fingertips on the router’s handle.
Retractable, Spring-Loaded 360º Dust Shroud
The dust shroud performs two useful functions; it prevents chips flying out and also helps maximize dust extraction by concentrating all of the extraction power right on the cutter. It still allows high visibility of the workpiece, and can be released using a release lever at your fingertips. The shroud retracts back into the locked position after the router is fully plunged.
30º Handle Offset
Unlike when using a router in a table, when routing freehand you are by definition moving the router around the workpiece and so comfort and ergonomics become important factors. The 30º handle offset means that you hold the handles at a position that is comfortable and natural. The angled grips ensure that your wrists remain straight and so you’re more comfortable and more relaxed which means better control as well as being safer.
A very handy side effect of this handle configuration is that by applying forward motion to the router you are also applying lateral force against the edge of the workpiece. You normally have to make a conscious effort to keep the edge guide tight against the workpiece.
Dust Extraction Column
Dust extraction is something that you take for granted when you’re using a router table, but it’s not always as good as it should be when routing freehand. However the dust extraction on the Festool OF2200 is excellent, helped by the dust shroud. In addition, the dust extraction column is at the back of the OF 2200 and extends to the top of the router where there is a swivel nozzle which means that the hose is kept out of your way.
Magnetic Spindle Brake
The Festool OF2200 is also one of the very few routers to have a magnetic spindle brake which is a faster, more reliable method of stopping the motor and also prolongs the life of the motor compared to a mechanical or electronic brake.
How much should you expect to pay?
There just aren’t any huge deals out there and if you want one you’re going to pay in excess of $800.
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What’s in the box?
The kit includes
- Festool OF 2200 EB Router
- Chip catcher
- 1/2-inch collet
- Dust-extraction hood
- Standard US guide bushing adapter
- Systainer (a very nice storage box)
What are other people saying?
Some of the comments received from users around the web
- “Best Router ever”
- “The controls, especially the incremental height adjustment are amazing”
- “Flawless when routing edge profiles”
- “Elegant design hides the massive power of this router”
There really is only one downside to the Festool OF2200 and that’s the price. At $825 it’s going to put a large dent in your wallet, and the accessory kit that includes the superb edge guide and guide-bushing system will cost another $300. Once you’ve bought it though, there really is nothing to fault and you’ll wonder how you managed without some of it’s innovative features.
What kind of warranty is there?
This routing system is backed by a three-year limited warranty and 30-day money back guarantee.
The Festool OF2200 is Festool’s top-of-the-range plunge router, which packs in so many innovative features that you really don’t know where to start – ergonomic offset grips, tool-free hinged base system, retractable spring-loaded dust shroud, double locking plunge columns and ratcheting spindle lock, plus the smoothest plunge on the market and easy, intuitive macro and micro depth adjustment.