Every professional carpenter needs to have a wood router in his workshop. Some even consider it to be the second most important tool after the table saw. The router makes woodworking easy, even for beginner carpenters. The market is full of them, which makes picking the right one seem like a difficult task at first. The choice is even harder when you are on a budget and can’t afford to buy the top of the line tools.
Masterforce 2-1/2 HP Router Review: A reliable and Versatile Tool at an Affordable Price
If you are in the market for a good all-rounder fixed base wood router, at an affordable price, the Masterforce 2-1/2 HP Digital Variable Speed Fixed Base Router is an excellent choice. You probably have not heard of the name before and that’s because Masterforce is a brand sold exclusively at Menards. All the brand’s mechanics tools are manufactured from the strongest alloy steel available, right in the USA, and are nickel-chrome plated in order to provide lifetime corrosion resistance. This is the brand’s only router so far and this is probably why you can’t find many Masterforce router reviews on the internet. But keep reading and you will see why this is a must-have tool, especially if you are on a tight budget.
Powerful Motor at an Affordable Price
The Masterforce router has a ball bearing 2.5 HP, 14 Amps motor, something you don’t really find in a tool that is so affordable. For this price, most brands only offer compact tools, with motors that rarely surpass 2 HP.
Yes, this router doesn’t have the most powerful motor available, but at 2.5 HP and 14 Amps, it can handle almost any task. And, thanks to its 6 variable speed settings it is suited for both small and large diameter bits and can cut into anything from plastic to hardwood.
The speed is easily set thanks to the electronic display located on the top of the tool. All you have to do is to press the “+” or “-” to choose the cutting speed according to the materials you are working on. The display also shows you which type of material is suited for your selected speed, so you can’t make any mistakes. The speed levels are 10,000, 13,000, 16,000, 19,000, 22,000 and 25,000 RPM.
Easy to adjust
Adjusting the depth of the bit on the Masterforce router is extremely easy. First of all, you have a coarse-adjustment button that allows you to quickly lower or raise the cutter bit to an approximate depth setting. Then, you have a fine-adjustment dial with a depth-indicator ring that allows you to make adjustments in increments of 1/64 inch. Lastly, the depth-indicator ring may be reset to zero without moving the fine-adjustment dial. This allows you to begin adjustments from any chosen reference point.
Surprisingly, the Masterforce also has a soft start feature, which reduces torque at start-up to prevent any possible injury. Another great feature in terms of safety is the “live tool indicator”, which is a green light, located on the motor housing top cap. The light is always on when the router motor is plugged into a power source.
The router also has an acrylic base and a three-LED work light that helps increase visibility, especially when you are working in your woodshop or other places with less than ideal lighting.
Lastly, the Masterforce router also comes with a 1-1/4″ vacuum hose dust/chip extraction port which you can use to keep your work area clean.
The Masterforce 2-1/2 HP Digital Variable Speed Fixed Base Router doesn’t come with a lot of accessories. In the box, you get the two compatible collets, 1/4” and 1/2”, collet wrench and the dust extraction adaptor, plus a little soft bag to hold the router in. There is a plunge base for this router but you can’t buy it individually, only part as a kit with the router and the fixed base.
Compatible with several routing tables
The Masterforce router can be used both as a handheld device or attached to a router table. This tool is compatible with routing tables from several manufacturers, like Kobalt, Skil, Bosch, Craftsman, and Performax. There’s also a Masterforce table but, just like with the plunge base, you have to buy it as a kit, that contains the router and both bases.
How it Performs
Right from the start, you will see that the Masterforce router is a great investment. The router performs surprisingly well and the handles are comfortable enough to prevent any additional fatigue. Changing the bits, and even the collets is easy enough.
To turn it on you have to use metal a toggle switch, which is something you rarely see on a router. The switch is hidden under a protective cover and a little hard to reach. Also, on the negative side is the noise. This is probably one of the loudest routers you can buy so you might want to consider investing in some ear protection as well.
Like we mentioned earlier, the Masterforce 2-1/2 HP Digital Variable Speed Fixed Base Router is sold exclusively at Menards and it costs only $109. This is at least twice as cheap as other routers of the same power. Alternatively, you could buy the combo kit that contains a plunge base for only $159. Your third and last choice is to add the Masterforce router table to the kit. For pricing, you will have to check with your local Menards store.
The Masterforce 2-1/2 HP Digital Variable Speed Fixed Base Router is a surprisingly good tool. You won’t probably find one better in the same price range. It has a good motor, variable speed, soft start function, and can fit both 1/4” and 1/4” collets. It has 3 LED lights for increased visibility and a dust extraction adaptor, for keeping your work area cleaner. You can’t ask for more from a $109 router. Plus, it has a 3-year warranty, which is what most manufacturers offer.