New Tricks Set Skil Router Apart

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This article is from Issue 100 of Woodcraft Magazine.

Skil 14-Amp Plunge and Fixed Base Router Kit

Overview

  • 14 amp, 21⁄2 HP motor
  • Plunge and fixed bases included
  •  1⁄2" and 1⁄4" collets fit most bits
  • Computer-controlled speed selection
  • LED worklights illuminate cutter

The name Skil conjures an image of the ubiquitous circular saw synonymous with the brand. What it doesn’t call to mind is routers. So when Woodcraft started carrying Skil routers, I was skeptical.

That skepticism was unwarranted, as testing proved Skil’s router kit to be chock full of features—some standard, others not—packed into a solid chassis.

All of the usual features are there. Two and a half horses provide plenty of power, while plunge and fixed bases mean versatility. The included edge guide attaches securely and easily to both bases. A micro-adjust knob finely tunes the bit depth. And the interchangable 1/4" and 1/2" collets fit most common router bits.

Skil 14-Amp Plunge and Fixed Base Router Kit #174809, $139.99

What makes this tool really shine are two features not typical in other routers on the market. First, a trio of LED worklights around the collet activate automatically when the router is turned on. Many trim routers feature worklights, but they’re almost unheard of on full-size routers. Lighting the work surface proved incredibly helpful, especially during plunge work, though the ability to turn on the lights independently of the motor would help in lining up cuts.

The second notable difference is the smart electronic speed control. While many other routers have speed control, Skil’s helps you select the proper speed. An LCD screen atop the motor shows three fields: bit type, size, and material type. Pushing the set button toggles between the fields, while the +/- buttons select options within each field. Start by setting the bit type: options include bullnose, rabbeting, roundover, ogee, dovetail, and straight. Each type is represented by a pictograph on the display. Next, set the size range. Most cutters fall within the 0-1" smallest range, but with 2-1/2 horsepower, this tool can power bits up to 3-1/2". Finally, choose between softwood, hardwood, or plastic. The router then automatically sets the motor RPMs.

It takes some imagination to match the pixelated image on-screen to the bit in the chuck, and the manual doesn’t provide much guidance, but I found cycling through the options a few times helped. The bigger issue is that there’s no indication which field is active, which sometimes led me to accidentally change a setting already made–switching bit type when I meant to change material type, for instance. It’s also possible to manually set the speed, but in testing I found the computer-selected speed nicely balanced power and control across all bit and material types.

Skil may never become eponymous to routers the way it has with circular saws, but if it does, this is the router that will lead the way. 

—Tester, Derek Richmond

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2 Comments

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  • JW
    So does Woodcraft sell a set of different subplates for this SKIL RT1322-00 Plunge/Fixed base router? Each base has a 1-1/4" hole in its standard subplate.
  • BE from Overland Park
    But what do you do if you want to do some template routing? I called Skill but wasn't impressed with their support answer.

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