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When it comes to DIY I tend to try and invest in tools that make whatever job I am doing as easy as possible. So when it comes to buying the right power tools I tend to spend a little bit extra so that I can trust the tool I am going to use, hoping that I'll come out of the other end with all my fingers and toes intact. especially when I am using power tools.
One particular power tool I own, one which looks like it could rip your fingers in the blink of an eye, but it's more a pussy cat than a tiger as it's as safe as a using a hand saw, only this has a lot more power and is a lot handier.
The tool I am talking about is from a small and little known tool company called Bosch, (you may have heard of them..?), with this power tool being called the Bosch POF 1400 ACE.
Let's take a look at it first...
(Note: Parts of this description are described for right handed people really. If you're left handed then it may be easier to have the power switch on the left side).
It's a good size, being just less than 280mm high by 300mm wide and 160mm thick, (without the guides that is), and weighing in at about 3 and a half kilo, with a power kick of 1400 watts, (hence the 1400 in the name).
The main body is a solid green plastic with soft black grips around the handles and a few red knobs that make it easier to identify what does what and how it does it.
The only other colour is the metal of the base and the rods that are used as a guide on those 'straight' jobs.
The handles, which are housed either side of the main body and are angled slightly forwards for that extra help in keeping the router pressed upon, are chunky yet soft, giving a cracking grip, which you need really as this machine does try to get away from you when it's switched on.
On the top left hand side there is a precision depth gauge, which consists of a dial that you turn to the number you want. This guide is to get that perfect depth after you've used the main depth gauge which is a metal rod near the bottom of the router, locked into position with a red plastic nut.
There is a locking button on the left side, which is easy to activate with a flick of your finger and locks the router in position so that you don't have to keep the pressure on the router when you're working.
The mains lead comes in via the top of the right handle which keep the electrical cable well away from the cutting blades and the power button is placed just where your thumb can press it without stretching at all.
Below the handles and into the main working section, there is a well positioned depth gauge, on the left side, which, as I mentioned, is locked into position by an easy to turn red knob.
Then there's an easy to use spindle lock for changing the actual router bits which, for more ease, is operated by a big red 'button'.
For safety there is a clear toughened plastic guard covering the 'spinning' router bit so that any bits of wood that may fly off, or even a splinter of the actual router bit if you should hit upon a nail or something, don't fly in your direction.
Then on the opposite side to this guard there is the option of attaching the clear plastic nozzle that you can plug a vacuum hose to so that you're not breathing in any sawdust or the like as the router does it's job.
Then there's the two 'spring' functions that allow the router to be pushed down into the depth you need, with these 'spring' being hidden nicely inside rubber sleeves so it looks nice and neat.
At the bottom there is a level plate which has two rods and a gauge attached to one end, this is for keeping the router in a straight line at the exact length from start to finish.
And there is the option of attaching a vacuum cleaner pipe to the router as it has a dust extraction nozzle on the rear, so you don't choke on those fine particles of wood as you work away.
So that's basically what it looks like, a tamed lion with a bite that just won't stop, until you press the off button that is.
Apart from the router you also should get a few extra bits, just to get you going, including...
* Template guide
* 8mm straight 'bit'
* Spanner for changing the 'bits'
* Parallel guide
* Curve cutting guide
* Four router 'bits' which may vary, I got a 'rebating' bit, a 'V-groove' bit, a 'straight' bit and a 'rounding' bit, ( which added to the other 'bits' I have acquired over the years).
* And it all comes in a sturdy blow moulded plastic carrying case.
How do you use it then..?
This is where it could get complicated, more to explain than to actually use as I always say, the more you use something the easier it gets.
Firstly, and make sure the router is not plugged into the mains, (very important that bit), you need to select the 'bit' you want, which depends on the shape and style of the work you wish to complete.
There are many many 'bits' to choose from and they all give you a completely different finish, so it's really trial and error, but each 'bit' will have a guide to what the finish should look like.
Anyway, choose your 'bit' and slip it into the router by firstly locking the spindle so that nothing turns apart from the bit you're placing into it. This sounds complicated but is as easy as tightening a nut really.
Once the 'bit' is in place and the spindle lock is de-activated, other wise the router won't rotate, then you select the depth you want the 'bit' to sink to. This is done by pushing the router down near the work you're doing, checking to see how far the gauge needs to go down, then turning the red knob to lock the height in. the router will not go further down than you need, and if you want more accuracy then you simply turn the little knob at the top left of the main body, although this is really used for the very delicate work.
That's it. You're ready to router that piece of art work with your free style routing skills.
However, if you want to work on a larger piece, such as a desk top or fancy door edge, then you can use the 'template' guide, which slots into the bottom of the machine, to make sure that you keep that perfect distance all the way around.
This is done in more or less the same manner as the depth guide, only it's more horizontal than vertical, but you lock the rods into place using a couple of black nuts after you've selected the required width.
And you're now ready to start 'routering', showing off your skills in making that boring piece of wood into the most decorative things you've ever seen, or maybe put that curved edge on the table top you've been sanding for the past four months.
As I said before, this is a power tool and that said it should be used in a safe manner, even though it has more safety features than a Volvo car.
It feels very sturdy in the hand and with the soft feel on the handles there's no trouble with gripping it firmly to make sure it doesn't slip away on itself, causing damage to either the material you're working on or worse still, to yourself.
The controls are easy to reach, even whilst holding the handles, with the on/off button at thumb level and the locking lever easily moved with the fingers. This makes using the router as easy as pushing a lawn mower over your lawn.
The 1400watt motor sounds like a bit of a beast when it's switch on, sounding like a trapped bear growling at the gates of hell when the 'bits' down and ripping through the wood below, so don't be using this late at night or in a library as people may complain a little bit.
When it is switched on it will try and pull to the right, (or left, depending on which way you have it), but as the router 'bit' spins clockwise the router itself will pull that way. This can be a little tricky to deal with at first but as long as you get a tight grip on the handles you'll soon get the hang of gently pulling the router back the other way, compensating for this slight pulling motion. And as I always say, the more you use it the easier it becomes.
I have used this on many jobs now, both using the straight edge guide for such things as panels, making the edges nice and curved, giving them a better look before sanding and staining.
I've even had no trouble when it comes to making 'grooves' in the centre of wood, (so to speak), with the router 'bits' chomping into the wood with ease, damaging nothing around them as they go in, then slicing out the 'grooves' in a freestyle picture that I have drawn on the piece.
The speed selection gives some great options and not only does it help stop destroying 'weaker' wood if the speed is to great, it helps you get used to using the router in the first place as you can opt to go slow until you get the hang of the 'pull' that this one can give.
Changing the 'bits' is simple, taking a matter of seconds rather that minutes, (but as I said, unplug the router from the mains so as to avoid accidental turning it on and taking out your fingers, although the spindle lock does help in stopping it suddenly spinning, but show some caution).
As for the 'bits', well even though some of them may look like something you might find on the Starship Enterprises control panel they are all designed to do one specific job, so no matter how complicated they look they still give that stylish finish, even the ones with the little wheels on the bottom and sides.
This router has a ¼ inch drive and not a ½ inch so when you do buy new 'bits' make sure you get the right ones.........
So, if you're a beginner on the DIY path, or even if you know what you're doing with the many power tools on the market, then this little beauty, (maybe little isn't the right word), but anyway, this little green beauty should be added to any power tool collection.
What about the cost then..?
If you want to give your panels that extra little style, or maybe want to try your hand at designing that perfectly designed headboard, and more, then you can get your hands on this easy to use router for as little as £80.00. And with the 'bits' selling for a few quid each, (or if you really want to you can buy top of the range 'bits'), this is certainly worth taking a look at as it can make that boring table top look like something you'd buy from Harrods store, (that little furniture store in London).
© Blissman70 2012
Bosch POF 1400 Ace Router E