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  1. #1
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    Default Chinese 710W trimmer router review

    This trimmer router was purchased following a discussion on THIS post where a member had previously purchased one following some favourable reviews on another forum. As I had a birthday coming up I decided to treat myself to router number 8, with the hopeful outcome of ditching router number 7 (a Ryobi…’nuff said). Rather than just getting the trimmer only I splurged on the full kit which comes with plunge and tilt bases as well. And when I say “splurged”, we are talking $125 all up including delivery. Had I gone for the trimmer only it would have only set me back $70-ish; that compares very favourably with the cheapest Ryobi ($95) or identically-bad-but-cheaper- Ozito $65 which are plastic bodied monstrosities. This Chinese model has a machined aluminium body.
    The pack arrived very quickly and my initial reaction was quite favourable; the main components were rather robust and well presented. All three bases were fairly well machined with no evidence of shoddy machining or skimping on materials. The motor felt solid and was very easy to adjust in the fixed bases; which was the main gripe I have with the Ryobi. The motor spun up easily with no vibration or excessive noise. Apart from the plastic parts of the motor it appears to be a fairly close copy of the Makita RT0700.
    IMG_0015.jpg
    Some closer examinations then followed; firstly I noted that the pressed steel fence was definitely on the flimsy side; it is only made from 2mm thick steel plate. During function testing later on I determined that it was adequate for the job; but only just.
    IMG_0036.jpg
    The same goes for the single collet spanner; again it is made from 2mm plate and while it worked it is really the bare minimum required.
    IMG_0039.jpg
    (Tiffy’s Tip Of The Day: if a tool needs another tool to remove the dangerous bits; attach it to the plug. That way you will ALWAYS unplug the beast before putting your fingers in harms way. And you won’t spend half an hour searching through piles of crap trying to remember exactly where you put it last)

    Ok; time for some QA testing. The tilting base has degree markings on one side; these are useless! As shown here with the base set at 0 the cutter is obviously not square to the baseplate. However; I learned years ago to never trust any graduation unless it was also stamped Rabone, Moore & Wright, Starret or Mititoyo.
    IMG_0032.jpg
    The tilting base has a square baseplate with screw hole locations identical to the fixed base, which has a rounded baseplate. This means that the fixed base can have its round baseplate swapped for a square one.
    IMG_0038.jpg
    The fixed base also has provision for a small template guide bush; this is a firm fit in the base and is sufficiently concentric to the cutter. To me this would be handy for making ¼” dovetails or box joints.
    IMG_0037.jpg
    There is also a template guide that can be attached to the plunge base; although this one is a close fit in the base it’s manufacture was a little off and it has a slight offset to one side. However… as the motor isn’t 100% concentric in the plunge base there is a sweet spot where the two axis effectively meet together; it’s just a bit fiddly finding it. The controls on the plunge base are a bit fiddly; in that I have large hands so no matter where I put my fingers something was touching somewhere, but that’s a problem only suffered by the genetically superior. The 3-step turret stop worked fine as does the micro adjuster above it (sorry, no picture) and although the plunge action is a bit sloppy it always locked square and central unless you seriously reefed down on one side. I may attempt to improve on the slop a little in the future if it starts to annoy me. However; this is where I discovered the first manufacturing problem; one of the plunge posts stuck out of the base slightly; meaning that the base wasn’t actually flat and rocked on a flat surface.
    IMG_0013.jpgI
    This was definitely a manufacturing issue and is indicative of absolutely zero QA performed on these machines. It’s not an unsolveable problem however; it took me only 3 minutes with a Dremmel to grind off the offending excess material. Had this been a shop-bought item it would have been returned for replacement, but as it was a Made In China at a bargain price I let it slide. What I couldn’t let slide however was a major problem; the cutter showed a considerable amount of run-out.
    IMG_0011.jpg IMG_0012.jpg
    No matter what I did I could not stop the cutter from cutting a larger diameter. Clocking the motor with a DTI showed acceptable concentricity so the fault should have been in the collet; and when I took some calliper measurements this was proved to be true with the outer edge being off centre by 0.02mm. At this point I stopped and contacted the seller with the issue; four days later a second brand new trimmer arrived gratis. Unfortunately; that one also had a defective collet.
    But wait… there is a second collet supplied with the trimmer! Dammit; it’s for 3/8” shanked cutters; of which we all have thousands kicking around…. well actually I do have one that I picked up years ago in a job lot! In order to prove to myself that the issue was the collet and not the spindle I slipped a brand new Bordo 3/8” drill bit into the chuck and span it by hand; despite the bit being around 6” long there was no perceptible wobble at the tip.
    At that time I concluded that for the average purchaser this machine is NOT a recommended purchase; the protruding plunge post and defective collet render the machine not fit for purpose. I however, am a stubborn sod and decided to go ahead anyway to see if there can be any resolution. I have contacted the seller again and requested he supplies me with a new collet. At the same time; assuming that this is a copy of a Makita (who else ever made 3/8” routers?) I’ve taken a gamble and ordered a genuine Makita collet to see if that will cure the issue. So far then I’ve spent almost $145 and have two trimmer bodies, two fixed bases, a tilting base and a plunge base. And if the Makita collet doesn’t fit and the seller can’t send another replacement then I can only use 3/8” shanked cutters in any of them….
    … and as I have a cutter with a 3/8” shank I decided to carry on with the test regardless.
    The following pics show various cuts I made in a bit of worktop offcuts. I used the tilting base, the plunge base, put on the chip deflector and dust extractors; ran it freehand, ran it along a battern and used the fence.
    IMG_0031.jpg IMG_0033.jpg IMG_0034.jpg IMG_0035.jpg IMG_0040.jpg
    At this time I concluded that with the plunge post issue fixed and a concentric cutter, the machine performed over and above its price range.; with only one fault and one annoyance. The fault is the bearing guide; the bush isn’t concentric so if used as a trimmer it leaves slight scalloping along the cut edge. I will say though that I have never used this type of guide before; I have always used a proper bearing guided cutter.
    IMG_0042.jpg IMG_0041.jpg
    The annoyance is the variable speed; unlike it’s Makita inspiration the speed control is more of a speed limiter; at the lower speed settings the cutter can bog down and slows the machine down further. There are no additional electrons sent to the motor to compensate for increasing the load. To me though this is only an annoyance because I would only be using this machine with small diameter cutters at max revs; if I feel the need to use my1/4” shanked 5/8” roundover bit I have bigger machines for the job!
    The dust extraction on all the bases was excellent and they can all be fitted and removed in seconds without needing weird tools. The optical clarity was adequate; there was slight distortion looking through the plastic but this only became an issue when routing freehand with the fixed base and trying to follow a line by eye.
    A potential issue may be the heat given off by the motor; even after only a few minutes of use the trimmer body became uncomfortably hot to hold if removed from one of the bases. The bases all have rubber grips so you are never putting your hands on the body itself but if you feel a need to swap bases midway through a job you might say a rude word or two if you grab hold of the aluminium body. I can say that my Ryobi also gets warm, but with a plastic body it doesn’t feel as hot. I would be interested to know if a genuine Makita heats up the same.

    Ok; right now I still stand by my statement that this item as currently sold is not fit for purpose; however if the collet machining issues are fixed then I would give it an 8/10 mark. Older machines appear to not suffer from the collet problem so if the OEM tightens up in that one area they've got themselves a winner again.
    If the Makita collet fixes the issue then it gets a 7/10 mark, because that’s a bit more cash spent.
    If the Makita collet doesn’t fit and there is no resolution from the seller or OEM, then I give it a 5/10… because my Ryobi body fits into all the attachments so it won’t be a total loss.

    I’ll keep youse posted how it all pans out with the Makita collet and the request to the seller; however I’m away from my shed for the next couple of weeks so there will be a delay.
    A thief stole my anti-depressants. I hope he’s happy now.

  2. #2
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    It is relevant that I add a comment, since it was my recommendation at the outset for this machine.

    This particular purchase could be paraphrased as "too much is not a good thing". My purchase was a basic trim router without all the fruit. This cost $68 including delivery costs. With this came the router motor, fixed base, and the two fences mentioned by CT, above.

    Here it is on a wider base ...



    The fence is solid enough to use as is. However, if I did use it (and I am not sure if I will), I would add a wooden sub-fence to reduce friction. This would also beef it up. Why am I not fussed about the fences? Simply because I do not see them playing much, if any, part in the way I would use a trim router. I view these machines as principally one-handed routers, for light use, and not for tasks where one will use a fence to run dados or morticing (the latter with the plunge router). There appears to be a move by manufacturers to sell combination routers (plunge- and fixed base), however these are larger machines ... not these dinky, underpowered tools. They are not toys, and they are really useful, but they have a definite place. Plungeing and deep/wide dados are not it.

    I use a trim router for rounding over and bevelling edges - they began life as laminate trimmers (hence the name).

    A 3mm roundover bit with bearing - no need for a fence ...




    My main use is to remove waste from dovetail sockets (freehand, not using a dovetail guide), which is where the wide base plate comes in ...



    The router I received does these simple tasks perfectly. It has 1 hp and soft start. Everything is solid and straight. Well, there is little to mess up as long as the fixed base and the collet are straight, which they are on mine. The variable speed is irrelevant as the small 1/4" shank bits I use are well within the upper speed range. I do not plan to use the router with anything larger. For larger I have a small plunge Elu (MOF96), which is better suited. For larger still, I have a mid-size Elu (MOF97), and for very large bits I have the large 1/2" Elu 177e. In the context of these three Elu routers, the trim router is tiny and has a quite different goal.

    For comparison, I have a 10-ish year old Makita trimmer.



    It has less power (1/2 hp), and the power switch is less convenient than on this cheapie. The balance of the two machines is very comparable. They have been used for the same tasks. I reach for the cheapie first as it is more comfortable to hold and the extra power gives it a little more smoothness.

    These cheap trim routers are cheap for a good reason - minimal quality assurance. You may get a poor one. I may have got lucky, but I was influenced by recommendations on the UK woodworking forum, where many members have purchased this router over a few years now. It has been reviewed many times, dissected and debated to death. In the end all agree that it is a bargain.

    Regards from Perth

    Derek
    Visit www.inthewoodshop.com for tutorials on constructing handtools, handtool reviews, and my trials and tribulations with furniture builds.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chief Tiff View Post
    ... I would be interested to know if a genuine Makita heats up the same...
    Not that I have noticed and I have run it for fairly long periods while cutting threads on the Beall thread cutter.
    Those were the droids I was looking for.
    "just because I don’t need the lathe doesn’t mean the beer isn’t cold" - Grand Master Flett

  4. #4
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    Derek,

    Any chance you could supply a link to the UK woodworking forum you referred to above?

    Thanks.

  5. #5
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    crowie is offline Life's Good, Enjoy each new day & try to encourage
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    Thank you Ian for a very comprehensive well written review....

    Cheers, Peter

  6. #6
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    Visit www.inthewoodshop.com for tutorials on constructing handtools, handtool reviews, and my trials and tribulations with furniture builds.

  7. #7
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    Those links to the UKworkshop forum have been great reading; thanks for posting them Derek. Of particular interest to me are the notes regarding using the Makita 8mm collets with no issues; this indicates to me that the 1/4" collet I've ordered should fit just fine and cure the wobble. I note as well that a couple of posters also had issues with the bearing guide/fence but no other issues were readily apparent. I really hope that the collet issue is limited to just a recent batch.

    The seller has responded to my request for a new collet with an apology as he doesn't stock any spare parts. He has however offered a $10 refund which I will accept as that will partially offset the $21 dollars the Makita collet has cost.
    A thief stole my anti-depressants. I hope he’s happy now.

  8. #8
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    Excellent review Chief.

    It does tend to emphasise that generally you get what you pay for, but qualified by Derek's comments that if you are not looking for much it could still be a proposition.

    Regards
    Paul
    Bushmiller;

    "Power tends to corrupt. Absolute power corrupts, absolutely!"

  9. #9
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    Thank you Derek.

  10. #10
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    I can confirm that the standard Makita RT0700 collet and collet nut fits this router. Fitting the collet solved the Wobbly on my Chinese special.

    EDIT: and today I received my 6mm spiral bit along with a Makita-compatible 6mm collet - once again, it fits perfectly

  11. #11
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    Update:

    The genuine Makita collet definitely improves the run out; I read 0.07mm overal on the bearing of a 1” long 3/8” dia bearing guided bit. This is a considerably longer bit than I would really want to use in a handheld trimmer anyway.

    With this in mind if you are using short cutters then the run out will be acceptable but the longer (or wider) the cutter the more pronounced the problem will be. But this isn’t a tool you’d really want to use a 1/2” roundover bit with. Derek has shown his set up where he uses a 1/8” bit for waste removal when cutting dovetails, I think that perfectly exemplifies one of the tools best uses. I’ll echo his points here and agree that laminate trimming and small (1/4” and below) roundovers are pretty much the only additional mainstream uses, the model I purchased with the additional bases will only be suitable for a select few with specific requirements.

    So, the basic trimmer at $65-70 is still pretty good value. If the supplied collet is rubbish (as the most recent batch seems to be) then purchasing a genuine Makita one should sort it out. This does however assume you have a toolshop in your vicinity; Trade Tools only charged me $21 for mine but if you have to mail order one I reckon you’d be looking at the thick end of $30. There is also the chance that the seller will send out a replacement second unit gratis (like the one who supplied mine) or just refund the purchase price as the return shipping probably isn’t worth the effort for him.

    Ok, so what will I now use mine for? Well, I’ve decided that as I now have 3 trimmers I can effectively turn them into single purpose machines.

    What I mainly detest about the Ryobi is the really stiff and annoying depth adjustment in the fixed base, plus the 2 spanner collet tightening arrangement. So, the Ryobi will now be used with the plunge base as the depth adjustment is not required and I can pull the body out of the unit to get the spanners on it really easy. I already have a 1/4” plunge base router but it is quite tall for the size of baseplate, the Chinese arrangement is more stable. The fine depth adjustment on the Chinese is more friendly too. Only suitable for little bits though.

    One of the Chinese trimmers will be used as a dedicated laminate trimmer, replacing the Ryobi in that role. The all metal casing and fixed base mean that depth adjustments are sooooo much smoother and less frustrating than the Ryobi.

    The second trimmer will now be used as a sort of special projects item. I have always thought about building a wooden clock and have mentally designed indexing jigs for cutting the gear wheel profiles that used a sliding trimmer. Additionally, I’ve always hankered after building some Wilkie-style thread cutting jigs after seeing Ian’s in the flesh a couple of years ago, and I can grind the cutters from 3/8 bar stock to fit the larger collet.
    A thief stole my anti-depressants. I hope he’s happy now.

  12. #12
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    As posted in the other thread I have found the locking mechanism on the fixed base of the Oriental version I received to be unreliable. A small slip using a straight bearinged trim bit would be mostly immaterial but in attempting exact depth cuts like clearing socket waste or attempting to use a round over bit will result in anguish with my fixed base.
    Franklin

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    Thanks for the info on this. I considered getting one of these to go along with the makita version of this that I already have (the makita version itself is a dandy little router, and I have two bases for them. I don't use a router much, but when I do, it's on guitar templates).

    Here in the states, there seems to be a surplus of the makita version reconditioned for about $71, and your post helped me. Not by convincing me to buy one of the inexpensive ones, but to just order the recons that are sold here for cheap if I want another one.

    I did read on the knock off version, as has been stated here, that the dimensions are taken off of the makita, so everything for the makita should be compatible with these routers.

    Flashing back to my youth, my mother made a lot of crafty things (and sold them). Sears is where most people got tools here until they wised up. My dad had a router in a small table with a small roundover on it to work the edges of things my mother made, and I'm fairly sure it had less power than a makita trimmer does now. And it was twice as loud, and nominally was probably about the same in dollar costs as a recon makita is now.

  14. #14
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    As a pointless aside, i went and looked up the full size router my father had (he still has it, I'm sure - but it's got to be under layers of dust in his shop) - it's exactly 6.5 amps in a full sized router body.

    Literally identical in power to the makita trimmer (which is, to be fair, really powerful for a trimmer sized router).

    We've come a long way in hand held power tools, which for a guy like me (who wants no stationary power tools) can be a big deal from time to time.

    My father stopped routing at some point and just broke the edges of my mom's products with sandpaper. I asked him why he didn't use the router table and he said "it's too loud and it makes a bunch of dust".

    Coming from someone willing to stand over a 6x48 sander for hours doing production type work, that's a damning statement (and my dad tries to be as ignorant of his tools as possible, and never talks about them, so he wouldn't have read that criticism elsewhere). I've never met someone who loves a 6x48 belt sander more than my dad, though. He's the king of pine dust, and my mother isn't too particular, so if it's a nice day, he can turn a part of her garden from brown to nearly white with dust.

  15. #15
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    Based on this and the other thread, I decided to try one of these trim routers.
    Bought the basic model (no plunge base) on ebay and it arrived from Sydney in about 3-4 days.

    Having read the threads, I bought this with realistic expectations of what I was getting, so the very first thing I did was check the runout. I mounted the router on a board to try hold it tight, together with a dial indicator. I tried to measure runout of the actual spindle, which is difficult because the spindle has thread plus holes for the spindle lock, but there is a narrow smooth path just below the threads. Runout there was about 0.05mm. Runout with the supplied 1/4" collet was about 0.15mm. I could actually see this by eye as I manually turned the spindle.

    Now is this so bad that the router is unusable? I don't know, I've never used a trim router before. Not sure what the runout on a brand new Ozito or Ryobi wold be either.
    So I bought a Makita collet for $29 and tried that. Runout was back to 0.05mm.
    dial_a.jpgdial_b.jpg

    Inspecting the original collet, I think the problem is the diameter of the base (the part which goes deepest inside the spindle). I could feel the Makita was tighter to fit, and the original was much looser. I also noticed getting inconsistent runout figures each time I removed and reinserted the collet.

    I used it with the Makita collet on the weekend and it ran fine. Much quieter than I expected. Seems to have a soft start. But the speed control dial is a little dodgy (it actually stopped on the slowest speed).

    But I am not complaining back to the seller because I bought it knowing what I was getting in to.

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