I would like to tell you about the experience I’ve had with my Harbor Freight purchased “Drill Master” trim router (Item#61626). While this router will not provide the smooth, lower decibel performance of those green, yellow or blue brands, it comes in at an everyday retail price of $29.99 US! If you pay attention this item often goes on sale for much less, I paid $11.99 US. for the one I currently own.
A little backstory about my experience in the shop I would consider myself a moderate hobbyist/maker who spends 15-25 hrs weekly in the shop and while I own 5 routers, by far this noisy little ¼ horsepower monster is the one I reach for most often. It features fairly easy cutter changes, (with the two small sheet metal wrenches provided) and the clear no frills depth gage that also features an adjustable fence provide reasonable visibility.
More often than not I use this router to cut small rabbits, mortises, and roundover/ease edges on projects that can’t be run through a router table mounted unit. Providing you keep sharp cutters, the router has sufficient power to do most jobs as described, in the variety of species i’ve used in my own projects.
The router has a 2 ½ inch cylindrical body that lends itself well for mounting into shop built jigs and fixtures, at full load it produces about 77 dB of noise and max of 85 dB which is not even as loud as a Metallica concert, and by far not the loudest power tool I have encountered. (Always wear hearing protection when using power tools up to you for rock concerts)
My biggest gripe is that the base has a hollow portion that fills with fine shavings, and lowers visibility, removing 4 screws allows you to clear the shavings, at some point I think i will seal the area with a little clear silicone.
Overall, for the hobbyist/maker, this tool provides great value, while its limited feature set may not be that of the green or blue, or yellow brands it’s super low entry price lends itself to the entry level enthusiast. Lets face it at under $30.00 US, you can have several in your shop, and avoid frequent cutter changes in the test video provided I purposely routed a ¼ inch rabbit in one pass with an aggressive feed rate to illustrate that even when abused it performs.
If you are a professional craftsman, that uses a router hours everyday this may not be the tool for you, but for the hobbyist looking for an entry level tool this may be for you. I plan on purchasing a couple more of these to keep frequently used cutters installed and avoid frequent changes.