A great router kit, well built and with almost all accessories you'd ever need... unless you need so
Some of you might be thinking "5 Stars, isn't that just some form of confirmation bias?" but the truth is, for what this kit can do, the accessories included, and the price charged, I really can't fault this router!
Ok, I reviewed the full-sized Bosch GOF-1600CE router, and that is still going strong. However, I decided to get a smaller router for smaller jobs, and so my better half can build her picture frames without stealing mine. I have to say, I'm quite impressed with this little unit. I've owned this unit for about a month now, and trimmed a variety of materials from softwoods, hardwoods, and plastics. However, I do recommend that you take it slowly with the harder woods.
A comparison of this kit overall, with other routers in Australia:
Some routers, like my previously reviewed Bosch, just came in a cardboard box with the plunge base, and a vacuum attachment. When buying my Bosch 240V model in Australia, the complete kit just wasn't available. So I had to buy a fixed base, a router guide, and a few other pieces separately which added another 50% to the cost. Not so with this DeWalt kit.
This kit, is the ALMOST complete package. It comes with BOTH fixed and plunge bases, a router guide, vacuum attachments for BOTH bases, and comes in a nice plastic carrying case. Could the guide be better... well yes. But will it work... absolutely! Does it include router bits... well.... no. In fairness, this is true of every router I've ever bought.
A note about shank sizes, a comparison of routers in general:
Compared to my nearly 6Kg 1600W 1/2" shanked Bosch router, this 2.9Kg 900W 1/4" shanked router is going to be inherently lighter to use. This makes it's use and carrying it around easier in many ways, but it's also a little less stable, and can kick back if it bites into something it can't chew up. However, having said that, the DeWalt router is nice to use, and if I were just trimming smaller, softer materials, this router would be an ideal choice. It can certainly do hard woods, but it may take a few passes to get there. I don't have a problem with that, since it is just a good routing habit to be in anyway, regardless of how powerful your router might be. I just do a little too much large-scale, very hard wood work that needs a bigger router to do it all safely. Your needs will probably differ from my own.
Routers in Australia (and probably many other countries) come in two different shank sizes which determine which bits the router is compatible with. The larger bits have shafts that are a half inch in diameter, and the other use quarter inch diameter shafts on their bits. Obviously, you can't directly insert a 1/2" shaft into a 1/4" socket, but with a reducing collet, you can put a 1/4" bit in a 1/2" router. I've heard that there are attachments that enable you to attach a 1/2" bit to a 1/4" socket, but I don't think that's a safe approach, and I certainly wouldn't use one.
The bigger shanks are great for heavy-duty tasks. Some people are more intimidated by bigger routers, but aside from the weight, I find they're actually more stable, less likely to wander than smaller models, and are more versatile in general. But the Dewalt 26204K, despite it's comparatively lesser power, and 1/4" socket, can still do a LOT, if you use it with the right bits, care and caution. I also like the spindle lock (It stops the shaft from rotating while you change the bits)... I've had a couple of routers without this feature, and they drive me nuts!
I've used a variety of routers over the years, ranging from cheap to expensive, large to small, and even used a Dremel once for routing purposes... and that works for really fine and very small jobs too. Regardless of the router you're using, I will always recommend using goggles, dust mask, vacuum or dust extraction, and quality bits. Some people ask "Do I really need all that personal protective equipment?" and I'd say vehemently, "Yes!" Routers are notorious for generating large amounts of shavings and sawdust. Especially when routing out large amounts of wood, and things can, (and do) get thrown in all directions.
The electric controls and comments on noise levels:
Aside from the soft start (a nice graceful way to turn on the router, which reduces the initial kick on my arms) the other great speed-related feature of the D26204K router is a variable speed switch, which according to the spec sheet, range from 16000 to 27000 RPM, and that helps! Slower speeds are less likely to melt plastics or overload the engine when routing with heavier loads, and higher speeds are better for smoother cuts. During operation, I was a little surprised to find that this 900W router is actually more quiet than my 200W finishing sander, and is FAR quieter than some other routers I've used. Regardless, longer periods of exposure to noise can damage hearing, so make sure you wear goggles, dust mask, as well as some sort of hearing protection at the very least.
The fixed base has a twist, screw type height adjustment ring. It's a little odd, but easy to use once you're familiar with it. The plunge base is like many others, and uses a thumb lever to loosen the height lock and is spring loaded so you have to push down a bit to lower the router. Both bases are pretty easy to use, and accurate. I haven't noticed much "play" or wobble in either base.
A note about bits:
These days, aside from having two sizes, bits come in either Tungsten Carbide tipped (second hardest material known to man) or are made of High Speed Steel (HSS). High speed steel doesn't hold the edge as long as carbide. But can be sharpened (repeatedly) to a much finer edge, so when they're sharp, they place less load on the motor, and cut a much smoother surface. They may be the older style of technology, and a less popular choice, but they can do a job so smooth that sanding is not really needed.
Tungsten Carbide bits are the default in most shops, and while they are harder wearing, and hold an edge longer, once blunt, they cannot be sharpened effectively. Dropping a Carbide bit is also far more likely to chip, crack, or fracture the bit, and I wouldn't use one if it looks too damaged as it may break more while spinning at high speeds.
The plastic case that the kit comes in:
The carrying case is your standard plastic tool box, shaped to fit the equipment that came inside it. However, I don't feel that there's a good spot to put any bits in, so you'll probably be carrying those in a separate box.
Overall this is a great router. It's quieter than most in it's class, it's well built, it's powerful enough in most cases to do a lot of work, but light enough to be manageable by many. I like the fact that it has soft start, variable speed, comes with two bases, and a guide, and doesn't leave a lot out. For the money, that's good value. Just keep in mind that this is not an industrial router, treat it accordingly, and you'll be fine.
I hope this helps with your decision making!