Routers are one of, if not the most, versatile powered woodworking tool out there. There are so many uses for them and to match up with that there is many variations of routers ranging in size, motor power, bases plates and more. There really isn’t a single router that is perfect for every task – a little trim router is great for edge work, but lacks the power or capability needed for larger bits. The reverse is true too – a 6kg monster router is tricky to balance on edges.
This review covers the Bosch GOF 1600 CE, and while it isn’t the perfect router for all situations, what it does well, I think it does very well.
We had been looking around for a large, “above-table” router but we weren’t particular sure which brand or even model to go with. We reached out to Bosch, and they sent along their only “professional” full sized router thats available in Australia. To be clear, Bosch provided the router for review and thats it, this isn’t a paid review. I’m not sure if the router is to be sent back, so I’m hesitant to buy any of the accessories for it.
- 1600w motor with constant electronic power management
- variable speed from 10,000 to 25,000 rpm
- A whopping 76mm plunge,
- 6 stepped turret stop
- plunge depth stop rod with fine adjustment
- 5.8kg weight
It comes with the usual paraphernalia
- a 1/2″ and 1/4″ collet (despite bosch AU’s website saying 3/8″)
- a 24mm wrench
- a dust shroud
- a toolless guide bushing adapter
- 17mm guide bushing
- currently the large L-BOXX
- some retailers state it comes with the parallel edge guide
One common issue with all low end tools is seemingly no thought gone into the ergonomics. Well, right off the bat Bosch is signalling that this isn’t a low end tool by having the most comfortable rubber overmoulded handles I’ve felt on probably any tool.
While in operation, little to no vibration seems to be transferred through the handles and everything adjusts easily.
The power trigger is in a great spot, though it can be tiring to hold down if you don’t engage the power lock.
One bit of reinventing the wheel that took me by surprise is that the router doesn’t have a plunge lock – instead it has a lock release. While that sounds like semantics, in actual use it was amazing. Instead of plunging, then twisting the lock as far as you can at the right depth, the router is always ‘locked’ at whatever height. You flick the switch to release the lock and start plunging, then release and the spring takes care of the rest. As far as I can tell, nobody else does it this way, and I can’t figure out why not. This just feels more natural and easier to use.
Dust collection is above average, though a slightly higher plastic deflector would easily change that to great. It’ll take standard 36mm OD hoses
However it is a shame to see that there wasn’t an “under router edge dust shroud” to catch chips when routing a profile on the edge of a board such as a round over, though I think optional RA1175 is the part and no surprises that it isn’t available in Australia.
There are very few tools that stand alone in their own category, so looking at just the Bosch router isn’t of much use, we need to know what its up against.
There are of course the usual suspects of Makita, Dewalt, Metabo and Hitachi making routers around the same price point and target audience. Milwaukee, Porter Cable and Craftsman aren’t available in Australia.
I will look at two specific routers in a bit more depth though, the Triton MOF001 and the Festool OF 1400.
In Australia, Triton – particularly their routers – have quiet the following and the closest in specs is the MOF001, a 1400w machine which matches many of the specs. Both are classed as usable by hand – as opposed to being a table bound router – both have micro-adjustments, variable speed and full wave electronics to keep a constant speed and soft start motor.
The MOF001 is much cheaper, coming in at about $340 to $350, and is lighter at 4.7kgs compared to a very hefty 5.8kgs.
But this is where the Triton starts to fall over – while the 59mm plunge depth is good, its blown away by the 76mm travel of the GOF 1600. And while the Bosch weighs a little over a kilo more, the ergonomics on the Triton routers with the very high and uncomfortable handles, make them seem like very crude tools so that weight advantage is lost.
The king of the hill in this class would undoubtedly be the Festool OF 1400, coming in at over $1000 Australian pesos, but for a little over double what extra do you get?
Well, it has the same two collets, a similar microadjustable guide, a 30mm “Copy ring” and it comes in a SYS-4 sized Systainer. The only real difference in the included bits and pieces is the OF 1400 includes a chip deflector for edge forming, but otherwise – like for like – they’re very comparable.
The Festool has a lower wattage motor and 6mm less plunge, though the ratcheting collet is much better designed. Given the very good dust collection on the Bosch router, the repeatable and accurate controls, its difficult to see how the OF 1400 improves on this without having a router shoot off to directly compare performance.
One clear advantage Festool have is the availability of their accessories available in the country, though given Festools pricing having to import the Bosch parts would probably work out much the same.
If you’re already in the Festool system with their power connectors, dust hoses, systainers and so on, the OF 1400 is probably the right tool for you, regardless of what other brand router you look at. However, the Bosch punches a fair bit above its weight.
Alright… so onto the bad…
No fixed base/router table use
While its great that it has the really quick, toolless, motor change, that doesn’t mean anything if you dont’ have anything to change it over into. The fixed base attachment is not available in Australia.
Alright, not the end of the world, we’ll just put it straight into a router lift and use it that way, right? Not without some real effort. The bases are the only things that have the power switches, the motor itself – for safety reasons presumably – does not.
There are ways around it by buying a replacement part and fashioning your own switch, but it isn’t ideal.
While the quick change guide bushing seems to work, and is indeed quick to change and very secure, having a proprietary guide bushing system is frustrating. While technically other guide bushings for the system exist, none of them can be found in Australian stores, and overseas they are really expensive. I could only find them from the UK for a whopping $31 (15GBP) each!).
Bosch do have an adapter to let you use the “Porter Cable” standard threaded brass bushing – the RA1100 – but again its not available in Australia
Its much cheaper to get a third party sub-base like the Milescraft Turnlock base which is $30, includes a bunch of bushings AND an adapter to use Porter Cable bushings
While the second half of this review turned a little dark, it isn’t all doom and gloom. As I opened with, I don’t think there is a perfect router but, despite the issues that Bosch Australia have brought upon themselves, the 1600 CE gets pretty close to that mark.
The ergonomics, ample power, accuracy and fine adjustment make it a joy to use. There are work arounds to the guide bushing issue, and while its not the cheapest router, by far its not the most expensive while providing a damn near close experience.
The GOF 1600 CE is a great hand held router, but unless Bosch sort out the in-table use, it isn’t the only router you need.
- Largest in class plunge range
- Plenty of POWAAAH
- Good dust collection
- Accessories aren’t available in Australia
- Can’t be used in a router table
The In between
- The price is on the higher side, but still comes in at less than half the price of the Festool
- The L-Boxx is great, but its empty and doesn’t have any inserts to hold parts.