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Princess Auto $88 3HP Router Review

Senna's picture

I’ve wanted a router for some time. The thing is I don’t know how much I would use a router so I didn’t want to spend too much money. I purchased a Mastercraft ( Canadian Tire house brand for you Americans) router several months ago and returned even before using it - total junk.

I nearly fell over when I saw this week’s Princess Auto flyer offering a 15 Amp 3HP router for $88. (Sale ends Jan 2. After that price will be $200 according to the flyer.) The Princess Auto in-house brand is the Power Fist line.

Princess Auto is a Canadian tool store that is, I believe, modeled on the US Harbour Freight concept. I suspect that many of the items are the same, only renamed. The good thing about PA is that they have a no hassle return policy and a one-year warranty - no questions asked. Their slogan is “ No sale is final until you are satisfied.” Or something along those lines.

I picked up my router this week and I am pleasantly surprised. I finally got to compare it to a $300 Freud 3 1/4 router at Home Depot tonight and on visual inspection the Princess Auto looks the best. The metal castings and plastic parts are nice and the whole fit and finish seems better than the Freud to me - way above the average PA offering.

It comes with 2 collects so it can use 1/4, 3/8 and half inch bits. Included is an edge guide, a plate for template cutting and a mystery attachment. About the mystery attachment - see picture. Not a single mention of it in the instructions. It does say something about a guide for rough surfaces on the box but that’s all. I have no idea what it’s for or how to use it.

Now for durability. I haven’t used it that much and I don’t have that many bits. I bought a few used ones yesterday simply to try it out. PA is a bit hit and miss when it comes to the quality of their power tools. I have purchased several power tools from them with one or two having problems. But of the defective ones, I returned them for replacements, and the replacements are still going strong. In the long run I am happy with all my purchases from PA.

Now the instructions. They re pitiful. I have an air nailer from PA and all it came with was an exploded parts diagram. A lawsuit waiting to happen IMHO.

On the whole I have to say that this tool is a excellent bargain and I am keeping my fingers crossed when it comes to durability but for $88 hard to go wrong - and they do mail order.

(I posted this over at Knots too. I figured somebody here too might find it interesting)

(post #122746, reply #1 of 12)

How can you go wrong for that price and guarantee?

The mystery attachment looks like a stop. It would probably mount on the edge guide and that round section would go under a bit to stop it from running too far into the work. ( much like the ball bearing on the bottom of a flush cutting bit for trimming laminate)

I cruise Princess Auto all the time for odds and ends and have found some great deals on air fittings, hoses, power cords, wrenches. I grabbed a rotating laser for a drop ceiling job a couple of months ago for $55. (HD had the identical item with a difernt name brand for double the price.) The time it saved me and the accuracy of the final job justified the purchase several times over. I may never use the thing again, but now I have one.

As for the power tools, they may be great, they may be otherwise but I'm a professional, I don't walk onto a job with a case full of Power Fist or Mastercraft tools. People would think I was a hack and personally, I initially have more confidence in a tradesman who owns Makita, DW, Millwakee, Hitachi, etc tools. The assumption is that the tradesman is capable enough to make a decent living to afford the best tools. Its like pulling up to a job in a newer truck as opposed to a rusty Ford Topaz.

First impressions go a long way.

Enjoy the tools, I've looked, but I'm afraid to buy them.


St.Margaret's Bay NS


(post #122746, reply #2 of 12)

"First impressions go a long way."

Yeah you are right on there. But you could sure mistake this router for a Dewalt!

I would only suggest this router for a DIY'er like me who like to have tools to play with but can't justify spending big $$$ for them. I have other hobbies that need my hard earned cash!

(post #122746, reply #3 of 12)

I like the name..... Power Fist..... got a great ring to it.  Who cares what it cost?  $88 for 3hp..... sheeet, you're happy, I'm happy.  Enjoy it.

(post #122746, reply #4 of 12)

I picked up the same router myself.

You left out a couple of features that outperform my Hitachi 3hp:

-Soft start

-Variable speed - 6k to 32K

-Microadjust labled in 1/32nds

-a clever spring loaded lever that both releases and locks the plunge mechanism

Just got it today, have no opinion on longevity or quality of cut. I did plug it in befor I bought, remembering a POS Skil router that I never use because of its horrible screaming wail and matching vibration.

 This one sounds pretty good with little vibration.

$88.00 CAN!!!!! No brainer.

(post #122746, reply #5 of 12)

I have not had time to play with mine this week.

Have you any idea how the other attachment works?

(post #122746, reply #6 of 12)

RE: THE other accessorie:

I believe someone else defined it: Basically it replaces the ball bearing incorporated in a  molding or straight bit.

 Looks a little cheesie to me. Wouldn't count on it.


(post #122746, reply #7 of 12)

It's variable speed too?  Sh*t!  That's awesome.  I have a 15A Makita plunge router and a sweet little old Rockwell 1/4", so I don't need another- but my Makita isn't variable speed, and this whole router is only about double what a separate variable speed unit would cost.  Maybe it's time my router table had a router mounted under it permanently...  Princess Auto rules! 

Remove spring (post #122746, reply #10 of 12)

I need to remove the spring to mount it on my router table, have you any idea how it is done

Remove two springs (post #122746, reply #12 of 12)

Ok I took the bull by the horns so to speak and removed the springs. I removed the top and then removed the brushes also I removed the side where the switch is. I then turned it on the top and removed the screws from the bottom of the motor assembled and it started to come apart. I removed the depth gauge and pulled and it cam apart enough to see the springs, I then removed the springs from both sides and reassembled the body. I also wired out the switch then reassembled to unit. And hey presto I now have a dedicated table router to fit under the plate which fits into the table I made for it on the weekend. I hope this helps others. By the way the router is great and for the price is a great asset to my workshop.

Power fist router (post #122746, reply #8 of 12)

Have you or anyone else removed the spring from this router so I can mount it on my router table. Your help would be appreciated

Remove the spring (post #122746, reply #9 of 12)

I need to remove the spring so I can use it on my router table, have you any idea how it can be done

mystery object (post #122746, reply #11 of 12)

The mystery part with your router  looks like an edge trimming atachment where the baring sits below the cutter i am surprised its not mentioned inth manual.But at the e nd of the day its a cheap router.

regards from oz

In a breakfast of bacon and eggs the hen has a passing interest but the pig is fully commited