The past few months I have been dealing with router table issues. My old setup would not hold its position in the table and after ruining more pieces than I care to remember I set out for a new router and router table combo. For the past two years, I have grown fond of the Bosch MRC23. I first saw it as a prototype and then earlier this year, I had the chance to demo a production unit while in Chicago at Bosch’s USA Headquarters. I used the plunge setup and found it to be the easiest to operate of the plunge routers I have used. The switch placement on the handle makes more sense than placing the switch on the motor unit, allowing me to keep both hands on the router during start-up and shut-down.While at Bosch Media Days our good friend Glen Huey from Popular Woodworking was routing across the table from me, and so I grabbed a unit and used the plunge feature to rout out the adjoining picture EHT in Wood.
The lights on when power is active feature I like. Some of my tools have this light feature built into their plugs, which is handy, but putting the light where the work is actually taking place makes more sense. Other highlights of the MRC23 are the low voltage switching that allows the user to swap out the fixed and plunge bases without concern for connecting power cords between the base and the motor. Bosch uses a system of contacts that handles switching. This system is a nice advantage over the older models. The clear bases provide a view to the workpiece. Coupled with the LED lights, the Bosch MRC23 provided excellent visibility. The always on feature of the LED light avoids the user having to switch on the motor in order to see the workpiece. This system is much safer and once again, it just makes more sense than a light controlled by the switch. The fixed base has a microfine adjustment. The plunge base has a spring loaded lever that locks when released, a feature I found more useful than I thought I would. Many plunge routers require you to manually lock the lever after depressing it. With the Bosch you merely release the lever and it locks the position where it was released.
Where the MRC23 really shined was in its use in combination with Bosch’s 1171 Cabinet Style Benchtop Router Table. Last weekend I was reviewing a dovetail jig by General Tools and the Bosch setup made quick work of bit depth adjustment for that test. Obviously, a 1/4 dovetail bit is not going to load up a router of this size. I was able to adjust the speed of the router without removing the router from the table and changing between oak and softwood. Adjusting the bit height is easily accomplished by using the included T-handle hex key through the access port built into the table, releasing the cam-lock and adjusting the bit to the desired height.
We will further test the capabilities of this system using larger panel bits. While testing the machine in Chicago, I have already seen the MRC23 handle a larger cutter in oak and I expect this unit to perform the same in our test. We will also examine the functionality of the dust collection of the 1171.
Assembly of the Bosch 1171 was straight forward. All of the pieces fit precisely and all pre-drilled holes lined up perfectly. From Box to final set-up took about 45 minutes and 10 of those were spent making sure I had adjusted the table insert correctly. I used an aluminum level to match the edges of the insert with the plane of the tabletop. The process was easier than I made it out to be. I like the tall fence that comes with the table. The table comes with a starter pin for curved pieces, feather boards for securing work pieces to the fence, dust collection and several inserts for various router bit widths.
Our initial impression is that the MRC23EVSK is a top tier router performing as we expect Bosch Power Tools to perform, equaling or exceeding our expectations. The MRC23 combined with the 1171 Cabinet Router Table is a setup any woodworker would be served well by.