Rebuilding a Bosch 1618 D-Handled Router
One of my hobbies is woodworking. I've got a decently equipped home shop, but I've been in the market for a D-handled router.
D-handled routers are very useful woodworking tools. I find D-handles much easier to control (and therefore safer) than your normal, run-of-the-mill fixed base router with two knobs. One key feature is that you can turn the router on and off without moving your hands from the position where you control the router. And the Bosch series of routers is incredibly well designed: in particular, the mechanism for raising and lowering the router height uses a screw thread control. This allows you to micro-adjust the height without twisting the router relative to the base, and is a much better design than those routers where the base revolves around the motor. The Bosch mechanism is both more precise and it doesn't twist up the power cord.
But for reasons unknown, you can no longer buy the Bosch 1618 D-handled version. The newest versions of Bosch's routers have electronic speed control, which Bosch calls EVS, for Electronic Variable Speed. Bosch does still sell the fixed-base version model 1617EVS, and a combination package with both a fixed base and a plunge base model 1617EVSPK. The EVS motor is also brushless, which is a nice bonus.
Recently, I was talking to Matt Jackson of Next Level Carpentry and I asked him for router recommendations. He graciously offered to send me his old D-handled Bosch 1618, and I immediately took him up on it. Matt is an unbelievably talented woodworker. He routinely thinks outside the box and comes up with creative ways for precise, repeatable woodworking. His channel has inspired me to try many new techniques and projects. If you're at all interested in woodworking, or just appreciate seeing a master craftsman at work, Matt is definitely worth watching. And he has even more amazing content on Patreon for his supporters there.
The bearings were shot in Matt's old router, it needed new brushes, and it might have had a bad switch. But it was essentially sound, and I'm deeply grateful to Matt for sending it to me. I was originally planning on getting new bearings and brushes at ereplacementparts.com. But then I got to thinking: while these parts are cheap, do I really want to put the time and effort into rehabbing a 20+ year old router? What I really wanted was a brushless 1618 with electronic speed control. But alas, that's not an option.
Or is it? Hours of research convinced me that the motor in the 1617 is identical to the motor in the D-handled 1618. The only difference is that the cord on the 1618 is about 8 inches long, while the cord on the 1617 is about 8 feet long. So I bought the 1617EVSPK kit, which basically has the EVS motor with the 8 foot cord, the fixed base, and the plunge base. Then I disassembled Matt's motor, took out the 8 inch power cord, and put it into the new 1617 motor. And with that done, I had a perfectly working Bosch D-handled router with a brand new brushless motor with electronic speed control. It's a perfect setup!
The router base with the plastic handle removed, after a thorough cleaning.
I then went a little bit further and bought a replacement 8 inch cord ($6), a new plastic handle ($16), switch ($13), and plug for the handle ($15). I only really bought the plastic D-handle because I wanted the new switch, plug, and cord, and I was worried that they wouldn't fit my old plastic handle. It turns out that they could probably be made to fit in the old handle. Through ereplacementparts.com you can get every part you need for this router, except the metal base. I took the 8 foot cable that came with the 1617EVS and used that as the long cord that goes from the plastic handle to the wall plug. The only original parts left are the metal base and the height adjuster. I could have even purchased a new height adjuster, but it just didn't seem like it was worth the hassle: Matt's height adjuster works fine.
The bottom line is: the old 1618 is an excellent D-handle router, and with a new electronic speed control motor it's even better. You can replace every single piece of it, except the router base. So if you can get a 1618 (or just its metal base) on eBay or other used tool site, I highly recommend doing so. As I write this, there's one on eBay for about $100. Then you can replace the motor with a new 1617EVS motor. You can either do what I did and buy the fixed base plus plunge base for about $210, or you can just buy a new 1617EVS motor by itself for about $120 on eBay. You'll be very happy with the results. The trick is finding the metal base: literally everything else can be cobbled together either from replacement parts or from a new 1617 router.
About the only downside of my new router is that if I want to use it with the plunge base, I'll need to use an extension cord. But I don't plan on using the plunge base very often, and the extension cord seems a small price to pay in order to have exactly the router I want.