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Last week I was using my router and I think the guide bushing vibrated loose -- it chipped the bit, chewed up inside of the bushing a little (luckily it was only brass or it might have been more dramatic.)

I was inspecting the router itself afterward to make sure that it seemed OK and I noticed that there is about 0.003" of play along the motor axis. For example, if I take off the collet and pull on the arbor itself it will move slightly (see photo below), or if I put a bit in the collet and tug on that, it moves slightly. The direction of movement seems dependent on the router orientation, like the weight of the motor is holding it downwards, but you can move it against gravity slightly.

The arbor does not move radially (i.e. if the arbor axis it the Z axis it doesn't move in X or Y axis) and the bearings don't make any particularly unpleasant noises when I run it.

Is this movement normal in this sort of router? I have at least one book that suggests any play at all in the arbor is a sign that something is wrong, which is what got me worried. And when I think about it, it seems like it could interfere with getting accurate depth settings for plunge routing.

I would normally just put my mind to rest by going to the store and playing with a demo unit, but due to world events I am kind of stuck inside with nothing else to compare to.

The router is a DeWalt 611 (DWP611), if someone has one to compare to. It is pretty new, and while I am trying to "baby" it, I do make some mistakes sometimes and work it too hard.

Measuring arbor vertical movement

  • Three-thousandths of an inch doesn't seem like that much. A sheet of copy paper is around .003-.004" thick I think, so for woodworking, that's pretty good. I don't know off-hand what the factory tolerances are, but I wouldn't think they're too much smaller than that for a mid-grade router. – Greg Nickoloff Mar 26 at 17:54
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Yeah I'd say that's fairly normal after a "crash". Every time you over-stress your router (even if it's just hearing the motor slow down because you're pushing at a feed rate which is too high) you risk bending the spindle or otherwise putting something out of alignment which may introduce some play.

If it's not making funny noises or feeling "jittery" when you run it then it's probably fine. Keep an eye on it and if it starts to make horrible noises or feels like it's vibrating more than it should then I would stop using it.

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    I guess the word "normal" is maybe a bit loaded. You are saying this is not the factory state and that it is a result of damage/stress, right? Do a lot of people have routers with this fault and get perfectly serviceable work done with them? Or should I be getting this repaired? – Scott Hilbert Mar 22 at 21:40
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    I don't know that we can answer that Scott, as I doubt anyone here (almost anyone anywhere for that matter) actually knows how much play is typical/average, or the range of acceptable play in routers that work well for their users for that matter. It's also an important aspect that out-of-range runout is not a fixed value, how much is acceptable depends on the user, the speed(s) used, bit sizes and type, and the usual or typical feed rates. In short, what is acceptable to you might not suit a pro, but then it could suit other pros who use the router more like you, or routinely do more sanding. – Graphus Mar 23 at 16:41
  • Okay, I think that still helps me though. As long as the answer to "is this a problem" is "it depends" and not "absolutely," I will just be aware of it and work around it if for some reason it becomes a problem. I am probably overthinking this whole thing. – Scott Hilbert Mar 23 at 17:09

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