If you've read my book Building Electric Guitars you will know that I recommend to spend some money on a quality router. A router is the most versatile tool in electric guitar building and the Bosch two-in-one router kit is even more so as it gives you a fixed base and a plunge router in one package.
The Bosch GMF 1400 CE Professional* (Europe) or 1617EVSPK (USA) two-in-one router kit belongs to the Bosch professional product line. The 1400 watts electronic-controlled, soft-starting router motor is the base of the system. It offers more than sufficient power for any guitar building tasks. Available collet sizes are 1/2", 12 mm, 10 mm, 3/8", 8 mm, 1/4" and 6 mm.
You need two wrenches to change router bits. The wrenches that come with this tool are made from forged, not stamped steel. Nice. This system allows to change router bits very comfortably with the motor dismounted and standing upside down on the workbench. The straight-up going power cable of most other routers usually doesn't allow such a comfort.
The plunge router configuration is ergonomically to use and the plunge release lever can be easily reached with the thumb while holding the machine with both hands. The chip shield can be flipped horizontally to allow easy access to the router bit. The columns are dust protected.
I like the spring loaded plunge release lever. You turn it to move the router up or down but when you let go it fixes the position automatically. This lever will not come loose during routing like levers on some cheap machines.
Another nice feature is the cascading depth stop which allows to quickly set the depth of multiple passes in 1/8" (3 mm) increments until the desired cutting depth is reached.
Europe is dominated by plunge routers. As of 2010 this Bosch system is the only fixed base model available here.
Fixed base routers offer more accuracy without the unavoidable play of a plunge system. The low placed handles allow a more stable operation especially when doing edge work. I love the wooden handles by the way.
The motor unit can be fixed at three heights 1/2" (12.7 mm) apart. From each of these three heights the cutting depth can be fine-adjusted over a range of almost 1" (23 mm).
A fixed base router is also better suited for use with a router table where the supplied T-handle hex height adjustment wrench allows to adjust the cutting depth from above the table.
The Bosch tool-free template guide adapter system is a mixed bag. As you can see in the video above exchanging template guides is a matter of seconds. But only as long as you don't mount the dust collection hood because it covers the release lever completely. Having to remove this hood in order to release the template guide counteracts the whole system advantage and makes template guide exchange even slower then with conventional bolted on template guides. All that remains is the "tool-free" advantage because fortunately the dust collection hood also can be removed and mounted without a tool.
This is a very well designed, quality router system that has seen a good product design team. It is almost a no brainer if you live in the USA because it seems to be much more affordable there. Note though that the US kit doesn't include some accessories. I wished this router kit where available when I started. I already have a high quality plunge router but it is nowhere as versatile as this great router kit.
Bosch GMF 1600 CE Professional*
*The 1400 model has been replaced by the 1600 model. The main difference aside from the different design is that the switch is now in the handle.
CLARIFICATION. I don't have any relationship with the manufacturer and bought this power tool at a regular price for my own use.