First Impressions: Triton TRA001 Plunge Router

Triton TRA001 Router

I’ve written before about how router’s can be frustrating at times. This was particularly in reference to a 15-year old Porter-Cable 690. There are a lot of fans of the P/C 690s and they are a good router. At least they used to be, but that’s a topic for another post.

Tom Walz at Carbide Processors saw my complaint and somewhat tongue-in-cheek commented that what I needed was a better router. So he sent me a Triton TRA001 3-1/4hp plunge router to try out. (Side note: If you’re looking to buy tools, you need to check out Carbide Processors. They even make custom tools.)

I’ve been watching Triton Tools for a number of years. Originally developed and manufactured in Australia, they were known for their innovation and quality. Now, it’s hard to get any solid information on the complete history and evolution of Triton Tools, but they eventually had financial trouble and were purchased by an outfit in the United Kingdom. Some manufacturing was outsourced to Asia. (If that upsets some of you, let me remind you that most power tools are manufactured overseas.) I did find this dated article online from 2011 that sheds some light on the Triton history.

There were a number of years where Triton Tools developed a reputation for poor quality. I believe that they overloaded the supply stream with too many product offerings and didn’t spend enough time and resources on quality design and better manufacturing oversight.

But Triton Tools stuck around. And they want to convince you that their tools will stand up to the competition. They offer a 3-year warranty, as long as you register the tool within 30 days.

The photos below detail some of the features of the TRA001. The most notable feature is the 3-way adjustment for bit depth. One of the handles features a center button on the outside. You press this button to make coarse adjustments to the bit height to get you in the ballpark. A spring-loaded collar on that same handle engages a rack and pinion system. As you rotate the knob with the collar pulled against the know, you can fine tune the bit height. For even finer control, use the micro-adjust knob to sneak up on that final bit height. Then you can securely lock it in place with the plunge lock lever.

The router is quieter than most. Its soft-start feature means it won’t torque out of your hands when starting up.

Overall, I’m impressed with the TRA001. But I wouldn’t recommend this router for use in a router table. Unless it’s the only router you own. If you’re going to use a plunge router in a router table, you need to remove the plunge springs. To Triton’s credit, they make this as easy as removing a cap.

It’s the “Table Height Winder” and “Table Height Winder Connection Point” (as Triton calls them) that I have issues with. They seem like an afterthought.

First of all, as with all routers, when mounted in a table, you need to drill an access hole in the insert plate for the wrench used to adjust the height. On most routers, this access hole is incorporated into the baseplate. On the TRA001, its a notch on the outside diameter of the base. That’s not a deal-breaker, but it makes it harder to guide the wrench to engage the micro-adjuster. (Bosch routers get it right — their micro-adjuster extends all the way to the baseplate.)

The wrench itself seems cheaply made to me. It’s got a hollow shaft that looks like it’s made of rolled sheet metal. The end of the shaft has a hollow plastic tip with slots that are designed to engage the crosspin on the micro-adjuster. Only mine didn’t. I should say, the slots would barely fit over the pin. While I could make adjustments, it wasn’t very secure.

If you go online looking at user comments about Triton tools, I think you’ll find most of them favorable. After spending some time with this router, I would agree.

 

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