MRC23ESVK router combo kit
This router combo kit features on/off triggers on the hand grip of both the fixed base and teh plunge base as well as LED lights
For years, the Bosch 1617EVSPK router combo kit has been my go-to for most medium-to-heavy routing tasks. Still, I didn’t like a few things about it, so I was curious to see how the new Bosch 2.3-hp MRC23 ESVK combo kit compared.
The biggest difference between this kit and other router combo kits is that the on/off trigger is located on the hand grip of both the fixed base and the plunge base. A small electric strip that mates between the tool and the bases means there’s no hard wiring needed between the two, and the bases are swapped out just as with any other kit. The design is great, because even with the soft-start motor, I can have both hands holding the router when I turn it on.
This router has two small LED lights next to the shaft that illuminate the worksurface. With the position of the user and the tool almost constantly keeping the work area in shadow, the lights are a major bonus. They should have plenty of life, and the power draw is negligible. Still, I don’t like that they stay on as long as the tool is plugged in. The baseplate of the router is clear plastic, allowing for great sightlines to the workpiece, especially in conjunction with the lights.
The 10-ft. power cord is unique in that it connects to the tool with a ball-and-socket end, reducing the chances of its getting twisted or snagged. I especially appreciated this design as I was cutting out several circles and arcs for an arched door I was building.
The plunge base has a full 3-in. travel, the deepest of any comparable router I’m aware of. Unlike the previous version where you would unlock the plunge lever, position the depth, and then lock the lever again, the MRC23 has a lever that automatically locks when released. To set the depth, simply hold down the lever, adjust the depth, and then release the lever. The plunge action on my kit was a little stiff, and the springs were a bit squeaky. However, a bit of lubrication seems to have helped.
The two major issues I had with the older Bosch 1617 routers were rough machining on the tool body that made switching out the bases a bit of a chore, and an on/off switch that collected dust, causing the tool to stop working. With the MRC23, Bosch seems to have addressed both problems. The aluminum tool body slides in and out of the bases with ease, and the switch appears to be sealed from dust.
Accuracy for this tool was right on the money. The bit was centered perfectly on the base of the router with no runout to be found, and the microadjustment on the depth functioned well. The motor is fairly quiet and has a relatively pleasant frequency, especially compared to some other brands.
The MRC23 kit is at the top of its class. The only faults I can find with it are minor personal preferences, but it easily has surpassed the 1617EVSPK to become my favorite router combo kit.