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Bosch did a good job of updating their mid-range router, adding good stuff and not messing up the good stuff that was already there! If you want a solid, versatile and dependable router, read on.
Click image to enlarge

Bosch 2.3HP Plunge/Fixed Base Router Kit

Updating one of the most popular routers of all time

Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz

Posted - 1-5-2012

While I am always impressed with the new features that Bosch continually brings to the marketplace the regularity of those engineering brainstorms means that I am not surprised any more. The new Bosch MRC23EVS 2.3HP Fixed/Plunge Router Kit is the latest release that shows the product thinkers and engineers at Bosch haven’t been goofing off very much.

The MRC23EVSK kit shown here includes the 2.3HP router motor, a fixed base, plunge base, 1/4" and ½” self-releasing collets, a 16mm shaft wrench and a 24mm collet wrench. The kit also includes a T-handle hex (in table) height adjustment wrench and the hard carry case that has molded-in positions for all of the included equipment and some accessories that can be added later. To further support the fixed base in a table Bosch includes 3 M4 Screws that fit the three-hole pattern in the base.

Bosch has always been among the industry leaders in terms of manufacturing quality. In the Bosch MRC23EVS 2.3HP Fixed/Plunge Router Kit they have gone a step further with what they call Precision Centering Design. That means that manufacturing tolerances keep the centerline of the spindle more closely aligned with the center of the base opening. All manufacturers try to keep this alignment close but Bosch is investing in the manufacturing processes that enhance this alignment. That makes it much easier for you to be precise when performing tasks that rely on a guide bushing or similar guide for accuracy.

The Basics

The motor (left) is just a bit stronger but retains all of the good circuits that make it easy to use, including the speed control, now of the front of the housing. A pair of LED lights on the bottom of the motor (right) make seeing under the router much easier.
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The Bosch MRC23EVS 2.3HP Fixed/Plunge Router Kit is in many ways an updated version of their venerable 1617 fixed/plunge router kit that has been highly regarded for a long time. The motor is slightly more powerful at 2.3HP than the 2-1/4HP sported by the 1617. Bosch didn’t make sweeping changes in the motor just to make changes. They brought over many features that have proven to be useful and reliable such as Soft-start circuitry that cushions the start-up kick that occurred when you flipped the ON switch. They also built in their Constant-Response™ Circuitry that maintains the motor RPM as the load on it varies.

The motor has a long 10-foot cord that lets you do more routing and less fighting with the cord or looking for a new outlet to extend your reach. Look at the base of the cord and you find a nifty swivel that helps prevent “steering” of the router when the cord gets pulled to one side or the other. The single motor is used in both bases and while you can turn the motor On and Off, that doesn’t happen on the motor itself and we will look at that more closely a bit later in this review.

Because the Bosch MRC23EVS 2.3HP Fixed/Plunge Router Kit can turn bits up to a whopping 25,000RPM a dependable speed control was a necessity so Bosch added an easy to use dial control on the front of the upper motor housing. The dial has 6 numbered position to afford the operator very good control over the 10,000 to 25,000RPM range. The instruction manual has a chart listing the speed associated with each number and suggested situations for each speed. The number/RPM values are 1=10,000RPM, 2=13,000RPM, 3=16,000RPM, 4= 19,000RPM, 5=22,000RPM and 6= 25,000RPM.

The knife-style contacts (left) on the motor and inside the bases allow Bosch to build in a trigger-style On/Off switch (right) in the grips on both bases. This is a big step up in terms of ease of use and safety.
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While tweaking the motor for the Bosch MRC23EVS 2.3HP Fixed/Plunge Router Kit a pair of LED lights were added to the underside of the motor that always illuminate the bit area when in use. These LED’s are on anytime the motor is plugged into electrical power which makes it easier to line up the start or end of a cut because you can see much better. And to make sure that you can use lots of different bit styles and sizes Bosch includes ¼” and ½” collets, both of which are self-extracting.

New On/Off Idea

The Bosch MRC23EVS 2.3HP Fixed/Plunge Router Kit has a brand new trigger style On/Off system that is built into the new cushioned handles. Rather than a switch on the router motor that can be difficult to reach, Bosch came up with a better idea. The side of the motor has a long electrical contact that interacts with three knife-style contacts in the fixed and plunge bases. This contact system leads to trigger-style On/Off switches built into one of the contoured handles on both bases! No more having a short power cord that plugs into the trigger-equipped (and usually D-handled) bases. When you install the motor in the fixed or plunge base that completes the circuit that enables the trigger to control the motor. For the long jobs Bosch also builds in a “Lock On” button on both bases near the trigger switch. This switch setup provides lots of the benefits of the D-handled routers in both the fixed and plunge bases.

Buckle Up

The new latch system (right) includes the buckle-style latch (A), the coarse setting release lever (B) and the new motor release button (C). These work together to make moving the motor from one base to the other very easy. the plunge base does not have the coarse setting lever (B). The fixed base has provisions for through the table bit height adjusting (right) and they supply that wrench in the kit.
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Both the fixed and plunge bases that come with the Bosch MRC23EVS 2.3HP Fixed/Plunge Router Kit feature a new buckle-like two-stage motor clamp that is easy to use and very effective. To remove the motor you flip open the buckle and then push the motor release button to lift the motor out. The design of this buckle/clamp looks like a demonstration of how pivot points can be mixed to the operator’s advantage. However you look at it, this new clamping system is nice, easy and looks very tough as well.

Fixed Base

Since both the fixed and plunge bases are equipped with the trigger On/Off switch the round maple handles on the 1617 fixed base are gone. That is not all a bad thing though. I did like the maple handles but the new handle shape is very comfortable and gives you a solid feel of control. Combined with the trigger these new grips make the whole system easier to use.

Another carryover from the 1617 is the continuous fine height adjustment system. In addition to the knob on the base a shaft has been added that provides access for the supplied wrench for through-the-table height adjustments. Combined with the new buckle clamping system the fixed base remains very easy to work with and very secure when locked down. The fixed base has an overall depth adjustment range of 1-5/8"! The coarse adjustment lever also comes to the new version of the fixed base.

The plunge base has the familiar depth setting mechanism (left) that includes the turret and rod. What is new is that the fine adjustment system (right) remains active with the plunge lever in the locked position. You can turn this knob by hand or Bosch offers an extension that plugs into the hex-shaped receptacle within the knob. Very nice idea.
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The fixed base has a 6”-diameter baseplate with a large 2”-diameter opening that makes it possible to use larger diameter bits. The base also has the popular three-hole pattern (in addition to the baseplate pattern) that can be used with many router tables and plates.

Plunge Base

The plunge base has a 6-11/16"-diameter baseplate also with a 2”-diameter hole. This base has an exceptionally smooth plunge action that is released with a spring assisted locking lever that defaults to the locked position.

The plunge action works on a pair of finely ground steel posts. What is different is that the springs and plunge mechanism are confined inside the body. There are no rubber boots on the columns to fail or hide wads of dust that eventually limit the plunge depth. The columns are bare and out in the open where you can wipe them off with a rag if they get dusty.

The plunge base has a 3”-plunge travel that is regulated with easy to use controls. There is the familiar depth rod with repositionable marker and finger operated lock. A stepped turret on the base pets you make progressively deeper plunges make deep cuts much safer and easier on the router and bit. This system can make repetitive jobs far more accurate as well as quicker.

The plunge lever (left) is familiar and easy to use. What is new about it is that locking this lever does not lock out the fine adjustment! The baseplates on both bases have a large 2"-diameter center hole (right) that gives you plenty of room to work with bigger roundover and similar bits.
Click images to enlarge

What is not so common is that fine depth adjustment knob that operates what Bosch calls the Afterlock Microfine Depth Adjustment . It has a repositionable ring below the knob that lets you dial in precise depth adjustments down to 1/64” in resolution. Even more unusual is that after the locking lever is returned to the locked position, the Afterlock knob is still active! Also, Bosch offers an extended knob/handle that fits into a hex-shaped receptacle in the top of the Afterlock knob. That means that in a table setting you can reach under and make a simple but very precise bit height adjustment without having to unlock and the lock the plunge mechanism or the motor.

In the Shop

I have been a fan of Bosch routers for year because they worked so well over the long haul. I still have the first 1617 that I bought a bunch of years ago and it continues to work perfectly. The new Bosch MRC23EVS 2.3HP Fixed/Plunge Router Kit did not disappoint. It has the smooth-running, powerful and easy to use personality that made the 1617 series one of the most popular routers in the world. It appears to me that the Bosch MRC23EVS 2.3HP Fixed/Plunge Router Kit has everything it needs to take over that leading role in the router industry.

An important point is that while doing this update Bosch didn’t change things just to make changes. They really didn’t do very much to the motor because it was already smooth, powerful and dependable. Their base designs didn’t need much help and Bosch didn’t do odd things to them to create a “new” router package. The new buckle clamping system is a definite step up in terms of ease of use. The Precision Centering Design addresses a long-standing issue of the spindle centerline miss alignment with guide collars that plagued nearly all routers.

Video Tour

To me the stand out new feature on the Bosch MRC23EVS 2.3HP Fixed/Plunge Router Kit is the trigger On/Off switch. In terms of safety this new feature should not be underestimated. Being able to hold the route with both hands while starting is a big safety step forward. Not having to change hand positions once the router is running or when you want to shut it off makes it easier to be accurate as well as safe.

Conclusions

The Bosch MRC23EVS 2.3HP Fixed/Plunge Router Kit is certain to be a worthy successor to the venerable Bosch 1617 series as a top seller and top performer. With a street price of $299.00 (1-4-2012) this router kit is a good deal. The legendary Bosch durability assures a long, useful life for this router in any shop environment. Considering that this type of router is often the workhorse of the shop the actual cost per use is very low. If you like using a tool that does what you expect it to every time you pick it up, the Bosch MRC23EVS 2.3HP Fixed/Plunge Router Kit will fit your needs today and down the road.

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