As mentioned before, Bosch is currently a ToolGuyd project sponsor. I’ve been putting in some time with their 12V Max cordless tools, and will have some testing and project coverage ready for your shortly.
The new Bosch cordless router (GKF12V-25N) recently came in, and I had some edge routing to do. I didn’t want to mix the new router into my project without first seeing what it can do, and so I put it to work on my current mini project.
How can I thoroughly test and show off the new router before I know what it can do?
The mini project? I had to round over the edges of a couple of Ikea butcher-block-style countertops that I’m using a few workbench and cabinet builds.
Now, while I used to strongly recommend Ikea’s wooden countertops for workbenches and things like that, these are not the greatest. I immediately want to replace them with thicker maple butcher block tops. But… I have a couple more of them, thanks to clearance prices and big eyes.
I didn’t really want to call this a “review,” but I learned a lot about the new router yesterday, and don’t feel that my impressions will change with more use. But if they do, I’ll let you know.
Bosch GKF12V-25 Specifications
- 1/4″ collet size
- 13,000 RPM
- Brushless motor
- Drop-detection sensor
- Weighs 2.2 lbs (without battery)
- 9.9″ tall, 5.7″ long, 3.1″ front to back
- Macro and micro depth adjustment controls
- Depth setting lock knob
- Fine adjustment of 0.04″ per dial revolution
- Runtime: up to 23 feet of roundover per amp-hour of battery charge
- Built-in battery fuel gauge
See Also: Bosch Brushless Edge Router Preview
Features and Ease of Use
To start off, router bit changes are quick and easy. There’s an intuitive spindle lock that you sort of squeeze and pull out. The collet nut is easy to finger-tighten, and the included forged collet wrench is of “it’ll last forever if you don’t lose it” quality.
There’s a push button for coarse plate adjustments, a thumbwheel for fine adjustments, and a small knob on the opposite side for locking the base height in place.
Depth adjustments are easy. My worry was that things would be too tight for easy finger access, but I didn’t have any difficulty dialing in the precise bit height.
The on/off switch is easy to reach. (I’m a righty.)
The motor is single speed, at 13,000 RPM, and Bosch says that the router can perform up to 23 feet of round-over cutting per amp-hour of battery charge.
Performance and Impressions
Test pieces? I was short on time, so I went straight to work, edge routing my benchtop slabs after cutting them to size. They’re 1-1/8″ thick laminated beech butcher blocks.
Oh… I should have worked on a scrap piece of wood first.
So, Bosch had sent me to 1/4″ router bits to go along with the router. One is a bevel trimming bit, and the other, used here, was a beading bit.
Do you know what the difference is between a round-over bit and a beading bit? The bearing size. I made a shallow cut, realized what I had done, shrugged and then finished the edge. I guess this will be on the less visible side of the bench top.
I do use scrap material or test blocks when setting up router bits for more complex or precise cuts. In this case, the minor mixup is inconsequential.
Please ignore the poorly cut side. I saw this as an opportunity to push a different brand’s cordless track saw through further testing, and I somehow messed up on the depth setting. Doesn’t matter, the more critical edge was done next to good results, and both edges sanded up nicely.
These are the 3 bits I tested the router with thus far. I’ve got more testing to do, but I do think these are more challenging for the tool than say a straight cutter or flush trim cutter.
On the left, a Bosch beading bit – thank you Bosch! – in the middle is a Southeast Tool roundover bit, and on the right is a Whiteside roundover bit.
I typically use 1/2″ shank router bits, but have been using more 1/4″ bits to test out cordless routers. So, i picked up small Southeast and Whiteside router bit sets. My experience has previously been mainly limited to Freud (love ’em!), MLCS (great value), and Ryobi (I picked up a 1/4″ set for cheap several years ago), with a bit here and there mixed in.
The end grain sizes were challenging, not just because of the end grain, but because of the glue between all of the laminated boards.
As an aside, this was my first experience using foam insulation as a backup surface. I didn’t need it for the edge routing tasks. I made my cuts and left it in place since it wasn’t harming anything.
The long grain was less challenging for the tool, both because there was less cutting resistance, but there was less material to remove. The side I rounded over had been freshly cut. I had expected to turn the factory-eased edge into the front edge, but after mistakenly beading the exposed edge, I changed my plans and rotated the bench top 180°.
Overall, the tool’s not perfect, but it does a lot of things right.
Its handle shape is different than I’m used to, but I got used to it by the middle of my routing session. More importantly, the tool is very well balanced. Even exceptionally balanced.
Some tools can be a challenge when it comes to edge routing. But with this one, Bosch designed the cordless router with a large base, and sufficient mass is positioned over the workpiece to make it extremely stable and controllable.
With some routers, there’s an itty bitty base, with half the tool’s mass hanging off the edge of the workpiece. But with the Bosch GKF12V-25N, there’s a large asymmetrical base, and this makes it incredibly ease to guide, at least in my experience so far.
Note: the following video (embedded from my Instagram channel) is a little loud, and there doesn’t seem to be a way to quiet it when embedded.
(Click on the video to play it, again to stop it.)
At one point I was comfortable enough to use it one-handed for a couple of inches. I prefer guiding it with two hands, though. Right hand on the handle, left on the blade plate (but well away from the spinning part). Even if my fingers drifted inwards on the base, the depth-adjustment and guide posts block most of the way.
I’m a “what do you meant this doesn’t have variable speed?!” kind of router user, but I didn’t really miss that in this tool yet.
The power switch is on/off. What happens if you drop it? Well, Bosch says there’s a drop-detection sensor that stops the motor. I’ll have to test this out next, but I have faith in Bosch, since they make the kinds of accelerometer sensors that would be used for an application like this.
Dust collection? Nope, as you can see in the above video. I was working outside, so I didn’t mind. But I’d be happier if there were a dust collection shroud or attachment of some kind. Maybe that’ll come next.
The Bosch 12V Max cordless router was easy to use, and it did a great job. I haven’t explored its limits yet, nor have I thoroughly tested it. I plan on testing and using it more, but am quite confident with the experience it has given be so far.
Part of me was worried that this would have the power, or lack thereof, of a cordless rotary tool designed for 1/8″ tools. I didn’t really notice any bogging down with any of the 3 roundover and beading bits I used. I’m sure that if I push it too hard the tool will squeal to let me know.
It’s a 12V Max-class tool, but I didn’t get that feeling. Now, in writing up this review, I’m wondering if I wish this had been an 18V tool. Maybe the tool would be larger and appropriately sized for dust collection? But in terms of power, ergonomics, and capabilities, none of these came to my mind as I was using it yesterday.
As mentioned, I hadn’t even anticipated testing it for review right then and there. I simply had some edge routing to do, and this tool was easily accessible, not to mention waiting for some hands-on attention. So I figured I’d tackle two tasks with one stone – I’d get my edge routing done, and get some hands-on time before the next step of my project.
Lack of dust collection notwithstanding, I find myself liking Bosch’s new cordless router very much. I have always been fond of their 12V Max tools.
This is the perfect example of what 12V-class cordless power tools can do. You don’t get a wimpy version of an 18V or corded tool, you get a tool designed from the ground up as a compact and capable tool.
Before powering up the router, I was half prepared to retrieve one of my corded routers for the edge routing tasks, but that thought never came back.
Bosch designed the GKF12V-25N for edge routing and trimming tasks, and it seems to handle such work with ease.
Press materials say:
“The Bosch GKF12V-25 Palm Edge Router is all about user convenience and routing precision,” said Charlie Chiappetta, product manager, 12-volt tools, Bosch Power Tools. “This is a handy tool that’s always at the ready. It’s light, it’s maneuverable and it delivers great results. For quick, professional edge routing and trimming, there’s no better tool available.”
While I’ve only used my test sample on a couple of benchtop so far, light, maneuverable, and delivers great results seem to perfectly describe the new Bosch router.
Once the tool launches, I might just have to buy a kit to give away, so that I can keep my review sample as a personal tool.
When the tool was announced in Europe, I questioned what they meant by this being a “wireless side cutter.” I also said that I didn’t think this was something I would use.
I am still quite surprised that I liked it so much. Sure, I was excited about it, but as a personal use tool, it’s not quite what I’m used to. But that’s okay, it won’t take the place of my other routers, but it will complement them nicely.
When I wrote a preview post about the router a few months ago, I might have had the impression that it was a lower powered tool that’s only capable of lighter duty tasks. Or at least that’s the feeling I get from rereading my post.
But after using it for some edge routing tasks, I came away with a different impression.
Instead of thinking of it as “only good enough” for certain tasks, I realized that it is somewhat specialized and optimized for such tasks. While I fully intend to explore all of the other kinds of cutting this router can handle, I almost immediately appreciated how perfectly it worked for edge routing.
The balance, the adequate power, the control – this tool was very well matched to the edge routing tasks I used it for. I’d say it’s as if the router had a built-in offset base, but it’s more than that, because the handle grip, ergonomics, and center of mass were all considered with edge routing in mind.
Verdict: I love it!
The only quibble I have is that there’s no native dust collection solution.
Price: $149 for the bare tool
Buy Now(via Amazon)
(I have to double check, but I believe the router is launching this month, June 2018.)
Need a battery and charger?
See Also(Bosch 12V Max Starter Kit via Amazon)
Questions? I’m itching to do more with this router. What do you want to know?
For transparency purposes, this review is NOT part of the sponsorship arrangement I have with Bosch. The forthcoming project coverage will be, though, and you’ll see that discussed at the start and finish of the post just as I’m talking about it here.
Thank you to Bosch for the review sample!