Please note: Since this review was
published, Global Machinery Company (GMC) has gone into receivership and
is no longer operating. As such, spare parts or technical support cannot
be obtained directly through them. Their website at www.gmcompany.com
appears to still be available online and offers some product information
and manuals but contacting them will receive no reply. Note that
OnlineToolReviews.com does not work for GMC, nor do we offer any support
or spare parts for their products.
There is a common saying among woodworkers that "you can
never have enough clamps". A dedicated woodworker might also say you can
never have too many routers!
Here at OnlineToolReviews.com, we just say;
"You can never have too many tools - full stop!" but we are
self-confessed tool junkies...
Like a woodworker needs a variety of drill bits for
specific applications, so should they desire a different router for
specific projects and tasks. Ok, I can hear you saying now... "We are not
made of money!" but when you consider that the router is such a useful
tool for a wide range of tasks, and most woodworkers will own a router
table at least, having a couple on hand can save time and ease
frustration. Trying to freehand rout chamfers or roundovers on smaller
stock with a 3HP+ beast is often not practical, or safe. You will
soon find a need to own both a large, and a small router for common
Today we are going to see if Global Machinery Company's
newest router will fit that small router slot in your workshop, and just
what level of woodworker, and what budget this product will suit best.
Let's take a look at the GMC R1200 1/2" Router!
Packaging & Doco's
Unlike many other products coming off the GMC line, the R1200 Router
does not ship in a moulded carry case. It is simply cardboard boxed with
all the gear packed inside. Open the box and you will find;
- 1 x GMC R1200 Router
- 1 x fence assembly
- 2 x fence rails for fence assembly
- 1 x collet wrench
- 1 x 1/4" collet (the R1200 comes fitted with a 1/2"
- 1 x 7/8" OD template guide
The box arrived undamaged, and all components accounted
for, which is a good start! Apart from the warranty card/information, a
12-page color printed manual is also included. It covers general safety
information, parts/features diagram, general instructions for basic use of
the router plus maintenance and company contact information. The photos
used in the usage descriptions are clear color photographs which leave no
discrepancy in what the text is directing you to do. A point scored here.
Before looking further into any router purchase, the woodworker will
almost always look for the technical specifications list first - that is
what I do first at least, so here it is:
||230-240V ~ 50Hz*
|No load speed:
- power rating is given for Australian product. Power rating for
US/International version of product may vary.
At 1200W (or a shade under 2HP), the R1200 will handle most
woodworking tasks. In testing we we able to spin a variety of bits of
varying diameter and the motor tackled the tasks well without any problem.
The ability to change speeds on the fly is an added advantage when using a
variety of woods or composites in the one project. 1200W is a pretty good
figure for a handheld router. Powerful enough to handle all the handheld
routing tasks and most all small to mid-size bits, yet not so powerful
that you feel the motor has control over you rather than you having
control over the motor.
Nothing fancy here. The fence is a 2 piece unit (fence with separate
rails) and they come together nicely to form a solid edge guide you can
use to rout trenches near the edge of boards. The fence locks in 2
positions on the router base via screw-down star knobs. Nothing out of the
ordinary here. There was no evidence of fence movement in use, indicating
the screw down knobs were holding the fence tightly in position.
Depth Adjustment & Turret
The depth adjustment features on the R1200 are fairly run of the mill
mechanisms, however the depth gauge bar does incorporate a fine adjustment
knob to make small depth changes. The adjustment scale reads from 0-50mm,
from which you can set and lock your depth setting via the star locking
knob on the router depth assembly. A nice feature on the R1200 that I would like to see
standard on all routers is a stepped depth turret stop. This offers 8
depth stop settings from the default '0' setting up to the largest 25mm
step. These are great for making multiple passes in deep routing
operations. Simply make you first pass, twist to the next turret depth
stop and away you go.
The depth locking lever is placed on the back side of
the router to the right of the left handle. It is actually metal
alloy construction and doesn't feel like you are going to snap it off like the
feeling you can get with plastic levers found commonly on routers in this
price range. It works as it should!
We found the plunge action on the R1200 to be a bit
'stiff' during the first part of testing, although it became smoother
after more and more use when the springs loosened up a little. We didn't
feel the need to add a lubricant to the plunge shafts, but if you require
precise plunge action for your tasks, you may want to consider an
appropriate 'dry' lubricant, although be sure to check any warranty issues
before taking this step.
It is important to use a lubricant that does not attract dust, if you
need to use one.
Router handles come in all shapes and sizes, but most commonly you
find either round handles, rectangular/oval handles or rounded
pyramid-type shaped handles. On the R1200, I guess you could call the
handles rectangular in shape, with rounded edges. What is different
compared to many others though is that the handles are tilted forward by
about 20 degrees (by eye). The handles themselves are certainly
comfortable and the angled design is rather interesting. This was the
first time I had used a router with such a design feature as this. In
testing I actually found there were times when 'pushing' the router
forward, that there was a tendency to introduce a touch of 'rock' forward
on the front of the base, hence, lifting the back of the base up off the
work surface. This was more prevalent when routing on surfaces that were
not reasonably smooth, plywood being an example). If you are aware of this however, you can easily
compensate in your movement and direction of applied force on the handles
to alleviate and avoid the problem. A good advantage in the angled
design is realized when pulling the router back toward you across a workpiece. I found the angled handles helped greatly in keeping the base
flat down on the work surface in this case.
Incorporated into the handles are all the switches and
dials needed to retain complete control over the router motor. On the
right handle you have your on/off trigger, which also features a locking
switch medially to lock the trigger on for continuous use. This provides
excellent fingertip control over the router and eliminates the need to
remove your hand from the handles to turn off the machine. I see it as an
added safety feature, as well as providing a greater level of user
convenience. On the left handle, you will find the variable speed dial.
Labeled with speed settings from 1 - 6, you can quickly set the speed
required for the task at hand. Anywhere in the range of 8,000rpm to
31,500rpm is possible with the R1200. That should give you enough speed
variation to swing a number of different sized bits safely and allow you
to modify the speed for varying wood densities. I think the handle
controls are a great feature on the R1200 and particularly suitable for
beginning routing enthusiasts still learning the ins and outs of their
With woodworkers becoming more aware of the potential health effects
of dust exposure, dust collection features on tools can account for a fair
portion of importance when it comes to the purchasing woodworker. Routers
have always had a problem with dust collection, however, newer routers
these days are making great strides in improving dust catching ability,
although some models are miles better than others. The R1200 does have
dust collection abilities and features a plastic dust adaptor a shade
under 1" in diameter. This small sized adaptor is naturally only useful
for hookup to a shop vac system, and you will need an adaptor to fit most
hoses (not included). Trying to hook up a full sized dust
collector would be wasting one's time. The effectiveness of the dust
collection port is further reduced as it tapers down to an elongated 3/8"
opening into the router base. This is a little too small for today's
standards and its effectiveness (or lack of) is evidenced by not being
able to collect enough dust/chips during the routing operation. We were
often left with fair volumes of dust/chips to clean out of routed trenches
or to be cleaned from the air by our shop air filter system, although the
dust collection does tend to catch most of the 'lighter' waster material. The plastic
dust protection piece through which the router bit plunges does help in
reducing dust/chips spitting out the sides of the router in use. The
undersized port is not uncommon to many
routers, but the more time spent cleaning is less time spent woodworking!
At 1200 watts, The R1200 makes for a good handheld router for the
woodworking enthusiast. We found the handle grip controls and on/off
button allows full control over the router as it starts up and winds down.
Changing bits is relatively straight forward, although this cannot be
achieved through the base plate with the plastic dust collection 'shroud'
in place. A spindle locking button helps to lock the spindle while you
tighten or release the collet when changing bits. A basic collet wrench
is included in the package and serves its purpose adequately. We
found that out of the box, the collet would not take the 1/2" bits. The
collet cone had contracted a little. No problem. Simply remove the collet
nut, take out the collet cone and insert the bit. it expands the cone
slightly and allows the bit to be inserted. Once we had done this once, we
had no further trouble with bits not fitting from there on. I've had to do
this on other routers as well, so no big deal and certainly not what you
would call a major, or even minor problem.
Using the depth stops was fairly painless and exhibited
as a good asset to the model. In my personal use of many
other brands of budget, mid range routers I found that the depth stop rod can
move/loosen when you plunge down on a depth turret continuously during a routing operation.
The depth stop locking knob seemed to hold its setting very well during
use and no movement of such was evidenced during the test period.
Fitting the supplied 1/4" collet requires the
complete removal of the 1/2" collet. On some routers, the 1/4" collet
simply sits within the 1/2" collet. On the R1200, it is a separate piece
and fitting it is a simple two-step process. I wont outline it here, but
full instructions are provided in the manual. It is pretty hard to get it
wrong, although the manual clearly states an important point, and that is
not to tighten the collet nut with the wrench if their is no router bit
installed. This will damage/crack the collet cone and render it useless.
Wise words of advice!
We achieved template routing with the included 7/8" OD
template guide. This fixes in 2 positions in the recessed base using the
supplied screws. How much more can you say about a template guide? You
only get one in the set. Not uncommon with routers in this price range.
More templates of differing diameters would be ideal, and I'm not sure at
this stage whether any other brand of templates will fit this router. As
far as I know, GMC do not make a template guide set for any of their
Edge routing and trench routing using the fence worked
as it should. There is no fine adjustment function on the fence itself,
but your not paying the higher price for that feature either.
There is a limit to the size of router bit you can spin
with a 1200 watt motor. Trying to spin a raised panel bit and expecting
the router to smooth right on through a cut is unreasonable, although we
successfully routed profiles with bits like a 1" radius roundover and
medium sized classical roman ogee profiles successfully, although you have
to take things a little slower. If you want to spin large bits, or use a
router in a table, it is advisable to look at the 3HP + routers in the
In the End...
The R1200 is marketed as a comfortable and easy to use router with
"Controls at Your Fingertips". It seemed to perform well during the
testing period and we enjoyed using the product. As mentioned earlier, the
dust extraction could be better and the plunge action can be difficult to
initiate over the first inch or so, but this may indeed be a result of
new, stiff springs.
We didn't discover or experience any mechanical faults
during the test period, and if we do in the future, you will be reading so
right here. The comfort of GMC's excellent 2 Year Replacement Warranty and
30 Day Satisfaction Guarantee does offer some comfort for the potential
purchaser, or for those sitting on the fence making a decision. Note,
however, that this warranty only applies to 'home use' of the product and
not for commercial/trade use.
We feel the R1200 fits its asking price (which is
AUD$119) in terms of
features and performance, and makes a good router for the handyman or
intermediate woodworker. Those looking for trade quality machines may need
to look to the higher priced ranges, however, if you already have a bigger
router and are looking for a smaller unit for handheld work, then the
R1200 may be worth considering. Always check what else is available in the
price range and make an informed decision. The more reviews you read, the
better the decision you can make on your next purchase!
All photos copyright onlinetoolreviews.com. Use without prior
written permission prohibited
The GMC R1200 Ready for Action!
Depth stop adjustment scale. Note the micro-adjuster up top and the
star-shaped depth lock screw.
A nice feature is the metal alloy plunge locking lever.
The stepped depth turret can be seen here along with the plastic dust
shroud and collet locking button.
The variable speed dial seen here on the left handle.
"Control at your fingertips."
The main on/off switch and power-on locking
button on the right handle.
Changing the router bit. Using the spindle lock to release the collet
Here we are routing a trench in a plywood side frame using the R1200's
Rounding over a sharp edge.
Dust collection is not the best, although it varies depending on
the task at hand.