Triton  3 1/4hp Plunge Router Review

The Triton router is an Australian made tool with several innovative features. I would not be surprised to see some of these features introduced to other brands in the future.

The router is a 3.25 hp plunge type and like most routers of this size it has the power to be used for some fairly heavy cuts and demanding operations such as plunge mortising and panel raising. The router includes an edge guide, a " straight bit, collet wrench, and a " collet reducer bushing. A removable dust shroud is also installed on the router.

Triton Router
General Observations
One thing I like to see in a router is the ability to stand it on its head without it falling over for bit changes and jig installation. Although the strain relief for the (somewhat short) electrical cord gets in the way a little, you can do this with the Triton.

I've been told that Triton brand guide bushings are available for the router as well as an adapter that will allow one to use the generic PC type bushings as well.  No bushings or adapters are included with the router.

One inconspicuous aspect of the Triton that I wish every other router had is that the base plate is attached with four -20 screws. This square pattern and common thread makes hole layout, jig attachment, and installation into devices such as the Legacy Mill, LittleRat, or other shop-made tools easier.

The plunge action is pretty good for a big router. The guide post have what looks like bronze bushings for bearings.  The router runs very smoothly, like a 3.25hp Swiss watch.

The base has an opening 3.125" in diameter.   The opening in the dust shroud is only 2.125" in diameter but it is not flush with the base so I think you could use a horizontal panel raiser even with the shroud installed.


Ergonomics
The Triton has all its controls located in typical positions.  The router looks a little top heavy but in use the tool would usually sit lower than what pictures typically indicate.  In fact, when placed next to similar machines prepared for use, there is no difference between how balanced they all appear.

Ergonomics can be somewhat subjective; I believe that the round handles offer less control than the elongated type when they are mounted higher up on plunge routers.  The winder ring feels a little irritating if it is used a lot.   The power switch is simply not as convenient to operate as other routers.  I also find that the mode select device less than convenient to operate, I often grab a pair of pliers or a shop-made tool I use with the LittleRat to twist it.


Router Table Use
I've used the router in a table only briefly but here are a few observations related to the use of the Triton in a table.  In Free Plunge mode, one would set the cutter height basically as one would any other plunge router, there is no major difference here except that the Micro Adjust does not work in this mode.  To operate the router in Winder Plunge mode a certain level of free access is required to operate the mechanism.  The reader may or may not have this level of access in their present router table (I don't).  If one had this requirement in mind when building a router table, it would seem to be easy to accommodate.

Routers have a fan which draws in cooling air from the top and exhausts it out the bottom.  When a router is inverted for table use this can cause a problem.  On most other routers, debris can easily get into the exhaust vents when the tool is off.  Triton has evidently realized this and made the exhaust vents so they are not directly exposed to falling debris.

When some routers are used in tables, the power switch is left on and the user turns the tool on and off via an external switch on the router table cabinet.   If your use would fall into this category be aware that under these conditions the router cannot be automatically shaft-locked for above the table bit changes.

It is sometimes desirable to remove the plunge spring on routers used in tables. Although some care must be exercised, the single spring is very easy to remove and re-install if desired.  Another minor advantage for this router when used in a table is that the depth stop plunge rod is spring loaded so it works even when the router is inverted.  There are some other considerations when using the Triton in a table that are listed below.


Innovation
At a glance the Triton router doesn't look much different than any other large plunge router. However it has been endowed with certain features that set it apart from the others. Since this is what makes the tool unique, the rest of the article examines those differentiating features in detail.

Plunge
One of the most interesting features of the Triton are the different plunge modes. There are two main modes and sub mode used to move the cutter up and down.   The mode is controlled by a selector inside one of the handles. 

  • Free Plunge. This mode is just like what you would expect of any plunge router. When the plunge lock is "free", one can push down on the router and the cutter moves down. To retract the cutter, the plunge lock is released and a single spring inside one of the guide tubes pushes the motor housing up. There is no micro adjust in this mode.  Note that engaging the free plunge mode is not intuitive, I had to consult the manual to figure out how to do it the first time.

  • Handle Winder Plunge. In this mode, a turn of the right knob moves the cutter down / up via a rack and pinion mechanism.   To engage the winder action a ring on the interior side of the knob must be held in and when the knob is turned, the cutter moves up or down. When the winder ring is released, the movement is halted. This is not the same as locked, once the desired depth setting is reached, the plunge lock should be engaged because the depth setting may move just a little. The winder may fail to engage immediately after free plunge operations until the gearing has been forced to mesh. 

  • Micro Adjust. The micro adjust mode is evidently a sub mode of Winder, it does not work in the free plunge mode. The control for this is a knob located near the top of the tool. It takes one or two twists to take up the slop and get the movement started (this backlash is mentioned in the owners manual). Micro adjust can be used throughout the entire range of (winder mode) plunge.

Shaft Lock / Bit Change / Interlock
The shaft lock is a typical spring loaded pin that when engaged into a depression in the spindle prevents it from rotating and allows the user to change the bit. The unique aspect Triton brings to this operation is that when the router is plunged FULLY, a profile in the base will automatically engage the shaft lock and disengage it when un-plunged.  The Triton can plunge far enough to bring the collet past the plane of the base.  Under these conditions the shaft is automatically locked and one can change the bit with a single wrench; this is especially useful in a router table.

There is a safety feature that prevents one from accidentally engaging the shaft lock when the router is running.  With the switch in the ON position, an internal mechanism prohibits the router from being plunged far enough for the profile in the base to automatically engage the shaft lock.

Another unique aspect is that when fully plunged, the small sliding door that covers the power switch cannot be moved back; thus interlocking power during bit changes.

If one were changing bits with the tool not fully plunged, the dust shroud would need to be removed and the shaft lock pushed manually. The collet itself threads directly into the spindle. Unlike most other routers there is no capturing nut involved.

Power Switch
The power switch is located near the left handle and covered by a small clear spring loaded sliding door. The switch requires more contortion than normal to turn on, I actually have to use my thumb nail to do it. It is easier to turn off but not nearly as easy to use as a handle trigger or other router switches such as those found on other big routers like the Dewalt or Freud. The switch is lighted when the router is plugged in which is of some benefit to safety.

Dust Collection
I've never used a router that was designed with dust collection in mind and was curious how well it would work. A three piece dust shroud made of clear plastic surrounds a great deal of the collet area. Molded into this shroud is a small port a shop vac would be hooked up to.  Most vacuums however would require some type of adapter not included in the package. In use, some chips do escape through the clearance gaps in the shroud but overall I was quite pleased with the level of collection. This of coarse works best on surface cutting, edge cutting would not be very effective; overall the dust collection works well within reasonable expectations.

Edge Guide
The edge guide is really an accessory however its design is tied closely to the Triton. The edge guide is basically a formed steel plate, it includes a sliding fence that is held in place by two knobs on the underside and includes a small device that allows it to be used as a circle cutting guide as well. The edge guide is attached using two spring loaded bolts in the router base. One simply loosens the nuts for these bolts and lines them up with their key-way holes in the base and tighten them back up. The base appears to be very stable however in use I found that this is not always the case. For example, when using it with the router to make grooves or rabbets (rebates), the channel running down the middle causes a bit of a control issue on entry and exit of the of the stock because it allows the router to tilt down into the cut unless you are VERY careful.

Another issue with the edge guide is that the one supplied is the only type that can be used. One could not use an aftermarket guide or even another brand of guide because the attachment through-holes commonly found in router bases are not present. If the edge guide were more stable and micro-adjustable this might not be an issue.

Conclusion
Fortunately for the woodworker, there are lots of routers in this class to choose from and none of them are bad. Overall the Triton does about everything one would expect of a router in this class. The thing that is supposed to set the Triton apart are a few innovative features that other routers lack.

The easy bit change feature especially but also the dust collection and spring removal features are implemented well.  I feel the Triton leaves a little be desired in the area of ergonomics but that is somewhat subjective.  The winder plunge mode is a nice feature (in concept) but it sometimes fails to go into that mode and the backlash in the micro adjust mechanism does nothing to engender a quality feel to the tool.  When used in a router table or fixture the Triton seems to be more at home; the only feature it lacks is an "above the table" adjustment and automatic height lock.   The new features Triton has brought to the table are worthwhile, some just need to be implemented better to justify the premium price.

 

In the interest of full disclosure Triton provided this product to facilitate this review.