The Importance of the Original Design
Thirty years ago, I bought an early version of the Trend T5. My original T5 was pretty bombproof and lasted for years, but the basic design was good enough to be able to support a fairly steady list of refinements over the years. After some ownership and name changes the T5 is still around and is a ‘go to’ router for amateurs and professionals alike. The developments have provided us with a quieter, more refined and user-friendly machine that retains its reliability and accuracy, but it still deserves the ‘work horse’ label.
Noise and Vibration
First of all, noise. Because of their high-speed motors, routers have usually been associated with a high-pitched scream, especially when cutting at high speed with a large cutter. At idle speeds, even with a cutter attached, the 1000W T5E is so quiet that you can barely hear it. Lay your hands on the plunge handles and you can barely feel any vibration either. Clearly some work has been put in on noise and vibration control - and it works. Even when fitted with a cutter (max 40mm diameter) this router feels civilised, controllable and relatively noise and vibration free. Great news for those who use these tools regularly. Of course, it’s a no-brainer that you should wear ear and eye protection anyway, but somehow the T5E just feels more controllable and better to use because of the reduced vibration and noise.
Controls – I need Simple and Safe
Secondly, routers can be fiddly to use when the controls are not well thought out and easy to manage. The plunge action on the T5E is firm and positive. With 50mm depth of plunge, there is enough to tackle large range cutters and most jobs. A good test of accuracy is whether there is any play between base and router body – the T5 I tested showed no play at all. There is a three stop adjustable turret to set depths of cut and a depth setting stop that is robust and easy to set. It is nice to have a fine height adjuster, and some trades and craftspeople (guitar makers for example) can buy one as an accessory but I manage without one, as this router is perfectly accurate enough for my needs.
Changing cutters can be another area of potential fiddliness – but the T5E scores here too. The big red spindle lock button is easy to access and keeps your fingers well out of the way of the collet spanner, so changing cutters is as easy as it can be.
In the UK, users still seem to prefer having a positive on/off switch rather than the ‘dead man’s handle’ switch that you have to hold down during use. At first I thought that having to push the switch upwards to start the motor seemed odd, but actually it is simpler to simply push the switch down to stop, which makes a lot of sense. It is in these sorts of well thought out details that users get to like one tool rather than another, and it shows that Trend has really thought about what is important in its continuing development of this tool over the years.
Fences, Dust Extraction and More
I hate pressed steel router fences. They do not inspire confidence in their rigidity and therefore accuracy, in use. The Trend T5E has a lovely cast alloy fence that is completely rigid with suitably strong trammel bars on which it slides. The fence is fitted with a micro adjuster that can easily be set in 0.5mm increments. The ease of set is what makes me want to use this adjuster, because some router fences I have used can be so fiddly and stiff that you end up setting up by eye anyway.
Included is a pair of rigid plastic fence cheeks that slide onto the straight edge of the fence. Held on by pan head screws, these cheeks are fully adjustable for smaller or larger cutters – and yes, since they are so easy to adjust, you will end up using them because it is stupid not to.
Other nice touches are that all the screw bolts for trammel bars and fence have springs fitted so that they don’t work loose and fall off. This means that you always have the required screws when you need them, and don’t need to find the elusive accessories box when you want to use the router fence.
A simple dust extraction spout is easy to attach to the base of the router because it clicks into place with three lugs into three matching slots. Extraction is pretty good and visibility of the cutter and cut inspires the confidence that you can work accurately. It helps to use a lightweight extraction hose that does not pull on the router base.
Also included are a template guide bush that uses two screws to attach it to the base and a beam trammel attachment that fits onto a fence rod so that users can rout circles and curves.
For the users who want to go beyond general routing, the T5E can be used with an 8mm collet, available as an accessory. It can also be mounted on a router table or used with other accessories via the two tapped holes in the router base. Trend really are expert in routing so a close look at the catalogue, (online or in print), or a call to the technical helpline will result in a solution for the end user.
After only a couple of hours of sustained use this router became a real favourite of mine to use for general routing and hinge and lock fitting. I absolutely loved the new feeling of control engendered by the lack of vibration and noise, and it just seems so much less fiddly to adjust and change cutters etc than previous versions. Clients really like the lack of noise and easy dust collection when you have to work indoors, and, combined with some of the Trend jigs I have acquired over the years, some jobs become so quick and easy that you wonder how you managed to do these jobs without them. A definite thumbs up from me – and more to the point, there are some cracking deals available at the moment that make getting a Trend T5E an even better prospect.