Kobalt has released a router that is at an amazing price point, all the included accessories we might need, the low RPM range that is best suited for CNC use, and the ER11a collet compatibility to open up every size end mill available from 7mm diameter and under, on top of all that a 5-year guarantee.
Item #5207238 Kobalt Lowe's https://www.lowes.com/pd/Kobalt/5014100299
How it started
Last year, one of our users put a good word in about us with a major tool manufacturer. The company behind a lot of Kobalt's power tools reached out and simply asked, "what can we do to make a router better suited for Makers?" I was over the moon. We had a conference call to talk about some ideas, and it seems we were all on the same page with a lot of the ideas. That was fun, but to my surprise, not the end of it. They asked me to reach out to a few people to discuss this further and test out the changes that would be made. They poked around the forums and asked about getting several people involved by name, that was pretty cool.
Jeffeb3, Gpagnozzi, Riptyde, SupraGuy accepted the invitation to sign up for a mystery router project. After the NDA's were signed, we all got to share and refine each other's ideas for what makes a good "Makers" router. Thank you all for helping out, and I hope you had as much fun as I did!
We were all shipped out an early prototype, and we all beat the heck out of it. Each of us had our own tests that we were most concerned with. Feedback was submitted by us all, and then we got another round of prototypes addressing the suggestions we had. I had a current sensor on my router for a few months to truly monitor how the changes were working out. Rinse and repeat, we gave our feedback after beating them up and the finally got approved for mass manufacture!
Of course, we did not get all of our suggestions rolled up into this router but if this goes well maybe we can work on another version. We did get an amazing price point, all the included accessories we might need, the low RPM range that is best suited for CNC use, and the ER11a collet compatibility to open up every size end mill available from 7mm diameter and under, on top of all that a 5-year guarantee.
Once it went into manufacturing, we had to just sit on this information and wait. That wasn't fun. Odd not to be able to share part of the journey with you all for so long. I apologize for that, and I am sure you can agree it was worth it!?!
The date finally started getting close, and they reached out again, this time looking for a new batch of people to do some review videos to get the ball rolling. I made a forum post to see who was interested. This time Jonathjon, DougJoseph, orob, and Azab2c jumped in. I appreciate the help fellas, I know there are a few more videos coming, and I am excited about them as well.
Keep an eye on this playlist for all the videos we release that includes this router and what we think about it.
Now the biggest bummer about this all is it is currently United States only. Lowes is not an international hardware store, unfortunately. Tokoloshe, tried to help out but that is when we first realized the international issue.
Another bummer is one of the first routers out of the production batch did have an issue and was unusable. The Lead engineer assures me they have a handle on the issue going forward. Of course if you have any issues and the main reason I do not sell routers directly, go back to the store and make use of that a 5-year guarantee. No worries.
Now the part that just makes me smile, the math. The two most common routers besides this are the Makita and the Dewalt trim routers. Size, weight, heat, power are all very similar or the exact same. The Kobalt is 19%-28% less expensive, and it comes with both collet sizes that are common here in the US. That saves another $20-$25 for most users. In summary, that means for new users, a full kit will cost them from $40-$65 less!!
More info about those collets,
Set of nuts - https://amzn.to/46WmWGN
Set of collets - https://amzn.to/46OdNQt
What is in it for V1 Engineering?
Well I am sure some of you are curious, what is in it for V1 Engineering? No financial compensation is involved. I just wanted a lower priced router better suited for all hobby CNC users. All the names listed all got a router or two out of it, and the manufacturer surprised me with some of the other tools they make as a thank-you.
THEN They surprised me even more!!! Have you noticed the LowRider 3 integrated into the packaging, website, and displays?!?! They asked early on if I would be okay with using the LowRider 3 being used on a few small press releases. Of course, I was absolutely thrilled. I assumed that meant I would be on some Lowe's Blog post about a new tool. Then I got asked if it was okay if maybe they could get a picture on some displays, well, Heck Yeah! Then they showed me the actual roll-out, WOW. On every router box (1700+ locations), on the website, and a special insert on the display pallets.
Thanks to all of you that were directly involved in this, I appreciate it I hope you had as much fun as I did. I also could not have done it without you. Kobalt, I am thrilled to have been involved and ready to do it again, and thank you for considering the Makers!
One guy in his garage has a picture of his creation on a nationwide product launch, because of a group of people I could not be more proud to be associated with. I can not put the feeling into words. A thing I designed is being used in every corner of the globe by makers everywhere and represented at a major hardware store that most of us in the U.S. have surely visited while using the CNC to make a project come to life. DUDE...
To those of you new to CNC's, I think we made something that is worth looking into for any CNC, and is surely to be the recommended tool for the V1 Engineering CNC's. I hope you like what we had a small part in helping to create.