Here's our Bosch POF 1200 AE review, whittled down: if you're after an affordable, entry level router for shaping and cutting wood, look no further.
Not to be mistaken for the plastic blob that provides Wi-Fi in your home or office, the best wood routers are specialist woodworking tools that spin at high speed to shape and cut into bits of tree like little else.
Favoured by competent woodsmiths, a router of this nature requires a variety of bits, which are similar to those found in some of our favourite drills. It is these bits that create the desired finish in whatever woody project you are going for. Intricate patterns, perfect circles and lovely chamfered edges are all fairly easy to achieve if you have the right bits.
The Bosch POF 1200 AE only comes with a single basic bit, so you’ll have to part with a little extra if you want some variety. Luckily, the integrated spindle lock makes it quick and easy to change bits without the need for a key. There’s an equally fuss and tool-free SDS system for rapidly changing guide plates, too.
Despite its DIY-friendly target audience, the Bosch POF 1200 AE is a fairly powerful little tool that packs some pro features, such as the ability to easily attach a vacuum for dust-free workspaces and a power output of 650W and an input power of 1200W means it can cut through a good deal of different woods. Although hardwood and other tougher tasks will likely prove too much for it, it's still one of the best wood routers you can buy for the price. Please note that we are obliged to call these things wood routers here, so as to avoid confusion with the broadband/Wi-Fi variety. Most people would just call this a router.
Bosch POF 1200 AE Wood Router Review: price and availability
The Bosch POF 1200 AE Wood Router is at the cheaper end of the power tool spectrum and has an RRP of £94.99. Although Amazon UK is currently retailing it at £63.31 which feels like a steal.
In Australia it's AU$150 and in America, as with most things Bosch, this router is not available.
Bosch POF 1200 AE Wood Router Review: build quality
The Bosch DIY range is pretty solid, even though it falls at the cheaper end of the price spectrum. Just don’t expect it to withstand hours and hours of daily use. For that, you’ll need to look towards the blue professional stuff.
At 3.4kg, the POF 1200 AE Wood Router is fairly weighty and starts to show its heft when you are using it handheld for any period of time. Some users have bought or made their own routing tables, which takes some of the strain out of it.
Like many other power-tools in this Bosch range, there is the ubiquitous Softgrip Zones on the handles, which make things a little more comfortable, while a transparent chip guard keeps things safe.
Overall build quality is good but there are a few cheaper elements. That previously mentioned chip guard is rubbish and feels like it could easily snap. In fact, some customer reviews on Amazon have pointed this out too.
The included guide is a bit vague and the single bit that comes in the box isn’t really good fo anyone. You’ll be straight on to your local DIY store or Amazon UK to get a selection of bits. Other customer reviews have stated that the LED indicator that lights up when the power is on has been prone to fail.
Regardless, it’s a solid lump of a tool and certainly feels worth every penny that the cheaper online retailers are currently selling it for.
Bosch POF 1200 AE Wood Router Review: performance
I’d like to get this off my chest to begin with: I’m not a professional woodworker, nor am I the world’s most competent DIYer. But I do have several friends with workshops and they are always willing to help me make less of a mess.
That said, I can happily report that getting used to this Bosch POF 1200 AE doesn’t take too long and the results are impressive for a tool at this price point. I found accessing the bits to be fiddly and a bit frustrating, while that plastic guard is most definitely flimsy. The brittle plastic that attaches to the unit is very easy to accidentally break.
The included guide is also a little wayward and I found it drifted a bit even when securely in place. Thankfully, a friend of mine had a variety of bits that fit this unit and some old wood to test them out on. The locking plunger mechanism feels safe to work with and it’s fairly easy to wrangle. The more professional equipment I handled as a comparison was far heavier, but then it could cope with a lot more.
The dust extraction port works well but you’ll need an existing vacuum and pipework to set it all up properly. This is probably only going to be worth it if you plan to do a lot of routing in the future. But then it does make a hell of a mess.
One minor thing I noticed was that the jog wheel that takes care of the router speed felt flimsy compared to the other buttons and latches that can be found on the unit. There’s a lot of lateral play, which feels like it could only get worse with extended use.
Bosch POF 1200 AE Wood Router Review: what the customers say
From Amazon UK
• “My first ever router. After watching many howto's on YouTube, I decided to go for it. Excellent router. I made a mirror to fit the side of my wardrobe project and I am pleased with the result. Only slight disappointment is that Bosch does not provide a hose for dust collection, but apart from that I am extremely pleased with the finished results."
• “For the money this is pretty good as a first router. I've bevelled a few oak boards and shelves with it and made an oak headboard so far. Fine adjustment and control is a bit fiddly and requires some workarounds but at this price you have to expect some compromises. It suits my purposes so I'm not complaining. It will not do heavy duty cycle work, you will need a larger collet and cutters if you intend to work with a lot of hardwood and using big cuts.”
• “My husband opened it and went to use it when it became apparent that it is not half inch but a quarter inch or 6mm router so was not as described and not compatible for the half inch bits he had already purchased elsewhere. ”
Bosch POF 1200 AE Wood Router Review: verdict
This is a great wood router for the uninitiated, as it feels safe to use but has a general heft that inspires confidence with simple wood-based DIY tasks. It's a nice platform from which to brush up skills and learn new ones, although with some knowledge and more advanced tasks may require something a little more powerful.
Bosch is usually pretty good with its build quality and reliability, but there are a number of elements on the POF 1200 AE Wood Router that feel cheap and some customers have complained that components prematurely give up the ghost. This is reflected in the price, which feels very reasonable for a tool that can do this sort of damage to a piece of wood.