Is the Milwaukee Tool M18 Fuel Compact Router the best trim router on the market? When reviewing tools sometimes you pick up an impact driver or a circular and you can’t tell a yellow tool from a green tool if you had your eyes closed. But when it comes to routers you know right away who rules the roost.
*This post is sponsored by The Home Depot Pro-Spective Tool Review. Affiliate Links to follow.
Pick A Router. Any Router
I’ve owned more Routers than cars at this point and like a vehicle you sit in every day… You learn its nuances and capabilities from the moment you turn the key. Trim Routers or Compact Routers are very similar in that the moment you have one in hand you know if it’s the right fit for you. Ergonomics for hand placement and ease of bit swapping are deal makers and deal breakers.
While the Ryobi Trim Router is a great price point for a beginner, the grip zone is awkward. Which is why I have absolutely loved the Makita Compact Router platform for beginners and seasoned woodworkers. It’s an affordable base option in Corded or Battery set ups. Plus it’s compatible with the Makita plunge base. It’s my “Go-To” Recommendation for everyone looking for a compact router… that is until now.
Best In Class Router
At 31,000 RPM’s the Milwaukee M18 Fuel Compact Router is the most powerful in the class by a thousand RPMs. But that doesn’t make it the best. Although, when you flip the switch on you can feel that torque kick in like a Hemi V8 jumping off the start line. Where the Milwaukee gets it right is in the design. If you read my review of the Milwaukee M18 Fuel Jigsaw the other day you’ll immediately know what I mean.
Ergonomics are spot on. The grip zone feels natural and I never feel like I’m about to put my fingers into a spinning router bit. Like the Makita, the grip zone feels like it was the starting point for the design and not an after thought. The dust collection attachment is also an included feature and not an aftermarket purchase. Not to mention it’s also built with line of site in mind as well. So when you need to see your cutting surface you’re not only protected but with the addition of the LED light you have a clear and safe view.
Then comes depth adjustment and bit swapping. The Milwaukee Router accepts a 1/4″ shank (which is industry standard for compact routers), but it’s a dream to swap out. Micro-adjustments are a standard dial in, but what I like is how smoothly the sleeve adjusts and removes. I have a few routers that you have to fight to put the housing back on and this lines up immediately. Which means bit swapping isn’t a hassle at all. Included in the kit you also get a straight edge guide and a 5-3/4″ sub-base plate. Why is that a big deal? Because if you ever use a router for cutting templates (like bow tie inlays) you need a base that accepts standard bushings. Something you generally have to buy aftermarket for your router. This comes with it.
With 31,000 RPM’s there was never a question if this router could go toe to toe with a big router like my 3.25 HP Triton. This pint sized router is a beast. I ran round overs with it on decades old dry walnut and never had it bite or burn. I also tried to push its limits with flush trim bits and rabbets and never had an issue.
So does this make the Milwaukee M18 Fuel Compact router one of the toughest routers on the market? In my opinion… yes. At under $200 this router is a steal with the power and value you get especially out of a cordless model. If you’re in the market for a router upgrade you should definitely give the Milwaukee a look.
*This post has been sponsored by The Home Depot Pro-Spective Tool Review. I have been provided with product and compensated for my time for my opinion of this tool. My opinion is my own.
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