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The DeWalt DW618B3 Router kit is basically Dewalt’s bestselling DW618PK combo kit with an added D-handle base thrown in, so you’ve got all the bases well and truly covered (no pun intended).
We’ve already reviewed the DW618PK in detail (see Dewalt DW618PK) and looked at the fixed and plunge bases with all the features like their patented through-the-column dust-collection system.
What you need to decide now is whether you want to spend an extra $25 for the additional D-handle base. Or, to put it another way, is a Dewalt D-handle base worth $25? I think that’s a no brainer – yes, of course it is!
So, from a value for money point of view, the DW618B3 is definitely the way to go. You get the motor plus 3 bases, a clear sub base, collets and tools all in a nice big carrying case for $257.99
But do you really need three bases? Isn’t that a bit of overkill? Personally, I don’t think so and there’s one compelling reason for having 3 bases which I’ll get to later, but first;
What are the benefits of a D-handle base?
A D-handle base is just a fixed base, but with one knob and one D-handle, compared to two knob handles. To a degree it is a matter of personal preference – some people prefer a D-handle and others like two knob handles.
However, there are a number of advantages to a D-handle base
- The power switch is incorporated in the handle. This is the number one advantage to using a D-handle base as it means that you can keep both hands on the handles when you switch the router on and off. With a normal, two knob fixed base you have to take one hand off the handles to reach the on/off switch on the motor unit. Keeping both hands on the handles is safer and gives you more control.
- The pistol grip design of the D-handle gives you more control. You tend to push with the D-handle and guide with the knob which just feels more natural.
- It’s a lot safer – holding the grip and with your whole hand inside the D-handle means you have a much better hold on the machine.
Do you need 3 bases?
It depends. If you never use your router in a router table, then you probably don’t need 3 bases, but you would still be missing out on the beneits of the D-handle base.
But, if you a router table and you don’t want to buy a dedicated router for it, then a 3 base combo gives you everything you need;
- Mount the fixed base in your router table and leave it there
- Use the D-handle base for hand routing
- Use the plunge base for mortising and other jobs where you want a stopped cut
Because of the quick-release motor latches it only takes a few seconds to change between any routing application. If for no other reason, I think that convenience is worth $25.
Maximum Routing Versatility
It’s not just the versatility of the 3 bases that makes this such a great deal. You also get 1/4-inch and 1/2-inch collets which means that you really have got every routing situation covered.
It hasn’t got the raw power of the Porter Cable 7518 fixed base router or the amazing features of the Festool OF2200 plunge router, but for 99% of woodworkers 99% of the time, this combo is going to give you everything you need.
If you want to get the views of people who actually use this combo, the best place is Amazon. There are 102 customer reviews giving an average of 4.3 out of 5 stars which is a pretty good recommendation.