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The DeWalt DW618PK 2-1/4 HP Router kit is Dewalt’s complete router kit which gives you the router motor plus both a fixed and a plunge base all in one cost-effective package. Most professionals will have more than one dedicated router for different jobs, but for most users this router kit provides maximum versatlity for your money. As a result, all the major router manufacturers now have a similar offering and you can also read our review of the Bosch 1617EVSPK which also offers the same functionality.
The components in the DeWalt DW618PK 2-1/4 HP Router kit are the DW618M motor, DW6184 fixed base and DW6182 plunge base and you can move the motor between bases without any tools using quick-release motor latches. All 3 components are made from high-quality aluminum.
What to look for when buying a Router
Of all the woodworking tools available, a router is probably one of the most versatile. Due to its incredible versatility, every wood worker, including beginners, will have a need for a router at some time, and many have more than one. However, with the huge range available, it’s not easy to choose the one that’s best suited to your needs, so we’re going to help point you in the right direction by looking at a number of the features that you should be considering such as router power ratings and variable speed, router bit size, accurate depth setting with fine adjustment control, dust extraction and whether you should be considering a Fixed Base Router or a Plunge Router.
Powerful, Variable-Speed Motor with Soft Start
When looking at routers, one of the most important feature to look for is the horsepower rating of the motor, which typically ranges from 1.0 hp up to 3-1/2 hp. The DW618M motor produces a decent 2-1/4 hp which is all the power you need for most operations and allows you to use larger 1/2-inch shank bits. Equally as important as the power is a variable speed motor as the larger the bit, the slower the cutting speed needs to be – if you use a large bit at too high a speed you will burn the stock. The DW618M motor has an excellent speed range from 8,000 to 24,000 rpm which allows you to accurately match the speed to the type of stock and the size of cutter.
The soft start is another important feature which gradually increases the speed up to full speed – in addition to preventing any jerking and easier handling on start-up, it results in reduced strain and wear and tear on the motor itself, leading to longer motor life.
Router bit size
The bit shank size of the router is another important factor in deciding on a router. The two most common bit shank sizes are 1/4″ and 1/2″ and you should consider the projects you want to complete and the availability of bit sizes you need for these projects. The most common shank size is 1/2″ and you will find a much larger selection of bits available in the 1/2″ size and you will also find that some of the more specialist bits (mainly used by professionals) only come in 1/2″. The larger the shank diameter, the less likely the router bit is to vibrate during cutting. Excessive vibration of the cutter will give a poor cut. As a general rule you should always choose the largest shank diameter cutter your router will accept. Luckily the Dewalt DW618PK comes with both 1/4-inch and 1/2-inch collets so you’ve got all the bases covered.
The DW618PK also gives you both options for changing cutters – you can either use the spring-loaded spindle lock with one wrench or you can use two wrenches. It’s a matter of personal choice as to which method you prefer. The fact that you can remove the motor from the bases also gives you better access and makes it easier to change bits. This is particularly useful when using the router in a router table – anyone who has changed bits with the router still attached to the table will know how difficult that can be, and quite often has the skinned knuckles to prove it.
Accurate Fixed and Plunge Cuts
All routers, whether fixed base or plunge, need to have a means of accurately adjusting bit depth. Adjustment on the Dewalt DW618PK when using the fixed base is by means of a depth adjustment ring – to adjust the bit depth, simply release the locking lever and turn the depth adjustment ring clockwise to raise the cutter or counter-clockwise to lower the cutter.
The fact that the adjustment ring turns rather than the motor is a useful feature that is seen on more and more routers these days, because it means that the position of the power cord, the on/off switch and the speed control do not change in relation to the handles or the router table and so don’t twist into an inaccessible location and the power cord doesn’t get twisted.
When using the router with the plunge base there is an adjustable five-position turret stop, as well as micro-fine depth adjustment of 5/128″ per turn for precise routing in e.g. veneer and inlays.
Fixed Base Router vs. Plunge Router
What’s the difference? Simply put, a fixed base router is one on which you set a specific depth, and that depth stays consistent while using the tool. A plunge router, on the other hand, allows you to plunge the router bit downward and into the stock, make the desired cut, and then lift the bit back out of the stock. Obviously it’s a matter of personal preference, but in general, a plunge router is used for hand held routing when making a stopped cut (one that does not go all the way to the edge of the stock e.g. a mortise) and a fixed base router tends to be used in a Router Table and for hand held routing when a stopped cut is not required. Professionals and other woodworkers who do a lot of routing will generally have at least one of each.
For the rest of us, router kits like the Dewalt DW618PK mean that there’s no decision to make as it comes with both a fixed base and a plunge base included, and with the added benefit of both 1/4-inch and 1/2-inch collets you really have got the maximum flexibility in this one package.
Clear LEXAN sub base
The Dewalt DW618PK also has a clear, LEXAN sub-base which gives improved bit visibility and is another feature being adopted by a number of manufacturers. Improved visibility is obviously welcome in any situation, but is particularly useful when using a Dovetail Jig. Naturally you’ll want to make sure that it’s always perfectly centered, and this is very easy using the sub-base concentricity gauge. To see exactly how this works, have a look at the video How to Center the Sub Base on a Dewallt Fixed Base Router
Patented through-the-column dust-collection
A clever feature is the patented through-the-column dust-collection system. When you’re using a router in a table this isn’t really an issue, but when routing freehand the dust extraction hose can get in the way and obscure your view of the bit as well as just making it a bit more difficult to control the router. With the Dewalt through-the-column dust-collection system the vacuum hose is attached to the top of the column which keeps it right out of the way – add to this the clear LEXAN sub base and you’ve got a completely unobstructed view of the cutter.
Like most fixed bases, the DW6184 fixed base does not have the facility for dust extraction, however a lot of the time you are likely to be using the fixed base in a router table and will make use of the table’s dust extraction capabilities.
How much should you expect to pay?
You can easily find it for around $200 on the web
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What’s in the box?
The kit includes everything you need to get started with fixed and plunge base routing
- DW618M motor
- DW6184 fixed base and DW6182 plunge base
- 1/4-inch and 1/2-inch collets and wrench
- Sub-base concentricity gauge and large-hole sub-base
- Vacuum adapter and kit box
What are other people saying?
Some of the comments from users
- Hands Down – Best of Breed Router Kit
- What a trade up! Great value for an excellent router
- ITS WORTH THE EXTRA MONEY!!!!
- Highly recommended!!!!
- Quiet, powerful little machine. Love it.
There are a few complaints out there from a number of years ago that criticized the motor saying that it burnt out under heavy use. This seems to have been fixed now as the problem hasn’t been reported in recent years. If you are going to spend a lot of time doing REALLY heavy duty work in a router table, then you might be better going for a dedicated fixed base router that has been designed specifically for this – either the Milwaukee 5625-20 or the Porter Cable 7518 would be an excellent choice.
What kind of warranty is there?
The Dewalt DW618PK is backed by a three-year limited warranty.
The DeWalt DW618PK 2-1/4 HP Router kit is Dewalt’s complete router kit which gives you the router motor plus both a fixed and a plunge base all in one cost-effective package. Some of the excellent features include a clear LEXAN sub-base, precise, rotating depth adjustment ring and patented through-the-column dust-collection system, all of which add up to an innovative, versatile router kit. Highly recommended.