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The Porter Cable 7518 is a heavy-duty, five speed, 3-1/4 hp fixed base router designed to be primarily used in a router table, and has all of the important features that you need for heavy-duty router table work, such as a 1/2-inch collet, good range of depth adjustment and the motor unit is easy to remove from the base to enable quick and easy bit changes.
Obviously you can use it freehand too, and the large D-handles help provide control and stability when using such a large, powerful and heavy machine. As you would expect it’s also very durable and both the motor and base are precision-machined aluminum.
What to look for when buying a Router
Due to its incredible versatility, every wood worker, including beginners, will have a need for a router at some time. However, with the huge range available, it’s not easy to choose the one that’s best suited to your needs. In this article we look 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 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. The Porter Cable 7518’s powerful 15 Amp 3-1/4 HP motor is as powerful as they come, and gives you enough power to cut a raised panel in one pass (although it’s always recommended to take more than one pass when using large cutters). When you choose a router like the Porter Cable 7518 it’s highly likely that you are going to be using large cutters and so variable speed is a very important requirement. The 7518’s versatile, electronic five-speed motor has speed settings of 10,000, 13,000, 16,000, 19,000, and 21,000 rpm and allows you to set the optimal speed for the routing task and material as, the larger the bit, the slower the cutting speed needs to be. If you try to run a large cutter at high speed you will burn the stock and increase tearout.
With the integrated soft-start feature, the motor reduces torque on start-up for a much smoother transition and easier handling, especially important with such a powerful machine. In addition to easier handling, the soft start 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″. Also, 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, and, as a general rule, you should always choose the largest shank diameter cutter your router will accept. 1/2-inch diameter shank bits are also more durable and less prone to flexing under load.
So it comes as no surprise, as it’s designed to be used primarily as a heavy duty production router, that the Porter Cable 7518 comes with a 1/2″ collet enabling it to take the biggest router bits. Mounted in a Router Table and with its powerful 15 Amp 3-1/4 HP motor, the 7518 allows you to use large bits such as raised panel cutters with ease.
Accurate Fixed and Plunge Cuts
All routers, whether fixed base or plunge, need to have a means of accurately adjusting bit depth. On the Porter Cable 7518 the height adjustment is easy (simply rotate the head to the desired setting) and locks down securely – once the router is set for the correct height, it doesn’t move until you want it to. Minute depth-of-cut adjustments are then easy to make using the router’s large adjustment ring, which is marked off in 1/64-inch increments. The 7518 also has a good range of depth adjustment which is important when using it in a table as the actual reach of the cutter will be reduced by the depth of the table.
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.
A lot of woodworkers would argue that the 7518 was designed to be used in a router table, and that for heavy-duty router-table work, the 7518 is the only fixed-base machine that fits the bill. We’ve mentioned the powerful motor, 1/2-inch collet and good range of depth adjustment – the other important feature you should be looking for in a machine that you are going to use a lot in a router table is a motor that’s easy to separate from the base to make bit changing easy. If you can’t remove the motor and put it on the bench to change the cutter, you’ve either got to fiddle around trying to change the bit while it’s still attached to the table (and who enjoys skinning their knuckles) or remove the whole router from the table which is time consuming and a chore.
The 7518 has a simple thumbscrew that allows you to easily release the motor from the base meaning you can quickly and easily change cutters.
How much should you expect to pay?
We found the best price on the web at around $350
What’s in the box?
The 7518 comes with everything you need to take on the toughest fixed base routing jobs
- 15 Amp 3-1/4 HP five-speed router motor
- Fixed base
- 1/2-inch collet
- Collet wrench
- Operating manual
What are other people saying?
Here’s what some happy users have to say
- “Wow! Just wow!”
- “If you don’t like horsepower and beefiness, than you may want to buy something else”
- “It’s the best for the money and I’m glad I bought it”
- “No Faults”
- “Highly recommend this product”
The only minor complaint we could find for the 7518 regards adjusting the height when mounted in a router table; because you rotate the head to adjust the height, this causes the power cord to twist – not a major concern and one user suggested shortening the power cord and using an extension lead to solve the problem.
What kind of warranty is there?
The Porter cable 7518 is backed by a five-year warranty.
The Porter Cable 7518 is a heavy-duty, five speed, 3-1/4 hp fixed base router designed to be primarily used in a router table, and has all of the important features that you need for heavy-duty router table work, such as a 1/2-inch collet, good range of depth adjustment and the motor unit is easy to remove from the base to enable quick and easy bit changes without skinning your knuckles.