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If you’re considering picking up one of the quality cordless routers available, you will want to take a closer look at Milwaukee Compact Router. (paid link) It offers a comfortable, single-handed grip while performing brilliantly using any 1/4-inch shank router bit you have in your collection.

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05/19/2024 05:48 am GMT

In The Shop or At The Work-Site

The fact that it is a Cordless Compact Router makes this a handy tool to have. It is super convenient for taking to the job site for cutting door hinge recesses. Also for doing any fine trim work where a router is required. Another way these smaller routers are used frequently is for any plastic laminate work. That’s where these compact and cordless routers really shine.

Milwaukee’s compact router is designed to run on an 18 Volt, Li-Ion battery with a 5.0Ah capacity (not included with base purchase). It’s the same M18 Milwaukee battery that powers any other portable power tool in the Milwaukee line. The brushless motor means you never have to replace worn-out brushes as you do on corded power tools of all types and brands. This thing offers various speeds from 0 to 31,000 with a maximum power output of 900 Watts.

In a Hurry? Check out the Milwaukee Compact Router Here! (paid link)

How Big is it?

With a base size of 4 inches, it’s easy to handle and to see what you’re doing as you progress. As for the overall size, the Milwaukee cordless compact router measures 6 7/8 inches high, by 3 7/32 inches wide and 4 3/4 inches deep. As for the overall weight, it’s a mere 2.9 lb, so it’s easy and comfortable to hold – even over longer stretches. Built-in switches are of the push button variety and are readily accessible, making switching off or on quick and easy.

Delivers Consistent Power From An Interchangeable Battery

Since it’s a Milwaukee tool we’re talking about, that means it is both well-designed and constructed. Many pros and skilled woodworkers at home opt for Milwaukee tools due to the brand’s quality, reliability, and reputation. If you know – you know. And if you already have any other portable power tools from this bright red brand, it makes even more sense to choose the Milwaukee compact router, since all of those M18 batteries are fully interchangeable.

When put to the test, you’ll see just how quickly and efficiently this thing cuts into different types of woods, including hardwood, softwood, and plywood. According to Milwaukee, this compact cordless router is capable of cutting up to 250 feet of material on a single battery charge. So if you have multiple M18 batteries, this thing can keep going and going.

Stand out Features

Milwaukee’s first-generation cordless router is a compact powerhouse that offers impressive power, solid battery life, plus the ability to adjust settings with great precision. This little workhorse would be a valuable addition to any toolbox.

Standout Features Included With the Milwaukee Compact Router

  • Variable Speed Dial offers speeds up to 31000 RPM
  • Dust Collection Adapter (very effective and easy to hook up to a Shop Vac)
  • 2 Built-In Ways to Change Settings (macro adjustment button plus a micro adjustment dial) for quick adjustments and fine-tuning of cutting depths
  • Tool-free Spindle Lock makes changing bits that much more efficient
  • Dual LED Lights with a Clear Visual on Cutting Bit (huge game-changer – especially if most of your router cuts have been made on a full-size router)
  • Optional Offset Base and Plunge Router Base adds versatility (these components are sold separately)
  • Edge guide adapter for precision cuts


  • Powered by One 18 Volt, 5.0Ah Battery
  • Standard 1/4 Inch Collett Capacity Fits any 1/4 inch Shank Router Bit
  • Delivers Cutting Speeds that Range from 10,000 to 31,000 RPM’s
  • Promises 250 feet of Cutting Capacity on a Single 5.0Ah Battery Charge
  • Offers a 1.5 Inch Range on Router Bit Depth Adjustments

Every woodworker needs at least one router. That’s because routers are one of the most useful versatile tools and can be used in both wood shops and job sites. Their wide range of applications makes them an invaluable asset for any woodworking project. They can cut precise joints, functional grooves, or slots, as well as a wide array of decorative edges.

Routers have been around – in one form or another – since the first portable electric router was introduced in the early 1900s. and over the years, they have seen plenty of evolution in terms of features and how they are used since the early days. Today, there is an abundance of options available for routers – from corded to cordless, high-powered to manually installed routers on tables. It’s enough to make the selection process these days a little daunting.

How Will You Be Using Your Router?

It’s a good idea to take into account how you plan on using a router now and over the years ahead. If you’re looking for a one-size-fits-all kind of general-purpose woodworking router that can cut through anything, you should probably opt for a corded model – like the one we recommend. But if you want a slightly lighter-duty (though still robust) router that you can use at home or on location and you like the idea of not having to worry about the power cord – the Milwaukee Compact Router is a stellar choice.

Let’s face it – you’ll probably not going to need a router with a 1/2-inch collet for making those heavy-duty cuts. But if you do – there are certainly routers around that can do that. For most woodworkers, a compact and cordless router like what Milwaukee offers is worthy of serious consideration. This is especially true when you really don’t want to worry about handling a bulky and heavy full-size router.

If the task at hand doesn’t require super heavy duty – using it could only be described as overkill. In my shop these days – and I’m willing to bet many other shops too – this portable battery-operated tool is the most frequently used router of all. It’s my go-to router of choice – unless I need a monster router on the job. In that case, I reach for my Ryobi router.

Quick, Easy, and Effective

It makes sense since a cordless compact router like the Milwaukee takes less time to set up, and provides easier maneuverability and extended versatility too. Within seconds, it is set up and ready to perform. And since it’s cordless, you always need to be sure you’ve got at least one battery on standby – fully charged.

Milwaukee’s Cordless Router uses the reliable M18 battery platform. With just one 5.0 Ah M18 battery plugged in, you can expect to get over 200 linear feet of routing work done – without needing a replacement battery or a recharge.

Adjustable speed dial allows users to go from 10,000 to 31,000 RPMs to be used on a wide range of materials from softwood to hardwood. It even works well on various plywood and engineered panel boards.

Lights Make a Big Difference

With 2 LED lights built into the Milwaukee compact router, you definitely get improved visibility, which can make a big difference in fine router work. The LED’s are quite useful too when making height adjustments to the base – to get the ideal depth of cut. The helpfulness of the lighting provided extends beyond the router bit to the material you’re shaping. With these lights on you actually have a clear visual of your workpiece in real time. Pretty sweet!

Multiple Adjustment Features

Speaking of the router bit depth adjustments, Milwaukee’s M18 Cordless Router has two types of adjustments; micro and macro. The Micro dial is designed to give you precise control as you dial in the exact depth you want. Tiny, incremental adjustments of 1/64th of an inch are what you get here. As far as I’m concerned, this feature is as good on the Milwaukee Cordless Router as it is on any big brand router I’ve used in the past.

With the Macro adjustment feature, changes are much faster since they are made in larger amounts. There’s actually quite a range available here. You can make your adjustments up to 1.5 inches in total. That’s quite a bit of leeway and it allows for just about any kind of cut you can make with a 1/4-inch shank router bit.

Dust Collection Made Easy

One thing a lot of people overlook in their shops is dust collection. It is cumbersome and time-consuming in most cases to set everything up. And even still – dust seems to go everywhere when using a router.

Interestingly, Milwaukee has done an excellent job in creating a dust collection adapter for its portable compact router. This easily attachable device not only increases the efficiency of its routers but also helps it capture a good amount of dust generated during use. Nothing is 100% however. But I was really impressed by the amount of waste material this formed dust collection spout offers.

Milwaukee has also included a few add-ons that can be bought separately to make this cordless router even more versatile. Included in this offering is an Offset Base and a Plunge Router Base. I haven’t used either but could see how they could be helpful in certain situations.

Reasonably Priced

Milwaukee isn’t the cheapest brand of power tools and it’s not the most expensive either. As for the Milwaukee compact router, it’s priced competitively to go head to head against other big brands like Dewalt and Makita.

All are decent machines but my favorites are the Milwaukee and the Dewalt cordless routers. What I like about the Milwaukee unit is what I like about Milwaukee tools in general. It gets the job done so you look like a professional – whether the title fits – or not.

Pretty Good Capability

It’s amazing to me how Milwaukee was able to engineer a router that is so compact and easily handled, yet still capable of doing serious work and making deep cuts. Even though compact routers have their limits as a whole, this router might surprise you as it did me with how much it is capable of doing considering it isn’t designed to compete with a larger 2Hp router.

It is a powerful tool that can handle most of the jobs that a corded compact router can do. It cuts through the wood – both hard and soft – easily and efficiently, as long as you’re using sharp carbide-tipped router bits. If you own any Milwaukee cordless tool already, you know that the batteries in the M18 lineup provide long running times, so you can work without having to stop frequently to recharge or switch to another battery.

Milwaukee’s easy-to-change bit system is both easy to use and very secure. The collet and lock system is simple to operate, while still providing a tight hold.

Pros vs. Cons


  • Continues to deliver substantial power under a considerable workload
  • Instant break quickly stops the router bit from turning once you flip the off switch
  • Clear sight-line straight to the bit so you can monitor the cutting process as you go
  • Extra bases are Well-designed for plunge and offset routing as required
  • Solid ergonomics – this router is easy and comfortable to hold in one hand
  • Offers the second fastest speed of competing brand name cordless routers
  • Variable speed dial provides additional flexibility
  • Milwaukee provides a 5-year warranty


  • It is a cordless model and therefore has a finite battery capacity
  • Should not be considered an all-purpose shop router
  • Lacks power compared to some competitors

Final Thoughts: Lots to Like

There are lots of things to like about this power tool. The dust collection spout is easy to attach and disconnect when needed. This element also provided a secondary benefit in that it allows the bit to be fully enclosed. But still captures most of the dust produced.

The M18 Cordless Router from Milwaukee is an impressive first-generation product. They have created a tool that is powerful, durable, and reliable. If you don’t already know about the Milwaukee brand, you could say their compact router has truly exceeded expectations with this launch. It’s a cordless tool that operates very smoothly while providing important power, performance and the precision woodworkers need. So it’s an excellent option for virtually every user. Highly Recommended.

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05/19/2024 05:48 am GMT

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