Some tools just have a cord. For the longest time, I thought that way about routers. Routers are just one of those tools where you deal with the cord and just move it away. Well, that’s all changed now with the 18v Makita Variable Speed Compact Router. Small laminate trim routers have come a long way and this router is no exception. It’s compact, fairly powerful and, best of all, no cord!
Routers can be used for a whole host of things — from rounding edges of a workpiece to hand routing signs. Don’t let the size of the Makita Router fool you — it’s more than capable of anything you can throw at it. I’ve routed through OSB (Oriented Strand Board), routed v-grooves in black walnut, and even cut dados in 3/4 birch plywood.
For starters, let go over the features, straight from the spec sheet:
- Makita-built brushless motor
- Variable speed control dial (10,000 – 30,000 RPM) to match the speed to the application
- Soft start feature for smoother start-ups and better accuracy
- Smooth rack-and-pinion fine depth adjustment system for more precise settings
- Aluminum housing and base for increased durability and accuracy
- LED light
- Cam lock system for easy depth adjustments
- Uses 1/4 in. shank routers bits
One thing I really liked about this cordless router over the RIDGID one was the aluminum housing — it just feels good in your hands and has the weight that you want in a router. After all, you don’t want your router slipping around. The variable speed control is something that I’ve used many times when going into soft wood versus hardwood. The variable speed aspect is something that I always look for in a router. While I’m sure that most routers nowadays are variable speed, it’s always important.
Another feature that really sets this router apart from its competitors is the rack-and-pinion system. On the other cordless routers, it’s a knob or a rolling gear that you move with your thumb. While it does work, it just doesn’t seem as strong or durable in the long run. Metal on metal contact is always stronger, in my opinion. the rack and pinion system has been proven to work in many cases from automobiles to table saws — if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Just like it’s corded cousin, the 18v Makita Variable Speed Compact Router, also comes with a fence. For those that may not be familiar, the routing fence is used to hold your edge with your workpiece. While I typically don’t use the fence for edge routing, It’s great for inset work, like the blood groove on a cutting board.
One of the most important things with a router is safety. Yes, it’s important with every tool, but routers especially. My father-in-law who’s been in the carpentry/millwork industry for 20 plus years has never been hurt on the “big” tools (e.g. table saws, bandsaws, etc). He’s only ever been hurt on a router. They’re dangerous. Routers spin at extremely high speed and can easily get away from you if you’re not careful — that why I really like the variable speed as well as the slow start.