Video /
Jun 24, 2020

Which cordless router performs the best?

Manufacturers now produce cordless routers that allow contractors and woodworkers to cut the cord. Contractor and tool expert Rob Robillard of Tool Box Buzz ran a series of performance tests to find out how they fare.

"We conducted two relative measurable comparison tests in this head-to-head," Robillard says in the video. "We looked at performance of power and then runtime. We felt strongly that these tests give you an excellent baseline on overall tool performance. Additionally, each of the crew members spent time using the routers to evaluate them and to evaluate them independently on things like features and ergonomics, and of course we did the performance and the runtime testing and then we looked at bare-tool pricing which gives us best overall tool."

Watch the video to find out more.


[ Transcript ]

Guys, who has the best 18-volt cordless router? well the toolbox buzz crew wanted to know - so we've routed well over a half mile of stock to give you the result. we

looked at five routers Dewalt, Makita, Milwaukee, Ridgid, and Ryobi, and like any

of our head-to-heads if you want to learn more information about the model numbers of the specs or just do a deeper dive you need to go the toolbox buzz

website and read the article. it's all there.


we conducted two relative measurable comparison tests in this head-to-head. we

looked at performance of power and then runtime we felt strongly that these

tests give you an excellent baseline on overall tool performance. Additionally

each of the crew members spent time using the routers to evaluate them and

to evaluate them independently on things like features ergonomics, and of course

we did the performance and the runtime testing and then we looked at bare-tool pricing which gives us best

overall tool.


I do want to thank Rockler Woodworking. They provided the bits for

this testing they work great and we appreciate the help on the tests.



right let's get into the tests we looked

at best features and the winner of best

features was the DeWalt each of the

tools were ranked one through five one

being the best to determine the best

feature ranking we use this ranking for

throughout the DeWalt barely took first

place it came in twelve points but that

was just one point ahead of Milwaukee

the makita and the Ridgid were third and

fourth with 23 and 24 points


now the DeWalt it pretty much screwed a

one or two score on almost every

category except the baseplate and we

talked about that later let's look at

some of those features for instance the

power switch the best switch was the

makita Dewalt milwaukee in that order

Makita has a two step safety switch

basically there's an unlock button that

puts the tool into a standby mode and

then the power button turns on the

router if the tool is inactive for 10

seconds the router lock so you have to

use the unlock

but again this separate lock button

might seem like a pain in the neck but I

think it's pretty good for preventing

accidental startups we just like to see

maybe a longer timeout time than 10

seconds maybe 20

all right the rigid router it has a

pull-out mechanical switch in order to

turn it on and off the switch is awkward

to use difficult to reach and into it

not intuitive the team did not like that

switch switch placement was also

considered in the routers and and and

those routers that had ambidextrous

switch placement they fared better for

example Makita and rio be switch

placement is on the front and rear of

the tools respectively alternatively the

DeWalt in Milwaukee are geared towards

right-handed users of the switches on

the left side so we looked at variable

speed adjustments the DeWalt had the

best variable speed adjustment followed

by the rigid and Makita Dewalt and rigid

variables variable speed dials they're

basically setup ambidextrous setup it's

located on the back of the tool easy to

use with the other hand the makita and

Milwaukee are set up for right-handed

users again on the left side so you hit

it with your thumb as a right-handed

user the dial is perfectly placed for me

right where my thumb is it was perfect

but lefties don't like it so much the

milwaukee variable speed dial also has

these protruding ribs on them which made

it really easy to kind of grip in and

use no slipping the Makena on the other

hand the the speed dial is recessed into

the tool it was difficult to to kind of

reach and use but it was the smoothest

of all the routers to operate we looked

at the base depth adjustments all the

routers have quick release levers but

they do differ in style and quality of

their micro and macro adjustments for

example Makita uses a quick-release cam

lever to adjust to remove the router

base but they for micro adjustments they

utilize a rack and pinion depth

adjustment system this adjustment is

smooth it's fast and it's super easy to

use but it does have some slop in the

mechanism which made micro adjustments

difficult the best based adjustment of

all the routers was de Milwaukee and

utilizes a push-button macaron justment

and a dial for the micro adjustments you

could dial it right in the micro

adjustment knob of the Milwaukee is

rubberized it's easy to grip

we found it precise and smooth one

really nice feature on the rigid in Rio

B routers is their micro adjust dial and

obviously for dialing that depth of cut

they were super super easy to use

the rigid when we were testing it the

quick release lever had to be adjusted

by team by the team prior to testing

because it was loose and not holding

adjustment ok the DeWalt adjustment was

also precise but different it has a

screw to adjust and a thread cut into

the router housing barrel they call it a

depth adjustment ring the ring is used

for micro adjustments but also larger

macro adjustments we liked the precision

of the ring but not the slower speed ok

well one thing also under mention about

the dualist while setting it up for

runtime testing we noticed that if you

actually grip the tool high by that a

depth adjustment ring the tool comes out

of adjustment we tightened the quick

release lever twice on the tool but it

still occurred so as a result we had to

be cognizant not to grip the DeWalt

router high this is something that maybe

the wall might want to look at or

something that we found we basically

found it annoying and a problem if you

want to maybe set this tool up as a

window sill set-and-forget tool you got

to just be cognizant that you can't grip

it there ok all of the routers have at

least one LED light the DeWalt Makita

and milwaukee have two LEDs on them the

brightest light is the milwaukee

followed by the DeWalt and the makita

let me see all through all three of

those routers their LEDs that cast

shadowless light great line of sight

really bright the DeWalt LED will

actually stand for 20 seconds after the

tools turned off milwaukee stays on for

15 seconds and the milkita stays on for

12 seconds the all the routers seem to

have an electric break on them with

regard to stopping the router bit the

DeWalt and the milwaukee stop the bit

boom instantly you

he shuts off the routers the other

routers take a second or two to kind of

spin down before the electric blade

breaks turn a huge safety factor all

right base plates the team really liked

the DeWalt half round half square shape

plate the DeWalt pretty much has the

best general use of general purpose base

plate the Milwaukee and the Ridgid offer

the best value because they come with

two base plates the small one and also a

larger one set up for template bushing

Runnings I'm routing the makita had the

smallest base plate and was not as

stable as the other routers testing

rocked a little bit when tested the

makita we found that our Rockler

roundover bit was actually too big and

it touched the inner inner opening of

the sub-base the reasoning for this is

that the makita provides a sub base

plate that actually comes with and is

sized for template bushings and template

bushings are pretty much typically used

with mortising hinged jigs and things

like that so in order to use the makita

router we basically had to put the bit

underneath the base turn it on then

plunge through the base plate to make it

work just took off a little bit but we

had to do that look we've worked with

many routers in the field and many uses

in the field I should say and a lot of

guys will grab their full-size routers

to mortise hinges and sub you know

because it's got that wide base the sub

base a lot of folks are afraid that if

they use a compact route it will dip or

rock in the jig and ruin their cut so I

think Makia oughta look at maybe

supplying a larger base with that Robin

okay moving on to ergonomics the winner

of ergonomics was Milwaukee

ergonomics is the science of designing

and producing tools that improve a

workers efficiency well while

eliminating discomfort fatigue and risk

of injury right ergonomically enhanced

tools are gonna happy helpful and

they'll have things like rubber overmold

and ambidextrous switches and great

lines of sight stuff like that so

whether you're shopping for an ergonomic

tool or you're trying to select one

right for the job or exist or maybe

build your existing collection you do

want to consider organ ah mcc's it's

it's important it can lead to

less fatigue and less injury so the

Milwaukee scored one and two in every

single category except its weight and

usability of the switch and it came in

first place with 12 points it's a very

comfortable tool to use for long periods

of time following in second place was

the DeWalt with 14 points and then

Makita with 18 points in third place as

far as grip you may not pay much

attention to a grip of a compact runner

but if you're mass-producing stock for a

project grip matters the best rutter

grip was the milwaukee has a full

rubberized coverage the second was the

makita both of these designs a very

similar in size and shape and they both

companies have seen the found kind of a

sweet spot with their overmold gripping

and the diameter of the of the barrel

the Rio B also has a comfortable grip

but it's slightly bulkier in its

top-heavy with a stem pack battery the

DeWalt on the other hand is a has a

larger barrel than the rest and it

results in a much less comfortable grip

and fatigue over time weight the

lightest Router bear tool was the rigid

followed by the Rio be when the Rio B

has a 6 amp hour battery attached to it

it's 11 inches tall the second tallest

router in the pack second only to Dewalt

which is 11 a quarter inches weight in

this test directly related to size as

well the DeWalt is the thickest diameter

router and like I said and it's also the

heaviest users with larger hands they're

gonna find the Duval pretty comfortable

but but we found it a little bit too big

the diameter too big we looked at ease

of bit changing and oftentimes you know

you need to engage that spindle lock to

change and rotate the spindle shaft to

engage the lock the DeWalt it has the

best spindle lock of all of them it has

12 indents dodi tents that that you can

easily quickly lock in almost any

direction this spindle lock also allows

you to loosen and tighten through a

ratcheting between the collet and the

wrench which is really nice now

Milwaukee's closed so it's got six

spindle lock positions the other three

routers they basically have a hole cut

through their shaft and allows for two

positions 180 degrees in either

direction to engage that spindle lock

with regard to the actual spindle lock

button Makita was superior to the others

okay let's talk about adjusting the

death of

ergonomically speaking the easiest base

adjustment of all the rotors was

Milwaukee utilizing that push button

macro adjustment and then the dial for

the micro that we talked about the

rubberized knob was awesome we found it

easy to adjust and precise so Oh line of

sight it's no secret that the routers

with the larger base opening on the side

and and a better led had a better line

of sight the DeWalt and in milwaukee

both had the largest base openings at

two and five-eighths and two and a half

respectively the larger openings they

just you could see in there you could

see the bit you could see you work and

the light just lit it right up we also

looked at fit and finish but we didn't

score it fit and finish showed in this


Dewalt Makita milwaukee all have these

durable aluminum router housings rigid

and rio b have plastic housings better

quality construction material seems

adjustments they show they do show

through so one thing that we noticed

that unlike the other routers in the

test was the REO be housing at the very

top with it with a shaft in them and the

router bit is it's completely sealed and

this design means that it's not gonna

blow any chips away for you but we also

wondering about air flow lack of cooling

vents basically and how it would impact

a tool long term long term longevity we

actually reached out to Rio B we talked

to them they told us they have zero

problems with overheating or returns due

to those lack of vents there so we're

good shake there okay let's talk about

our runtime test procedure and it

wouldn't simulate a real carpentry

application for runtime testing we used

a windowsill routing procedure this is

this an application that directly

relates to trim carpenters out in the

field a 3/8 round over bit and bearing

we used we basically routed two sides of

a 7-foot poplar board the testing

procedure was pretty simple pretty

straightforward each router received a

new Rockler 3/8

roundover bit a brass setup bar was used

to set the depth of the bits so they're

all the same each router used a fully

charged six amp hour battery all the

routers were set to their highest speed

and then once we started routing we used

a one to two second per foot feed rate

as we went through the test seven feet

of the board was routed on all four

edges would flip it over do all four we

would rest the tool while we went to the

table saw and ripped those edges off and

we basically repeated that procedure

until the router was unable to complete

the procedure

you know we heated or just run time

stopped this is an aggressive test and

but it's realistic if a carpenter is

mass producing all of the windowsills in

a house a large house okay it's time to

talk about the runtime test results and

the winner of that was Dewalt

during this test over 3500 linear feet

of poplar was used the DeWalt cordless

router came in first place it blew away

the competition by routing four hundred

and seventy two and a half linear feet

which equals a hundred and fifty seven

and a half three foot windowsills or a

bit under a fifth of a mile second place

was a rigid with 364 lineal feet and

that equals 121 windowsills

and then coming up in third place was

Makita Makita routed 318 and a half

linear feet and that my friends is a

hundred and six windowsills that's

pretty amazing we noticed that the

DeWalt and the milwaukee ploughed

through the material with these while

Makita was slower to cut and the Ridgid

was slower to cut as well but also had

more noticeable vibration than that

Dewalt Makena in milwaukee the Rio B

felt similar to the rigid in terms of

vibration but also was more top-heavy

and that's probably a result to its size

and the stem pack battery that sits up

on the top there okay let's go to the

performance test procedure so for this

test of power test we wanted to

determine the relative performance of

the individual routers so we use the test

rig to keep all the variables the same

this test shows the router with the

highest performance removes plywood

material faster than the other slower

materials of machines this test is less

about speed and more about power of the

router so in order to simulate a real

carpentry application for this test we

used a data routing procedure basically

a 1/2 inch a dado bit was used to cut a

1/10 of an inch deep dado in AC plywood

here's our procedure and how we did this

we basically used a new half inch router

bit a to wing carbide dado bit from

Rockler and we put a new one on every

router we used a fully charged 6 amp

hour battery for each router the same

sheet of it 3/4 AC plywood provided all

5 pieces for all 14 cuts for the routers

a CNC router station ensured constant

dimension and auto setting of depth of

cut a constant weight through a pulley

system basically applied equal force and

that applied that pulled the CNC gantry

to move the router all the routers were

set and operated at their highest rpm

setting and the amount of time that it

took each router to plunge through that

plywood for 14 cuts was recorded so who

won that test performance tests don't

wall AC plywood was used on these tests

and I wouldn't just say that carpenters

use AC plywood to make plywood boxes and

shelves and all stuff like that and the

bits we use pretty much a design to make

plywood size dado bits or rapid cuts

right so this particular performance

test was run multiple times to even out

the differences in the density of that

individual piece of plywood the test was

performed seven times through the rough

sea side of the plywood and seven more

times on the a side of the plywood

observations that we made showed that

the times in the C side of the plywood

were consistently faster than the a side

this result was was was true for all the

routers in this


completed the test and we assumed that

the seaside contains less dense sets of

flies or plywood plies than the a sign

the difference between the two sides of

plywood is shown in in our in our graph

and you'll I'll show that to you so the

a side of the plywood cuts was the 8th

through the 14th of the cuts just so you

could figure that out one clear surprise was the performance

of the rigid router in the performance

test the rigid it cut four and three it

only cut four and three-quarter long

dado into the plywood on the first attempt

and on the second attempt it only cut a

three and five-eighths long dado as a

result we declared the rigid a DNF did

not finish it just couldn't complete the

test not sure why the DeWalt was the

clear winner of this test it averaged

six point one seconds to cut a dado in

48 inch long piece of AC plywood

it was almost 25% faster than the second




Makita was second average and it

averaged the time of 7.5 seconds Rio B

and Milwaukee finished times with eight

point five and nine point two seconds

respectively illogical conclusion here

might be that to put your bet on the

router with the highest rpm given that

it has more cuts per unit time or

whatever right well the Milwaukee router

has the highest unloaded rpm at 31,000

rpms but it plays fourth out of those

routers the DeWalt is the slowest of the

RPO it was almost the slowest with

twenty five thousand five hundred rpms

and at one we think it's a combination

of the rotational speed coupled with the

highest delivered torque that wins this

test okay now with the next thing we

looked at was pricing evaluation and we

looked at Bayer tool now the winner that

the least expensive router was the Rio B

but the winner best value was Makena

Makita router tied for second the lowest

price router in this test but it came

out near the top and a lot of the

testing we did it's a no-brainer

selection and a great value router guys


a key part in the purchasing mix and

it's crucial that you get it right to

determine the best cordless rug so for

this head-to-head we did look at Bayer

tool pricing we wanted to eliminate

discrepancies in the competition

composition of kits that many

manufacturers provide one interesting

thing to note is the Milwaukee Bayer

tool also comes with value-added

accessories as a bear tool clearly

Milwaukee was thinking of the users and

common applications the accessories with

their bear tool included - round a

straight edge guide which fits common

jigs and and you know without dipping

into it like the hinge jig I talked

about a larger five and three-quarter

inch sub base for that template bushing

oh and the Makita cordless router bear

tool is it's a mirror image of their

corded compact router that means that

all of their accessories like their

plunge paces their tilt bases the guides

and dust routes are going to fit their

cordless router and clearly Makia was

thinking of tool users with me you know

maybe making that transition from corded

to cordless and they made it more

cost-effective for you the rigid router

as a bear tool comes with a straight

edge set up a larger rounded sub base

that also has an opening sized for

template bushings and a storage bag so

best-in-class router who took it Dewalt

overall winner was a de walton DCW 600

it carved up almost a fifth of a mile of

rounded over trim on a six amp battery

charge it took first place ranking nine

points the new Milwaukee the

twenty-seven 23-20 came in a close

second with 11 points it won the

ergonomics category and was a strong

finisher and all the other tests the

makita router is a great value was

smooth to operate and precise it took

third place with a score of 12 points

right on the heels of Milwaukee rigid

and the Rio B routers certainly held

their own in a competition with

impressive runtimes and power testing

respectively the fact that we now have a

choice in cordless trim routers that are

real workhorse

and consistently performed as well as

their courted versions but without the

court you gotta love that

guys I'm Rob Robillard I hope you

enjoyed this video please consider

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time here at toolbox buzz