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Whether you’re a would-be woodworker or a pro, check out the Dewalt DWP611 compact router (available at Amazon). It makes cutting juice grooves a breeze, and has become my go-to router. The DWP611 is easy to control, quick to swap bits and depth, and has a powerful variable speed motor to handle all kinds of different bits and wood-types. While it is a bit expensive when compared to other trim routers (aka palm routers and trim routers), it is also on many woodworking top five lists. I’ve been using it for about a month now, and I haven’t needed to take my existing router—an older, larger Craftsman—out of its case.
I’m a part-time woodworker, and a few months ago, a customer of mine ordered an 18- by 24-inch cutting board with a juice groove. I’d never cut a juice groove before, and I quickly realized that my large old Craftsman router with a 6-inch base and handles, was simply too big for the project. I needed something smaller, but with enough power to route a ⅝-inch groove. After some research, I settled on the DWP611, a router sized better for making a juice groove. I’ve had a lot of luck with Dewalt power tools over the years, and the DWP611 hit it out of the park.
The DWP611 is my new go-to router for all but the biggest projects..
A compact, or trim router is a rotating cutting tool with a flat base that accepts different sized and shaped bits to cut a specific pattern into wood. These bits can be designed to cut along the edges of a piece of wood, in the middle of the wood, or both. More than likely, the ornate lines of your doors, trim (hence its name), moulding, or baseboard were made with a router.
These smaller routers don’t have handles. Instead, you hold the router by wrapping your hands around the body. Most are less powerful than traditional routers and typically only accept the smallest sized bits—¼-inch shanks. Trim routers are perfect for small projects that don’t involve a lot of material removal. Rounding over the outside edge of a cabinet, cutting a juice groove in a cutting board, or cutting slots for T-bolts are all perfect tasks for a compact router.
About the Dewalt DWP611 Compact Router Motor: 1.25-hp Amps: 7.0 amps No load speed: 16,000-27,000 rpm Max depth: 1.5-in. depth travel with standard base Collet: Extended 8-splot ¼-in. collet Power supply: Corded Standard base: 4-inch fixed base Weight: 4.6 lbs Spindle lock: 12 position What we like Credit: Reviewed / Jean Levasseur
Will it become your go-to router, too?
The small size gets into tight corners
Because of the lack of handles and the small base diameter, the DWP611 can get much deeper into corners than larger, handled routers can. This palm router was able to fit all the way into the corner of my juice groove jig and make a perfect channel with my ⅝-inch cove bit.
The variable speed combines power with control
Different kinds of wood have different densities and react differently to high-speed cutters. Bits can leave behind burn marks or rip chunks out of the wood if spinning too fast, ruining the project. Because the DWP611 is variable speed, you can use different settings for different types of wood and bits. I’ve run the router through pine, maple, poplar, oak, and walnut, and have been able to find a speed setting for each that cuts cleanly with minimal burn marks.
The tool-less depth adjustment is quick and easy on the fly
Changing the depth of your cut is super easy with the Dewalt compact router. Just unclip a latch, spin the base until the bit is at the necessary depth, and then reclip the latch. No need to loosen a bolt or unscrew a tightening screw, or worse, loosen the collet and adjust the bit itself.
And, for such a small router, the 1.5-inch cut depth is plenty for what most people need.
The visibility is almost unmatched
One of the most surprising features of the Dewalt compact router is how easy it is to see what you’re cutting. Many routers are made with an opaque base plate that covers up most of your work area. The Dewalt plate is made of clear plexiglass, which means you can see where the bit is, where it’s been, and where it’s going next. The dual LED lights shining down on the bit add even more visibility, making this trim router very easy to manage and control as you’re cutting.
What we don’t like Credit: Dewalt
The Dewalt DWP611 Compact Router makes niche wood cuts so much easier.
The fixed base wiggles slightly
To adjust the depth of the cut, the entire base plate screws up and down the body of the router. . When the router bit is at the depth you want, you lock the base plate in place, and the bit stays where it is.
However, the base has a little bit of play on the screw threads. While this doesn’t seem to affect the cut depth, it is a bit annoying when you’re changing direction and your hands slip an eighth of an inch.
The dust ejection port is near where you hold the router
One of the defining features of a compact router is that it doesn’t have handles—hence its other name as a palm router. This means you can fit into the tight spaces, but it also means that you’re holding the body of the router itself.
The DWP611 has a large opening on one side of the body to allow the dust and wood chips to eject from the machine. Unfortunately, this opening is big enough for several fingers to slip into and it is very close to where you hold the machine.
While you’d have to reach into this hole about 2 inches to come into contact with the bit, it is a bit of a safety concern. Be very aware of where your hands are in relation to that hole and never adjust your grip without looking.
DeWalt offers a 3-year limited warranty that does not apply to accessories or damage caused where repairs have been made or attempted by others. The brand will repair any defects due to faulty materials or workmanship at no charge. DeWalt also offers one year of free service and maintenance and will replace worn parts caused by normal use. Consumers also have 90 days from date of purchase to return the product courtesy of DeWalt's money-back guarantee.
What owners are saying
Owners of Dewalt’s DWP611 compact router have given the tool a 4.8 star rating on Amazon out of over 2,300 reviews. They cite the durable construction, ease of use, and surprising power as major benefits of the tool. A few users do cite problems with the motor on their unit dying after a short time or not starting at all.
Should you buy the Dewalt DWP611 compact router? Yes
The Dewalt DWP611 router is a fantastic tool. It’s easy to set up, easy to adjust, and easy to use. Like most Dewalt products, it’s priced near the top of the category, but it’s not as prohibitively expensive as some other Dewalt products.
With a plethora of useful features like variable speed, a motor powerful enough to handle nearly all of the routing projects I have on the horizon, and better visibility than any other router I’ve used, the DWP611 is my go-to router for all but the biggest projects. It’s so easy to use and control that I’m considering attempting some freehand routing projects, something I’d never attempt with my older routers.
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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.