The Dewalt DW616 is a fairly basic router that has less features than many other competing routers in this power and price range. While it might be basic, it could be a useful tool at it’s price point for some. Let’s take a closer look at this one.
Cutting Power & Motor
This router has decent power but might come up short compared to some similarly sized routers. It’s on the lighter and smaller end of the spectrum for a two-handed, handheld router. The 11 Amp motor provides up to 1.75 horsepower and spins at a max of 24,500 RPM. The power rating on this is somewhere between a compact router and a larger shop router, so it’s probably best to consider it a mid range router in terms of power.
The power on this router feels raw. This router doesn’t have a variable speed control like many others do. This router also doesn’t have a soft-start feature – so you can feel the torque when you turn it on. On/off and one speed is what you get here.
As far as cutting goes, many find this router to be more than sufficient for thinner materials. Some people find that it struggles on deeper cuts or with prolonged use on harder materials. If you aren’t intending to challenge this router with thicker or overly hard materials, it could be worth it, power-wise.
The motor gets hot during use and some people find that they can get a few minutes of constant use and then need a cool-down period. The motor is also fairly loud and has a piercing sound that some find to be less pleasant than other routers.
One nice touch on this motor is that the power cord can be completely removed and reattached, which you don’t see too often on similar routers.
Collet & Bit Size
This router comes with both a 1/4 inch collet and a 1/2 inch collet. This give you some flexibility in which types of bits that you can use. The sub base opening is slightly under 1-1/4 inch in diameter, to give you an idea of what size bits will fit through the base.
Changing bits can be done using the spindle lock button in combination with a wrench to loosen or tighten the collet. The router has a flat top so it’s easy to flip it over and set it on a table vertically while changing bits.
The ability to tighten the collet seems to be the biggest issue people run into with this router. For some, both collets work fine and can be tightened without issue, holding the bits firmly in place. Other people have issues with being able to tighten either the 1/4 inch collet or the 1/2 inch collet. Some have noticed that the threading strips easily or can get crossed easily when installing the collet or tightening it up.
If you decide to get this router, we recommend inspecting the collets and testing them out right away – and being careful with the threading. It may be a combination of poor design or quality control on some units.
The Fixed Base
This router comes standard with a fixed base attachment with two comfortable handle grips. The base is made from aluminum with a clear plastic sub-base.
The opening in the sub-base is just under 1-1/4 inch in diameter. The sub base can fit standard guide bushings and no adapters are needed to use guides. This is nice if you are going to be using this router with Porter-Cable guides, for example.
The motor slides into the fixed base easily and snaps into two quick-release latches. There is an alignment notch to keep the motor aligned properly in the base when inserting. These latches need to be depressed to remove the motor from the base again.
Depth adjustments with the fixed base are made by releasing the main clamp and rotating the adjustment ring. To lock back into place simply clamp the main clamp back down. Some people find this is easier to do and easier to lock in an accurate adjustment by holding the router on it’s side rather than vertically during adjustments.
Some people have issues with the fixed base tightening properly on the motor, so this is something worth testing when you take your new unit out of the box.
The base can be table mounted, and fits some of the router tables from various manufacturers.
There is a plunge base available for this router, model number DW6182. The plunge base works mostly as you’d expect and people that use it really like it. The base attaches a little differently than the fixed base, and it attaches securely.
The plunge base operates by pulling a level and the pushing down on the spring loaded mechanisms. The lever can be released to lock the the base into a lower position. The plunge base can move a maximum of about 2.3 inches. There is a depth adjustment rod for making fine-tuned depth adjustments. The fine-tune adjustments rod changes depth by about 5/128 inches for each complete rotation of the knob. There is also a stop turret that has 5 different stop positions available.
There is also an optional D-Handle Base from Dewalt that works with this router, model number DW6183. This works similarly to the fixed base, but it has the D-Handle in place of one of the hand grips. The power on/off switch is also moved to the handle which can make it easier to operate the power switch during use, compared to using the power switch on the motor.
This router has a handheld design and is designed to be operated with two hands. This router is fairly light for a two-handed router, so it’s quite maneuverable and feels pretty balanced when in use. When holding it, you will feel the torque of the motor move the unit on startup.
The placement of the power switch is a little hard to get used to for two-handed operation and some might find it awkward to turn the power on/off when holding both of the grips.
Upon first inspection this appears to be a well-built router from Dewalt. They use plastic parts where able, and strangely enough the power switch isn’t plastic on this unit. The power switch is a basic toggle switch that you might find in do-it-yourself types of electronic projects, which is a little odd for a tool coming from Dewalt.
The negatives start to show themselves when you use this router. It seems these issues are quality control issues that result in lemons that need to be replaced or exchanged.
The biggest quality issue is with the collet. People are running into issues with the threads stripping or not being able to fully tighten the collet on their routers. Not everybody runs into this, but it’s worth testing right away and it’s best to be careful with the collet threading.
There are also issues with adjustment ring being stuck for some people. Once again seems to be an issue out of the box with particular units.
This router comes with a few accessories, and there are more available to purchase depending on how you intend to use your router. We looked at the basic kit, but there is also an option that includes the plunge base. Here’s what comes packaged with the base version of this router:
- DW6184 Fixed Base
- 1/4 Inch Collet
- 1/2 Inch Collet
- Sub Base Gauge
Other Available Accessories
Dewalt offers some accessories to expand the capabilities of this router, which need to be purchased separately. There’s may also be kits or packages that include these accessories. Here’s what’s available.
Setup & Assembly
This router is pretty straightforward in terms of assembly and setup if you’ve used a router before. If routing tools are new for you, the manual covers the basics of setup and assembly. We found the manual to be a little confusing to navigate, mostly due to visual aids not being in the same place as the text descriptions – but all the info needed to operate this tool effectively is in there.
Dewalt offers a 3 year warranty on defective parts or workmanship. They also include a 1 year free service contract and a 90 day money back guarantee. This is good enough to help you out if you have quality control issues in that first year of use.
- Offers more power than a palm grip compact router
- Can use 1/2 Inch and 1/4 Inch Collet
- Removable power cable
- Quick depth adjustments
- Balanced during use
- No frills (could also be a negative for some)
- Some units have issues with collet threading and collet tightening
- Power switch can be awkward to reach during use
- Can overheat after a few minutes of use
- No variable speed
- No soft start
- No LED lights
1/4 Inch and 1/2 Inch
10.75 in x 9.25 in x 7.25 in
10 Ft Removable
The Dewalt DW616 router offers more cutting power than a palm router, but not as much as other full size routers. This particular model is designed to be no-frills and affordable, but that comes with some negatives. It can’t be mounted to a table, has no soft start or variable speed, has no LED lights and is pretty loud and runs hot. It still works fine though if you ok with all that. Unless you are really in a budget pinch or like the no-frills approach, there’s better options out there for hand held routers.