The Dewalt DW618 is a workhorse of a router and many woodworkers find it to be a staple of their shop. It’s one of Dewalt’s more powerful handheld routers and it can make smooth dado and plunge cuts. It isn’t perfect, however, and has a few drawbacks as well which we’ll get into. Let’s take a closer look at this one.
Cutting Power & Motor
This router has a good amount of cutting power for a handheld router. It has a 12 amp motor that can produce up to 2.25 HP and it’s variable speed controls can be adjusted from 8,000 to 24,000 RPM. This is enough power to easily make dado cuts in hardwoods, which makes this a very capable router.
While this router has a lot of cutting power, it feels smooth during startup due to the soft-start feature in the motor. This reduces the torque on startup and you won’t feel it jump like hard starting routers will do.
You will be able to make a lot of different cuts with even larger bits with this router. There won’t be much that will slow it down. It will cut trim work and laminate easily. Edging is smooth. Dado cuts are easy. The plunge base works great as well. As far as cutting capability goes, this is one of the better handheld routers.
The motor, while powerful, can get hot if you put it through prolonged use on harder materials. Some people have issues with the motor burning out on them, it comes up enough in feedback out there. This seems to mostly happen early and well within the warranty period if it is an issue for a particular unit.
Collet & Bit Size
This router comes with both a 1/4 inch collet and a 1/2 inch collet. This give you flexibility in which types of bits that you can use.
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.
There is a lot of feedback out there saying that the 1/2 inch collet wasn’t included in the package. However, that seems to be a misunderstanding by some people. The 1/4 inch collet is an insert inside of the 1/2 inch collet. It might not be obvious to some people if they don’t inspect it closely, or if they are looking for two completely separate collet pieces in the box.
The ability to tighten the collet seems to be one issue people occasionally run into with this router. Some people who own this router find it hard to tighten and loosen the collet during bit changes, and find that the collet needs to be tightened very hard to hold the bits in place.
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 aluminum base has a diameter of about 6 inches with a 3-5/8 inch opening. The router comes with a round plastic sub base that has a 1.25 inch diameter opening in the center. There is also a sub base that has a 1.25 inch opening that is packaged with the plunge base kit.
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.
The fixed base is able to be mounted to a table – so if you are looking for a handheld router to mount to a table, this would work.
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 at 1/4 inch per stop.
You can also purchase this router as a Plunge Base Kit that includes a bag and a plunge base. This is probably the best way to go if you want the plunge base right off the bat.
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. You won’t notice much torque if any at all on startup while holding this router, thanks to the soft-start feature.
The placement of the power switch is a little hard to get used to if you have smaller hands but for people with larger hands it should feel fine. The motor can be rotated in the base so that you can put the power switch on either the left or right side. Most people should be able to reach the power switch with their thumb while keeping both hands on the handles.
Upon first inspection this appears to be a well-built router from Dewalt. They use plastic parts where able with some of the adjustment knobs and casing. The power switch is a basic toggle switch and it has a covering to keep dust out. Overall it feels well-built when you have it in hand and are putting it to use.
People do have issues with their motors burning out, but it seems to happen early when it does happen. The Dewalt warranty and support should have you covered just in case.
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
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. Overall, you should be up and running pretty quickly with this tool after unboxing.
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.
- Lots of cutting power
- Variable speed
- Can use 1/2 Inch and 1/4 Inch Collet
- Removable power cable
- Quick depth adjustments
- Runs hot during longer use periods
- Motor has issues with burning out but not super common
- No LED lights
8,000 to 24,000 RPM
1/4 Inch and 1/2 Inch
10.75 in x 9.5 in x 7.25 in
6 Inch Diameter
With Plunge Base
6 Ft Removable
The Dewalt DW618 router is a great pick if you need a workhorse shop router than can do dado cuts on hardwood and more demanding plunge routing. There are a couple drawbacks such as no LED lighting and some issues with the motor running hot, but otherwise most find this router to be very capable and a pleasure to use.