The Ryobi P601 cordless router is a slick little compact router that works with Ryobi’s 18V ONE+ line of batteries. The palm grip size and the cordless operation make this a very maneuverable router, but there’s also some drawbacks to consider with this one. Let’s take a closer look.
Cutting Power & Motor
The Ryobi P601 has enough power to cut trim work and laminate as long as you don’t push it too hard. The motor is powered by 18V battery power that produces a max of 29,000 RPM. Due to reliance on battery power this unit will feel like it has less torque than corded routers. For this reason, people that use corded routers before switching to this might find it under powered. People that like this router the most are those that are using it for trimming and edging thinner, softer materials.
There is no variable speed option on this motor, so that is something to consider since many other router tools now have variable speed support. Some people find that they like to dial back the speed on really soft materials, and are unable to do that with this particular unit.
Collet & Bit Changes
This router has a 1/4 inch collet and can fit 1/4 inch router bits. There is a spindle lock button that can be used to lock the collet into place while you change bits, and you only need one wrench to make bit changes. You can remove the base fully during bit changes, or leave it on. The router sturdily stands upside down which makes bit changes a little easier to manage.
Some people don’t really like the included wrench and find that it feels a little too thin and sloppy when tightening the collet, but other than that there aren’t many complaints about changing bits on this unit.
This router is able to use any of the 18V ONE+ batteries from Ryobi. This is great if you already use other 18V ONE+ tools as it will fit right into the lineup. If you don’t have any of these batteries, you will need to get at least a couple batteries and a charger.
As far as battery life is concerned, your results will vary based on how hard you are pushing the router during cuts and what type of battery you use. People tend to prefer the 4AH or higher batteries for this router since they won’t burn out as quickly but aren’t overly large. With smaller batteries expect to only make a few passes with this router before they are drained.
An example of a commonly used battery kit for this router is the PSK006 kit which includes two 4AH batteries and a charger.
This router does feature a single LED light on the bottom of the motor housing, which helps illuminate the area you are cutting. This can really help with visibility. In combination with the clear plastic sub base on the fixed base, you should be able to easily see what’s going on when operating this router.
This router comes with a fixed base, and in fact the fixed base is the only base available for this particular model of router. The fixed base tightens onto the motor with a single clamp. The clamp can be opened to make larger, more rough adjustments, and then there is also a fine-tuning knob to make the fine adjustments. Once you are done adjusting, you clamp the main clamp back down and everything should hold into place.
The fixed base is made from aluminum and has has a clear plastic sub base attached to the bottom. The aluminum portion of the base doesn’t have a fully enclosing ring, which leaves some openings at the front and back for better visibility through the clear sub base. The sub base is about 3.5 inch x 3.5 inch square. The hole in the base plate is about 1-7/16 inches in diameter – it might be too small for bits that are over 1-1/2 inch in size.
Some people have issues with the clamp not clamping tightly, which could be a combination of user error or quality control issues with the base on individual units. Some people say that the fine tune adjustment knob moves while making cuts. This could be a result of not properly clamping the base, so if you run into that issue take a closer look at the clamping mechanisms and the manual recommendations to make sure you are clamping properly. If after all that you still run into clamping issues it could be a defective unit.
This router is designed as a palm router and can be used with one hand. Depending on what size battery you use you may find the router to be more or less maneuverable with one-handed use.
There is a grip on the angled upper portion of the motor, which is also near the power switch. It looks like Ryobi was intending people to hold this router on the rubber grip but many will prefer to hold it on the fixed base area, which then makes it difficult to reach the power switch. This is an odd design choice by Ryobi but it works, even though it’s slightly awkward.
If you use larger batteries on this router, it may also start to feel a little top heavy. Keep this in mind when selecting batteries for your tool.
The build quality is decent for a tool at a lower price point like this one. There is a combination of plastic and metal going on here, but overall it feels pretty solid and there’s nothing that feels like a weak point in the build design. Most build quality issues crop up as quality control issues with new units from the factory, so it’s good to inspect your unit fully and keep a close eye on it’s operation during the first few uses.
The unit we looked at was a bare bones unit that didn’t include batteries or any accessories. Other than the motor, here’s what was in the package:
- Fixed Base
Other Available Accessories
While some routers we’ve looked at have a good amount of accessories available, this isn’t one of them. There are very few accessories we could find that are specifically designed for this router. For example, there are no other bases available like plunge bases or offset bases. If you are going to need those types of accessories or capabilities, this router will come up short, so keep that in mind. The only accessories we did find was an edge guide and a round sub base.
Setup & Assembly
This is an easy router to setup. The instructions aren’t that great, but they do cover the necessary items to look at during setup and use. We recommend taking a close look at the clamping mechanisms and collet to make sure that your router can fully tighten down before use. Other than that you’ll be up and running really quickly with this one.
Ryobi offers a pretty good 3 year warranty on their power tools for defects in manufacturing and workmanship. This will help cover you if you run into issues with your tools.
- Affordable price
- High visibility with clear base and LED light
- Good for lighter trim work
- Works with Ryobi’s ONE+ batteries
- Lightweight and maneuverable
- Depth adjustments don’t always hold for some people
- Lower capacity batteries can run out very quickly
- Might be under-powered for thicker or harder materials
- No variable speed
- Not many accessories available
No plunge base available
8 in x 6 in x 4 in
3.5 inch square
2.8 lbs with no battery
The Ryobi P601 cordless router is decent as a lighter use router or a beginner’s router, as it’s capable for it’s price point. If you use Ryobi ONE+ tools already and have batteries, this router might even be more appealing due to it’s low cost. It does come up short on some features such as no variable speed motor and lack of accessories, especially a lack of a plunge base. If the drawbacks we’ve covered aren’t a huge turn off for you, this could be a good affordable router pick-up. But there’s better options available for not much more money.