I use routers in the woodworking I do. Lots of different routers for lots of different tasks. Whittling my collection down to a pair is... ahh ... difficult.
Small routers have always been my preference. Haven’t I often said, “You don’t need 3 horsepower to spin a 1/2" bit”? Yes, I have. So you’d think the essential routers for me would be small. But I’m surprising even myself here.
The first time I handled the Milwaukee 5625, the first of my “indispensables,” I knew it was perfect for mounting in a table. I like the router table for many routing jobs. But give me a simple, functional table, please; spare me the lift. With the right router and setup, a lift is irrelevant.
Big Red is just right: powerful, good speed control, deep self-releasing collet, two wrenches for bit changes and a handle-free base. But best of all is its crackerjack vertical adjustment mechanism. You raise and lower the motor (and thus the bit) by way of a stout Acme-thread screw. (Oh, if only the screw were a little bit longer.) Truly coarse adjustments (including removing the motor from the base) are made by pressing a screw release button and sliding the motor up or down in the base. Note that all the movement is vertical. The motor doesn’t rotate in the base; the switch, speed control, and power cord are always in the same position.
My second indispensable — DeWALT’s DW625 plunge router — has been a favorite for close to 20 years, primarily as a table router. For plunge operations, I favored smaller routers, notably the DW621. The DW625 recaptured my attention when I started making architectural doors. That’s when I carefully checked the maximum plunge depth of every plunge router I could get my hands on. I wanted mortises just as deep as I could make them.
With a bit of tinkering, the DW625 will plunge 3-3⁄8", bottoming with the collet nut against the work. That’s a good 1/2" better than any other model. Having used it for the mortising jobs, I’ve found it manageable for all sorts of other handheld routing.
I’ve always known that small is beautiful, but I’ve discovered that, every now and then, big is indispensable.