In June 2007, to complement their award-winning, innovative line of BodyGrip Fixed Base routers, Milwaukee introduced their new Heavy Duty Plunge Base, featuring design elements that are sought after by many woodworking professionals. Now you get both of these excellent bases in the Milwaukee 5615-24 Multi-Base router kit.
The motor is a powerful 1-3/4 MAX horsepower, 11.0 amp Milwaukee built motor, which operates at a no-load 24,000 RPM. If you plan to work with hard maple all day, you may want to step up to a larger motor. But for most woodworkers, I feel the power is more than adequate for both soft and hard woods.
This router comes with both a 1/4″ and a 1/2″ collet, so you'll be able to use any of your bits with it.
One thing I especially like about this router is the unusually smooth operation. I've experienced a lot more vibration in some other brands. Since a certain amount of that vibration transmits through the bit, you can expect a more precise cut with this router than with many others.
The depth adjustment controls are reliable and precise. The plunge depth of 2-7/8″ is more than I would ever need for my projects, and the plunge mechanism works very smoothly.
The power switch, unfortunately, is not dust-sealed. However, the vacuum attachment is very good, and should help to keep the dust in your work area to a minimum.
One more performance-enhancing feature is the two clear sub-bases, which really improve the visibility of your work. And the Sub-base Concentricity Gauge really helps for precise centering of template guides.
If you've ever struggled with making height adjustments to a table mounted router, you know what a pain in the neck that can be. One of the most convenient design features of this router is that the fixed base has a hole through which you can adjust the height, while it is mounted in the router table.
The collets are really easy to change. Changing the bits, however, requires the use of two wrenches (which are included).
Depth adjustment controls are easy to operate.
Changing of bases is fast and easy, with no tools required.
The owner's manual provides a pretty good level of detail. It's logical and easy to follow.
Now, for that controversial carrying case… It's sturdy, it does a good job of protecting the router, and it's HUGE. Now if you're short on space in your workshop, you may not like that. Personally, I like having enough space in there for my bits and other accesories, so they are kept all together. Less likelihood of an absent-minded guy like me losing them.
Comfort Features (Ergonomics):
My personal favorite in the ergonomics department is Milwaukee's patented BodyGrip® feature which allows you to hold the router firmly around the middle with either hand, while holding the handle on the opposite side with your other hand. This really gives a feeling of positive control.
This router feels well balanced, not too heavy, and the smooth operation certainly helps your comfort level after running it awhile.
And lastly, the grips are comfortable, and it feels like the controls are right where they should be.
When it comes to safety, this unit's double-insulated construction is, of course, the industry standard to prevent electrical shock.
One item that could be improved on is the power switch. While it is somewhat recessed, it's still possible to inadvertently bump it on, so caution is advised.
Overall, though, this is probably one of the safer routers made because it is so well balanced and smooth running. This means better operator control than with some competing routers that are rather clumsy.
Reliability & Warranty:
For those folks looking to buy American, I'm sorry to disappoint you. This router is manufactured in China, which probably explains why the price is so low. But take a look at the competition. How many of them offer a 5 year warranty like Milwaukee's? If you find one, let me know, OK?
By the way, while I haven't needed them up to now, I've heard that Milwaukee's customer support is great, should you ever have a problem.
If you're a professional woodworker who is planning to put your router to very heavy use on a daily basis, I don't need to tell you that you'll have to spend considerably more than this. You'll probably be shopping the 3+ HP routers with variable speed.
On the other hand, if you're not working with a lot of hard maple, you probably would be very happy with this router, and happy with the money you saved. It has some great features, and plenty of power for the money. And with the two bases and two collets, it's pretty much like getting two power tools for the price of one.
Now that's what I call Value!