The DeWalt 20V Max XR cordless router is built on the foundation of the brand’s popular corded trim router and has a lot to offer.
It also happens to be a Pro Tool Innovation Award Winner. But with more than half a dozen other cordless routers to compete with, we wanted to see how this cordless woodworking tool stacks up against the competition.
We also wanted to see if it’s a viable replacement for a corded palm router or simply a supplementary tool.
- Solid design built on the DWP611 corded model
- Excellent visibility
- Excellent power under load
- Stops the bit fast when you turn off the power
- Very effective twist depth adjustment system
- Variable speed dial
- Largest diameter barrel of the cordless trim router group
- Macro adjustments take longer than other models
- No fence/guide attachment included
- Bare tool price is higher than the competition
DeWalt 20V Max XR Cordless Router Design
The brushless motor is a big part of the draw for this model, eliminating the need to replace carbon brushes while extending runtime and motor life. That motor is an all-metal design with electronic speed controls, a soft start, and an electronic brake.
Bit Adjustment and Changing
The adjustment ring is unique to DeWalt in the cordless category. It’s easy to use—just open the clamp and twist! The only downside is that macro adjustments take longer than other designs. We don’t have a major problem with it, though.
To remove the base completely, pinch the two release buttons on either side of the twist ring.
The center-mounted collet lock allows you to change the bit without removing the base if you like. Like most routers, it’s easier with the base off and DeWalt’s design make it easier to remove that many others we’ve tested.
2 LED lights do a fine job of lighting up the area around your bit. The cutout is fairly generous, making visibility a nice highlight for this model. If you decide to add the dust port attachment, that all goes out the window, though.
Controls and Adjustments
There on no surprises on control placements – they’re below the battery where expect to find them. The power switch has a flexible rubber dust cover over it to help keep debris from getting inside it.
DeWalt goes for a quick release lever lock and adjustment ring for depth changes. It’s not unique but is different from thumb screw adjusters. After a few weeks of use, I’m still not convinced one system or the other is easier for me.
I like the adjustable depth gauge ring. Unlike etched gauges, I can zero my bit after I install it and know exactly how deep I’m cutting without any additional math. It’s particularly helpful on grooves, joining dados, and general freehand work where I want careful control over the depth.
- Dual LED lights
- Large button spindle lock
- 12-position ratcheting lock
- D-shaped base
- Plunge base compatibility
A Quick Ergonomic Interjection
Like a circular saw, weight on a trim router isn’t a huge deal since it runs on top of your work surface. With a 5.0 Ah Tool Connect battery, the DeWalt DCW600 weighs 4.8 pounds and 3.4 bare. It’s on the heavier side for cordless models, but it didn’t really bother us during testing.
The DeWalt cordless router has a thicker diameter than most of the others. With my medium-sized hands, I prefer a smaller diameter – it’s one of the reasons I like DeWalt’s drills and impact drivers so much. But take that with a grain of salt. I let some of the other guys in the shop use it and they like DeWalt’s diameter just fine.
DeWalt 20V Max XR Cordless Router Performance
Routing is one of those jobs that’s kind of therapeutic in my book, so putting the DeWalt cordless router through some tests is more fun than work. The brushless motor spins up to 25,500 RPM with 7 marked settings on the dial.
That’s a little faster than Ridgid’s original cordless model (the Octane version is faster), but I noticed a significant difference when I swapped over to Makita’s 30,000 RPM model. Milwaukee’s M18 Fuel kicks things up even more to 31,000 RPM. It’s not an issue of routing quality as much as that it’s simply not cutting as fast as some of the competition.
1-1/4 HP corded models run a bit higher as well, spinning up around 30,000 RPM. DeWalt’s corded model runs 27,000 RPM. If you’re already used to that one, 25,500 doesn’t feel like as much of a drop.
Turning the router off, the electronic brake is very obvious. Routers don’t usually spin on the way a non-braking circular saw or grinder does, but that little bit of time DeWalt saves you is a nice touch.
Edging with any standard bearing-assisted bit is as easy for this router as any of the other cordless models we’ve tested. You just need to take your time a little more than you do with higher-speed models. Routing with a fence is a pleasant experience as well, though DeWalt does not include one.
Where I noticed the biggest difference is in freehand and template routing. While I don’t have any problem using DeWalt as a go-to cordless router, Makita’s higher speed and smaller handle diameter give me a little better control when I’m trying to work on something with high detail like lettering.
DeWalt 20V Max XR Cordless Router Price
The $179 bare tool price is quite a bit higher than you see from Makita ($129) and Ridgid ($119). Makita also offers their model in a full kit that includes a plunge base, two batteries, and edge guide for $370.
Is worth upgrading from DeWalt’s $139 DWP611 corded router?
If you already have DeWalt 20V Max batteries, absolutely. The designs are very similar and transitioning is very easy. Plus, the corded model earns consistently high ratings, so there’s no reason to shy away from a cordless model built on the same foundation.
The Bottom Line
DeWalt sticks with a proven design by using their popular corded trim router as a foundation for the DCW600 and that’s a good thing. The speed is slower than the top cordless models and the price is a bit higher than its competition. That said, it’s a solid design that I enjoy using and there’s no reason to shy away if you’re already using DeWalt 20V Max batteries.
DeWalt 20V Max XR Cordless Router Specifications
- Model: DeWalt DCW600
- Power Source: DeWalt 20V Max batteries
- No-Load Speed: 16,000 – 25,500 RPM
- Collet: 1/4-inch
- Base: 4 inches
- Weight: 3.4 pounds bare
- Warranty: 3 years with 90-day money-back guarantee and 1-year service agreement
- Price: $199 bare