There were plenty of cheers when the Milwaukee M18 Fuel cordless compact router was first announced. Now that the initial excitement has died down and we’ve had more time to use it, how does it compare to the other cordless options out there?
- Excellent power under load
- Stops the bit fast when you turn the power off
- Excellent sightline to the bit
- Well-designed plunge and offset bases
- Very good ergonomics
- Second fast bits speed
- Variable speed dial
- 5-year warranty
- No significant drawbacks
Milwaukee M18 Fuel Cordless Compact Router Performance
In terms of speed, this M18 Fuel compact router operates at 31,000 RPM. That makes it one of the fastest cordless routers on the market (Kobalt claims 31,500 RPM) and Milwaukee says it hits the 1 1/4 HP mark we expect from trim routers. In terms of real-world cutting power, it translates well and is one of the strongest cordless routers we’ve tested.
We were really impressed with the power of this tool. We started by popping in a Milwaukee M18 5Ah battery and going to town with a cut-off bit, a larger size roundover bit, and a 1/2-inch rabbet bit. These are large bits for the size of this router, so the power claims are real. Since those initial tests, we’ve done a ton of edge routing along with cutting out various dadoes, rabbets, and even free-hand designs side-by-side with other models and its performance continues to find its way to the top.
The variable speed dial lets you set different speeds and you can dial it all the way down to 10,000 RPM in the lowest setting. The placement of the dial is conveniently on the side where both it and the power switch are in easy reach.
Milwaukee says you should be able to do 250 linear feet of roundover in red oak with that battery. For smaller projects like the ones we’ve been doing, a 3.0Ah High Output battery is a good way to shave a little weight without dropping your performance.
Milwaukee M18 Fuel Cordless Compact Router Design
The tool feels good in the hand—smooth and powerful and not too big to hold on to. There are a couple of models we like a little better, but not by much. Overall, Milwaukee’s combination of barrel diameter and overmold make it a comfortable tool to use.
Weight is right in the middle of the pack. The router weighs 3.01 pounds bare and a 5.0Ah battery brings it up to 4.63 pounds. If you prefer that 3.0Ah HO pack, it drops down to 4.36 pounds.
The battery does make it a little bit top-heavy, but that has been the case with every cordless router we’ve used so far. Suffice it to say, you probably want to avoid the 12.0Ah HO pack on this tool!
Bit Depth Adjustments
You can make both macro and 1/64-inch micro-adjustments to dial in the depth exactly as you need it. This level of depth adjustment matches what we’d want to see in a high-end trim router. We also like that Milwaukee etched the measurements into the barrel rather than using a sticker or paint that will eventually wear off.
The micro-adjustment dial is right underneath the power switch and functions smoothly. Likewise, there’s a push-button macro release on the clamp that makes large adjustments or switching bases an easy operation.
What a View
Milwaukee’s viewing cutout on their bases is excellent, providing some of the best slightlines we’ve seen. They also put a pair of LEDs towards the front that does a nice job of keeping your working area lit. The lack of a third LED on the backside or a more symmetrical placement on the sides doesn’t seem to hurt your view around the back sides of the bit. There’s plenty of light to go around.
Milwaukee M18 Fuel Cordless Compact Router Price
The new Milwaukee M18 Fuel cordless compact router is priced at $179 for the bare tool. With that, you get a 4-inch round base plate, 5 3/4-inch template sub-base plate, and a 1/4-inch collet along with a collet wrench.
Depending on which retailer you prefer to shop at, Milwaukee has several bare tool, base, and combo kit configurations to choose from. You can also pick up plunge and offset bases individually.
Milwaukee Compact Router Plunge Base
- Price: $109
Milwaukee Compact Router Offset Base
- Price: $99
The Bottom Line
The Milwaukee M18 Fuel cordless compact router took a while to make it to the market behind several other brands. However, that wait seems well worth it. Milwaukee improved the shortcomings of their competition and delivered the most complete cordless router out there. While there are other models we rate highly, we think Milwaukee has the best cordless router currently available.
Milwaukee Cordless Compact Router Specifications
- Model: Milwaukee 2723
- Power Source: Milwaukee M18 RedLithium batteries
- No-Load Speed: 31,000 rpm (High), 10,000 rpm (Low)
- Estimated Run-Time: 250 linear feet roundover on red oak
- Power Equivalency: 1-1/4 HP
- Weight: 3.01 pounds with fixed base
- Height: 6.86 inches bare
- Warranty: 5 years
- Price: $179 (tool-only)
I reread this article because I was re watching a YouTube video comparing eight different trim routers. In the video it was stated that the Milwaukee had .04 “play” when it was locked, and it affected the cut depth when it was used with two hands, one of them pressing down on the top.
under “cons” it’s stated that there were no significant drawbacks, so I wanted to know if your router had that issue where you had to adjust the 3 mm Allen® bolt for the clamp?
So, is this simply the newer model of the orange brand version, with slightly higher engine specs? Or is there anything else setting it apart??
Any info if the plunge base is cross-compatible with the Ryobi and Ridgid cordless palm routers? Seems to be a very similar form factor and adjustment mechanism and all within TTI, so would make sense.
What is the diameter of the base plate? I just used a corded Makita 0701c and a corded Bosch 1.25hp colt. The Makita was easier to get in tight spots (3 1/2” diameter base plate), but lacked the visibility that the Bosch had as it was much more open and the LED lights greatly helped (4 1/16” base plate). The micro adjustment was much better on the Bosch too. This Milwaukee tool looks like it hit the mark on all accounts. I am looking forward to getting it in October!
Milwaukee (TTI) did a fantastic job at trying to copy the Makita cordless router. Too bad they failed.