TESTED: Milwaukee M18FTR-0 Router
Milwaukee 48105601 plunge base
Words and photos: Troy McDonald
There was a time when the laminate trimmer was nothing more than that, destined for a life of trimming kitchen benchtops. Over the last decade or so, these small hand held routers have become indispensable for a huge variety of tasks in the modern workshop, from running a quick consistent chamfer to cleaning out dovetails and roughing out waste on relief carvings.
Having relied on a trusted Porter Cable trimmer for longer than I can remember, I was particularly eager to test the M18- FTR-0 trim router from Milwaukee for two reasons. First, the integrated LED lighting on modern tools like these is something my ageing eyesight was keen to explore and second, moving to cordless would see an end to the occasional trapped power cord which had an annoying knack of catching just short of the end of a moulding run.
Milwaukee FTR-0 trimmer and standard accessories
The Milwaukee tool fits within the M18 Fuel range of power tools, all powered by the lithium-ion battery range for which this manufacturer has become known. The tool accepts both 6.35mm and 6mm collets and a range of batteries up to 12 Ah.
I tested the tool with a 5.0 Ah battery which I’ll confess looked awkwardly top heavy to my eyes but was surprisingly balanced even when routing boards on edge. As for battery life, you need not worry. The manual suggests a fully charged 5.0 Ah battery will cut 76m of 9.5mm round-over in red oak. I gave up trying to flatten the battery in my test after I convinced myself that it would deliver several days worth of work in my shop.
Modern battery technology is improving to such an extent that the sacrifice in performance for convenience is no longer something that needs to be made. The FTR-0 had all the power of my usual AC powered router with the benefits of unrivalled convenience. The internal braking that slows the bit almost immediately was a surprisingly noticeable change from my old AC powered router.
The router was stable in use even when edge trimming such as hinge mortising.
Adjustable features include speed control (10,000 to 31,000 RPM) and depth setting via both coarse and fine adjustments. Bit changes are quick and easy via a single wrench and collet lock. The fine depth adjustment I found very adequate for fine cabinet work with marked increments every 0.4mm and further adjustment within that range. A traditional locking lever ensured everything was tight once the setting was locked in.
The router is provided as standard with a fence and large accessory base which provided great stability when working over the edge of a board. I also tested the optional Milwaukee 48105601 plunge base for this tool which provides 50mm of smooth plunge capacity and a clever adjustable depth setting that provides six increments of 3.2mm from any preset plunge depth.
The plunge base comes with a removeable dust shroud which provided good dust collection without the inevitable loss of visibility that I have previously experienced with similar shrouds. Which brings me to the LED lighting. Whilst this is a standard feature on almost all tools of this quality today the benefits are genuinely significant.
In summary, I couldn’t fault this tool and have purchased both the router and plunge base for my shop – effortless power, cordless convenience, fine adjustability, smooth speed control, the option of plunge base with dust collection and fantastic inbuilt lighting for ageing eyes like mine.
Milwaukee tools are available from Beyond Tools, see www.beyondtools.com
Troy McDonald is an engineer and woodworker based in Brisbane.