Life in the trades has gotten so much easier over the last few years thanks to the growing number of cordless tool options and the fact that they perform so well. A good example of this trend is the Metabo HPT 36-volt cordless plunge router (M3612DA). Our crew has been using a pair of cordless trim routers (from Milwaukee and DeWalt) on our jobsites for the last two years or so, giving us a good perspective on the capabilities of Metabo HPT’s new offering.
Router for framing? I began using a router to cut out door and window openings, trim the top edges of rake walls, and perform a number of other sheathing-related tasks back in 2001. In order to quickly plow through 7/16-inch sheathing, I fitted my workhorse corded 3 1/4-inch HP router with a big flush-cutting bit with a 1/2-inch-diameter shaft. This was a heavy setup, but it did the job and supported its own weight.
For a long time, I didn’t think a router could be the type of tool that could go cordless, but both Milwaukee and DeWalt managed to make it happen with their smaller trim routers, with good results. I’ve posted a number of videos on Instagram over the last couple of years showing how well these little cordless routers work on our framing jobs. Quite a few naysayers have since bought them after seeing that the routers don’t burn up but keep on going.
First cordless plunge router. Unlike the DeWalt and Milwaukee routers, however, Metabo HPT’s 36-volt router is a full-featured plunge router that comes with collets for both 1/4-inch and 1/2-inch bits. It has a tool-less depth adjustment that works like that on any other plunge router, a variable speed control from 11,000 to 25,000 rpm, and a handy LED work light. In addition, it’s compatible with Metabo’s adapter (sold separately) that allows HPT tools on the MultiVolt 36V battery platform to be plugged in to a standard AC outlet and used as a corded tool.
I use a spiral cutting 1/4-inch bit to rout sheathing, and that bit is fast. This router is very fast, too, but if you push it too hard, a protective circuit will cut off power, and it’ll stop. So we’ve learned to back off and let the bit do the work.
What I especially like about this tool is the two handles, making it more comfortable than a smaller cordless trim router for a framer to use. For shop work, the kit includes a template guide set, straight guide, and a dust collector; I won’t use these accessories often, but they are in the bag for when I need them. A charger and one 2.5-Ah MultiVolt battery are also included. I found that I ran this battery down more quickly than the larger-capacity batteries I use on my Milwaukee and DeWalt trim routers, but I still managed to get through a full day of framing without the battery dying.
Good value. At $400, the kit is expensive, but is it worth it? I can’t make that decision for you, but here’s how I look at it: For a framer, a router is a must-have tool that saves a lot of time, improves quality, and increases productivity. There doesn’t seem to be a bare-tool option, which would save some money if you already own other Metabo HPT MultiVolt tools, but I believe that the labor savings using a router will make up for the cost over time. Of the three cordless routers I’ve used, this is my favorite. However, all are a huge upgrade over their corded counterparts, so pick the one you can afford that best fits your needs and buy it. You won’t be sorry. metabo-hpt.com
Photos by Tim Uhler.