Milwaukee 3-1/2 HP Fixed Base Production Router

This heavy duty router has the power to spin a full range of variably sized router bits for extended periods of time


Milwaukee 3-1/2 HP Fixed Base Production Router

The Milwaukee 3-1/2 HP Fixed Based Production Router (5625-20) is about as close as it gets to perfect routing.

Fixed based routers essentially have two components: a motor and a removable base. The base of the 5625-20 is made of extruded aluminum, and has two rod holes tapped in the bottom to hold an edge guide. At the top of the base is the motor release button and a hole into which the acme threaded depth adjustment screw on the motor is inserted. A simple, but very effective steel locking lever secures the motor firmly in place.

You can actually adjust the tension on the level should that ever be needed. A clear super tough polycarbonate 1/4" x 7" sub-base, with a 2-1/2" center hole, is attached to the base via four threaded bolts. If you do freehand template routing you'll want to purchase the optional sub base with a 1-3/16" center hole (49-54-1026). You can then use Milwaukee's 9 piece template guide kit (49-54-0700) or any other lock-nut style template guides.

Extruded aluminum base
3 1/2 HP motor
What really sets the base of the 5625-20 apart from other fixed routers are the handles. These large, removable, padded 'D' handles are sloped forward, providing superb control. You really have to try this style of handle to see how effective it is. 

The 3-1/2 HP, 15 amp motor on the 5625-20 is designed for serious production work. The motor cover is made of high impact ABS plastic. It has a flat top that allows you to securely set the 5625-20 upside down on your work bench to change router bits. The motor housing is made of machined aluminum. 

The electronic variable speed motor sings along at 10,000 to 22,000 RPM, while electronic feedback monitors speed and torque to ensure that the motor maintains optimal cutting speed; you get a consistent, even application of speed and torque regardless of changing grain direction in your stock. Electronic soft start reduces the jerking motion that occurs when you initially turn the router on, by ramping motor speed up in stages. This is especially welcome when using the router freehand. Soft start also reduces stress on the brushes, bearings and shaft, and helps extend the lifespan of the router.

Sloped forward handles for superb control
Variable control dial (top) on/off switch (bottom)
Router speed is controlled by means of a dial at the top of the motor cover. There are seven marking on the dial, and a printed chart on the motor housing displays speed setting for each marking. However the dial can be set at any of 36 distinct speed settings on the dial. I find the detents on the dial to be somewhat sloppy; I can never be exactly sure if I've move the dial one, two or even three positions. This is a moot point as I always position the dial at one of the seven markings.

Convenient chart displays dial speeds
Large, easy to rotate depth adjustment knob; reference arrow (adjacent to screw) is hard to see
You get almost 1-3/4" of depth adjustment on the 5625-20. I've found this adequate for all the routing I do. Bit height adjustments are controlled by the depth adjustment knob. The knob is about 1-1/2" high, making it easy to grasp and turn. There are a series of large and small hash marks (ticks) on the dial, and a reference arrow on the motor cover. Each time a large hash mark aligns with the arrow the bit will have risen (or lowered) 1/32"; small hash marks indicate 1/64" of router bit travel.

Positioning the dial between the hash marks changes bit movement by 1/128". This gives you the upmost in precise height adjustment. The bottom part of the dial can also be zeroed in at any time. Unfortunately the little reference arrow on the motor cover is somewhat hard to see in less than optimal lighting (it's the same red color as the motor cover).

Locking lever (L) and motor release button (R)
1/2" acme thread 
The motor fits snugly into the base without any lateral movement, and when locked into place doesn't move at all. To release the motor from the base flip the locking release lever, and then press the motor release button. Be careful though, If the motor isn't supported it'll fall right out, possibly onto the floor. Best to always turn the router onto its head. Same possibility if the router is attached to a router table; make sure you support the motor before releasing it from the base. You'll notice that the motor doesn't spin as you remove it from the base, which means that the motor controls and power cord will always stay in the same position.

Collet wrenches (L) and T-handle wrench (R)
1/2" auto-release collet
Milwaukee uses a rocker style on/off switch located on the motor cover. The switch isn't reachable with your thumb while holding onto the handles; you need to release the handle to flick the router on. Thank goodness for soft start; you've got time to re-grip the handle before the motor reaches full operating speed.

The 5625-20 is well balanced, even with all that motor weight sitting on the top of the router. I attribute this to the innovative handle design and the wide base. For such a large router it's quite comfortable to use freehand for long periods of time, and easy to control. The 8' power cord is nice, but I'd have appreciated a 10' or even 12' cord, especially when I'm  working around a large panel.

Wrenches make quick work of releasing collet
T-wrench passes through a rubber shield cover
The 5625-20 comes with a hefty 1/2" auto-release collet and a pair of metal wrenches. The collet works perfectly; as soon as the tension is released on the securing nut the router bit pops loose. For production work with a large router like this you'll likely always use a 1/2" collet; however, if you install the 5625-20 on a router table and want to use bits with smaller shanks, Milwaukee sells a 1/4" self-releasing collet. 

While eminently suitable for freehand routing, the 5625-20 really shines in a router table set-up. You can mount it on virtually any insert plate; the base has an industry standard bolt-hole pattern. Likely you'll need to drill a hole in the insert plate so that you can adjust the router from above the table using the included T-wrench. A durable, rubber shield covers the access hole over the depth adjustment mechanism and does a good job of keeping dust and debris away from the threaded depth adjustment rod. Still, it's a good idea to clean the rod every now and then; a blast of compressed air does the job nicely.
The 5625-20 also features an exclusive motor contamination shield that keeps crap out of the motor without sacrificing airflow. The T-wrench is long enough to comfortably adjust the router, but you'll still need to reach under the table to release the locking lever before you can adjust the bit height (and once again to close the lever). Which is why I think that a router lift, like the Kreg Precision Router Table Lift (PRS3000) is the way to go. It's a real time saver, and you can make exceptionally easy and precise height adjustments without having to bother poking around under the table.

The 5625-20 is very smooth running throughout its full speed range, and I didn't notice any vibration, even when spinning large panel raising bits. Of course, like any high end router, it's loud, and you'll want to wear hearing protection at all times. I checked the arbour for runout, and at less than .0016" found it to be negligible. There isn't any dust collection feature on this router, which would be a bit of an issue if I were using it primarily for hand held routing. As it is, I have the router set up on a Kreg Precision Router Table (PRS1040).

  • 3-1/2 HP, 15 Amp motor
  • 10,000 - 22,000 RPM 
  • 36 position speed control dial 
  • Accepts 1/4" and 1/2" collets 
  • Electronic variable speed 
  • Electronic soft start 
  • Premium electronic feedback circuitry 
  • Above the table depth adjustment 
  • Double insulated 
  • Rocker type switch 
  • Removable twin D handles 
  • 1-21/32" range of depth adjustment 
  • 7" diameter sub base 
  • 9-1/4" high 
  • 8' power cord with flexible strain relief
  • 11.8 pounds weight 
  • 5 year warranty 
  • Includes: (2) collet wrenches, 1/2" self-releasing collet, T-handle wrench, 2-1/2" sub-base 
MANUFACTURER:Milwaukee Electric Tool Company
AVAILABLE AT:Tool and equipment suppliers nationwide
Carl Duguay, February 2011
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