Makita 1-1/4 HP Compact Plunge Router – Review

I purchased this router from Amazon for $150 about six months ago and have used it on a few projects. It came with a plunge base, regular base, edge guide, and collet adjustment wrenches. The photo above also includes a vacuum attachment that I have never used and is thus unopened. I already owned a powerful Craftsman 2 HP fixed-base router, but really needed something with plunge capabilities for future project ideas. I chose this Makita because it had good reviews, solid warranty, and a decent price. It also has some great power, coming in at 10,000-30,000 RPM.

I really like the size of it, good control can be maintained with just one hand. The company claims it weighs just 3.9 lbs. and I have no reason to doubt them at this point, it certainly doesn’t weigh much. The collet will only take 1/4 bits, but that is to be expected with a compact router.

It is significantly smaller than the full-size Craftsman router I have.
The Makita router with stationary base next to my full-size Craftsman router with stationary base.

One of my favorite features of this router is the rack and pinion router height adjustment. The aluminum motor housing has a “ladder” (rack) that the “gear wheel” (pinion) climbs up and down as you turn the knob. This provides a smooth action when adjusting the cutting depth. I have had routers in the past that relied on awkward thread and ring systems to twist the router for adjustment. The rack and pinion system is far superior in terms of ease of use. It is also a simple system that leaves little to be broken.

The rack
The pinion

I was impressed to find that the depth stop system for the plunge base was so efficient and thorough. It features three stationary stops of varying height as well as a screw in each of them to further adjust the depth of cut. This system allows for a vast selection of depths that should be able to fit even the most demanding woodworkers.

The three different depth stops, coupled with the adjustability of the screws, creates exceptional accuracy in maintaining the correct depth. As well as great variability to find the proper depth.

After sliding the router into any of the bases, it is secured by a simple clamping mechanism. I like this system because it is quick, easy, and durable. There are no gimmicks, no bells and whistles, just the reliability of a sturdy lever.

A simple mechanism is often more reliable than a fancy one.

Something I have come to appreciate over the years is a quality cord. I don’t know a lot about cords, but I think this Makita router has a good one. It is very flexible, sturdy, and has a good feel. The rat tail is also long, providing a good connection to the tool and solid protection against kinking or cracking.

The cord is flexible and sturdy.

Collet adjustment takes place using either the two wrenches provided or one wrench and the red button seen in a picture above (the one that shows the rack). Pressing the red button holds the spindle tight with the user turns the collet with the wrench. This is pretty standard among routers because it is a tried and true method.

I don’t like my tool reviews to be too one-sided, but I really just don’t have anything negative to say about this tool. Even the handles on the plunge base are excellent, providing a comfortable place to rest your hands and control from. Everything is within easy reach of the handles for the average sized person.

If you enjoyed this tool review or have some advice or experience to share, please feel free to do so in the comments below. I appreciate what others have to say.

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