Plunge Router vs. Fixed Base Router – Are Both Necessary?

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Woodworking is an activity that requires a lot of effort and devotion; however, the results may be spectacular, particularly when you have the correct components.

When you first start woodworking, there are several items you want to keep an eye out for and make sure you possess. One of these devices is a router.

Any workshop or garage would benefit greatly from having a router. Several people believe they are the world’s most flexible power tool and with good reason. The options of what you can do with a chunk (or chunks) of wood are unlimited if you have the right jig, router, and router bits.

What Type of Router do You Require?

There are a plethora of possibilities available, just like with any power tool: various sizes, horsepower, variable or single-speed motors, and so forth.

However, in this article, we discuss the two most prevalent router types: plunge and fixed base. We go through what each one provides when it is best to utilize it, and which one best suits you and your requirements.

Comprehensive Guide: Plunge Router vs. Fixed Base Router

The fundamental difference between plunge routers and fixed base routers is that a fixed base router can only lower or “plunge” the part in the stock with its base plate flush on the stock, while a plunge router can lower or “plunge” the part inside the stock.

Cutting depth can be adjusted on both kinds of wood routers.

Plunge Router

A plunge router includes spring-loaded arms along either side of the base that enables the user to physically ‘plunge’ the chopping bit down into the workpiece from above.

When fluting, insets, dados and mortices, rebates and grooves, and other applications require working on the top of the board (rather than the edge), this is required.

Plunge base routers, on the other hand, can be utilized for edge work just as effectively (such as profiling an edge with round-over bits).

When you have to alter the depth of the chopping bit precisely where you need it, plunge routers are fantastic. Simply put, plunge routers are built to work dependent on the initial amount of force applied to the chopping bit.

When it comes to vertical movement, these routers give you significantly more control than other routers.

Fixed Base Router

A fixed base router is exactly what it sounds like: the router is locked in place at the base, and the chopping bit cannot move (or dive) from the top to bottom. This characteristic makes it nearly impossible to complete some of the aforementioned activities, which necessitate engaging the content from above.

Of course, with fixed base routers, you may manually select and lock the depth of the cut, which is generally more accurate than with plunge routers.

When extremely accurate cuts are required (as is the situation with many types of carpentry), fixed-base routers are ideal. They can also be attached to a routing table.

Is a Fixed Base Router Beneficial in Any Way?

“Well, what can a fixed base router do that a plunge router cannot?” you might wonder.

In a nutshell, nothing.

Fixed base routers, on the other hand, are more precise and have the capacity to set extremely accurate cut depths, which is vital when undertaking tedious work such as dovetail joints.

They are also smaller and lighter, and many users find that the lower center of gravity and profile make these products simpler to steer and manage than larger, heavier plunge routers.

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Furthermore, while using a routing table, fixed base routers are recommended over plunge base routers. They are easier to alter the bit depth, and, as previously stated, they are more accurate in terms of holding their locked position than a plunge router. Owing to the bigger size, a plunge router is a little tricky to mount to your routing table, and you cannot alter the bit depth without detaching the base from your table except if you buy specific additional accessories.

Which One Is Better?

Well, let’s go right to the point. Which router is the greatest, and which one would best meet your requirements?

Let’s start with the fact that the majority of the well-known manufacturers now produce “combo” routing kits, which consist of a single motor with both a fixed base and a plunge that you can simply switch between. Getting a combination router is your best option and our usual advice because it avoids the need to choose between the two. Combo routers, alternatively, are inherently more expensive than buying either one separately.

If you must pick between the two options, keep the following in mind:

  • If you are a beginner carpenter looking to add another instrument to your power tool inventory without any specific purpose in mind, we strongly advise you to start with the plunge router. They offer a considerably broader range of applications than the two, and they can always be secured in place and utilized as a ‘fixed-base.’
  • A fixed base may fit you well if you plan on doing various comparable and very specialized work, such as cutting dovetail joints from a jig or profiling edges, and if you intend on working only with a routing table.

Conclusion: Essential Factors to Consider

One factor to bear in mind before you head out and buy a plunge router is that they are large, loud, heavy, and powerful machines. (Of course, both fixed base and plunge routers are noisy, strong, and weighty; however, plunge bases are typically larger.)

Many individuals choose fixed-base routers because of their smaller size, lighter weight, and lowered center of gravity, claiming that they have increased control over these than plunge bases, which may be a touch too heavy, and a little more challenging to handle.

However, because the vast majority of individuals’ router experiences have been with fixed bases, the heavier and larger plunge base fills a little more awkwardly the first time one uses it.

The bottom line is that if you start with a plunge router, that’s what you may become acclimated to, and you may be up and running in no time.

Why trust Handyman.Guide?

s written by Itamar Ben-Dor, who has 25 years of experience in renovations, carpentry, locks, creation, landscaping, painting, furniture construction, and furniture renovation, works with concrete, plumbing, door repair, and more.

Itamar Ben-Dor has been in the home improvement business for over 25 years. Itamar Ben-Dor is a jack of all trades. He's worked in the renovation field for years, doing everything from locksmithing to carpentry. He's a small repairs specialist. But his true passion lies in furniture construction and renovation - he loves seeing old pieces come back to life with some new woodwork or a fresh coat of paint.

He has taken courses on many topics in these fields at professional colleges in Israel. Over the years, Itamar has also become quite skilled in gardening, carpentry, and renovations. He's worked on projects of all sizes, from massive renovations to small repairs. No job is too big or too small for him!

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Itamar Ben Dor
Itamar Ben Dor

My father is a practical engineer, and as a hobby he was also involved in construction, renovations, carpentry and woodwork at home; So there was always tools, saws, drills and more at home. Already I was a little kid Dad and I would renovate the house. Once we built a shed for garden tools, once we did flooring for the garden, once we renovated the bathroom and that’s the way it is. Long before there was an internet, directories and plans. We would build things, kitchen cabinets, install electrical appliances, do flooring, pour concrete and more ... I in this blog want to pass on to you the experience I have gained over the last 20 plus-minus years since I was a child to this day and give you information about the best tools, project plans, guides and more.