Plunge base router is the best wood router type if you are planning to do some home improvement projects while fixed base router will be best for those who use a router table with it. This is the short difference between plunge vs fixed router.
I recommended the plunge base router for home improvement projects because you will get more options in this. You can also use it as a fixed base router by fixing its router bit.
Generally, many professionals use a router table for their advance projects and they need accuracy in their work. That’s why the fixed base router is best for router tables because it gives a very precise cut due to the constant position of the router bit.
Are you still confused? Let’s find out the difference between – Plunge vs Fixed Base Router.
Plunge Wood Router
Plunge routers are used on the wood of variable depth. You can manually plunge the bit into the wood because both the side contains springs which enables it to move up and down on the base. These are mainly used on the top of the wood but it doesn’t mean that it is not suitable for working on edges. You will need a perfect routing bit for that, for example, a round-over bit or a Roman Ogee bit. It is very versatile because you can easily customize this tool according to your work. Even, you can transform it into a fixed base router by locking the bit at a particular depth. Well, it gets fixed but it is not very accurate, so it is not suitable for the router table. If you are a beginner then at the starting, you may face some difficulties while operating it. So, let me give you a short idea about how to operate it:
- The first thing which I will recommend to you before using it is to buy some jigs & guides with it, which will help you to cut dadoes accurately.
- After that, insert the router bit in the collet by adjusting the gauge depth according to your need.
- To engage its bit with the wood, hold it with your both hands and pull the trigger. After pulling, push it in the downward direction.
- Then, move it to the left or right in the cutting direction. Don’t forget to apply that downward force while doing this step.
- You can also cut profile edges by applying the same steps but you will have to change the bits. Bits which you can use for edge cutting purpose are Round-over bit or Roman Ogee bit.
Let me give you some reasons why plunge routers are better:
- A plunge router is used with the jigs to make joints because jigs cannot perform some tasks. It is always said that plunge wood router can go to difficult areas, which is impossible for others.
- It is very good for inlay grooves due to its plunging feature which will provide very smooth cutting.
- The plunge wood router is best for milling stopped grooves & flutes because it doesn’t leave any burn marks on it.
- These routers have a micro-adjustable depth knob which will help you to make very small changes in the height of the bit.
- It is better than a fixed base router in terms of protecting your costly bits because it automatically covers the bit, if not in use.
- There are some bits used for keyhole grooves, which you can not use in a fixed base router. It can be only used with a plunge base.
- If you want to make some shallow indentations ( like Chinese checkerboard ) then a plunge is preferred over a fixed base.
- Some of the plunge routers come with an additional kit which temporarily transforms them into the fixed base.
Best Plunge Wood Router I Recommend: Triton TRA001 Plunge Router
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Want to know about some best wood routers available right now?
Fixed Base Wood Router
The fixed base router also does the same work as a plunge base but with less versatility. So, you might be thinking, is there any unique features in this fixed base in compare to plunge. Then, the answer is “no”. It has some good features which make it useful but it does not make fixed router unique. Let’s talk about that feature:
- They are more accurate than plunge, that’s why making it suitable for a router table.
- Fixed routers are smaller and lighter than plunge base.
- In plunge base, you will have to remove the base from the router table to adjust the depth of the routing bit due to the large size while you will not face this problem in a fixed base.
- Easy to use in comparison to the plunge base.
- It is very ideal for freehand edge work due to its control & stability.
Best Fixed Wood Router I Recommend: Bosch 1617EVS Fixed Base Router
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I hope, you may have now got the difference between plunge vs fixed router.
So, you will be thinking now that the plunge base is the winner?
I have a surprise for you…
Here, it is:
The plunge is better than fixed base but it is not the winner because nowadays, many manufacturers are selling a combo kit in which you will get a motor with both fixed & plunge base. So, you get the power of both in a single pack. Also, you can easily switch between them. The only downside is its price. It is costlier than the other two routers.
Best Combo Router I Recommend: Dewalt DWP611PK Combo Router
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So, you can check all the best plunge, fixed & combo routers in my article here.
But, if you are in a hurry, then let me show you the top wood routers from each type.
I found this wonderful video on the topic: fixed vs plunge wood router