Plunge Router Vs Fixed Base Router– Know the Key Differences

plunge router vs fixed

Plunge Router Vs Fixed – Know the Key Differences Before Picking the Best-Suited Router

A router is one of the essential tools in a woodworking workshop. This power tool is so versatile that you will need it almost every day for different purposes. 

Having several routers in the toolbox will give you an additional benefit for sure, but many woodworkers are out there who can’t afford to purchase 2 routers. So, they have to pick either a plunge router or a fixed base router.

The next question is; how will you pick any one of the routers? To assist you at this point, we have created this guide, plunge router vs fixed router. 

Below we will discuss definitions, capabilities, key features, a comparison table and an in-depth discussion on the difference between the both routers.

So, let’s begin the show.

What is a Plunge Router?

Every woodworker has their desired technique of accomplishing any task. While some look for a machine that can do everything, some prefer a hand-on approach machine only. 

Are you a woodworker or carpenter who requires a hand-on approach machine? A plunge router will be the wise pick without any confusion.

They contain spring-loaded arms at both sides so that a carpenter or woodworker can manually sink the cutting bit into the object.

While working with the topper portion of a board, you will find a plunge router as a handy option. As a result, a plunge router is a good in making dado joint, tenon joint, channeling, fluting, and rebating.

Opposing to many of the carpenter’s beliefs, a plunge router can also be used for edge jobs. Since its cutting bit is round-over, profiling all the edges with a plunge router becomes comfortable. 

Key Feature:

  • Adjusting the cutting depth is easy with a plunge router.
  • It can cut in the mid of any material.
  • A versatile tool that can be used from even fluting and dado joint.
  • Suitable tool for wood signs.

What is a Fixed Base Router?

Many woodworkers will have several routers in their workshop; some will be used in the maximum case because of their efficiency and easy to use feature.

If you are looking for an easy to use router which will also deliver an excellent cut result in the end, a fixed router will be a wise pick. A fixed router guarantees quality results to its user, and due to this, it is quite popular among many woodworkers and carpenters.

The name itself will give you an idea of this router. It is sealed in a place physically. As a result, it can’t move anywhere. Also, cutting results becomes more precise than a plunge router.

A fixed router comes with a low profile and lightweight feature. So with a fixed router, edge routing becomes much simpler.

Additionally, the design of a fixed router is also uncomplicated. Controlling a fixed router is easy because handles of a fixed base router are closed to the base. Thus, it can produce straight cuts beside the wood edge.

While handling large routing projects, a fixed router is always the first pick of a professional woodworker.

Key Feature:

  • Delivers precise cutting results.
  • The maneuver process is much easier.
  • It can be mounted on a tabletop.
  • Perfect for joinery.

Comparison Chart – fixed vs plunge router

FeaturePlunge RouterFixed Router
Cutting-depthModifiableStable
Best forPlunge cuttingJoinery and working on edge.
Replication suitabilityNot a good oneExcellent
Table baseMounting is unsuitableEasily mountable
WeightBulkyLightweight
SizeHeavyCompact
PriceExpensiveInexpensive
User experienceHectic to useEasy to use

In-depth research: fixed base vs plunge router

You may find both routers at many professional woodworker’s workshops, but some DIY lovers and woodworkers or carpenters want to purchase just one. This section discussed the key differences between these 2 plungers. 

1. Cutting-depth

Different project requires different cutting-depth. You should purchase a router that has to be able to provide precise cutting-depth as per your requirement. The good news is, both plunge router and fixed base router are designed to deliver precise cutting-depth, and you will need to pick the right router for your project.

However, plunge routers allow you to adjust the cut’s depth even when you are in the mid of the cut. This feature will give you a big advantage when making an intricate cut on a wooden surface. 

On the other hand, the adjustable feature is absent in a fixed router. And if you want to fix the cutting-depth, you will need to stop the machine, adjust it and then start working again. For example, if you set the cutting depth of ¾”, you can’t change this adjustment until the cut is finished.

2. Best for

These 2 routers will surpass different things based on differences in design and compatibility. It is significantly essential to know their best uses because it will allow you to merge the router to your exact requirement. 

If you need to make a decorative design on a wood piece, you can’t do this without a plunge cutter. Because a plunge router will assist you to cut in the center of the wood pieces without any trouble.

Fixed routers would be great for handling small trims and working on some edges as they would offer more precision. Also, because of its high precision feature, fixed base routers are best for any joinery task.

3. Reapplication suitability

When you are working with many wood pieces that require the same cut, consistency is mandatory. 

Repeating the same cut and consistency is one of the best features of a fixed base router. Since you can’t change the cutting depth of a fixed base router in the mid of the process, no change will happen to the cut as long as you need it to. This feature will help you to improve your efficiency and productivity during a job too. 

While adjustable cutting-depth is one of the biggest features of a plunge router, you will not be benefited from this feature in terms of repeat cut. Maintaining the same cutting-depth at every cut is a bit of a tricky task with a plunge router.

4. Table base

The table base feature’s responsibility is to ensure comfortability, highest accuracy keeping the router stable at its position.

Fixed base routers come with a table base, and that is why they are more precise. Even while purchasing a fixed base router, if table base is unavailable, don’t make late, connect your fixed-base router with a table base.

On the other side of the coin, you can attach a table base with a plunge router, due to its design, it will be a bit of a challenging and tiresome task. Furthermore, after attaching a plunge router to a table base, you will not receive similar results like a fixed base router.

5. Weight

Since both of these tools are handheld tools, weight matters a lot, and it is more vital if you plan to use them for an extended period.

In terms of weight, fixed base routers are ahead of plunge routers. Without a lot of physical effort, you can carry a fixed base router from one place to another.

The plunge router is bulkier. Thus, a little bit of extra effort is required to carry this router. Moreover, working with it for a prolonged time is challenging.

6. Size

Size is another important factor that comes in mind when discussing the key differences between a plunge router vs fixed. 

Handling a task becomes effortless with a fixed base router due to its smaller and compact design.

Compared to fixed routers, plunge routers are larger, and working with it isn’t easy.

7. User experience

Plunge routers are difficult to handle if you are a novice. Since you will need to adjust the cutting-depth while doing a mid-cut and bulkier than a fixed router, they will give users a bit of additional work.

Working with a fixed router is much easier than a plunge router. Set the router at your desired cutting-depth and start working. Moreover, it is stable in its position, and throughout a cutting project, the cutting-depth remains unchanged. This is because working with it is much more comfortable.

8. Price

Since these are powerful tools, they will not be as cheap as other tools, despite being smaller overall than electric saws and drills.

However, between the 2 tools, the plunge routers are costly due to their adjustable cutting-depth ability and comfortable plunge cutting option.

For a standard plunge router, you have to spend twice as much as a fixed router. 

Final Thoughts

Routers are great tools for DIY enthusiasts, woodworkers, carpenters, or hobbyists. You will get assistance from them while designing your work piece to intricate designs and creating signs on a wooden surface. 

The selection process will be much easier between the plunge router vs fixed when you know your requirement. Because of the above discussed key differences, the decision-making process will be much easier now.

However, for beginners or novices who have no experience handling routers, fixed-based routers will be best-suited. And plunge routers will be suitable for those who are looking for a versatile tool.

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