August 25, 2021

Plunge Router vs Fixed | Which Tool For Which Job

Are you trying to decide which one to choose between, accuracy router vs fixed router? A Plunge router and a fixed base router are versatile tools that make woodwork bearable and enjoyable. Investing your money in good router yields better results due to high performance. List down your needs and compare them with the characteristics of both tools. Below is a discussion of both routing tools as I explore the benefits and drawbacks of each. 

Plunge router

A plunge router is a woodworking tool meant to lower the bit from a height while the base is flat on the material you are working on. It excels when you are making a cut that goes through the middle of your work material. 

It is a complex routing tool, and the more you get used to it, the easier it becomes. It comes with two arms that are on both sides. The arms allow you to plunge into the wood as you begin cutting the material. That is why the router is named plunge. 

Drive the cutting part of the router into the wood. The effort is needed as you use force to start cutting the wood. You have more control over the router, and it is smooth to operate. The cutting experience is bearable. 

When using the router to handle edge-work, use the router properly to avoid difficulties using it. When adjusting the depth of the cutting bit, it goes where it has to be. Plunge routers work based on the amount of energy that you apply to the cutting bit. 

When moving vertically, you have more control. Versatility and mobility allow the router to be in different places hence users working with varying depths of cuts. 

Pros

  • Versatile.
  • Mobile.
  • Easily adjustable.
  • Make cuts in the middle of the wood.
  • Ideal for wooden signs.

Cons

  • Complex.

Fixed base router

A fixed base router comes with a fixed-base that does not move up and Fixed-income the wood. The bit has a constant, and it is set manually before use. It is ideal for professional use. What makes it for beginners is the ease of use. 

There is no need to keep directing the router since it locks itself on to the place it has to work on. Place it where it needs to be and let it lock itself. The router bit does not move anywhere, but the wood moves in any direction of your choice. 

In this regard, there are higher chances of being more precise in your cuts. A combination of a fixed base router excels when mounted on the underside of a benchtop router table. Amateurs do not have a tough time using the fixed-base router. It does not require skill and knowledge of woodworking. 

The tool is not a power tool, and it requires minimal tools. It is more of a cutting tool in woodworking machinery. Due to its affordability, you do not have a rough time considering its worth. You have the chance to experience woodworking at an affordable price. The fixed base router shapes the edges of the wood the way you like it. That is a unique feature that the plunge router does not have. 

It is a lightweight tool that is easy to move around in tricky places. That is an advantage if you have a stable base to mount them on. The project becomes easy to complete. Precision is one of the strengths of the fixed base router, and you do not have to work for years to achieve a certain level of precision. It just comes with the tool. 

Pros

  • Constant.
  • For professional use.
  • Ease of use.
  • Affordable.
  • Lightweight.

Cons

  • Immobile.

Favorite Features

Plunge router

Speed

The speed ranges from 800 to 30,000rpm, and the plunge router comes with variable speed motors. The tool speed required depends on the size of the cutter. The position of your tool speed should be easy to change while routing. 

Hand grips

The tool comes with two grips on both sides of the router. That gives you control over the cutting tool. They have to be close to the base platform control and balance. The cutting tool should feel like combined with your hands. That increases your work hours.

Power

More power means the tool can cope with hard materials. The motor power tells you the size and weight of the machine. A large router is difficult to control on light tasks. 

Fixed Base Router

Speed

Speed variance is one of the features of the fixed base router that gives you control over your projects. The speed settings give you multiple results on different types of wood. That makes it versatile. 

Hand grips

The router is double-handed and that makes it comfortable to use. The ergonomic handles prolong your working time.

Power

A 2hp motor and more is ideal for a good router. It withstands tough material with ease. 

What could be better

Plunge router

  • Plunge routers are not as affordable as fixed base routers. However, the price range is worth the versatility of the tool. 
  • Plunge routers are ideal for professional users since they have to move the router whenever there is a cut. As long as you have the money to pay for the router, you might go for it regardless of the labor involved. 
  • Plunge routers are not ideal for beginners since they require experience and skill for operation. The knowledge evolves around cutting and depth. 
  • The material you are cutting remains stationary whilst the router moves. Move the router to the position you are cutting. You cannot use the base on them, and that is not easy. 

Fixed Base Router

  • The Fixed Base router could have been better on versatility, just like the plunge router. It might not be the best tool to use when working on intricate and delicate materials. There are tiny spaces your cutting tool has to reach. If it is not possible then the project is not going to be smooth. 
  • When using the fixed base router, you cannot begin cutting from the middle of the wood since it has a fixed cutting bit. 
  • The middle of the wood is above the but, and the bit is fixed. It becomes a problem on some projects that need the bit to be in a different position.

Similar Features

  • Both routers allow for an adjustable cutting depth.
  • They are both versatile. 
  • They cut wood.
  • They are easy to use.
  • They are both precise.

Key Differences

  • A fixed base router has a fixed position for the bit, whereas a plunge router lowers or plunges the but in the stock with the base plate flat on the stock. 
  • A plunge router is more versatile than a fixed base router.
  • When using a fixed base router, you cannot cut the wood from the middle. and that is possible with the plunge router.
  • A fixed base router is more affordable than a plunge router.
  • Plunge routers are for professionals, whereas fixed base routers are for beginners.
  • When using a plunge router, your material remains stationary, whereas material moves when using the fixed base router. 

The verdict

Choosing the best router depends on what you want to use it for. If you have been in the game for some time, the experience will tell you as well. If you are a beginner, a tool that is easy to use will be ideal. A fixed base router cuts wood easily and is easy to maneuver. If you are running under a tight budget, the fixed base router is ideal. Versatility is one of the characteristics that dominate when using the plunge router. The job is easy, and precision is one of its strengths. 

David D. Hughes

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