If you’re new to woodworking and are looking into purchasing a best wood router, there’s no doubt that you have a lot of questions. One of the main questions people have is whether they need to buy a plunge router or a fixed-base router. Even some experienced woodworkers don’t know the complete advantages and disadvantages of each! This short guide will help you distinguish the differences between the two and help you decide which one you need for the projects you’re working on.
A fixed-base router is exactly what it sounds like. It can bet set at a specific depth and it will remain at that depth throughout the duration of the cut you’re making. For example, if you set the depth at 1/2″, then the depth of your cuts will be at 1/2″ until you stop the motor and adjust it again.
While many experienced woodworkers own a fixed-base router, it is probably the best option for beginners as well. Your hands are close to the actual workpiece, which means you will have more control and stability when moving it.
Another advantage of a fixed-base router is if you have the same cut that you have to make repeatedly. You can set the depth one time and you won’t have to worry about it changing. This type of router can handle large jobs, but it really excels at the smaller trim, edge work and jig work since you have more control overall.
A plunge router allows you to control the depth of your cut as you are making the cut. This is beneficial if you need to make adjustments during the cut, which isn’t available with fixed-base routers. Since you can make a variety of different cuts with a plunge router, it is a great tool for dados and mortises. The flexibility and versatility of the plunge router make it an attractive option for experienced woodworkers.
There aren’t many cuts that a plunge router can’t make, but they are better for large-scale jobs rather than edge work and other small precision trimming. Once you have a little practice, most people gravitate toward using a plunge router because of the versatility that it offers. The main downfalls of plunge routers are that they are heavier than the fixed-base and they are also generally more expensive.
Which One Should You Buy?
In all honesty, anyone who is serious about woodworking should own both a plunge and fixed-base router. Each of them has their own benefits, and sometimes you need both of them to complete a single project. Many of the routers that you buy today come with both plunge and fixed bases, so you have the best of both worlds without having to buy multiple routers.
Wood Tips: Routers – Plunge vs Fixed Based Router – Youtube
Many people like to attach their fixed-base router to a router table to give it even more stability and precision throughout the cuts. Plunge routers can still be mounted to a router table, but most people prefer to keep it separate since they make a variety of different cuts with it.
If you’re just starting out, you would probably be better off buying a fixed-base router at first. After you get a little more experienced, then you can spend a little more money to get a plunge router. You could always buy the package deal that offers both bases, but you’ll spend a little more money upfront.
The bottom line is that both types of routers have their advantages. If you just need a router to do a lot of trim work, then you won’t need anything more than a good fixed-base router. But if you’re going to expand your portfolio of projects, then you would be doing yourself a favor to purchase the more versatile plunge router.