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If you want to get into woodworking or you are already doing something that requires woodworking skills, and you don’t have a router, then this article will be beneficial to you. Even if you have a router already, you can read it because you might just find some useful information about them that you can use to your advantage and improve your skills. Of course, we will not take you through the process of routing, and how it should be done, that is a whole other story, what we are trying to do here is answer one pervasive question.

That question is which router is better for woodworking – the plunge router or the fixed base router. In case you are wondering what the answer to that question is, we suggest you stay here because we have gathered some general information about both of them and we will compare the results.

Plunge Router

We would like to start by first explaining how a plunge router works and what are some of the general pros and cons of it. Remember, we have gathered this information from our personal sources by testing each router out and comparing the results. The plunge router is a little bit more complicated to use if you don’t have any previous experience, but it is nothing that should scare you because a little practice will be enough for you to get good at it. The main difference between the plunge and the fixed router is that the plunge router is required to move up and down on the base which is possible due to the arms with strong springs inside of them.

Plunge Router

A plunge router has two arms, one at each side, and they allow the user to manually plunge into the wood and start cutting right into the material. That is the reason why it is called a plunge router; the user has to dive the cutting bit into the wood using force to start cutting. One of the benefits or advantages of using a plunge router over a fixed base one is that it offers a much smoother fluting, grooves and dados applications in the material. Some people think that these routers cannot be used for edge working, but that is not true, they can, but you will not get the same quality result as with a fixed base router. You can also profile all the edges using a round-over cutting bit.

Fixed Base Routers

Fixed routers are more common in professional woodworking shops because mainly they offer a higher quality result than the plunge routers, but that doesn’t mean that the plunge models are not good. If you are just getting into woodworking and you want to purchase your first router, we suggest that you start with a fixed base one because it’s easier to use as it offers a much more precise cut. When working with wood, especially when working with smaller pieces, the most important thing is to have precision, and a fixed router can give you precisely that.

The reason why it is called the fixed base router is that as you might have guessed the router is physically locked in one place and set completely. That way the cutting bit is not able to move anywhere. That is the main reason why it offers more precision than plungers. The plunge router relies on your power to drive the cutting bit into the material, but the fixed one cannot be moved once you set it in place. The one bad thing that you will have with this type of a router is that when you need to cut the material from the top, you will have a tough time because it is not made and designed for tasks like that.

Fixed Base Routers

Which One is Easier to Use?

One of the common questions that people have about these routers is which one is easier to use because there is a lot of people who have no experience with woodworking at all and they are looking to find the most comfortable way. Well, that question cannot be answered quickly. There are a lot of different things that we need to consider and explain before making any statements. You should never buy a power tool just because it is easier to use. Buy the power tool that you need for. In this case, if you need to cut the material from the top, for example, you shouldn’t even consider buying yourself a fixed router because they are not designed for that cutting. However, if you need some exact cuts around the edges, the fixed base model is the best option for you.

If we needed to pick one out of these two and say which one is easier to use, we would most likely have to say that the fixed base type is a little easier to master for people without any experience. The reason for that is that it offers far more precise results and you don’t need much skill because the tool will do all the hard work for you.

Pros and Cons of Plunge Router

Pros

  • Some of the pros of using a plunge router would be that it offers the user freedom to adjust the exact depth of the cutting bit even during the cutting. This means that you don’t have to stop the tool just to change the depth. You can just continue with the cutting and adjust the depth by pressing or releasing the arms found on the base sides.
  • The second pro is that they give the user more movement control when moving vertically and the best thing about it is that they allow the user to start cutting from the middle of the material.
  • Overall, these routers are far more versatile than the models with a fixed base, and if you are looking for a power tool that can do more things, then this is the right tool for you.

Cons

  • The cons of the plunge routers are that they are far more expensive than the other ones and the reason for that is because they are more versatile.
  • The second con is that you need some experience to use this power tool the right way.
  • The last drawback is that we were able to find about these routers is that they cannot be mounted on a fixed table base. You can only use them by physically moving them on the material that you want to cut.

Pros and Cons of Fixed Base Routers

Pros

  • One of the pros of a fixed base routers is that they are the perfect power tool for rookie woodworkers who don’t have a lot of experience handling large power tools and working with materials.
  • The second benefit is that they are perfect for shaping the edges of the material. They provide the highest quality and precision that you can find because they are fixed in one position.
  • The third pro is that they have a smaller and lighter body, so you can easily handle it.
  • Also, it is worth mentioning that if you have a table base, you can use them with your fixed base routers for even more precision.

Cons

  • Some of the cons that we found about these routers are: they are not as versatile as the plunger routers, which makes them less desirable for some tasks.
  • The last con that we found is that they can’t be used to perform any cutting that requires you to cut in the middle of the material from above because of the fixed cutting bit.

Which is better for Woodworking?

Now for the part that everyone has been waiting for – the answer that you all want to know, which is better for woodworking the plunger or the fixed base router? Well because you have made it this far in this article we will share our professional opinion with you. As we have mentioned it above, if you don’t have any previous woodworking experience or you never worked with large power tools like this, the fixed model will be a much better and smarter choice. The reason for that is because it is easier to use and handle when you are new to all of this.

If you have been working with materials such as wood or large power tools for a long time and you have experience, you might want to purchase a plunge router because it is a far more versatile power tool that has a broader area of application. This tool will allow you to do various cuts and if you know how to use it correctly, you will not lose any of the quality. So, when compared, both of them are good and will do the job, but if you are looking to get serious about your woodworking, then the plunger router is the best choice for you. Ideally, you should get both plunger types, just to make sure that you have everything covered.

Plunge Router vs. Fixed Base Router: Which One to Choose
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