Last Updated on May 16, 2022 | Andrew Jason

When beginning with woodwork or laying the foundation of a new workshop, routers are an utterly important and at the same time a wonderful addition to your collection. In the industry, people claim that routers are the true example of versatility. Well, that’s justifiable. The possibility of adding creativity to your woodworks is endless, and if you have a router at your hand then you can make these possibilities a reality!

fixed vs plunge router

A woodwork shop has many routers. Each router serves a different purpose. Now, it is humanly impossible to buy them all. While buying you might even get confused on which one to go for? Whether it is a plunge router that will fit deem to your needs or a fixed router, that will prove to be a fruitful purchase? Some might even not know what a plunge or fixed router is. Well, if you are one of those people. Then, this is the perfect place for you! In this article, we will explain what fixed and plunge routers are, what purpose does each serve, and which is the one for you?


What is a Fixed Router Used For?

In the fixed router, the location of the router bit is constant with a fixed base router. In other words, if a fixed base router is set to a cut depth of 1 by 4 in inches, the router bit will extend past the base 1 by 4 inches until the depth is changed. Edgework, such as routing architrave and skirting boards, is often better suited to fixed-base routers. The router bit always stays in the very same location. It’s as simple as setting the depth you want, and it’ll give you precise results each time. This is perfect for creating wood designs that recur.

Advantages of Fixed Router

  • Better control
  • Repeated applications
  • Router table
  • For beginners
  • Maximum flexibility

Better Control

A fixed router gives much better control over the project in work and is preferred by the professionals for ideal free edge handwork. A fixed router gives you more stability over the workpiece as your hands are closer to the workpiece. 

Repeated Applications

If you’re routing, again and again, a fixed router works ideally in such circumstances. Once you have set the depth you don’t need to go again and again to change it. The depth in a fixed router will remain the same. No more, no less.  Hence, it’s considered ideal for recurring designs. 

Router Table

The biggest reason to use a fixed router is that it’s compatible with a router table. The process of setting up a fixed router with a router table is also easy. The router table helps you to do your woodwork with greater precision and comfort. 

Beginners 

Fixed base routers are fantastic for folks who aren’t as experienced with woodworking. These routers may also be used to properly shape the edges of the wood as needed, which the plunge router cannot do nearly as well. These routers provide you the precision you need without having years of experience with woodworking. 

Maximum Flexibility 

When installed on the bottom of a benchtop router table, a fixed base router does excellent work. Fixed base routers are similarly light and maneuverable, especially if they are mounted on a router table, hence providing maximum flexibility.

Where does the Fixed Router Fall short?

Fixed base routers, on the other hand, do not provide a similar level of flexibility as plunging routers. If you are ever required to take work that needs movement in various directions, a fixed base router may not be the ideal option. Furthermore, the fixed base router is unable to start cutting amid the wood. It’s because fixed-base routers already have a fixed cutting bit, which is always just above the center of the wood.


What is a Plunge Router Used For?

A plunge router is a router whose depth can be adjusted. Whenever the lock is released, the router travels up and down, allowing you to plunge into the middle of a cut. It includes a scale. This router assists you in determining the optimum height. It offers changeable speeds for working with various bit sizes. When performing an interior cut with a plunge router, a template guide can be utilized to lead the bit around the template. Using a template guide, you may pause the cutting in the midst and return later to complete it.

Advantages of Plunge Router

  • Template routers
  • Fine adjustment 
  • Bit Protection 
  • Specialized bits
  • Versatility

Template Routers 

When you’re using a plunge router, you may easily route templates with guide bushings. Simply place the router above the template, switch it on, set the depth of the bit, and rout. For a while, you might be able to walk away with tipping it into the cut, but that template will eventually catch up with you. The template routing makes things a lot easier for woodworkers with the pile of work.

Fine Adjustments 

Fine-tuning a plunge router is straightforward thanks to micro-adjustable depth controls. On some fixed-based routers, making small adjustments in bit height might be a pain. Plunge routers let users read and fine-tune the depth directly on the router.

Bit Protection 

Bit protection is one benefit a plunge router provides over a fixed-base device. If you’re not using it, a plunge router immediately covers and protects your pricey pieces. Simply depress the lock lever with your finger, and the spring-loaded mechanism reverses the housing, raising the bit into the router base’s protection. This shields your bits, fingers, and worktop from harm. 

Specialized Bits 

With a plunge router, you can get the most out of some common parts. On the top, bottom, and sides of these specialty bits are cutters. Hence, it’s easy to cut because of these specially designed bits. 

Versatility

When you desire to alter the depth of the cutting bit precisely where you require it, plunge routers are fantastic. After all, plunge routers are developed to work dependent on the initial amount of force applied to the cutting bit. Plunge routers provide greater functional capacity than a router that can only remain in one location, making them ideal for people who need to labor using varying cut depths.

Where does the Plunge Router lack?

Plunge routers are not inexpensive. They are also not the greatest routers for beginners in the woodworking industry. They can’t be used as a base, which can be inconvenient at times. One significant disadvantage is that some plunge routers are incompatible with the router table. Plunge routers can only be used by skilled woodworkers who are ready to relocate the router whenever something involves cutting and the people who have the financial means to pay for this costly router.


Fixed vs Plunge: Which router is the best for you?

Which router is for you depends entirely on your needs? If you’re a professional with years of experience and you don’t mind spending a fortune on this device, then it’s probably a Plunge router for you. Plunge routers come in handy when one needs to work on various varying depths. 

On the other occasion if you do your woodwork occasionally and are interested in getting something that can get your basic job done. Then choose a fixed router. A fixed router might not be as versatile as a plunge router, but it can easily get the job done. And who knows it might even provide a perfect introduction to the world of woodworking tools.


Conclusion

Whether it’s a Plunge router or a fixed base router, both deserve a spotlight in the world of woodworks as each comes with its benefits. However, if you must choose one, you must evaluate the nature of your tasks as well as your level of expertise, since these are the most significant aspects to consider.

At the end of the day, when it comes to router types, there is no clear winner. If you use both types of routers frequently, Plunge and fixed routers, on the other hand, are designed for specific woodworking jobs. Plunge and fixed routers are great tools that accomplish exactly what they’re designed to do when utilized appropriately. You will not be upset if you examine the task at hand and select the appropriate router.