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At first glance, a plunge router may seem similar to a fixed base router, but it offers a unique feature that sets it apart – the ability to plunge the bit into the wood while it is running. This feature allows for precise and controlled cuts, making it an essential tool in various woodworking applications, such as creating dadoes, mortises, and intricate designs.
In this comprehensive guide, we will not only introduce you to the best plunge routers for woodworking but also highlight the advantages and benefits of using these routers in your projects. Whether you are a beginner looking to embark on your first woodworking project or a seasoned pro seeking an upgrade, we’ve got you covered.
Looking to save money? Check out our picks for the most affordable routers you can find.
8 Top Plunge Routers for Woodworking (Summary)
Makita RP2301FC 3-1/4 HP* Plunge Router
Festool 574692 Router OF 1400 EQ Imperial
BOSCH MRP23EVS 120-Volt 2.3 HP Electronic Plunge Base Router
WEN RT6033 15-Amp Variable Speed Plunge Woodworking Router Kit
Triton TRA001 3-1/4 HP Dual Mode Precision Plunge Router
Hammerhead 10-Amp Variable Speed Plunge Woodworking Router Kit
Ryobi RE180PL1G 2HP Peak 10-Amp Plunge Router
Lotos ER001 Electric Plunge Wood Router with Edge
1. Makita RP2301FC 3-1/4 HP Plunge Router
When we talk about top-notch plunge routers for woodworking, one name that stands out is the Makita RP2301FC Model. This powerhouse router is designed to handle even the most demanding woodworking tasks with ease.
The 3-1/4 horsepower motor provided exceptional cutting power, allowing us to tackle both softwoods and hardwoods effortlessly. Combined with the variable speed control, which ranges from 9,000 to 22,000 RPM, you have complete control over the router’s performance for different applications.
Another standout feature of the Makita RP2301FC is its smooth and precise plunge action. The plunge depth can be easily adjusted with the depth adjustment knob, allowing for accurate routing at various depths. This makes it ideal for creating grooves, mortises, and other intricate woodworking details.
2. Festool 574692 Router OF 1400 EQ Imperial
This plunge router offers precise control and exceptional performance, making it a top option on our list. What we liked most about the Festool 574692 is its ergonomic handle with a full-grip design, providing increased control and comfort during use. This allows for steady and accurate routing, even during intricate tasks.
The router’s plunge action is smooth, ensuring clean and precise cuts. With a plunge depth of 2-3/4″, we had the flexibility to work on various woodworking projects with ease.
Micro-adjustable depth control is another great feature of the Festool 574692. It allowed us to make precise adjustments with ball detents, providing accurate routing at increments as small as 1/256″ (1/10 mm). This level of precision is crucial when achieving fine details and creating intricate designs.
3. BOSCH MRP23EVS 120-Volt 2.3 HP Electronic Plunge Base Router
One model that has truly impressed us is the BOSCH MRP23EVS Plunge Base Router. This router is packed with features that make it a top contender for any woodworking project.
The first thing that stands out to us is its powerful 2.3 horsepower motor. This motor delivered consistent and reliable performance, allowing us to tackle even the toughest materials with ease. The variable speed control ranging from 10,000 to 25,000 RPM gave us the flexibility to adjust the speed based on different woodworking tasks.
One of the standout features of this plunge router is the electronic feedback circuitry. This technology ensures that the router maintains a constant speed under load, providing smooth and consistent cuts every time. Additionally, the soft-start feature allows for gradual acceleration, reducing the chances of any sudden movement or kickback.
4. WEN RT6033 15-Amp Variable Speed Plunge Woodworking Router Kit
This kit is perfect for both beginners and experienced woodworkers, providing excellent performance and versatility.
One of the standout features of the WEN RT6033 is its powerful 15-amp motor, which delivers consistent and reliable power for a wide range of woodworking tasks. The variable speed control allowed us to adjust the router’s speed according to the specific requirements of our project.
With a plunge depth of up to 2-3/8 inches and the included edge guide, this router provides precise and accurate cuts. The kit also comes with a carrying case, ensuring convenient storage and portability, making it an ideal choice for those who need to transport their tools to different job sites.
5. Triton TRA001 3-1/4 HP Dual Mode Precision Plunge Router
We had the opportunity to work with the Triton TRA001 Dual Mode Precision Plunge Router, and it truly impressed us with its powerful performance and precision. It comes with an impressive 3-1/4 horsepower motor, which allows for smooth and consistent cuts. Whether we were working with hardwood or softwood, this router handled it all with ease.
The dual-mode functionality is a great feature that added versatility to our woodworking projects. With a simple switch, we could transition from conventional plunge routing to fixed-base routing, making it suitable for different types of cuts and applications.
The micro winder enables continuous fine depth adjustment, allowing for precise routing at any depth you desire. This makes it ideal for creating grooves, dados, and other intricate details in your projects.
6. Hammerhead 10-Amp Variable Speed Plunge Woodworking Router Kit
The Hammerhead Plunge Woodworking Router Kit deserves a special mention. One of the significant advantages is its powerful 10-amp motor, which provided ample cutting power for various woodworking tasks. The variable speed control allowed for precise control over the cutting speed, catering to different materials and applications.
The plunge action of this router is smooth and controlled, making it easy to achieve accurate and clean cuts. The variable plunge depth allowed for flexibility in routing depths, providing creative opportunities for our projects.
In terms of convenience, the Hammerhead router kit shines. The kit includes a parallel guide and a vacuum adaptor, enhancing precision and dust extraction capabilities. Additionally, the carrying case ensures convenient storage and transportation of the router and its accessories.
7. Ryobi RE180PL1G 2HP Peak 10-Amp Plunge Router
We also had the chance to get our hands on the Ryobi RE180PL1G Plunge Router, one of the advantages is its 2-horsepower peak motor, which provides ample power for most woodworking tasks. The 10-amp motor ensures consistent performance, making it suitable for both beginners and experienced woodworkers.
This plunge router offers variable speed control, allowing us to adjust the cutting speed according to the material and application. This versatility was essential for achieving precise and clean cuts in different projects.
The plunge action on the Ryobi RE180PL1G is smooth and controlled, allowing for accurate depth adjustments. The easy-to-use depth stop ensures repetitive cuts at consistent depths, making it ideal for creating grooves, dados, and other intricate details.
8. Lotos ER001 Electric Plunge Wood Router
Last on our list is the Lotos ER001. The brand might not be well known in our field, but this router certainly provides consistent and reliable cutting power. The plunge action is smooth and controlled, allowing for precise and accurate cuts.
The Lotos ER001 also comes with an edge guide, which enhances the router’s functionality and adds stability when working on edges and corners. This makes it ideal for creating decorative edges and patterns.
In terms of convenience, this router is lightweight and easy to maneuver, reducing fatigue during extended use.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Plunge Router (Buying Guide)
Power and Motor Strength
Check the power rating of the router, usually measured in horsepower (HP). Higher power ratings indicate a more powerful motor, allowing for smoother and more efficient cutting, especially when working with hardwood.
Variable Speed Control
Look for a plunge router with variable speed control. This feature allows you to adjust the cutting speed of the router according to the specific requirements of your project. It provides greater versatility and control, allowing you to match the speed to the material being worked on.
Depth Adjustment Mechanism
The depth adjustment mechanism is crucial for precise and accurate routing. Ensure that the plunge router you choose has a reliable and easy-to-use depth adjustment system. This will allow you to set the desired depth for consistent and repeatable cuts.
Collet Size and Compatibility
Consider the collet size of the router, which determines the size of router bits that can be used. Most routers offer both 1/4-inch and 1/2-inch collet sizes, providing versatility for different cutting tasks. Verify the compatibility of router bits you already have or plan to use with the chosen plunge router.
Ergonomics and Comfort Features
Look for a plunge router with ergonomic handles that provide a comfortable grip, minimizing hand fatigue during extended use. Check for additional comfort features, such as rubberized grips or vibration dampening, to enhance your overall woodworking experience.
Essential Accessories For Plunge Routers
These are the cutting tools that attach to the router’s collet. Invest in a good set of router bits with various profiles and sizes to achieve different cuts, such as straight, chamfer, dado, and more.
Edge guides are attachments that help you achieve precise and straight cuts along the edge of the workpiece. They provide stability and accuracy, especially when working on long and narrow pieces.
Template Guides and Bushings
Template guides allow you to follow templates or patterns to create repeating shapes and designs. They guide the router bit along the outline of the template, ensuring consistent and accurate cuts.
While plunge routers are primarily designed for handheld use, having a router table expands their capabilities. A router table provides stability, control, and enhanced features such as easy height adjustment and additional safety measures.
Dust Collection System
Woodworking can generate a significant amount of dust and debris, which can be harmful to your health and create a messy work environment. A dust collection system, such as a shop vacuum or dedicated dust extractor, helps to keep your workspace clean and ensures better visibility when routing.
Clamps are essential for securing your workpiece in place, especially when using an edge guide or template. They help prevent movement or vibration, ensuring precise and safe routing.
Always prioritize safety when working with power tools. Wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), including safety glasses, hearing protection, and a dust mask to protect your eyes, ears, and lungs from potential hazards.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What are the main advantages of using a plunge router in woodworking?
These range from its ability to make precise and controlled cuts at various depths, versatility for different routing tasks such as dados and mortises, and the convenience of being able to start the cut at any point in the material.
How does the plunge router differ from a fixed base router?
The main difference between a plunge router and a fixed base router is the ability to plunge the bit into the material while the router is running. A plunge router provides the flexibility to adjust the cutting depth while in use, whereas a fixed base router has a fixed cutting depth and is primarily used for edge routing operations.
Can a plunge router be used as a fixed router?
Yes. There are fixed/plunge router combo kits available that allow you to switch between fixed and plunge bases, providing you with versatility for different woodworking tasks. One recommended combo kit is the BOSCH 1617EVSPK Wood 12 Amp Router Tool Combo Kit.
Can I use any brand of router bits with a plunge router?
Yes, in general, you can use router bits from different brands with a plunge router as long as the bit shank size matches the collet size of the router. Most plunge routers offer compatibility with both 1/4-inch and 1/2-inch router bits, which are the standard sizes in the industry.
Can I use a plunge router for cutting edges?
While plunge routers can be used for some edge-cutting tasks, it is generally recommended to use trim routers specifically designed for cutting edges. Trim routers are smaller, more maneuverable, and provide better control for precise edge work.
Can a plunge router be used on a router table?
Yes, some plunge routers can be used on a router table by removing the plunge base and mounting the router on the table. However, it is important to ensure that the specific plunge router you have is compatible with router table use as not all plunge routers are designed for this purpose.
Each of the top plunge routers discussed in this article has its own unique strengths and considerations. Selecting the ideal router depends on individual preferences, project requirements, and budget. Whether you’re a beginner looking to expand your woodworking skills or a professional looking for precision and power, the right plunge router can elevate your projects to new heights.
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