Which is better, a fixed base router or plunge base router? First, let’s make sure everyone is understands the difference between the two. With a fixed base router, the position of the router bit is constant. In other words, if you set a fixed base router at a cut depth of 1/4", the router bit protrudes past the base 1/4" until you change the depth. A plunge base router is designed so that you can preset the cut depth and then lower (“plunge”) the bit into the cut with the router’s base flat on the surface of the material. Which one should you get? Below, Woodworker’s Journal editor Rob Johnstone and woodworking author Michael Dresdner offer a few words of advice:
Q. I'm looking to get my first router, and have noticed several offered with both fixed and plunge bases. Do I need both? Which is used most often? I just plan to do a few miscellaneous home improvement projects."
A. Rob Johnstone: "If you're truly only going to do a few home improvements, go with the plunge base. You'll have more options and you can always lock it so it acts like a fixed base router."
A. Michael Dresdner: "The question is not do you need both now, but will you at some point in the future. My bet would be yes. Kits with both fixed and plunge bases are a great way to get a lot of versatility in just one router purchase. I'd definitely go that route."
From the Woodworker's Journal eZine archives