Using a Plunge Router in a Router Table?
posted on March 8, 2007 by Rockler

Are a plunge router and a router table a good match? This Woodworker's Journal eZine reader heard that the combination can be "difficult and dangerous". Below, Ellis Walentine, Michael Dresdner and Lee Grindinger offer opinions to the contrary.

Q: I've heard it's both difficult and dangerous to mount a plunge router in a router table & but that's exactly what I want to do. Could I get some expert advice? I'm not doing woodworking for a living & just as a hobby and for home repairs.

A. Ellis Wallentine: "You may encounter some minor difficulties, depending on the router model you are using, but I don't know of any particular dangers inherent in using a plunge router in a router table; I've done it for years, with various brands of routers. The main difficulty is the awkwardness of adjusting the height of the bit above the table. If your baseplate insert isn't screwed down, you won't be able to simply unlock the plunge lock and manually plunge the bit to the desired height because the plunge springs will push the baseplate right out of the table. You can do it by turning the router's depth adjustment knob, but the process is annoyingly slow and you have to release the plunge lock on the router before you can turn the knob. Further, not all plunge routers have such knobs, although aftermarket add-ons are available for most routers.

"Some people argue that a plunge router isn't a good choice for a router table because it has too much play in the mechanisms for the most accurate work. I disagree. Modern plunge routers are very sturdily built, and you won't notice any degrade in performance. The best reason to use a plunge router in a table is because you can only afford one router and a big plunge router is it. If you can afford two routers, I suggest using a fixed-base router in your router table and reserving the plunge router for those jobs where the plunge feature is actually useful, as in dadoing and mortising operations or when using patterns and template bushings.

"If you don't plan to do any extremely heavy-duty routing, such as panel raising with one of those 3" diameter horizontal cutters, a good compromise for you might be to get one of the combination kits, such as those made by DeWalt and Porter-Cable, that include one medium-duty router motor and two bases -- a fixed base and a plunge base. You can keep the fixed base installed in your router table all the time, so it's always a quick operation to convert from handheld to table use."

A. Michael Dresdner: " I don't feel it is either difficult or dangerous, and almost everyone I know has at least one of their routers mounted in a table (myself included). In fact, several companies (including Porter-Cable and Bosch) sell kits with one router and two bases -- a fixed base to mount permanently in the table, and a plunge base for handheld work. There are also many pre-drilled mounting table plates to attach the router, which makes the whole job downright simple. You'll find some at www.rockler.com. While you are there, look at the accessories that allow you to adjust the height of the router without removing it from the table.

"If the router will stay mounted in the table, and not be removed for plunge work, consider removing the springs from the plunge mechanism. They are there to counteract gravity when the router is right-side-up, but will work against you when it is upside-down, as it will be in the table."

A. Lee Grindinger: "Go ahead and mount it in your table. Make sure your depths are well locked when you set the thing up. Not everyone can afford a dedicated router for a table, so it's common to use the same router for both handheld operations and table work. As always, just be very cautious as you use it."

From the Woodworker's Journal eZine archives

As mentioned above, a router that comes with a plunge and a fixed base, like the Porter Cable 895PK package or this Bosch Router is a good choice, especially if you're not in the market for a "dedicated" router / router table combo. The fixed base of either attaches easily to the predrilled plates available for Rockler Standard Router Table packages. That way, you can just leave the fixed base in the table permanently and slip the motor out, and into your plunge base, when you need to do handheld work.

Using a plunge router in a router table is a fairly common practice, and if you already own one, you'll be glad to know that predrilled router table plates are available for a variety of models and manufacturers. And there's a large plate option too, for huskier routers like the Porter Cable 7539.

posted on March 8, 2007 by Rockler
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8 thoughts on “Using a Plunge Router in a Router Table?”

  • Rick Freiwald

    I'm hoping that I'm not doing something dangerous, but a friend told me to remove the springs from my Ryobi plunge router when mounting it on the table. It seems to work fine, the adjustments are easy to make, and there's no visible chatter marks on completed pieces. <br /><br /> Is it okay to remove the springs without some kind of hidden danger?<br /><br />Thanks!<br /><br />Rick

  • Blog Editor

    Thanks for the question. We're hesitant to "officially" recommend modifying a power tool; the router manufacturer is the most reliable source of information on hidden dangers involved in modifying a tool.<br /><br />That said, we're pretty sure that the sole purpose of the springs is to lift the router motor when you are using it as a handheld tool. The springs are, of course, counter productive when the router is upside-down in a table. You'll notice that Michael Dresdner recommends removing the springs (above). As long as the depth lockdown still functions reliably, removing the springs shouldn't cause a safety issue. Again, if you suspect that there might be a problem, most manufacturers have a tech support department and are happy to answer safety questions.

  • Trent Kelly

    I have been using a DeWalt DW621 plunge router mounted on a table for over four years. Depth adjustment and locking on the power switch can be a little tricky upside down until you get used to it. I've had no problems with this configuration which uses the 1/4 pre-drilled aluminum plate available here at Rockler. When I adjust the depth, I just position my fence over the top of my plate. The fence keeps the plate from pushing up even though it isn't screwed down. If I don't want to move the fence, I just clamp a piece of wood to the edges of my table so that it holds the plate down.

  • Cliff Yuill

    I am using a Porter Cable 690 series router with a plunge base mounted in a Bosch router table. For ease of adjustment I am considering an above-table adjusting tool, "Router Razer" sold my MLCS Woodworking. Has anyone had experience with this add-on and do I need to remove the springs in my router base.

  • Blog Editor

    Thanks for the question. The <a href="http://www.rockler.com/product.cfm?Offerings_ID=6396" rel="nofollow">Router Raizer</a> requires a few minor modifications to your router, but from we've heard, they're worth the effort. Router Raizer installation instructions for a variety of routers are available in pdf form on the <a href="http://www.routertechnologies.com/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Router Technologies</a> website. They cover the procedure in detail.

  • I use a Triton 3 1/4 hp plunge router in my table and it works great. The operator manual even says to remove the plunge spring if you use it in a table.

  • Tom

    LOL, I used a PC plunge router in my PC router table for a while, and I hated it! Forget about dangerous, it's annoying and inconvenient. Never again.

  • Linda Master

    I used a very small homemade jack stand (found in the trash). It has a long bolt, a nut which raises and lowers it, and put it below the table. I built my table with a table insert. The plunge router screwed to the insert and locked down with carriage bolts and wing nuts. Release the lock knob on the router and and turn the nut on the jack stand to raise and lower the bit! Works great! Nothing dangerous, no vibration either.

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