Why Fixed base when you can plunge?

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Forum topic by 404 - Not Found posted 04-03-2013 01:02 AM 1636 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 2964 days

04-03-2013 01:02 AM

I have never used a fixed base router. Fixed base routers are not big here and never have been, they look awkward to me for depth adj. and bit change, and don’t have as good a view of the cutter. You could say I’m suspicious of them. Or am I wrong?, what is it about a fixed base router that makes it better than a plunge router? They certainly seem popular amongst LJ’s on the left side of the Atlantic.

14 replies so far

View devann's profile


2246 posts in 2687 days

#1 posted 04-03-2013 01:21 AM

Ease of depth adjustment compared to the plunge base. Same goes for table use if you don’t have the top type adjustment.

-- Darrell, making more sawdust than I know what to do with

View Loren's profile (online now)


10378 posts in 3643 days

#2 posted 04-03-2013 01:22 AM

Well, they are cheap in the states and used ones are common.
Professionals sometimes own dozens and leave most of them
set up permanently for one cut depth.

They also have a lower center of gravity than most plunge
routers so they are less tippy in poorly supported cuts.
The handles on the base and the way you can wrap your
hand around the base at the bottom is nice too.
I often wedge my hand in between the handle and
the base. Plunge routers have less to hang onto down

View woodbutcherbynight's profile


4527 posts in 2404 days

#3 posted 04-03-2013 01:25 AM

Have no idea, I have 4 routers, two of each and a cheap Harbor Frieght laminate trimmer for those quick trim jobs. One plunge router is mounted to the table, the others are freehand. In looking at my Dewalt pluge router it is much larger than the fixed base and admittably with my wrist issue weight is a factor.

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

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404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 2964 days

#4 posted 04-03-2013 01:26 AM

Is it possible to plunge then for stopped dadoes? What sort of depth of cut can you get from a FB?

View Loren's profile (online now)


10378 posts in 3643 days

#5 posted 04-03-2013 01:33 AM

You can usually get them to adjust so the front of the
collet nut is at least flush with the sub-base I think…
so from there it’s your cutter that defines the depth.

Depth varies from design to design. Some of the newer
ones are designed for router table use (Milwaukee,

You can plunge them by adjusting the depth while
holding the router steady, but it can be a little wiggly,
again depending on how the router is designed. Shallow
plunge cuts can be made by holding the router at an
angle on one edge and lowering it by hand. Old
woodworking magazine articles describe mortising this
was. The first plungers available in the states were
probably Makita in the late 70s or so. Pros who had
never even heard of a European slot mortiser snapped
them up and marveled at their mortising power…

European machines were barely available in the USA
before 1980 and obviously European design trends
are different from classic American iron.

View vipond33's profile


1405 posts in 2493 days

#6 posted 04-04-2013 02:21 AM

I use FB almost exclusively. Depth adjustment (Porter Cable style with the moveable ring and spiral grooves) is very easy and quite precise. Field of view is good as I swap out bases with larger holes when needed. One thing I much prefer over plunge style is that the FB (being enclosed in a full body ring enclosure) is more accurate on the true 90 degree relation to the work. I find most plunge styles rather wobbly on the two smallish guide rods and as mentioned the centre of gravity and handles are much too high. I don’t do stopped dadoes, nobody tells me when to stop. If you do get a FB, get a D handle type – they are supreme.

690-6911 with shop made aluminum/micarta base plate and edge guide.

-- gene@toronto.ontario.canada : dovetail free since '53, critiques always welcome.

View jonwright's profile


68 posts in 1932 days

#7 posted 04-04-2013 02:26 AM

I have the Bosch MV23 combo router. I used the plunge base for edge work, but like most folks have already mentioned its not very stable. I was getting disappointed in my router for the simple edge jobs. Then I unscrewed the fixed base from the table and gave it a shot.

Much, much better. Easier to control and more stable for sure. Setting depth is pretty easy, too.

Definately worth doing. I didn’t think it was that big a deal just reading about it on forums, but now I’ve seen it for myself.

View MT_Stringer's profile


3168 posts in 3226 days

#8 posted 04-04-2013 02:36 AM

I have two fixed bases mounted under two different router table tops. I use the plunge base for hand held operations.

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View Scott C.'s profile

Scott C.

158 posts in 2046 days

#9 posted 04-04-2013 02:38 AM

I have a plunge router mounted to a table, but I’ve recently removed the springs. Much easier to deal with depth adjustments now.

-- measure twice, cut once, swear and start over.

View crank49's profile


4030 posts in 2966 days

#10 posted 04-05-2013 12:46 AM

Well, my first router was fixed base because in 1970 I don’t think they had invented the plunge base routers yet.

View knotscott's profile


8008 posts in 3371 days

#11 posted 04-05-2013 12:57 AM

Fixed base routers have less inherent slop.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View pvwoodcrafts's profile


244 posts in 3917 days

#12 posted 04-05-2013 01:20 AM

I don’t grab a plunge router lest I have to use one.I use router every day and don’t like the top heavy plungers.

-- mike & judy western md. www.

View HorizontalMike's profile


7755 posts in 2909 days

#13 posted 04-05-2013 01:24 AM

I bought a combo fixed/plunge based Ridgid router and put the fixed base in my horizontal mortiser and saved the plunge base for hand work. Never looked back.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View mcase's profile


446 posts in 3124 days

#14 posted 04-05-2013 03:23 AM

If your using a dovetail jig I’m a guessing you want to stick with a fixed base!

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