Plunge Router or Fixed Base Router?

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Forum topic by tool248 posted 09-23-2013 05:16 PM 3151 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View tool248's profile


11 posts in 2073 days

09-23-2013 05:16 PM

First off, I have to say that this website is great for getting ideas or getting my novice questions answered, so thank you for all who contribute. I have gotten many different ideas for projects, jigs, and techniques. In fact, my project list is becoming longer and longer since I don’t have much time to devote to woodworking.

Now for my question:
I have been into woodworking for a few years now and have slowly become more inclined to take on bigger projects. Currently, I have a benchtop router table and a Craftsman fixed base router, but I want to start making end grain cutting boards and would like to cut a drain groove around the perimeter of them. Most of the posts I see about how to do this say a plunge router with a core box bit is the best for this situation. Therefore, I am wondering if I should go ahead and buy a plunge/fixed base combo router or if there is any way I could make my Craftsman fixed base router work. I am also wanting to cut circles out of plywood with a circle jig and wanted to get peoples’ opinions on which type of router would be better for this. If I would need a plunge/fixed base combo router, I am looking at the Dewalt dw618pk – it looks like it got good reviews on LJ. Thanks in advance.

12 replies so far

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3882 days

#1 posted 09-23-2013 05:20 PM

DeWalt makes good routers. They are some of the better designed
ones and have the benefit of Black and Decker’s manufacturing
expertise and design/patent resources.

You can do it with a fixed base router. Go 1/8”-1/4” at a time
and “plunge” the router by tipping it into the cut. Before
the 1980s there were no plunge routers and that’s what
wodoworker’s did.

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5231 posts in 2728 days

#2 posted 09-23-2013 05:29 PM

I think you should go ahead and get one the kits (both bases). I would pass on the 618 however. While I think Dewalt tools are as good as any, I believe it’s that particular model that has a problem with switch failure. Someone will be along to correct me if I got the model numbers confused.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View Tedstor's profile


1678 posts in 2867 days

#3 posted 09-23-2013 05:32 PM

For your purposes, a plunge router would be ideal. I might even opt for one of the compact plunge models.
But Loren is right. The job can be done with a fixed base.

View firefighterontheside's profile


19580 posts in 2091 days

#4 posted 09-23-2013 05:32 PM

I have the Hitachi KM12VC combo and definitely recommend it. I have had it for about 7 years and it has been great. I have the fixed base installed in my table and use the plunge base for handheld routing. Very seldom do I actually need a plunge router. I am about to buy a 3 1/4 horse Triton plunge to mount in my table so I don’t have to constantly swap them out. I imagine that once I do this, I will probably do most of my handheld routing with the fixed base. I’ve not made cutting boards, but my first inclination for doing those drains would be to set up stops on my table and set the board down on the spinning bit and then move it from stop to stop. The board makers may suggest something else. Bottom line is, I recommend the Hitachi. It is a very good price, powerful at 2 1/4 hp, very smooth, quiet(relatively). What it doesn’t have is fine adjustment on the plunge.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View bigblockyeti's profile


5310 posts in 1955 days

#5 posted 09-23-2013 05:42 PM

The kits could be very advantageous down the road as you use the router more and more to complete projects. Most are a great bang for the buck given what they will allow you to do. You will almost certainly want something bigger should you decide to do raised panels on the router table. Variable speed is fairly common with most kits now and very worth it.

-- "Lack of effort will result in failure with amazing predictability" - Me

View NiteWalker's profile


2738 posts in 2811 days

#6 posted 09-23-2013 05:50 PM

Definitely go for a kit, but avoid the dewalt 618. The plunge base is the best out there, but the motors are unreliable. The magnetic speed control ring can/probably will break after some use. Most often it leaves you with a single (full) speed router once you clean the magnetic bits out, but it can also stop the router from working at all.

Both of my 618’s had the speed control rings break, and I’m not alone. Read some reviews on amazon, and forum posts.

The bosch 1671evspk is a great kit. The 1617evs motor is one of my favorites.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View Kaleb the Swede's profile

Kaleb the Swede

1879 posts in 2204 days

#7 posted 09-23-2013 06:18 PM

I never use a router table. A plunge router is the only thing I’ve ever used. It seems to make more sense having it in my hands as opposed to a table. To me they are invaluable.

-- Just trying to build something beautiful

View pintodeluxe's profile


5815 posts in 3047 days

#8 posted 09-23-2013 06:22 PM

I have 5 routers, and the one I reach for is the Dewalt 618. The ergonomics and low center of gravity on that unit are exceptional. I have used it for years with no problems. From precise inlays, to dados and dovetails – it will do it all.

I bought it from Lowes with their 5 year protection plan (very reasonable).

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View ColonelTravis's profile


1951 posts in 2128 days

#9 posted 09-24-2013 07:33 PM

I’ve got the Bosch 1671EVSPK combo, very satisfied.

I like making jigs but for whatever reason when it came to circles I thought screw it – and bought this one from Rockler on sale.

View teejk's profile


1215 posts in 2919 days

#10 posted 09-24-2013 07:45 PM

Definately the kit…dunno about Dewalt since my PS 693 kit has yet to die after several years (Dewalt now owns PC btw). I don’t use the plunge often because I do most of my dado work on the TS and my really old PC 690 fixed base is fine for my round-overs and any cut that doesn’t require a stopped cut. But the plunge does come into play when I want stopped dados or when punching holes for shelf supports. And like Kaleb, I sold my router table…I like to see what I am cutting from above.

View redSLED's profile


790 posts in 2127 days

#11 posted 09-24-2013 09:36 PM

Below would be my plain-and-simple most important things to consider when choosing new brand/model of router:

1. Routing panels, lots of hardwood, using big bits?
—Need 3+ HP router

2. Will use primarily in router table?
—Need a router whose bit height can be adjusted quickly and reasonably well from under the table (or above the table is a big bonus – like on the very latest Bosch, Makita, Milwaukee, Triton routers)

3. Router brand and model has consistent good reviews on:
—motor longevity
—zero runout
—plunge and adjustability controls

Just following the above criteria will lead you to only a few models – then it comes down to your preference for router size/power, price level and/or brand/loyalty.

-- Perfection is the difference between too much and not enough.

View DavidNJ's profile


389 posts in 2228 days

#12 posted 09-25-2013 04:40 AM

I got the Bosch combo last December. There was a holiday discount (I think $25 on orders over $100). Other than just working well, a nice feature of the Bosch is a wide range of accessories. I got the 1617 dual base kit for about $165, about the same price as the Hitachi.

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