Best Plunge Router Review and Buying Guide [2019]

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A plunge router is a versatile tool that provides a wider range of capabilities, especially when it comes to completing projects. You can use it to achieve deeper routing as well as a fixed router. You will also get additional tasks completed.

However, many people do not know how to choose the best plunge router. In this article, we have reviewed the top 5. We have included helpful product details based on their ease of use, durability, and power to help you make an informed decision.

Our Top Plunge Router Reviews

Brand
Best Overall
Dewalt DW618B3
Best for the Money
Bosch 1617EVSPK
Best Cheap Pick
Makita RT0701C
Product
DEWALT Router, Fixed/Plunge Base Kit, 12-Amp,...
Bosch 1617EVSPK Wood Router Tool Combo Kit - 2.25...
Makita RT0701C 1-1/4 HP Compact Router
Horsepower
2.25 HP
2.25 HP
1.25 HP
Product Dimensions
19.9 x 24 x 7.8 inches
6 x 11.5 x 11.6 inches
10 x 8 x 6 inches
Rating
Best Overall
Brand
Dewalt DW618B3
Product
DEWALT Router, Fixed/Plunge Base Kit, 12-Amp,...
Horsepower
2.25 HP
Product Dimensions
19.9 x 24 x 7.8 inches
Rating
Best for the Money
Brand
Bosch 1617EVSPK
Product
Bosch 1617EVSPK Wood Router Tool Combo Kit - 2.25...
Horsepower
2.25 HP
Product Dimensions
6 x 11.5 x 11.6 inches
Rating
Best Cheap Pick
Brand
Makita RT0701C
Product
Makita RT0701C 1-1/4 HP Compact Router
Horsepower
1.25 HP
Product Dimensions
10 x 8 x 6 inches
Rating

Best Overall Plunge Router: Dewalt DW618B3

Dewalt is a famous brand with an impressive track record. The DEWALT DW618B3 main selling point is its three base configurations. Most routers are either a single base or dual base. However, this device is equipped with three base settings: a D-handle base, fixed base, and plunge base.

DEWALT Router, Fixed/Plunge Base Kit, 12-Amp,...

The inclusion of a third base ensures greater precision and handling. Therefore, if your major concern is precision and you are looking for a router to help you achieve accurate cuts then the Dewalt router will make an excellent choice.

The router’s variable speed feature will help you achieve more precision. By adjusting the router to handle the demands of your project, you will get the results you desire. This is extremely important, especially when you’re handling tasks that require lots of control.

A router will help you make fine edges and cuts that are not possible with ordinary workshop tools. The DW618B3 has a power rating of 2.25 to help you handle heavy pieces of wood. It also means you can complete them within a short period.

Its 12 amperage motor will enable you to work with variable speeds that range from 8,000 RPM to 24,000 RPM. The speed can be changed depending on the type of tasks you are working on. You just have to adjust the variable speed dial.

The router’s speed control feature enables you to maintain speed load and avoid twisting and burning. The 8,000 RPM range can be used with diameter bits and cutters. The 24,000 RPM is ideal for softwoods, plastics, and laminates.

DEWALT Router, Fixed/Plunge Base Kit, 12-Amp,...
  • 2-1/4 max horsepower, 12-amp electronic variable-speed motor provides power to rout smoothly through...
  • Full feedback control for constant speed under load from 8,000-24,000 rpm and soft start to reduce...
  • D-handle incorporates trigger switch with lock-on feature

Another great feature of this Dewalt router is the lock-on feature. It makes adjusting the depth and changing bases easy and quick. It is also equipped with a start feature that enables you to minimize the torque. This is the router to get if you’re looking for a device with three base settings.

What We Like

  • Easy to change bases
  • Powerful motor
  • Dust collection system
  • Ergonomic grips
  • Adjustable power and speed
  • Three base settings
  • Spindle lock

What We Don’t Like

  • Can overheat
  • Expensive
  • Short cord

Best Plunge Router for the Money: Bosch 1617EVSPK

If you’re searching for a mid-sized router that is beginner-friendly, then the Bosch 1617EVSPK router will make a perfect choice. The tool is equipped with many features that qualify it as one of the best woodworking routers for beginners.

Bosch 1617EVSPK Wood Router Tool Combo Kit - 2.25...

However, it is also ideal for experienced woodworkers who desire to have a moderate device. One remarkable feature of this router is its Constant Response technology. The technology helps you prevent speed fluctuation by ensuring you get a uniform finish in the end.

The Bosch router boasts of a 2.25 horsepower rating for optimum performance. Apart from the high horsepower, this tool comes with both plunge and fixed base settings making it perfect for a wide range of applications.

Additionally, this router is equipped with two collets instead of one – ½ and ¼ inches. With a single collet, you will process a few bits. However, your option is unlimited with two. You’ll also be able to carry out many tasks with your device. Moreover, the motor can be switched easily with the help of the quick release feature.

When looking for a user-friendly router, the most important thing to check is the variable speed and soft start setting. Fortunately, the 1617EVSPK router is equipped with these two features.

When it comes to the variable speed feature, you can select values between 8,000 RPM to 25,000 RPM. The range is wide enough to handle most woodworking projects. The only challenge you may experience with this router is its bulky weight as it weighs 18.2 pounds.

Bosch 1617EVSPK Wood Router Tool Combo Kit - 2.25...
  • Versatile: this versatile kit can be used for a broad range of applications, including precise bit...
  • Durability: aluminum construction makes this one of our most durable wood routers yet with wooden...
  • Ease of use: rounded hardwood handles maximize user control

However, you can overcome this challenge. Use the tool on a surface that is solid instead of working on your tasks freehand. This router from Bosch will make an excellent choice for people who want a device that is easy to handle and convenient yet powerful at the same time.

What We Like

  • Soft start feature with variable speed motor
  • Precise plunge and fixed base cuts
  • Robust design for maximum durability
  • Motor alignment arrows
  • Aluminum housing and base
  • Two collets

What We Don’t Like

  • Tight release clamp
  • A bit costly

Best Budget Plunge Router: Makita RT0701C

It is crucial to take your time when choosing the right tool to perform the job. You probably will be using a router regularly. The Makita RT0701C qualifies as a powerful router available. It is also wallet-friendly, compact, and lightweight.

Makita RT0701C 1-1/4 HP Compact Router

The package kit includes a fixed base, plunge base, and an edge guide. This makes it versatile and perfect for different projects. It also has a bigger variable speed range of 10,000 RPM and 30,000 RPM.

Therefore, this device will make an ideal choice, especially if you are interested in speed. It is not easy to find a router that offers such a range.

Like the Dewalt DWP611PK, this device has 1.25 horsepower rating and 7 amperages. It also comes with a quick-release that has a cam lock. This comes in handy if you intend to work on tasks that may need lots of depth adjustments.

When you pair the offset base with the Makita router, you will be able to reach inaccessible places. The router’s pinion and gentle rack are other incredible features that ensure precise cuts.

Even though the router may be small, it is powerful enough to create perfect trims, dovetails, edging, hinges, and other small jobs. Beginners and experienced woodworkers will be comfortable using this tool. It performs both heavy and light-duty work. This is unlike other small routers that are only restricted to light projects.

Makita RT0701C 1-1/4 HP Compact Router
  • Variable speed control dial (10,000 to 30,000 RPM) enables user to match the speed to the...
  • Smooth rack and pinion fine depth adjustment system for more precise settings
  • Slim and ergonomically designed body for increased comfort and control

This device is equipped with a ¼ inch collet and a straight guide just like its Dewalt DWP611PK counterpart. The motor housing is constructed with aluminum to ensure durability. Buying the RT0701C router will be a good investment regardless of the tasks you intend to work on.

What We Like

  • Variable speed control
  • Convenient and precise
  • Aluminum motor housing
  • Easy to use
  • Inexpensive
  • Quick-release cam lock feature

What We Don’t Like

  • Small grips
  • Can overheat

Best Plunge Router for Beginners: Dewalt DWP611PK

The DEWALT DWP611PK boasts of exceptional precision, versatility, and performance. The router is known for its lightweight and compact design. Although it is perfect for anyone, first-time woodworkers with no prior experience of using a router will find it very helpful.

DEWALT Router Fixed/Plunge Base Kit, Variable...

This tool comes with a 1.25 horsepower rating. This may be lesser than what high-end routers offer. The Dewalt router compensates for this with other remarkable features that make it less jarring and easy to use for inexperienced users.

As a result, this power tool may be used to finish different projects ranging from constructing furniture to simple trims. It is a big bonus for beginners. The most outstanding feature that makes this tool user-friendly, especially for first-time carpenters, is its soft start mechanism.

With it, you can pause and adjust your grip while the router is heating up to full speed. This will prevent your fingers from being jerked because of the noise and sudden power surge. Due to this, you will feel confident to cut through pieces of wood even when it is your first time to use the device.

Apart from its soft start, the DWP611PK router has a variable speed that makes it perfect for working both on large and small bits. This will enable you to use the exact RPMs you need for any project and be able to get a clean cut.

The speed can be adjusted between 16,000 RPM to 27,000 RPM. This is a wide range for performing various tasks. It is worth mentioning that this device has both the plunging and fixed base. This allows you to cut easily any depth of cut without having to look for another router.

DEWALT Router Fixed/Plunge Base Kit, Variable...
  • Durable 1.25hp motor delivers the power to meet the toughest applications
  • Variable speed control feature enables bit speed to be optimized for changing applications. No Load...
  • Soft-starting motor features full-time electronic feedback that maintains motor speed through the...

Overall, the Dewalt compact router is an incredible tool with a reasonable price range. It may not be ideal for seasoned woodworkers due to its small collet and horsepower. However, it is still a great router and will give beginners value for their money.

What We Like

  • Plunge and fixed base
  • Soft start feature
  • Ease of use
  • Great for small and large bits
  • Reasonable price
  • Compact design

What We Don’t Like

  • Can overheat
  • Little motor power

Best Plunge Router for General Purpose: Porter-Cable 690LR

If you are looking for a reliable router to carry out your projects, the Porter-Cable 690LR fixed-base router with 11 amperages may be worth considering. This router is a general-purpose device that provides good value and performance.

PORTER-CABLE Router, Fixed Base, 11-Amp (690LR)

The 1.75 horsepower rating provides enough power to enable you to finish all your projects efficiently. The ergonomic design makes it convenient for users. It is durable. To use the router, add collects that can take ¼ and ½ inches shank bits.

The router’s 11 amperage motor delivers up to 27,500 RPM speed to ensure precise cuts. This is very impressive considering that the 690LR is a single power motor. This is further complemented by the inclusion of a micrometer depth adjustment.

The Porter-Cable router also features the sealed ball construction guard that prevents wear and tear because of rough handling. The switch is usually sealed to keep debris from accumulating in the router. This device is also equipped with the under-table stop mechanism to help you hold the router in place while working.

When it comes to its durability and strength, you do not have to worry about anything. The router is built to withstand heavy-duty applications. Additionally, this device comes with a cam-lock lever. This helps coarse height adjustment and releases the motor quickly and effortlessly.

It is important to note that the purchase doesn’t include a carry case to store all the components close to the router. Thus, you may want to think about this before investing in the tool.

PORTER-CABLE Router, Fixed Base, 11-Amp (690LR)
  • 11-amp motor producing 1-3/4 peak horsepower
  • 27,500 revolutions-per-minute single-speed motor
  • Precision machined aluminum motor housing and base

Overall, this router from Porter-Cable is powerful, precise, and consistent. Therefore, if you want a quality fixed base router to help you achieve fast bit removal and accurate cuts, then you may find this router very useful. The router is worth the money you’ll spend on it as it comes at a reasonable cost.

What We Like

  • Micrometer depth adjuster
  • Cam-lock lever
  • Aluminum base and housing
  • The under-table stop
  • Ergonomic grips for comfort
  • Reasonably priced

What We Don’t Like

  • No carry case included

Plunge Router Features and Considerations

There are things you need to look into while shopping for the best plunge router. These will help you choose the right device. Here are the factors to focus on

A Dewalt brand plunge style router sits on a piece of wood

Variable Speed

This is one of the most important factors you will want to pay attention to. As such, you should be able to adjust the speed of your router whenever you want. Different speeds will ensure you’ve better versatility and more control.

With the correct amount of flexibility, you’ll be able to work on any project you want. An easy way of adjusting the speed of your router will be very helpful in achieving your goals.

Remember to check what the lowest and highest speed settings are. This will help you find the perfect range. You will have speeds suitable for different pieces of wood that are softer and harder.

Vacuum Port

Another incredible feature you’ll want to check is the vacuum port. For this reason, you should consider picking a router you can connect effortlessly to your dust collector system. This helps maintain the cleanliness of your woodshop.

If you have debris and dust spewing all over in your workshop, it can be dangerous for your health since you’ll be inhaling it in. It can also make a big mess in your working environment.

The ability to connect to a dust port directly means you’ll be able to channel the dust in one place and later on out of the way. An effective way of getting rid of debris and dust is directly from the router and out of the air instead of after it leaves.

Above the Table Adjustment

If you intend to put your router on a table the way many people end up doing, think about where the adjustments are. You wouldn’t want to get stuck under the table for a long time trying to make changes to the features and depth of your router.

If you can adjust your router above the table, this will save you a lot of time and hassle. You can start with one depth and keep increasing until you find a depth of cut that works for you.

A close up of a drill bit on a Festool plunge router

Soft Start Feature

The last thing any woodworker may want to experience is having their routers blare at full speed after powering them on. While this may seem like a great idea, it will cause you more problems than you may think.

Apart from being loud, it may end up damaging your hearing ability to some degree. It can also cause severe injuries if care isn’t taken. The soft start mechanism allows your router to ease up to full power when you power it on.

It won’t take long before starting. No need to worry about sitting around as you wait for it to get ready for use. However, it will give you some time to adjust.

Intended Use

Before choosing any device, you should think about the projects you plan to carry out with your plunge router. Based on your needs, you should pick the most suitable product.

For instance, you may intend to invest in a router for cutting small edges off small pieces of wood or softening sharp edges on a small scale. The perfect router for you  will be a trim router.

They are small enough to remain stable on a board edge intended for laminating or trimming off edge banding. Yet, they are powerful enough to tackle tiny profiling bits.

Advantages of trim routers include:

  • Used for fine joinery, small dadoes, and hinge mortises
  • Easy control and grip
  • Compact
  • Affordable

Performance

A medium-sized router will cover more base and give optimum performance compared to a trim router. In this scenario, we are talking about 1¾  to 2¼ horsepower devices that require either a plunge or fixed style base with the two-handed operation.

You may be searching for the right router to carry out all the projects you can think of. These could range from typical routing projects to mortising and dovetailing as well as large and moderate profiling cuts. If so, then a mid-sized device will be the best tool for you.

Plunge routers have a built in depth stop system to enable step off several cuts to make a deep cutout or mortise. With the depth stop, you can also reset your router to the same depth of cut without measuring.

This makes it ideal for projects that require repetitive cuts. It’s crucial to note that a plunge base router can perform all the tasks a fixed router can do. However, the motor and handles are usually mounted higher on the base to enable the plunging motion.

Blue Bosch plunge router on a wooden surface

Size

This is another factor that matters a lot especially if you plan to use your router as a handheld device instead of using it on top of a table. Although a full-sized router is useful, it’s more than what you may need for ordinary joint making and profiling. It might not be the best if you plan to raise cabinet door panels or use large profiling bits.

Besides, that extra power, size, and weight can work against you when handling smaller tasks. That said, it’s advisable to get a bigger router when you’re ready to handle heavy-duty jobs.

Bit Materials

Bits are essential parts of routers and are made of different materials. The most important thing to know is the type of material you’ll be working on. Once you have this information you’ll be able to know the bit material that is best suited for you. Here are some bit materials:

  • Carbide Tripped – These bits are stronger than their high-speed steel counterparts. The bits keep their edge longer, making them suitable for harder materials. For instance, you can work on metal as well as hardwood. These bits are also the preferred choice for woodworkers that use their routers daily.
  • High-Speed Steel – These types of bits are inexpensive and ideal for use on softer materials. The bits tend to wear out sooner because they don’t maintain sharpness for an extended period like the other bits. We recommend them to people that use their routers occasionally.
  • Solid Carbide – This is what you need if you’re searching for a durable and strong router bit. The bits can be used on hard materials for a long period since they last long. Before buying them, you may want to consider their cost as they are pricey. However, their durability makes the purchase worth it.

Handle/Grips

It is easy to opt for a cheaper device and overlook this feature. However, it’s worth checking the handle because a router can be hard on your hands and wrists. An inexpensive plunge router will either wear out after a short period or have a bad handle. A good router should have a knob or a side lever to provide more control.

Ergonomics of a handle or grip are very essential since it can affect your health. Apart from a good handle adding aesthetic appeal to the user, it also improves the accuracy of the material being worked on.

Collet Measurement

A collet is a tool that joins the router to the router bit. It works in conjunction with the router shaft and the collet nut that connects to the motor. In most cases, collects are designed to be compatible with the shaft’s tapered recess and the router bit.

Getting the right collet chuck measurement is very essential especially for the plunge router. To achieve this, you’ll need to pay attention to two measurements. The “ER” system which is the first measurement and it ranges between ER8 and ER50.

The figures represent the opening size of the collet in millimeters. That’s why ER16, ER20 and ER32 measurements are the most popular. The chuck taper is another crucial measurement.

Each device comes with a female spindle taper and should match with a chuck male taper. So, while shopping for the chuck ensure it’s for the correct spindle shank. Common measurements include NST 30 and NST 40.

Plunge Distance

A blue Bosch plunge router

This is an important feature you may easily forget while shopping for your router. It’s worth mentioning that each plunge is equipped with a maximum travel distance. If you are looking for a versatile router, consider getting one with a bigger plunge travel.

A big travel distance will enable the router bit to sink deeper. However, you should note that the depth of the plunge depends on the router bit size. Another factor you should pay attention to would be orientating the base plate with the bit.

Power Rating

A router’s power rating works hand in hand with the router bit. The rating also determines the cutting depth the device can make. For instance, ½ -inch shanks are large for a router that delivers less than 1500 wattage.

Low powered plunge routers can only tackle precise projects. However, they can handle a wide range of applications. Keep in mind that power rating determines many things such as the type of bits your router can accommodate.

Spindle Lock

Most routers require two wrenches for facilitating bit adjustments. One wrench is used for tightening or loosening the collet while the other is for holding the motor shaft. The spindle lock will enable you to engage a locking collar and hold in place the motor shaft or be able to push a pin loaded with a spring.

So, you’ll only need the wrench for the collect. This detail comes in handy especially for routers where the motor can’t be removed to access the bit. It’s a feature you should check when buying a router as it will allow you to have a hassle-free bit changing process.

Wrap Up

Any of the woodworking tools we’ve reviewed above will make your projects easy to work on and enjoyable. Think about your specific needs and let that guide you. We hope we have simplified things for you by helping you with your search for the right plunge router. You can always refer to our guide to narrow down your options further.