Best Plunge Router in 2020 – Top Picks & Reviews

When starting as a woodworker or setting up a workshop, one essential tool, you’ll need to invest in is a router. Choosing the best plunge router can be a difficult task when there are so many options available in the market. However, there are two common types of routers – a plunge router and a fixed base router. So which is the best for woodworking?

When using a fixed base router, the position of the router bit is fixed on the face of the work, while with a plunge base router, the cutting bit is above the face. If you’re planning to do a few home improvement projects, you need a plunge router which offers you more options, and you can always lock it to act as a fixed base router. In this review, we will look at the best plunge routers for 2019 at different price points to suit all budgets.

BEST PLUNGE ROUTER

Best Plunge Router Comparison

Product Performance Special Feature Price Rating
Bosch 1617EVSPK Combination Router Powerful 2-1/4 HP 8,000 to 25,000 RPM ¼ and ½ self-releasing collet chunks Fix base and plunge base design Completely dust-sealed power switch Check Price 4.8/5
DeWalt DW618B3 Router Kit 1.5-inch depth travel for a standard base and 2-inch plunge base Lightweight aluminum housing ¼-inch and ½-inch collets 2.25 peak HP motor 8,000 and 24,000 RPM Clear LEXAN sub-base Tool-free steel cam style motor Check Price 4.7/5
Triton Tra001 Dual Mode Precision Plunge Router ½-inch and ¼-inch collets 3- 1/4 peak HP motor 8,000 to 21,000 RPM Multi-function fence Dust collection Safety power switch Auto shaft lock A micro winder for fine depth adjustment Check Price 4.6/5
Porter-Cable 895PK Plunge base Kit includes plunge and fixed base ¼-inch and ½-inch collets Dust collection Die-cast aluminum body 10,000 to 23,000 RPM Tabletop adjustment handle with measurement ring Check Price 4.5/5
Makita RP2301FC 3-1/4 HP Router 9,000 to 22,000 RPM 15 amp motor Built-in fan to keep the dust out of the router Soft start 3.25 HP Plunge depth of 0- inches to 2-3/4 inches Tool-free template guide system Check Price 4.4/5

1. Bosch 1617EVSPK Combination Router (Best wood router for the money)

Bosch 1617EVSPK review

The Bosch 1617EVSPK Combination Router is a corded pick variable speed plunge and fixed base router that comes with many options including its router table fitting into the midrange category of heavy duty wood routers.

This mid-range router with micro-fine depth adjustment is your best choice for routing rosewood veneer and high-end inlay wood thanks to the 2.25 HP motor and a variable speed trigger that employs full electronic feedback making it an ideal choice for the advanced wood crafter and contractor.

Features Overview

This heavy-duty router features aluminum housing making it durable to handle any routing job that you throw at it.

It also features a variable speed dial at different speed settings of RPM ranges of 8,000 to 25,000 for use with significant diameter bits, cutters, and nonferrous metals. Additionally, it gives you the ability to use both ¼ and ½ collet for a broader range of bits to make rabbiting joints or dovetails without any kickback or overheating. 

The 1617EVSPK 2.25 HP is a feature packed router that comes with three adjustable bit positions that are quick and easy on both bases for unmatched accuracy and an excellent tool for a wide range of routing applications.

There’s a locking level on both bases, but the centering precision is difficult to control during operation, making it questionable to use for high-end woodworking projects.

What we liked the most

  • Quick change template guide
  • Wide base opening
  • Contoured soft grip handles for control and comfort

What we didn’t liked

  • It’s a hassle to change the bits or collets

2. DEWALT DW618B3 Router Kit (Best wood router for beginner)

DEWALT DW618B3 review

DeWalt DW618B3 2.25 HP is a mid-range three base router with a powerful motor for routing through durable hardwoods. It comes with features that combine potency and ease-of-use, making it ideal for use at home and professional projects. 

When it comes to getting your money’s worth, DeWalt DW618B3 2.25 HP variable speed router includes a lot of additional features that you won’t find in many mid-sized routers in its price range and category. It’s incredibly affordable and the best choice for making vintage and antique tables and dressers and a perfect fit for a beginner wood crafter.

Features Overview

This wood router from the DeWalt brand includes a cam motor housing, 2-1/4 HP motor to cut sturdy hardwood at speeds of 8000 to 24,000 RPM and a clear LEXAN sub-base that adds to its overall performance. 

It comes with both fixed and plunge bases as a combo kit and a 2.25 peak HP motor. Unlike the 1617EVSPK 2.25 HP, the DW618B3 2.25 HP comes with an adjustable tool-free steel cam motor that makes quick changes between bases and setting depth measurement a breeze.

DeWalt DW618B3 2.25 HP comes with a soft start feature that minimizes torque on the motor and excellent ergonomic designs that allow you to hold the two rubber handles firmly for comfort and easy control. It’s also easy to move back and forth between the two bases thanks to the plunge action lever that’s smooth and easy to use.

It’s disappointing that the manufacturer included a split base design on this model. Split bases are known for allowing the motor to move vertically by a small amount when the clamp is secured down. Nevertheless, it’s always good to recheck the depth of the bit after screwing the clamp.

What we liked the most

  • Ergonomic grips to minimize hand and arm fatigue
  • A Lexan sub-base for durability and visibility
  • Powerful motor
  • Highly Balanced

What we didn’t liked

  • No edge guide
  • Dust collection system needs more improvement

3. Triton Tra001 Dual Mode Precision Plunge Router

Triton TRA001 router review

Triton Tra001 is an all-in-one precision plunge router with a simple design and custom suited to fit a wide range of routing application, making it a suitable tool for a beginner woodworker. Besides, a professional contractor would still find it useful due to great features, simple operation, and ease of use.

This deluxe plunge router is your best choice for cabinet making thanks to a robust 3- 1/4 peak HP motor which includes a dual mode precision plunge ring to handle tough projects and a perfect fit for a beginner who wants to learn how to add some special touches on their woodwork.

Features Overview

Triton Tra001 features a 3.25 HP router, a multifunctional fence, and the standard bit shank sizes that you’d find in any regular router of ½-inch and ¼-inch collets. This model also includes a soft start and a variable speed dial which runs 8,000 to 21,000 RPM that eliminated kickback for a precision start.

The router also includes a micro winder for accurate depth adjustment and fine table adjustment for fixed application. The compact height adjustment crank eliminates any need for a router lift or use of other accessories.

Triton Tra001 features a large handle which allows you to use one hand for accurate and faster-plunging depths. Besides, the full-featured fence with circle cutting will give you smooth and clean-cut quality even with low to mid quality bit types.

The motor on this router blows dust up and out of the side air vents that finds its way into the router. However, there’s a dust extraction that collects 95% of the wood chips to improve visibility, but it doesn’t remove all the dust that well.

What we liked the most

  • Easy to change bits
  • Quick and accurate height adjustment
  • Smooth starting and quiet
  • Durable construction

What we didn’t liked

  • The plunge is not that very smooth
  • Dust collection could be improved

4. Porter-Cable 895PK 2.25 HP Router

PORTER-CABLE 895PK review

The 895PK unit features a 2.25 HP router and comes with a combined kit for fixed and plunge base fitting into the mid-range category of routers in the market. It’s a great combo kit for the woodworker who already has a smaller router and is looking for a mid-size durable router to attach to a table.

This mid-range router is your best choice for rabbeting, joint making and drilling holes thanks to a kit that includes both bases, ¼-inch, and ½-inch self-releasing collets. It also comes with a table top adjustment handle with a measurement ring, one wrench, and a dust collection insert.

Features Overview

The Porter Cable features a low noise soft start motor at a speed of 10,000 and 23,000 RPM. It also comes with a fixed base which has over-molded grips for greater comfort. Besides, the plunge base has a dust collector port that keeps your workspace free of dust chips.

The 895PK can use ¼ and ½ inch collet giving you a comprehensive range of bits. Besides, changing the bit on this router is easy thanks to a spindle lock included for releasing the collet.

The Porter Cable 895K combo kit features a cast aluminum body construction for strength and durability. Besides, it comes with a double edge guide for clean, accurate results on a wide variety of routing applications.

There are several problems with this plunge router, one; it’s not easy to reach the power switch when installing into the base and secondly, you need to tighten the screw to hold the motor in place when adjusting the fixed base.

What we liked the most

  • Auto-release collet system for easy bit removal
  • Durable die-cast aluminum
  • Quiet running motor
  • Variable speed control

What we didn’t liked

  • Height adjustment rack is very flimsy

5. Makita RP2301FC 3-1/4 HP Router

Makita RP2301FC review

This plunge router from the Makita brand includes an oversized ball bearing construction with linear ball bearings that provide smooth plunging action. Nearly all steps in this model are made to easy use and comfort, making it a perfect fit for beginner and intermediate wood crafter.

The RP2301FC router unit is a versatile tool for everyday woodwork and your best choice for countertops, cabinetry, furniture making, doors, windows, and fine woodworking thanks to the powerful motor that runs on a soft start 3.25 HP. It also comes with a full adjustable plunge depth of 0- inches to 2-3/4 inches.

Features Overview

This router boasts a tool-free for quick installation and easy removal. Besides, there’s a chip deflector that works in tandem with the fan and a soft start button for smooth startups. In addition to these features is a wide speed range, of 9,000 to 22,000 RPM, 15 amp motor, and a built-in fan to keep the dust out of the router.

This mid-size 3-1/4 HP router delivers excellent precision with a smooth plunge action for superior performance. Besides, the rubberized handles give you added control and continuous operation with minimized fatigue.

Once you tighten the screw to hold the motor in place, it becomes nearly impossible to get it out of the base to change bits – which can be very frustrating.

What we liked the most

  • The high-performance motor, variable speed, and depth setting allow versatility
  • The LED and chip deflectors are excellent additions
  • The turn-on is smooth

What we didn’t liked

  • Cheap plastic wing and cup nuts

How to choose a router?

A jigsaw, a drill, a sander, all these tools can be found in any workshop whether you’re a professional or a hobbyist, but a router, as I call it, is the very best tool for professionals. And yet it is the essential tool for anyone who wants to do carpentry or cabinetmaking like a pro.

To make a simple rounding to a table, to make chamfers, liserets or grooves, or to dig a plate of wood without piercing it, all these operations can be done with a router.

There are very different models and also very different functionalities. It is therefore difficult to choose the right model. By reviewing some key features, I hope to provide you with all the information you need to make your decision easier.

 

Difference between fixed base and plunge base routers

Before you make your decision to buy a router, you should know your needs.

There are two different types of wood routers, the fixed base and the plunge base. The Fixed base router is simply a route in which the bit is fixed in a constant position, in other words, you set the cutting depth of the bit and lock it up.

The plunge base router is designed so you can set the cutting depth using a turret, after that you turn on your router and do your work. You can easily lift the router and lower it again while working thanks to the predetermined turret depth.

The fixed base routers are used for extremely precise projects like making dovetail joints​. While the plunge base is preferred with grooves and rebates​.

Check out this video for more demonstration about the differences between the two types.

Usage

As with most tools, routers are available in a variety of engine capacities and power configurations.

All have their advantages and limitations, but if want to have a good router, you have to choose the one that can go through wood or any chosen material smoothly and without any clogging.

Routers have a locking system that once released, allows the bit to move up and down so that you can lower the bit in the center of a cut. It has a numbering system, which is the turret, to read the height of the bit or an electronic system to help determine the correct height.

Router Bits

When you decide to buy a router , the number, type and quality of the bits that are sold with it is an important issue. Indeed, the router is a machine that will allow you to do various shapes in wood  using different types of bits, and you should choose it according to the work that you want to perform.

There is a large number of type of router bits, for example:

  • Straight Router Bits
  • Grooving router bits
  • Plunging router bits
  • Chamfer Router Bits
  • Molding Router Bits
  • Rabbet router bit​s
router bits

Each type of bit allows has a specific use and allows you to create impressive number of shapes and cuts. Most of the time, when you buy a router, it comes with 3 or 4 types of bits, but I recommend you to buy your collection.

Power and Collet Size

As with most tools that are used to drill or cut, power is a particularly important consideration before you buy. Thus, the power of a router is expressed in Watts .

The power determines the rotational power of the router and The collet size determine the size of the bit that can be fixed.

Nearly, most router are available with ¼-inch or ½-inch collets, so before you make your decision to buy a bit set, you need to know your router’s collet size.

Routers with ½ inch collets are more versatile because they can fit many more accessories than the other type.

If you are working with larger bits, make sure your router is able to work at slower speeds, in other words, use the variable speed feature to determine a lower RPM speed.

Many routers offer, for example, Variable Speed ​​Electronic Control, which selects the ideal RPM speed for different applications and milling sizes.

Router Table

There are two different techniques for using a router, whether you use it with your hand and do your work, in this case the workpiece is the fixed part, you can fix the workpiece with clamps. And the other technique is to mound the router to a router table, the router is mounted under the router table where the bit protrudes through a hole, in other words, you move the workpiece in such a way to create your innovative grooves, Edge trimming, joints and Dovetail.

In addition to that, you have another two options, whether to make your own DIY router table, or you can buy one. Luckily, the best model in router tables, which is the Bosch Benchtop Router Table is not pricey, but if you’re on a tight budget, I suggest to make your DIY table. You can also do the calculations and compare between the effort and the price that you will pay for a DIY router table and the price of a pre-made router table like the Bosch Benchtop so you make your decision.

I definitely suggest that you check the guide I made about How to Use a Router Table. You will know the very basics of router table, its components, tips and tricks.

Final Thoughts

The Bosch 1617EVSPK Combination Router has a high rating on most tool websites as it comes with robust features and plenty of horsepower that allows you to handle heavy-duty jobs and a wide range of routing applications. The advanced wood crafter and contractor would enjoy adding this router to their shop since it can handle a wide range of wood, trim, inlays, and high-end furniture building.

However, if you’re on a tight budget and looking for a wood router, we’d recommend DeWalt DW618B3 2.25 HP router combo kit which gives you incredible value. Besides, with this budget buy, you don’t need to purchase the plunge base separately, but it might require buying bits and guide as does with other routers in the market to handle lightweight jobs efficiently.

The next closest competitor is the Porter Cable 890 series, but it doesn’t come close to what the DW618B3 combo kit can do in a head to head comparison except maybe for the mounting on a table.

Close Menu