When it comes to rounding off the edges of a piece of hardwood, nothing beats a plunge router. If you do not have one already and are looking for one, you can choose one from our list. We have chosen these plunge routers out of many for their capabilities. Also, we have made sure to provide you with affordable and reliable products.
What Is a Plunge Router?
Whether you are a DIY enthusiast or a professional woodworker, a plunge router ought to be part of your toolbag. It makes creating mortises, tenons, jointing, rounding off edges immensely easy. There are two kinds of routers, a plunge router, and a fixed router.
The fixed router always has a bit exposed under the frame. You have to lower it while it’s turned on sideways down if you want to cut wood from the top. Meanwhile, a plunge router, as the name indicates has a mechanism that you can use to plunge the bit inside the wood while it’s facing downwards. This makes it ideal for applications where you have to cut material from the top.
So adjusting the depth of a cut on a plunge router is what makes it great. You can be precise about it using a stop rod and you can even use a turret to do it slowly. Making intricate and complex patterns on woods or carving signs using a plunge is super easy.
Before we dive headfirst into the list of the best routers in the market, let’s look into what to expect when you first buy a plunge router.
A router can spin anywhere from 8000 RPM to 27,000 RPM. But for the most part, you will be using speeds around 20,000 to 22,000 RPM. This range is perfect for most jobs. The higher speeds are there for special material that requires fine cutting.
The speed on a plunge router can be adjusted according to the user’s needs. There is either a knob or dial on the router that can be used to adjust the speed. So whatever material you are cutting into, you can use the best suitable speed for the job.
A big router does mean it is much more powerful, but here we are not referring to the physical size of the router itself. What we mean is the size of the collet the router accepts. Typically, a plunge router comes with interchangeable collet sizes. Different collet sizes accept different sized bits.
The most common sizes of collets are 1/4-inch and 1/2-inch. While some plunge routers can accept both sizes, there are some palm routers that only use 1/4-inch size. While it’s great for smaller projects, it does not have a lot of power to work on big jobs.
There are basically three styles of routers in the market. First, we have is the standard router which is bigger in size and can accept both 1/4-inch and 1/2-inch collets. These are much more powerful and are ideal for heavier workloads. Then we have the palm routers which, as the name suggests, are smaller. They only accept a 1/4-inch collet and are to be held in your palm rather than held with handles.
Last we have a laminate trimmer that has a high-speed motor. These routers are specifically designed for materials such as Formica. These also are handheld and have a similar collet size to the palm router.
Different routers have different features. Some come with swappable kits to change between a fixed base plate and a plunge base plate. Other routers have LED lights and vacuum vents to clean dust and make sure your tool stays clean. There are also routers soft speed start that avoids kickback of the tool when plunging into the piece of wood.
You can find many routers with all of these features included. Some routers might not have a feature or two, so knowing what features you require from your router is also important. So keep an eye on the special features of a router to know whether it is worth buying or not.
These are the basics you should be careful about when making a purchase. We have reviewed the best plunge routers and set certain criteria like reliability, functionality, and usage.
The Best Plunge Router: Our Top 6 Picks
1. Bosch MRP23EVS Plunge Base Router
It is one of the best routers you can buy for DIY enthusiasts and even for professionals. Since it is not so weighty, people actually prefer it over full-sized routers for work even when they have it. That is because dragging along a full-sized router seems painful after all. Besides, the Bosch MRP23EVS does a great job with projects of all sizes. You can use both 1/2-inch and 1/4-inch collets on this plunge router.
This plunge router is all about control. All of its features give you great control over the thing. For instance, the handle-mounted trigger allows you to start and stop it without letting go of the handle. The adjustable turret gives you depth control even after locking in the stop rod.
- Great Control
- Soft Start Technology
- Afterlock Technology Gives Depth Control
- Cord Swivel for Mobility
- Handle Mounted Trigger
- Too Big for Beginners
2. DEWALT DW618B3 Plunge/Fixed Router
Ask any professional if they would recommend you the DEWALT brand of power tools, they would definitely answer in a yes. If you are someone who wants to use their router for both over the top cutting and use it in a table base, this is the router for you. The DEWALT DW618B3 Router comes with both a plunge and a fixed base kit. You can switch between these for when you need either of them.
The 2-1/4 HP router can be easily interchanged between the plunge base kit and fixed base kit with a quick-release mechanism. A dust collection column gives you better visibility of the bit and keeps things clean.
This router is perfect for beginner DIY enthusiasts who do not want to spend on dedicated fixed base and plunge routers. The 12amp motor can rotate bits from 8000 to 24,000 RPM making easy work of any piece of wood.
- Dust Collection Column
- Interchangeable Fixed Base and Plunge Base
- Precision Depth Adjustment
- Powerful Motor
- Interchangeable Base Means No Handle Trigger in Plunge Mode
3. Makita RP2301FC Plunge Router
If you already own a router priorly and are looking for something more powerful, then this one is for you. The Makita RP2301FC plunge router has 3-1/4 horsepower making sure that you get consistent results. The 15amp motor has a speed of 9,000 to 22,000 RPM which can be controlled by the user.
Makita is a Japanese brand that has been around for some time. It is really famous and almost everyone who uses any kind of power tool knows of the brand. The big blue comes with electronic speed control for changing the speed.
It also has electric brakes which stop the bit from spinning as soon as you release the trigger. Also, the trigger is mounted to the handle which makes it quite easy to control when you are using the Makita Rp2301FC. Two bright LEDs illuminate the work surface giving you a much better view. This plunge router is a workhorse and the perfect match for a seasoned veteran like you.
- Electric Brake to Halt Bit Rotation
- Electronic Speed Control
- Powerful and Robust
- Dual LEDs for Illuminating Work Surface
- Handle Mounted Trigger Mechanism
- A tad-bit Heavy
4. Festool Router 574692 OF 1400 EQ
The Festool 574692 OF 1400 EQ Plunge Router is a professional’s tool. The handle construction might be a bit awkward for some people who are used to the traditional router handles. But it makes rounding off edges extremely easy. The trigger is installed in the handle which gives you more control over the router.
There is a vacuum vent right under the trigger handle on the plunge base. The vacuum cleans up any mess that is created right away making sure no dust accumulates on the tool itself. This prolongs the tool’s life and keeps it neat and tidy. It works with most guiding tools for plunge routers for accurate and perfect jobs.
It has one of the highest depths in plunge routers. You can cut 2-3/4 inches deep in a piece of wood with ease. The speed on this router is 11,000 to 22,500 RPM which is perfect for any type of wood.
- Robust Vacuum Method
- Compatible with Guides
- Electronic Controls
- Micro Adjustability
- Handle Awkward for Traditional Plunge Router Users
5. Triton MOF001 Dual Mode Precision Plunge Router
The Triton MOF001 Dual Mode Precision Plunge Router is the choice of a pro. This is one of the few routers that switch from a plunge to a fixed-base. That means that you can use this with a router table base as well. And it does all of this without a swappable base plate, saving time.
This router is literally the best of both worlds. It takes away one of the biggest disadvantages of a plunge router. With spindle lock, change bits without having to use two wrenches. The router’s motor stays clean of sawdust with the help of side air vents.
Lastly, the Triton MOF001 has support for both 1/2 and 1/4-inch collets. This allows you to use all of the bits in this plunge router, making this the only router you will ever need.
- Soft Start
- Side Air Vents Protects Motor from Sawdust
- Rack and Pinion Adjustment Switches from Plunge to Fixed-base
- Micro Winder for Depth Precision
- Easy Swappable Brushes
- Big and Bulky Size Makes it Difficult for Continous Usage
6. Metabo HPT KM12VC Router Kit
Do not be alarmed by the name as this is the Hitachi KM12VC Router Kit. The company just changed its name from Hitachi to Metabo HPT. The quality is still the same as ever, amazing. This is basically a plunge/fixed base router kit, so you can swap between the two anytime with a fairly easy to use release clamp.
This router has a really quiet motor, making it one of the quietest routers you can find in the market. An electronic speed control keeps the bit turning at the same speed even if it hits a denser part of the wood. The motor is an 11amp and has 2-1/4 Peak Horsepower for making sure you get consistency throughout.
The best part is, this router kit is pretty affordable, which makes it one of the most suitable tools for beginners. So if you want to use both the fixed-base and the plunge-base routers, buying a swappable base plate kit saves you more money.
- Swappable Base Plates to Switch Between Plunge and Fixed
- Affordable Pricing
- Supports Both 1/2-inch and 1/4-inch Collet
- Powerful Motor
- 1/4-inch Collet Freezes with Bits in it
- Plunge Shaft Requires Oiling
Choosing any router from the list will give you satisfactory results. With so many brands in the market, it does become difficult to find the best ones. But with this list, we are sure you have a better idea of what plunge router is best suited to your need. We made sure to include plunge routers of different budgets to cater to everyone’s needs.
We even included swappable kits for those who want the best of both, a fixed router and a plunge router. This gives beginners better knowledge of which router to use in what kind of situation. It can be a learning experience for a beginner and those who don’t want to change between routers also get their wish fulfilled as well.
If you want to micro tune the depth of the bit while cutting wood, nothing beats a plunge router.