9 Best Plunge Routers in 2021: Reviews and Buying Guide

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If you are a woodworker or someone looking to work on complex jigs for making joints then you are definitely in need of a plunge router. A Plunge router can be used for a number of tasks like inway. These routers have a direction that moves up and down from the base and they have special spring bases arms to ease the process of movement on top of the board. In this article we go deep about knowing everything about the best plunge routers avaialble.

Features and performance are what make or break a plunge router design. The following features are the most critical ones for any such router in woodworking. While the best design does not need to perfect all of these features, it should perform strongly in most to ensure the most versatility for your needs.

Product Name

Power

Standout Features

Price

Runner Up


1-1/4 HP

variable speed control dial (10,000-30,000 RPM) and great for variety of applications

Best Plunge Base Option

2-1/4 HP

variable-speed control feature (10,000 - 23,000 rpm) enables bit speed for changing applications

Best Selling


1-1/4-HP

Comes with variable speed and self starting motor

Features of Plunge router

Variable Speed

Because woodworking often requires speed as well as precision, the best designs have a variable speed function built-in. With this feature, you can easily adjust the plunge router’s cutting speed to exactly what you need instantly.

When you need to quickly change speed to adjust the depth of your cutting, it is critical that your plunge router is able to do so on-demand both for safety and to perform specific woodcutting tasks. If the plunge router is unable to achieve the right speed, a few things can happen. If it goes into a certain depth at too slow or too fast of a speed, it can cause undesired cuts, damage to your project or your machine, or injury to yourself.

An additional dimension to this is having a wide range of speeds to choose from. A plunge router with one or a few settings is not going to be ideal for heartier wood, for example. If you cannot get the speed you need when you need it, your woodworking will all around suffer for it, as you can see. The best plunge routers have variable speed that gives you plenty of speed choices to work with, and an easy way to adjust it on the fly.

Vacuum Port

With the obvious dust that results from woodworking and how it can pose a serious lung hazard when not well-managed, vacuum ports are very handy additions. They cut back on the mess around your work area and help to keep your plunge router clean of debris. The vacuum port should connect to your workshop’s dust collector easily so that debris cannot escape.

With the collector and port working in tandem with your cutting, you can focus on precision rather than worrying about dust. While many plunge routers have built-in defences against dust, they are always better when paired with vacuum ports than just on their own. You will quickly see how well a plunge router with a dedicated vacuum port pays for itself in the cleanup department. 

Electronic Feedback Circuitry

Modern woodworking tools benefit from additions such as those found in electronic feedback circuitry. In the ideal plunge routers, the design takes advantage of this feature to prevent the tool from overworking itself by exerting less force. The circuitry’s sensors measure your cut to know what motor torque output it needs. A large part of this feature is often referred to as electronic speed control.

This provides a smoother experience with your plunge router overall. A good implementation of electronic feedback circuitry in your plunge router will go a long way in making highly complex, heavy-duty cutting more consistent and comfortable to do.

Spindle Lock

The spindle lock is a wonderful addition to many plunge routers that make them much easier to properly seat into position for safe operation. Whereas traditional designs require two wrenches to secure the router into place, plunge routers with spindle locks require only one wrench for the collet.

Spindle locks, depending on the manufacturer, utilize either a locking collar or a single spring-loaded pin to secure the motor shaft, leaving just the collet to be secured with one of your workshop’s appropriate wrenches. Either design should work well enough for you, with no significant conveniences in one design over the other.

Soft Start

Of similar importance to having variable speed settings, a soft start mechanism is an important feature as it regulates the power output from the motor upon startup. Because of the resulting “soft” start, your overall experience with the plunge router will be much more predictable and less temperamental.

Soft start mechanisms have overlapping technology with both electronic feedback circuitry and variable speed, making them a trifecta of must-have features on modern plunge routers. As a bottom line, if you are dealing with a particularly challenging project, a soft-start plunge router is your best friend, as it will start up more quietly, consistently, and without much kinetic force.

Above the Table Adjustment

Also called just ATA for short, above the table adjustment support for your plunge router means that it can be adjusted on the fly from above your position ergonomically. You will not have to bend downwards like with a traditional routing table, which can really get a nasty kink in your neck over a long woodworking session.

The best implementation of ATA features allows you to both adjust from above and extend the collet itself to be above the table too. This negates the need to lift the plunge router itself. Above the Table Adjustment is a crucial dynamic to routing ergonomics and convenience no matter what way you approach it.

Fixed Base vs. Plunge Router

Plunge routers have a lot in common with their cousin, the fixed base routers. However, there are very substantial differences that make them distinct that you should know about. For starters, let’s talk about fixed base routers.

Routers that have a fixed base design especially differ in initial cutting depth. Fixed base routers always have a predetermined depth of cut upon start-up. This means that it will keep that same depth for as long as it is running. You have to stop the machine and manually adjust the depth yourself to what is needed for your next cut before powering it back on.

As a result of this design approach, fixed base routers often weigh less and are on the lower end of the price range. They may be more ideal for you if your woodcutting does not frequently make use of routers normally. The inconvenience of a fixed-base design is least likely to affect you if you rarely employ routers in the first place.

Meanwhile, plunged routers were so designed to address the limitations of fixed base routers in cutting depth. You can adjust the cutting depth with plunging routers while they are still powered up. This makes multiple passes a breeze and negates the manual work of turning it on and off repeatedly.

Plunged routers also employ depth stops that ensure precision by preventing it from plunging below the depth of cut you have adjusted the router to, reducing the likelihood of a miscut. It is because of this that they are especially prized for intensive woodcutting both among hobbyists and professionals working on complex, heavily-involved woodcutting projects.

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By and large, you can easily see the clear lineage of the two tools and why they have diverged in such a way as they have. The right tool for the right job and time can make or break your project, and that is no truer than in woodcutting. 

9 Best Plunge Routers

1. Porter Router 693LRPK : Best Product

PORTER-CABLE 450PK Compact Router

Porter has been around for as long as power tools have been around. That experience really shows in this plunge router design. The router in this kit have a powerful 27,500 RPM motor but don’t that fancy number alone sell you. They have a plunge base and great for beginners. 

92
VERSATILITY
95
MANEUVER ABILITY
90
ERGONOMIC

Pros:

  • Where it lacks in some conveniences, this router makes up for it in fine-tuned adjustments. It has a six-position adjustable turret to facilitate this.
  • The micrometre depth adjuster enables the deepest cuts to be much smoother to pull off without issue.
  • The handles are ergonomic, making long usage of the plunge router much more comfortable.
  • It is protected from dust via a sealed switch and sealed-away ball bearings.

Cons:

  • This design is strictly single-speed, meaning the engine is only capable of one consistent setting. This makes variable speed functionality out of the question.
  • As with all kits, get it if you mainly intend to use both types of the router that are included to ensure cost efficiency!
  • There is no vacuum port to make cleaning easier, however it is still dust-protected.

Makita RT0701CX7 Compact Router

Makita strikes again with their shrewd engineering skills as demonstrated in this extremely agile router kit. One of the best part about Makita RT0701cx7 compact router is the fact that it also has a chip deflector which does come handy during many jobs. This router also comes with a constant speed which will help those who do less intense woodworking jobs

90
VERSATILITY
90
MANEUVER ABILITY
90
ERGONOMIC

Pros:

  • Each router only weighs around 4 pounds if you round up!
  • Variable speed is available via a control dial on the machine.
  • Has robust built-in electronic speed control. This ensures that your cutting speed is consistent so you can maintain your precision and not risk damage or unwanted cuts to your material.
  • It comes with the soft start feature for an ultra-smooth motor start-up to complement the overall smooth operation of the machine.
  • The base is designed for high-visibility, making both routers easier to use.

Cons:

  • No built-in vacuum ports.

3. Dewalt DW618PK Router Kit : Best Selling Product

Dewalt DW618PK

Dewalt is a common household name in power tools and for good reason, as this router kit demonstrates. It offers both a fixed base and a plunge router together in the kit for full versatility in your cutting options. It should be noted that the routers are both sold together as one routing kit, rather than as separate standalone routers. You get both options including a plunge base and a fixed base. 

88
VERSATILITY
88
MANEUVER ABILITY
90
ERGONOMIC

Pros:

  • The motor has full variable speed capability.
  • It can reliably and smoothly cut through hardwood, allowing you to tackle much more demanding woodcutting projects..
  • The router can be vertically adjusted, enabling ATA for more convenient cutting.
  • Includes a vacuum port, which employs a patented dust-collection system so cleaning up dust and preventing it from littering your project is a breeze.
  • It requires no tools to adjust. The router also has a spindle-lock button, making bit changing easier.

Cons:

  • This router does not come sold with a centering tool.
  • Those who just want the plunge router or just the fixed base router alone may want to consider a different kit.

Makita Plunge Router

Makita is a Japanese designer, and their engineering prowess is well represented by this electric plunge router. It sells as a standalone plunge router, rather than as part of a kit, making it a more dedicated machine of perhaps light-medium to medium weight. Makita router also maintains a constant speed which is definitely an add on. No wonder, this is the best plunge router in our recommendations. 

92
VERSATILITY
85
MANEUVER ABILITY
85
ERGONOMIC

Pros:

  • It can smoothly cut with an RPM of 22,000 with electronic speed control and an electric brake, ensuring both precision and greater safety.
  • Has variable speed design for a wide range of easy to adjust speed settings on the fly.
  • Well-designed for ergonomics; the grips are rubber-lined to prevent your hands from getting sore through the vibrations.
  • It is controlled by an easy-to-use two-finger switch, making it easy to master and get used to.

Cons:

  • The router weighs a hefty 13 pounds or so, so a durable and dedicated workshop surface is necessary.
  • There is no apparent vacuum port support.

Bosch 1617EVSPK

Versatility is the name of the game with this plunge router design by the Bosch company. It can perform a wide variety of tasks, making it ideal for everything from dovetail cutting to edge forming. No wonder why this makes for a great wood router too. 

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90
VERSATILITY
90
MANEUVER ABILITY
90
ERGONOMIC

Pros:

  • Easy to learn and use, making it a commonly chosen router design for general use.
  • Includes variable speed adjustment for maximum precision.
  • The router is combined with a fixed-base router for a well-rounded and versatile routing kit.
  • Durably made and ergonomic to use. You can count on it for numerous different projects for many years with proper maintenance.

Cons:

  • It does not feature any apparent kind of spindle lock, requiring two wrenches to secure it properly like some older designs.
  • No usable vacuum port, making dust management even more important and laborious.

Festool Plunge Router

Festool’s primary specialization with this design seems to be strongly focused on its ability to rout on virtually any surface. It can also stand up to quite a bit of punishment, giving it long service life with good craftsman’s TLC.

85
VERSATILITY
85
MANEUVER ABILITY
80
ERGONOMIC

Pros:

  • Possesses a robust dust extraction method. Has multiple integrated dust collection vacuum ports.
  • Is compatible with guided cutting systems.
  • The router has electronic controls, including a variable speed functionality to get the speed you need easily. The electronic suite makes it quite ideal for especially precision-necessary cutting projects.
  • Its ball detents allow for a micro-adjustable depth control all the way down to a minute 1/256’’.

Cons:

  • A bit on the pricier side.
  • Clocks in at a heavy 18 pounds, requires a sturdy or dedicated routing table.

Triton TRA001

Triton tra001 has quite a bit of the necessary and much-prized bells and whistles. It is versatile yet also is able to start without kickback and does not sacrifice work strength. You can expect plenty of high-quality work from this design! It sells as its own standalone device. The addition of air vents is definitely a great touch for Triton tra001.

82
VERSATILITY
80
MANEUVER ABILITY
80
ERGONOMIC

Pros:

  • Has an automatic spindle lock to easily secure it in place. You will only need one wrench for securing the collet.
  • Features a full soft start ability, preventing kickback and excessive sudden noise.
  • Employs full electronic feedback circuitry for maximum precision even on hardwood materials and surfaces.

Cons:

  • It has no dedicated vacuum ports. Features side air vents for reduced dust intake instead, requiring old-fashioned vacuum cleaning by hand.

 Hitachi Plunge Router

Like some others, this plunge router sells alongside a twin fixed base router as a unified kit. While the manufacturer name has changed, Hitachi’s old versatility has never looked so good. 

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83
VERSATILITY
80
MANEUVER ABILITY
85
ERGONOMIC

Pros:

  • Has a variable speed 8000 to 24,000 RPM motor for great versatility in speed without sacrificing too much power.
  • With electronic speed controls, it maintains a consistent and precise cutting experience with a steady RPM.
  • It is quiet without sacrificing power and weighs only around 9.9 pounds.
  • Is capable of fine-depth adjustment, making it both nimble and ideal for very finely-cut projects.

Cons:

  • As with all kits, those who prefer only one specific type of router over the other may want to consider a standalone model rather than a routing kit.
  • No vacuum port available.
  • While quiet throughout most of its operation, it lacks a dedicated soft start feature.

Black & Decker RP250

Black and Decker is yet another classic household brand and for good reason, if this standalone plunge router design is anything to go by. Even better for those who prefer standalone routers over kits, this router has many of the best features. 

92
VERSATILITY
92
MANEUVER ABILITY
85
ERGONOMIC

Pros:

  • Fully variable speed to greatly aid precision and fine-tuned control.
  • Comes with a two-year warranty
  • Soft start support in the form of a gradual start mechanism, also aiding with precision.
  • An easy to use spindle lock.
  • It is rather light, at a handy 9.9 pounds!

Cons:

  • On the flip side, unfortunately, it has no vacuum port for easy dust clean up when you are done.
  • It seems to occasionally run into supply shortages, perhaps due to demand unique to this particular model.

Things to Consider When Buying a Plunge Router

Need

While plunge routers are most frequently employed in professional woodcutting contexts, even some hobbyists frequently employ them as they are huge boons for intricate work. Plunge routers are crucial power tools for completing complex and delicate woodwork that can go wrong quite fast if care and precision are not employed. If you tend to not need deep and precise cuts in your woodworking, perhaps a fixed base router may suit your needs better, if at all.

With the best-designed plunge routers, you can tackle many more complex woodcutting tasks with ease, comfort, and confidence. Indeed, plunge routers are also the best way for those who are not experienced hand-tool wood craftsmen to still achieve high complexity works. They make such projects that require different depths of cut more accessible and achievable by novice and journeymen woodcutters. Also another interesting thing is that most of these plunge routers are going to be great wood routers so you can be rest assured that they have multi-purpose functionality like you can add them over a router table depending on your task. 

The only woodcutters that may not benefit from plunge routers the most are those who have mastered traditional woodcutting techniques or are hobbyists that do not require a complex depth of cut in most of their creations

Work Strength

The level of work strength you will need in your plunge router will depend upon a few different things. One big factor is the types of wood you work with on a regular basis. Harder woods are obviously going to need more torque to reliably cut through. The tougher the wood, the more powerful of an engine you are likely to need.

Work strength isn’t just about brute force, however. Work strength can also govern the speed levels your plunge router can achieve. Make sure that the plunge router you are going to get can achieve the speeds you need to cut with fine-tuned precision. A plunge router that cannot always output the strength you need runs the risk of ruining projects, injury to yourself, or damage to your router.

On the reverse side of things, ensure that it is not overpowered for the general tasks you have in mind for it. There is such a thing as overkill. If you tend to mainly work with softer woods or make more shallow cuts, you are not likely to need a plunge router that on the higher end of the work strength scale. 

Size

Determine your work area and what sizes of plunge router would best fit in the space within your workshop. The size of your router is important in factors such as safety, workload, ergonomics, efficiency, dust management, project type, and maintenance. As a rule of thumb, the more powerful of a router you need, the more space it is likely to take up.

Dedicated plunge routers tend to be on the larger size as alluded to above, so ensure that your chosen plunge router is suitable for your routing table or similar appropriate and sturdy work surface. Make sure that it is ergonomic for its size too, so that you can more comfortably work with the machine despite its bulk. You should also see that the adjustment ring also called as the depth ring can be used for depth adjustment since you will have to adjust the depth quite a few times.  

Lastly, make sure that you have a wrench handy that fits with the collet size that your plunge router will come with. Generally, you will achieve the best results by balancing your needs for a plunge router with the amount of space you have to work with and the type of woodworking projects you undertake there. 

Conclusion

We have talked about every possible information that you will need to buy your first plunge router. There is a lot that you can do with these types of routers. If you are still confused about which one should you buy, reach out to us and we along with Bill Baum will personally help you choose the best plunge router as per your requirement.

6 thoughts on “9 Best Plunge Routers in 2021: Reviews and Buying Guide”

  1. Wonderful review article. Very informative and helpful to understand the major features and quality of plunge routers. Most of the best routers you have collected that found in the market.
    keep it up
    Thanks, for this article.

    Reply
  2. For devices that generate a s-load of dust, why do so few have a dust port?
    I regularly hook up a shop vac to router, shaper, belt sander, and random orbital sander.
    Why are they so prone to messing with people’s lungs?

    Reply
  3. Something you might want to consider, for the Porter Cable, as the number one choice, customer service. I have one of their routers, that is stopped running now, it’s not that old, parts for it are already obsolete. When you buy from a company like Porter Cable you think of it as something that will last, very disappointed in them.

    Reply

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