When choosing a wood router, there are many options to consider. The most obvious is whether to choose a fixed base router or a plunge router. Both have distinct advantages and disadvantages, depending on the type of project. In order to help you make the best decision for which type (fixed or plunge router) is the most appropriate for your use, we have explained the major differences between each style.
Fixed Base Routers
Fixed base routers are the most popular type, found in most woodworking shops. Sometimes these are called stationary routers. This type of wood router is typically table mounted and the base remains in a fixed state. Many models will offer a lower adjustment that will act as a router lift. The depth of the cut can be adjusted by unlocking and then raising/lowering the motor from the base. Overall, fixed base routers are considered the easiest type for a beginner to learn.1) Inexpensive and widely available.
2.) Easiest style for the beginner to learn.
3.) The depth of the cut is locked in, making it less likely to over-cut.
4.) Not as versatile as the plunge style routers due to its fixed base.
Plunge Style Routers
A Plunge router is used to provide a bit adjustment (or plunging) while cutting is in progress . Typically the motor is attached to a spring loaded base to provide accurate and safe height adjustments. A plunge router works very well in joinery type work or a project where the cuts are in the middle of the piece of work.
1.) Quick depth adjustments: no restraint of having to stop and reset height adjustment between cuts.
2.) More versatile: can be used for cuts in the middle of a piece of work.
3.) Widely considered the safest style router because the bit is above the base when not in use.
4.) Some models can be a little top heavy, making it difficult to maneuver.
5.) More complicated, making it difficult for the beginner to learn.
Combo Style Routers
Combo Router Kits provide the best of both worlds (Fixed and Plunge). Most of these kits come with a mid-sized motor with both fixed and plunge bases. The motor will disassemble from the base, so that either the fixed or plunge base can be used, depending on the type of project. These are typically purchased as a lower cost alternative for the home hobbyist to get the advantages of both style routers.