Fixed Base vs Plunge Router – Which is Right for You?

Last Updated on October 15, 2021

The debate between a fixed or plunge style router has been in the minds of every woodworker. Though both of them work with the same principle that is cutting through a material, they are used entirely on different occasions.

So choosing the right routing tool can be a tricky business. That’s where our article comes into play. It contains all the necessary details along with a thorough discussion on which and when to choose the correct router.

What Is a Woodworking Router?

Before we jump into a thorough discussion between the two products, it is very important to know all the titbits of a woodworking router. So, let’s start with what is a router.

A router is typically a hand tool or power tool that woodworkers use to cut a route through wood or any other material that is needed.

Though it is mainly used for woodworks like carpentry, more powerful versions of the device are capable of working on harder materials. A router can be moved via hand or can be tied to a router table.

Fixed Base

As the name suggests, a fixed base router has a fixed base. This means that the object you will be working on will be moving in the case of this router. These routers are more used in workshops as well as are easier to use for a newbie.

Once the router is locked, you are free to move the wood in any way that you desire. This ensures a higher precision. So, a fixed base router is more preferred when higher precision is required and for amateurs.

Plunge Router

The plunge router might seem a little complicated at first, but once you get the hang of it, you are surely going to get hooked to its amazing functionality.

A Plunge router contains two arms like mechanisms on each side of the router. This allows you to manually plunge the router into the wood to initiate the cutting.

In simpler terms, the plunge router allows you to cut through the wood by using your force easily. This allows you the accuracy and control that you require to ensure a more efficient experience along with the ability to cut through the wood better.

There is a rumor about the plunge router. This is that they are not a good option when it comes to edges. This is a hoax! As long as you are accustomed to its functions, the plunge router can pretty much cut through anything.

Fixed Base vs Plunge Router – Key Comparison

Now that you know how both of these routers operate, it is time to see the difference.


The power for each router is denoted by horsepower, and it is necessary that you make sure that the router you are using is above 2HP. This is where a plunge style router has an edge.

Variable Speed Control

Every router has a mechanism that allows your router to rotate at various speeds. It might be the most common thing for a router but is one of the most crucial features of a router.

The job of a variable speed controller is to allow the user to control the speed of the router according to their needs and in turn, provide high mobility and handiness when cutting through a material.

In the market, there are fixed and plunge routers with a single-speed option, but they are better to use for small scale works rather than a large scale one. Both the plunge and fixed base routers tie out in this category as they both contain a variable speed controller.


What is a collet? It is the rotating component of the router that holds them tightly onto the material that you are working on. The collets of a fixed base router tend to be heavier and more firmly built. This allows you added precision, which makes you more neat and sophisticated.

On the other hand, plunge base collets have to be lighter, which allows you to easily maneuver the router and decrease the chances of any damage to the router bit.


When ergonomics come into play, the fixed base router takes the cup. The fact that the router has a fixed base and the working wood or material can be moved allows it to be more precise and easier to handle/maneuver.


Like we have stated before, a fixed base feature has a fixed base, which allows you to have equal and smoother cuts enabling to be good for complex designs as well as add a final touch-up to your project.

Meanwhile, plunge base routers need to be operated manually. This means that the router has to be maneuvered manually and will work by using your force and, hence, are used for initial cuts, etc.

Fixed bases are less expensive, less heavy, and is ideal for working on edges. But a plunge router ensures that the cut or routing is done in a straight line as well as work on bulkier materials.

Some Important Safety Instructions

When working with routers, you must be working in a work-friendly and safe environment. We suggest that you carry out your work in your garage or a workshop away from kids and other people.

Furthermore, it is necessary to wear mechanical gloves and work aprons. Protective goggles are a must as, during the routing, debris is going to spill out, and it is necessary to ensure none of that hits you in the eye or anything of such sort.

Reading the instruction manual of the product is a great idea as it will tell you the thing that you need to do and what you need to avoid while working with these machines.

Which One to Choose?

Both the products are excellent for woodworking and ensure that your project will excel in every aspect. They are similar in many ways, but when it comes to functionality and usability, they are different.

A fixed base tends to dominate the precision and control, side of the table, and the plunge router is for deeper and smoother cuts. It is entirely up to you to choose which is suitable for the work at hand and, hopefully, the article has made that decision much easier for you.

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