plunge router vs fixed image

Difference Between Fixed Base and Plunge Router – How to Choose the Right One?

Woodwork is of utmost importance from the dining room to the kitchen table, from bookshelves to resting chairs. Both household and industrial activities related to wooden pieces require sophisticated tools and equipment to achieve the desired results. Many tools are used in woodworks and carpentry. From cutting to smoothening a piece of wood, handmade tools were used. But with the progress of machinery, many tools have come into the market to make the job easier. For example, routers are tools to smoothen out the edges of a shelf or wooden plank and create a hole in the wooden piece. Routers have two varieties- Plunge and Fixed base router. Read on fixed router vs plunge router below and see what suits your requirement.

What is a Fixed Base Router?

As the name suggests, Fixed Base Router, the position remains the same once the depth is set. This is more subtle for working from the sides every time. They tend to adjust by moving up and down in their base. Fixed-based routers offer a lot of control and stability over the movement since there is very little space between the hands of the wooden piece. Thus, they work well with shaping the edges. Freehand edge work can be undertaken efficiently with a Fixed Base Router. The depth remains static in a Fixed Base Router, thereby the accuracy remains consistent, and it gives the same result on repeated applications. While using the router with interchangeable bases, one can easily set up the fixed base part in the router table and club it with the motor in the plunge base.

What is a Plunge Router?

The plunge base router has spring-loaded rods, which helps in the up and down movement of the router. The depth for the cut has to be preset in the case of a plunge router. This gives the worker the chance to position the router over the wooden slab and plunge the cut into an exact depth. It helps the plunge router make cuts without significant stoppings between the work.

In addition, the plunge router has the advantage of versatility in the cuts by attaching flute work to the crown molding, which helps create various patterns on the wooden panel. You can make different types of pattern work, swirls, groove, and mortises with the help of a plunge router. In addition, the plunge Base router helps shape the interior or middle section of the project since there is no need to remove the material from the edges. Thus, plunge base routers preferred for interior cuts and tasks requiring deeper wood piece cuts.

Plunge Router vs Fixed Base

Plunge or fixed router? Which is better? Both the variants have their own advantages and limitations, making them unique for particular tasks. The general differences between them are-

  • The basic difference between the two is that a fixed base router has a fixed base that doesn’t move. Due to spring rods, the base can move up and down the wood in a plunge-base router. Thus, a fixed base router has a fixed base and preset cutting depth. The plunge-base router has springs on both sides, facilitating the base for an up and down movement into the wooden surface. Springs help adjust the depth of the cut while the router is still in movement.
  • In the case of the fixed base router, the cutting depth is fixed initially, but in the case of the plunge base router, the cutting depth can be adjusted as it goes on with work.
  • Fixed base routers are great for getting cuts and repeated applications. Plunge base routers are also good for getting deeper cuts with variations.
  • They are smaller in size and lesser in weight compared to plunge base routers.
  • Plunge Base routers do require a lot of attention and physical control for a significant amount of time, but fixed base routers are easy to maneuver in that regard.
  • Fixed base routers provide accuracy, while plunge base routers provide versatility.
  • Fixed base routers are cheaper than plunge base routers.
  • There are spring-loaded arms on both sides of the plunge router, which is not the case with the fixed base router.


Both types have their benefits, and it is important to understand the differences to choose the correct type following one’s needs. One should consider the type of project undertaken and the level of expertise one should consider while choosing between the two options. Fixed base routers are suitable for easy household tasks performed by novices on items that need accuracy. On the other hand, Plunge routers are good for sophisticated carvings and deep works which require a little more control and precision from the craftsperson. The horsepower rating, variable speed control, and router cost are other important factors to look into.

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