Wood has been an essential part of human society for thousands of years. Whether furniture, tools, paper, or even weapons, wood products’ part in our development cannot be understated. In modern times tools like Fixed-base routers and plunge routers have made the job of woodworking even easier. Here let us dive into the details about what is a plunge router.
What is a Plunge Router?
A plunge router is a versatile tool used to create joints and patterns in the wood. For example, creating a mortise in a piece of hardwood, rounding off the edges of a wooden board, etc., can be easily done using a plunge router. It works much faster than any other tool. Plunge routers are especially good for interior cuts.
Plunge routers usually come with variable speed modes on different-sized wood pieces. These routers also have measurement scales to help the user determine the height of the cuts. Usually, plunge routers are used with template guides. This makes it easy to guide the bit when making an interior cut.
The device functions using a spring-loaded motor. It has a lock that, when unlocked, allows the router to move up and down. This allows the router to be plunged into the center of a cut. The depth of the cut can also be preset. For DIY projects a small cordless plunge router will be enough. If you are handling a large project then it is advisable to go for a plunge router table for precise work.
What is a Plunge Router Used for?
It is a very simple and versatile tool. It makes routing work inlay patterns, mortise, rounding edges, etc., very easy and safe. The plunge router uses cannot be understated.
1. Good at Cutting Templates
Plunge routers make short work of wood design when used with a template. Just put the template over the wooden block. Set the depth of the cut and move the router over the template. Unlike a plunge router, routers like a fixed-base one tend to nick wood parts when used with a template. Cutting with a template can help beginner woodworkers get familiar with a plunge router.
2. Good for Cutting Mortises
Plunge routers are very good at cutting mortises. The adjustable stepped turret allows the router to make shallow and deep cuts. This also doesn’t utilize much power from the bit. Simply twisting the stepped turret allows raising the depth of the cut. This helps set up for the next pass such that the next cut is not too deep.
3. Changing Cut Depth
Another advantage that a plunge router provides its user is an on-demand changing cut depth. The tool functions using spring-loaded arms on both sides. This allows the router to cut into the surface from various angles.
4. Versatile Tool
This tool can cut materials from any angle. This is something that the counterpart fixed-base routers don’t share. A compact plunge router has this advantage because of its movable bit. This makes them especially good for edges and curving tasks.
5. Bit Protection
A plunge router, when not in use, surrounds the bit of the router. This happens when the spring-loaded mechanism is locked. It keeps the user safe from being pricked by the bit. It also ensures that the plunge router bits don’t nick the wood when not in use and protects the bit itself. This is something that a fixed-base router doesn’t do.
6. Ideal for Interior Cuts and Grooves
A plunge router permits a smooth entry and exit from interior cuts and inlay work. This is because of the plunge mechanism. It makes the router ideal for stringing captured inlays relative to a fixed-base router.
7. Usage of Specialized Bits
The versatility of plunge routers allows them to be used with a few specialized plunge cut router bits. Fixed-base routers, unfortunately, can’t use specialized bits like a keyhole bit. Creating a keyhole inlay requires the bit to plunge deep into the wood. Then the bit needs to slide laterally and then reverse-plunge. These maneuvers are not accessible on a fixed-base router.
8. Time Conservation
The plunge routers can make edge cuts and inside cuts without using any other tools. This helps complete workpieces more quickly since there is no need to swap routers midway.
The main benefit of a plunge cutter is its versatility. Its ergonomic parts, ideal design, and groove cutting make it the ideal tool for experienced woodworkers. The benefits of changing cutting depth, its use of specialized bits, or its bit protection, all make this relatively new tool very useful.
Fixed Base vs Plunge Router
If you are a beginner in woodworking and all you need to do is cut and edge your wooden boards, the fixed base router is apt for you. However, if you want to mention some grooves, intimidating designs and details on your projects, go for a plunge router. In final words, the fixed base routers are used for the basic woodwork, and the Plunge routers are for advanced designs on the wood. Basically, the fixed router can undertake all the router uses in woodworking.
While a plunge router is a useful tool, it has a high learning curve. As a result, it benefits from its versatility only if the user puts in the effort to use it properly. That said, it is a far better tool for making patterns or grooves on wood than a fixed-base router.