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  • Plunge Router Vs. Base Router

    I've picked up an excellent book on using Routers, and there seems to be some debate as to which Router (Plunge or Base) is 'better'. It seems to boil down to the job at hand. With that as a given, are there other reasons for having a preference?

    Can a Plunge Router be used as a Base Router (such as for doing edges, etc...).

    As always, thanks!

  • #2
    Although I have 3 routers, I don't claim to be an expert, especially on the controversial issue of fixed vs plunge. As to you question, yes, technically a plunge can be used for jobs that a fixed base can be used for. However, a fixed based router is better for edging than a plunge router. The reason is that plunge routers are more prone to "tipping." They are somewhat more difficult to balance on an edge. Also, because they are sometimes used for deeper cuts, generally they are heavier and have more horsepower. The kits work well if you don't need the extra horsepower.

    Comment


    • #3
      If you are considering buying a router you might want to read this review/tool test and do some searching on the net as well as the excellent advice you will receive from forum members.

      http://www.rd.com/americanwoodworker...TT_Routers.pdf

      I have have had the PC690 kit that comes with both plunge and fixed bases for about a year now, and it is a great router though a little dated in some of its features. I choose the EVS (Electronic Variable Speed) model and when I bought the kit I got a nice edge guide too (which unfortunatley there is no room in the storage case for).

      I recently bought the Milwwaukee Model 5616 2-1/4 HP EVS Body-Grip router becasue I wanted to dedicate a router to the router table and the Milwaukee comes with a wrench for adjusting bit height while mounted in the table. Another plus was I received free a edge guide for the 5616 which I was suprised to find out fits my PC690 also. So now I have two interchangeable edge guides I can use with either router.

      The Milwaukee will be used most of the time on the router table and the PC for other routing tasks with either the fixed or plunge base.

      I have not seen the 5616 in either HD or Lowes, only the 5615 (1-3/4 HP, fixed speed). I got the 5616 from Amazon for $169 including the edge guide, this is only $10 more than HD wants for the 5615 model, so it was a no brainer to pay the extra $10 (free shipping) to me.

      Comment


      • #4
        Ah, the old which type is best debate.

        glh is right---about the only possible difference is the balance when doing edges. Much depends on the individual model, how good the handles are, etc.

        Frankly, if you're only going to have one router, get the plunge, since, it is simply more versitle. If you can afford one of the many router kits, with fixed and plunge base, even better.

        Just a tip----when you're shopping, don't overlook handle design. Handles that are elongated tend to direct your hand into one position. A more rounded handle would allow you to position your hand at varied grips/angles----this is helpful as you move it around long/large boards or where you might have to extend your reach.
        Dave

        Comment


        • #5
          Thanks for the excellent advice. The Link was also very helpful as well.

          I clearly have the wrong Router for what I need; the Porter Cable Model 7539 was not a good choice for me as I plan to do very little Plunges; mostly edging and the such-like. I should have done more research. This is opened but unused; anyone care to make an offer?

          http://www.portercable.com/index.asp?e=547&p=2822

          Thanks!

          Comment


          • #6
            The milwuakee body grip would be a good choice for edging. I like the one hand operation and the fact its fairly heavy and not so tall and tippy as the plunge/fixed kits. Don't get me wrong, the kits from PC, Bosch, Makita, Dewalt, Makita, etc. are all good products and excellent values - just not ideal for your intended application.

            For general edging with 3/4" or smaller profiles I really like the PC model 100. It's very compact and stable. You can easily handle it with one hand except for the power switch. Don't be afraid of the 7/8 hp rating either. I'm sure it's a continuous duty rating since they call it a commercial/production router. I've had one so long its got a Rockwell name on it. The primary disadvantages are that it only has a 1/4" collet and it's pricey for the power and features.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by ByteButcher:
              The milwuakee body grip would be a good choice for edging. I like the one hand operation and the fact its fairly heavy and not so tall and tippy as the plunge/fixed kits. Don't get me wrong, the kits from PC, Bosch, Makita, Dewalt, Makita, etc. are all good products and excellent values - just not ideal for your intended application.

              For general edging with 3/4" or smaller profiles I really like the PC model 100. It's very compact and stable. You can easily handle it with one hand except for the power switch. Don't be afraid of the 7/8 hp rating either. I'm sure it's a continuous duty rating since they call it a commercial/production router. I've had one so long its got a Rockwell name on it. The primary disadvantages are that it only has a 1/4" collet and it's pricey for the power and features.
              Rockwell name? Interesting...did Porter Cable acquire the line from Rockwell at some point?

              Comment


              • #8
                Here's another recent router review by PM;

                http://www.popularmechanics.com/home...up/print.phtml

                I have had my Milwaukee 5616 for only a few days, but here are my comments on it based on using it once so far:

                - The soft-start on the 5616 is not as smooth as on the PC690, it's more like a delayed start and ramps up pretty fast. The PC ramps up to speed in a couple seconds, no rotational torque backfed to the user on powerup.

                + Collet wrench size is the same as the PC690, so I can toss the cheapo stamped steel wrenches that came with the PC router and use the nicer 1-1/8" cast steel wrenches that came with the Milwaukee for both routers.

                + Removing the motor for bit changes is very easy and fast; open the lock lever, press the release button and slide the motor out of the base in only 2 seconds. On the PC690 series routers you are fumbling with the helical guide pins as you twist the motor out of the base, I cuss that "feature" on the PC every time I go to change a bit.

                ------

                Safety note: I have a foot pedal that I use when operating a router in the table, that way I don't have to reach under the table to start/stop the router. The foot pedal is a momentary contact switch, meaning that you must keep your foot on the pedal to maintain power ot the router (or other tool) attached to it.

                Yesterday I tried adding an accessory start switch (Craftsman Auto Switch item #00924031000) to the mix, so that my shop vac would start whenever I stepped on the foot pedal to turn on the router. Well, it seems that the foot pedal and the accessory switch don't want to play together.

                Here's the setup I tried; the accessory switch was plugged into the AC wall outlet and the foot pedal connected to the accessory switches tool outlet. The router was plugged into the foot pedal switch. The shop vac was plugged into one of the two accessory switch auxillary outlets. Whenever I stepped on the footpedal it no longer operated as a momentary contact switch, it stayed powered up until I released my foot and then stepped on the pedal again, and sometimes even then it took a couple presses on the switch to get it to shut off.

                This was not the expected action so I removed the accessory switch from the setup and continued starting the shop vac manually. I had used the accessory switch w/o the foot pedal on the router before to run the shop vac and never had a problem, it was only when I added the foot pedal that this unexpected behaviour occured, so I would advise against using the two in combination unless someone has had different results. Maybe my foot pedal and/or accessory switch are malfunctioning. Anyone else tried this combination and had the same or different results as me?

                Comment


                • #9
                  When stopping the Router (when for instance, edging) should the Router first be moved away from the work piece and then stopped, or should you stop while in the workpiece?

                  I take it that when begining your cut the Router should be at speed, then move the Router in and procede to cut in a counter-clockwise direction...

                  Thanks!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Bob D.:
                    Here's another recent router review by PM;

                    http://www.popularmechanics.com/home...up/print.phtml

                    I have had my Milwaukee 5616 for only a few days, but here are my comments on it based on using it once so far:

                    - The soft-start on the 5616 is not as smooth as on the PC690, it's more like a delayed start and ramps up pretty fast. The PC ramps up to speed in a couple seconds, no rotational torque backfed to the user on powerup.

                    + Collet wrench size is the same as the PC690, so I can toss the cheapo stamped steel wrenches that came with the PC router and use the nicer 1-1/8" cast steel wrenches that came with the Milwaukee for both routers.

                    + Removing the motor for bit changes is very easy and fast; open the lock lever, press the release button and slide the motor out of the base in only 2 seconds. On the PC690 series routers you are fumbling with the helical guide pins as you twist the motor out of the base, I cuss that "feature" on the PC every time I go to change a bit.

                    ------

                    Safety note: I have a foot pedal that I use when operating a router in the table, that way I don't have to reach under the table to start/stop the router. The foot pedal is a momentary contact switch, meaning that you must keep your foot on the pedal to maintain power ot the router (or other tool) attached to it.

                    Yesterday I tried adding an accessory start switch (Craftsman Auto Switch item #00924031000) to the mix, so that my shop vac would start whenever I stepped on the foot pedal to turn on the router. Well, it seems that the foot pedal and the accessory switch don't want to play together.

                    Here's the setup I tried; the accessory switch was plugged into the AC wall outlet and the foot pedal connected to the accessory switches tool outlet. The router was plugged into the foot pedal switch. The shop vac was plugged into one of the two accessory switch auxillary outlets. Whenever I stepped on the footpedal it no longer operated as a momentary contact switch, it stayed powered up until I released my foot and then stepped on the pedal again, and sometimes even then it took a couple presses on the switch to get it to shut off.

                    This was not the expected action so I removed the accessory switch from the setup and continued starting the shop vac manually. I had used the accessory switch w/o the foot pedal on the router before to run the shop vac and never had a problem, it was only when I added the foot pedal that this unexpected behaviour occured, so I would advise against using the two in combination unless someone has had different results. Maybe my foot pedal and/or accessory switch are malfunctioning. Anyone else tried this combination and had the same or different results as me?
                    http://www.popularmechanics.com/home...up/print.phtml

                    Interesting...this is pretty much contrary from what I've read, especially with respect to 'tipping':

                    Quoting in part from the review in PM: "If you're going to have just one router, a plunge router is a pretty good choice. Not only can a plunge router do anything the old fixed-base design can...".

                    Anyone have any thoughts on that? If you were going to buy new and had the bucks for it, would you go fixed or plunge?

                    Thanks....

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Yes, continue moving the router out fo the work before powerng off or releasing the trigger switch, otherwise the router will spin down really fast while in contact with the work and could dig onto the work piece or buck or jump back at you causing injury. And yes, the router should be up to speed before feeding into the work or work into the router (if mounted in a table).

                      Originally posted by lgldsr:
                      When stopping the Router (when for instance, edging) should the Router first be moved away from the work piece and then stopped, or should you stop while in the workpiece?

                      I take it that when begining your cut the Router should be at speed, then move the Router in and procede to cut in a counter-clockwise direction...

                      Thanks!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Quoting in part from the review in PM: "If you're going to have just one router, a plunge router is a pretty good choice. Not only can a plunge router do anything the old fixed-base design can...".
                        At a basic level that's true but I've yet to see a plunge router that can hold a bit as stable as a fixed base. With a fixed base all you have is the machining tolerances and bearing clearances - which isn't much. With a plunge you have all the play in the plunge bushings added. Check out any $200 plunge router. You can easily deflect the bit +/- 1/32" or more with moderate force on the handles. If your using a bearing guided bit, that play isn't going to matter much. If you're trying to use an edge guide or a template bushing then you have to decide if +/- ??? is good enough. Even the cut depth can vary slightly since most lock only one plunge rod. On top of that, there's the fact that the depth is only held by a relatively weak friction mechanism. Some bits can kick back or push and knock your depth out of adjustment possibly ruining your work.

                        That said, you already have one of the most solid plunge routers on the market in the Speedmatic 7539. If you step down to one of the mid-sized 2hp routers you will notice a big difference in stability and precision. The main drawback is that a Speedmatic (fixed or plunge) is overkill for most work and definitely a 2-hander.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          ByteButcher: Thanks for your input on the Plunge Router. And yes, it absolutely is a 2-hander and is extremely robust...which we can translate to 'heavy'. Unused, I am going to sell it. It is substantial overkill for what my needs will be.

                          Bob D - thanks also for your input about the proper methods. Much appreciated!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Bob D.:
                            Here's the setup I tried; the accessory switch was plugged into the AC wall outlet and the foot pedal connected to the accessory switches tool outlet. The router was plugged into the foot pedal switch. The shop vac was plugged into one of the two accessory switch auxillary outlets. Whenever I stepped on the footpedal it no longer operated as a momentary contact switch, it stayed powered up until I released my foot and then stepped on the pedal again, and sometimes even then it took a couple presses on the switch to get it to shut off.

                            This was not the expected action so...
                            My foot switch has a single jack where you plug someting in. I pluged in a cube-tap which gives me room to plug 3 things in. I plug my shop vac and whatever tool I'm using and it works fine.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              That's a good idea, but is the foot switch rated for the amprage of the router AND the vac? Seems to me this combo would be over 20A or close to it.

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