Want a quick answer? PORTER-CABLE 895PK is the best plunge router you can get for your money. Keep reading to find out why.
You probably already know that there are plenty of reasons why a plunge router is a great investment. For me personally, a plunge router was one of the first power tools I bought as I began woodworking. But how do you know what plunge router is worth your hard-earned money?
This article will teach you how to choose the right plunge router for your needs. This guide also includes a review of the six best plunge routers so make sure to read it to the end. Otherwise, you might risk wasting your money on a router that isn’t worth buying.
Top plunge routers compared
Consider this when choosing a Plunge Router
I strongly believe that you should look for a plunge router with at least 1.5 hp, preferably in the range of 1.75 to 2.25 hp. Anything less will struggle in deeper cuts or harder wood grain, while larger motors will tend to be heavy during use and will cause fatigue.
Look for a plunge router that gives you a wide range of RPMs or at least select between multiple speed settings. This allows you to match the rotations generated with the size of the bit, the type of wood, as well as the job that you are doing.
The greater the depth your bit can travel, the more versatility the router offers you. Also, keep in mind here the ability to make micro-adjustments. Moving small increments will make all the difference in various joints.
Ease of use
Features that improve the ergonomics of a plunge router will allow you to hold it more comfortably and for longer periods of time. Another consideration would be a spindle lock, a feature I wish I had on my first router that locks the spindle and allows you to change bits with only one wrench.
Control buttons and levers placed for quick access or operation also improve your routing experience. can include height controls for the above table adjustments should you decide to use a router table.
Fixed base vs plunge router
This design has become more popular over the past few years and most major manufacturers make at least one model of plunge router for the woodworking market.
The major difference between plunge and fixed base routers is the vertical movement offered with a plunge router. Having a bit that can plunge into the wood’s surface allows you to take your work from along the edge to anywhere on the project. Being able to easily lower and raise the bit as you work allows you to make a variety of cuts that might normally be too difficult, especially if you are new to woodworking or have little experience with routers.
You can make both dadoes as well as rabbets using a fixed-base router, but a plunge router will allow you to make “blind” cuts into only one side of the wood quickly and with less tear-out. Plunge router bits tend to be more pointed, a feature that allows you to cut into the wood at a certain point and hollow out a section with less resistance than a wide bit used on a fixed-based router.
Plunge routers also seem to provide cleaner shallow cuts, something you can appreciate in DIY projects like creating recesses on doors for installing hinges.
These power tools can also help you to make a variety of joinery for cabinetry or jigs, including mortises.
Finally, a plunge router will excel at recreating inlay spaces and patterns in the wood surface as well. The ability to lift and lower the bit saves time and energy, allowing you to focus on making the cut instead of making complicated setups and adjustments throughout the cut.
It is worth noting before we move on that there are models on the market that offer users a combination fixed-base/plunge-base system. These will come with either two separate bases that must be changed out or will involve some type of switch or other adjustments to move between the two options.
The upside of this kind of product is that you can take advantage of fast and accurate fixed-base shaping with the option to switch to a more versatile plunge router setup. They will often cost a bit more and might be a bit harder to use, however.
The 6 Best Plunge Routers for the Money
PORTER-CABLE Router, Fixed/Plunge Base Kit 895PK
- Soft-starting, 12 Amp motor of PORTER-CABLE router features full-time electronic feedback that maintains motor speed through the toughest applications
- Variable-speed control feature (10,000 - 23,000 rpm) enables bit speed to be optimized for changing applications
- Release the motor, adjust bit height and clamp the motor from above the router table with model #75301 kit (included). Fixed base only.
Porter-Cable offers you plenty of power with this router kit. The 12 amp motor can generate 2.25 hp. That should give you plenty of torque and speed to cut and shape most wood projects, including those using larger bits. Proper cooling elements allow you to run this power tool for longer periods of time without concern of shutdown due to overheating.
DEWALT DWP611PK – Best Plunge Router Under $200
- Durable 1.25HP motor of DEWALT router delivers the power to meet the toughest applications
- Variable speed control feature of DEWALT plunge router enables bit speed to be optimized for changing applications
- Soft-starting motor features full-time electronic feedback that maintains motor speed through the cut
DeWALT is known in the power tool industry as a leader in quality and customer service, and this kit is no exception. A three-year limited warranty and excellent documentation offer new and experienced users alike with consumer confidence.
Related: Best Budget Routers Under $100
Makita RT0701CX7 Compact Router Kit
- Variable speed control dial (10,000 - 30,000 RPM) enables user to match the speed to the application
- Smooth rack-and-pinion fine depth adjustment system for more precise settings
- Slim and ergonomically designed body for increased comfort and control
This is another design that keeps the housing at a minimum, allowing users to operate it for longer sessions without becoming tired. A slim design also offers you a better view of the action at the base for more control during cuts.
Triton TRA001 3-1/4 HP Dual Mode Precision Plunge Router
- Single button switches from conventional plunge to fixed-base router with rack and pinion mode
- Single wrench bit change through base is achieved with automatic spindle lock
- Micro winder enables continuous fine depth adjustment through the full plunge mode
This product from Triton is designed to provide you the convenience of a combination router with the bonus of not requiring base changes. That is due to the button-activated selector that converts the router from fixed-base operations to a plunge router. You will save a lot of time with this feature compared to having to change out base types.
Makita 3-1/4 HP Plunge Router
- Powerful 15 AMP motor delivers 9,000-22,000 RPM for smooth routing
- Electronic speed control maintains constant speed under load
- Variable speed control dial enables user to match the speed to the application
For those looking for more power, this 15 amp model should fit your needs. A 3.25 hp motor will offer you to take advantage of the deeper cuts this router can make. It is designed for serious woodworking as well as commercial applications.
DeWALT DW625 Router
- 3 HP ELEC PLUNGE RTR
- 3 HP ELEC PLUNGE RTR
- 3 HP ELEC PLUNGE RTR
Another large contender in this line up of products will be this three hp motor design. With 15 amps of power, it can create up 22,000 RPMs or router bit turning. It can also be dialed down to 8,000 RPMs for applications that require larger bits that need torque over speed.
The One To Take The Plunge With
I find most of these sufficient for my woodworking needs, depending upon the project I would be working on. However, the PORTER-CABLE Router, Fixed/Plunge Base Kit 895PK is the best plunge router for the money I have reviewed here.
It offers 2.25 hp out of the box, more than the smaller trim motors on some while not going overboard like the larger 3 hp models we looked at. That will get you through most projects.
As a kit, you are offered both fixed-base and plunge router options. You do have to change out bases instead of switching with a button, but this also helps to keep the price down a bit.
Machined bushings made from brass help promote smooth movement through the plunge, and a soft start motor allows the bit to build up speed more gradually. These features should provide longevity to your router.
It may take a bit to get used to the dust collection hose position, but it provides plenty of suction and should keep the cut area clear as you work. It may not be the cheapest on the list, but it is ideal for beginners as well as intermediate woodworkers and the types of projects they will make!
Didn’t find what you were looking for? Check out our review of the best wood routers.