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Thread: Plunge vs Fixed base routers

  1. #1

    Plunge vs Fixed base routers

    I have been a woodworker for 22 years, when I first started I borrowed a fixed base Craftsman router and thought it was a pain to adjust. After that I bought all plunge routers. My question is what can a fixed base router do that a plunge router can't?
    Is this 2 router base a marketing gimmick or is there really a need for them.
    Mark Walden
    Hoquiam WA.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Bristol and Pound Virginia
    I have my P-C fixed base mounted in a table plate and use the plunge base for most everything else. I also have another fixed base router set up for dovetails with a P-C jig and never use it for anything else. I do like the micro adjust on a fixed base for dovetails.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Rochester, NY
    I reach for my fixed based more often than my plunger. I find the center of gravity to be lower, and actually prefer the adjustment on fixed base. I prefer fixed base in the router table too. I suppose its just a matter of preference more than a marketing gimmick.
    Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Just the opposite, I find that I only use the plunge base when I have to. I can adjust the fixed base in half the time. As far as in a router table... fixed before I got the PRL!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Blog Entries
    The differing opinions (which is one of the most valuable things about a forum) stem from the routers you have established your preference on. Certainly 22 years ago if you needed a plunge, you bought one. Even just a half dozen years ago, plunge functions were better with dedicated plunge body routers.

    Today we have plunge/fixed combos where the plunge body rivals or exceeds todays dedicated plunge body routers. Without starting a preferences war I will say that there are equal price point combo sets that I love and ones that I have returned the same day.

    As mentioned, fixed base designs of many offerings have a lower center of gravity and are less "tippy" than their plunge base versions. I equip fixed bases with offset base plates, edge-trim guides and other purpose specific bolt-ons that would be in the way (or at least little benefit) for most plunge operations.

    A good combo set allows you to load the base you want with the motor you want, quickly and easily. The units I use adjust the height the same way regardless of which base you are using. This may just make it seem easier to me as there is some muscle-memory about how you do things.
    Last edited by glenn bradley; 03-06-2011 at 9:30 AM.
    Take me to the hotel - Baggage gone, oh well . . .

  6. #6
    I have the dewalt with a fixed and plunge bases, and an older craftsman fixed base. I use both depending on the project.
    Dave W. -
    Restoring an 1890 Victorian
    Cuba, NY

  7. #7
    To answer your question I guess nothing.

    I have both the fixed and plunge base, if I am doing something that I need to take light cuts and then make it deeper as I go. I use the plunge base. With the step adjuster it make for a very easy step to a deep final cut.

    If I am doing something like an 1/8" dado I will use the fixed base, less weight and better balance. Plus the adjustment is spot on every time and there can be no difference in multiple cuts.

    I have at times used the plunge base and found that I was not seating the router against the stop the same each time and would have a little difference in the depth of cut.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    The Hartland of Michigan
    For quite some time I've had my PC890 with dual bases. The fixed is in the table and I used the plunge for some things.
    The PC890 is a bit large and heavy for hand held work, so I bought a C-man 1 3/4hp fixed base. I find I really don't need the plunge base.
    Never, under any circumstances, consume a laxative and sleeping pill, on the same night

  9. #9
    A perspective on the whole megillah.

  10. #10
    I never thought plunge routers were very well suited for fine adjustments. Pushing down on a spring loaded motor just doesn't allow for very small increments, don't even get me on trying to raise it just a hair. Sure, all your plunge routers have a depth stop which can be used to dial things in, but that just adds another level of complexity to the adjustment procedure. Also, for those who do a lot of one handed routing plunge routers are just too unwieldy. plunger routers are also not ideal for tasks in which you want to know that the setting is going to be EXACTLY the same every time you pick it up. I have a couple of DW716s set up for dovetailing that I always know will make a joint as tight as a gnats... I couldn't count on a plunge router to do this. Fixed routers are also better for aggressive routing and routing tough materials. Even the best plungers have a bit of slop in the plunging mechanisms, which can lead to chatter, fixed bases don't have this slop .

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    North Dakota
    I have a 2 base router kit. I like the plunge base for plunge work like mortises or sign work. The fixed base is used for everything else even though I have to remove it form my table. The fixed base is easier to control along edges because of its low center of gravity. The micro adjustment is better on the fixed base also. Most likely why the Craftsman was hard to adjust was because of a poor design or quality. I also have a 30 year old Craftsman router I got form my dad and it has no adjustment mechanism, you just slide the motor up and down making it hard to adjust.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Oak Point TX
    I have a DeWalt 3HP plunge unit that pretty much stays in the router table, I also have a PC 890 kit that has the plunge/fixed base and this unit gets more hand held work using either base as needed.

  13. #13
    Well I guess I am going to have to rethink my router options. I would guess after 20 years even Sears has improved their adjustment controls.
    I would like to thank you for all of your posts your information is appreciated.
    Mark Walden

  14. #14
    I keep a fixed mounted in the table, but I still prefer it for some edge applications. Sometimes one just FEELS right for the application. I don't think it's a gimmick. I like having 2.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    S.E. Tennessee ... just a bit North of Chattanooga
    I several 690 2-base combos and I can't remember using the fixed bases on any of them. If you're using them in a tabl(fixed base) they can cause problems with the bit/base being eccentric during height adjustments. Some are better than others in this respect, but if you're making a cut that requires two or more height settings to complete, most of the fixed bases allow the bit to wander a little, causing tiny "steps" and or erratic widths of cut on mortices and similar cuts. If you want to check your fixed base for this condition try this ... chuck up a good, stout bit .. 1/2" straight shank 2-flute is good. Set it for 1/4" depth of cut and make a pass in some thick stock. Measure the width of cut with someting precise .. dial or digital calipers if available. raise the bit 1/4" at a time and make successive passes. When you get to maximum depth, measure the cut width again. In most cases, a fixed base will yield a finished cut that is wider than the original kerf measurement. That is due to the base not being perfectly concentric with the collet. Again .. some are much worse than others, but I don't see this happening much if at all with plunge bases, so I tend to use them whenever I can.

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