Last Updated on 2020-11-07 by Harry Masterton
Building your woodworking projects is fun, and improving the look and functionality of those projects displays growth in your hobby. Tools like the router increase your performance and speed in the shop. The best plunge router for woodworking offers features that a fixed based router can not.
A key component in the plunge router design is the base, which allows the router to move up and down on columns. Those columns have springs that keep the router in the “up” position until you plunge the router “down” into the wood's surface.
Plunge routers use router bits that have tips with a cutting edge. The tips allow the bit to cut down into the wood on the ‘plunge' action so that you can start anywhere on your project instead of the edge, unlike standard router bits that lack this ability.
Keep in mind, however, that the best plunge router for woodworking projects will work on the edge of boards as well. Its base can be locked into position so that the bit maintains a consistent depth as it moves.
A fixed base router might be the preferred choice for a router table by many, but a plunge router will work in these tables too. The base plates on many models are interchangeable between fixed and plunge designs. Manufacturers also offer kits that include both types of base plates.
Plunge cutting allows you to work on a board's surface. You can carve out impressions with plunge cuts, and using a template will help you to create intricate patterns. Other things you can make with a plunge router include, but are not limited to:
- Mortising – This includes stop mortising that terminates before reaching an edge
- Boring and creating holes – Used for things like dowels
- Dados and grooves – Can be made on wider boards and is considered by many to be safer than using a dado stack on your table saw
Table Of Contents
- 1 Best Plunge Router For Woodworking
- 1.1 Festool 574692 OF 1400 EQ Router
- 1.2 Festool 574692 OF 1400 EQ Video
- 1.3 Best Plunge Router For Woodworking – Best For The Money
- 1.4 Triton TRA001 3 1/4-HP Plunge Router
- 1.5 Best Plunge Router For Woodworking – Best under $200
- 1.6 DeWalt DW618PKB 2 1/4-HP Plunge Router
- 1.7 Best Plunge Router For Woodworking – Combo Kit Winner
- 1.8 Bosch MRC23EVSK 2.3-HP Combination Router Kit
- 1.9 Bosch MRC23EVSK Combo Kit Video
- 1.10 Best Plunge Router For Woodworking – Budget Winner
- 1.11 Hammerhead HAPR100 10-Amp Plunge Router Kit
Best Plunge Router For Woodworking
Festool 574692 OF 1400 EQ Router4.6 out of 5.0 stars
Our list of the best plunge router for woodworking starts with this Festool 574692 OF 1400 EQ router review. The extra dollars spent on this tool offer you features that will be hard to match with other products. Festool has a complete line of accessories that enhance this router, making it even better than it already is. In our opinion the Festool 574692 should have a 5 Star Review. You'll notice that a couple of reviewers have given it a 1 star rating because of price. Well if you want the very best in German Engineering you pay the price.
Festool 574692 OF 1400 EQ – Features
The best plunge router fine woodworking design uses a 1,400-watt electric motor. It is considered mid-range for size, providing power for most routing tasks in your shop without becoming too heavy or unwieldy.
It has a maximum cutting diameter of 2 1/2 inches, which covers all but the largest of router bits. The routing stroke (the movement up and down on the columns) is 2 3/4 inches. That depth will cover all inlay work, joinery, and edge clean up you will do in your shop.
The tool weighs 9.92-pounds, which is hefty but controllable. Its control handle offers a solid grip and finger access to button controls. The secondary handle is a knob that fits snuggly into the palm of your other hand, allowing you the control expected from the best plunge router for fine woodworking.
This Festool 574692 OF 1400 EQ router review would be incomplete without discussing this router's dust collection design. The extraction port is positioned next to the point of debris origin.
That positioning allows it to gather chips and dust by location alone. It also includes a taper that increases vacuum suction, moving debris quickly from the port into the extraction hose. This design keeps the cut path clear and keeps clean up after you are done to a minimum.
It can be connected to either 1 1/16 inch or 1 7/16 inch diameter attachments. Festool's extraction equipment provides HEPA certified filtration, keeping you breathing easy.
Using this extraction set up is something your nasal passages and eyes will appreciate when working with woods like alder, birch, cedar, and other irritant-prone species. It is simply the best plunge router with dust collection abilities when used within Festool's system of tools.
Festool 574692 OF 1400 EQ – What We Like
- HEPA certified dust extraction capabilities. The port is located near the router bit so that most debris is removed as it is created. This feature keeps the contact point visible and keeps cleanup to a minimum.
- Provides ergonomic holds for both hands. These create a natural hand position. A softer grip provides comfort and reduces vibrations.
- Integrates seamlessly into Festool's system. The manufacturer offers a rail system for guiding consistent cuts. Templates and other accessories are also available in the system line, making it the best plunge router fine woodworking model.
Festool 574692 OF 1400 EQ – Not So Good
- The bigger price tag. This cost may be prohibitive for shops on a budget or intimidating for someone buying their first router. Keep in mind that this tool is part of the Festool “system;” you will be buying the best plunge router with dust collection too.
- It is more difficult to switch bases on this model. You will find that it takes longer on this router than on Festool's OF 2200, for example.
Best Plunge Router For Woodworking – Best For The Money
Triton TRA001 3 1/4-HP Plunge Router
4.5 out of 5.0 stars
The TRA001 from Triton enters the best plunge router for woodworking list as a more budget-friendly alternative to the Festool OF 1400 we looked at before. Its features make this a secondary choice for the best plunge router for finer woodworking.
Triton TRA001 – Features
This might be the best plunge router for the money considering its 3 1/4 hp electric motor. The 1,450-watt design is variable speed, generating between 8,000 and 21,000 RPMs under no-load conditions. That is a lot of router for the money, and it allows you to adjust for the bit and wood density for better results.
Triton includes soft start technology with this 15-amp motor design. This will protect the motor over its lifetime and reduce the torque that can twist the router in your hand as it powers up.
Another reason this is the best plunge router for the money is fine adjustments you can make. This includes small depth adjustments with the micro winder. Adjusting the depth as you plunge helps this precision router cut exactly where you need it.
Triton TRA001 – What We Like
- A larger electric motor. THe 3 1/4 hp generated will power most plunge bits at the proper RPMs.
- The micro winder dial. This button allows you to make small depth adjustments while in the plunge.
- Its motor is well vented. This will reduce interior dust build-up and keep the motor running cooler.
Triton TRA001 – Not So Good
- There is more vibration with this model. This might be noticed in longer sessions, and it could loosen knobs that are not secure.
- Some knobs and levers are made from a cheaper plastic. These won't last as long as other components on this router.
Best Plunge Router For Woodworking – Best under $200
DeWalt DW618PKB 2 1/4-HP Plunge Router
4.8 out of 5.0 stars
DeWalt's DW618PKB makes the best plunge router for woodworking list based on its durability and portability. DeWalt products are professional-grade tools designed to handle job site conditions. This will provide plenty of durability for your shop.
DeWalt DW618PKB – Features
This router comes as a kit, making it the best plunge router under 200 bucks. The kit includes a fixed base as well as a plunge base that can be interchanged, depending upon what you need at the time. You will get more versatility with two bases, and you don't need to buy the second one separately.
Other features that make it the best plunge router under 200 dollars are variable speeds and consistent cutting. You can adjust between 8,000 and 24,000 RPMs with the 12-amp electric motor. It also uses feedback control to keep your router bits operating at the desired rotational speed during cuts.
DeWalt provides a three-year limited warranty on this router as well as one year of free service. You also get a 90-day money-back guarantee on the DW618PKB kit.
DeWalt DW618PKB – What We Like
- It has a durable build. The components used are intended for job site performance and abuse.
- Comes as a kit. This router includes a fixed base and a plunge base straight from the box.
- Designed for portability and storage. It comes with a carry bag and breaks down quickly into a small bundle.
DeWalt DW618PKB – Not So Good
- The power cord can detach easily. It does not take much to disconnect the cord from the router body.
- Its collet nut might be difficult to reach. It is not located in the best position for quick access.
Best Plunge Router For Woodworking – Combo Kit Winner
Bosch MRC23EVSK 2.3-HP Combination Router Kit4.7 out of 5.0 stars
Bosch enters the best plunge router for woodworking list with the MRC23EVSK combination kit. This kit includes a fix and plunge base plate, as well as a hard case for protection when the tool is not being used.
Bosch MRC23EVSK – Features
The best plunge router kits provide easy to change components. A two-stage quick clamp mechanism makes change outs easy and quick.
Something that makes the MRC23EVSK one of the best plunge router combo kits is the adjustability of both base plates. Each is marked clearly to make set up smooth, and you can make micro-adjustments to the bit height on both as well.
The most impressive feature that makes this the best plunge router combo kits is its use of speed controls on the plates. You can make speed adjustments without having to move your hands. Many kits have controls on the housing instead.
Finally, versatility makes the best plunge router kits, and this product works with either 1/4 or 1/2-inch collets. Mounting holes on the fixed base allow it to easily mount to a router table also.
Bosch MRC23EVSK – What We Like
- On base controls. You can adjust the speed on either base, instead of on the housing.
- High contrast depth markings. These are easy to read on the gauge without eye strain.
- It comes with a hard case. This provides great protection in the shop and on the road.
Bosch MRC23EVSK – Not So Good
- A higher RPM range. This helps improve performance but may spin too fast for some bits or in materials that require lower settings.
- The power level could be improved on. The 2.3 hp generated may struggle at maximum plunge depth and larger bit sizes.
Bosch MRC23EVSK Combo Kit Video
Best Plunge Router For Woodworking – Budget Winner
Hammerhead HAPR100 10-Amp Plunge Router Kit
4.6 out of 5.0 stars
Our final entry on the best plunge router for woodworking list comes from the Hammerhead brand by Chevron. The HAPR100 is a plunge router kit that includes a parallel guide for cutting. It also includes a vacuum hose adapter to allow it more connection versatility.
Hammerhead HAPR100 – Features
The stand out feature that makes this the best wood router for beginner woodworkers is the price point. This will not strain your budget and leaves room to purchase bits (and a shop vac if you don't already have one).
The best budget plunge router needs to provide users with quality features. The Hammerhead HAPR100 offers a surprising amount of versatility at this price. This includes a 9.32-pound weight that will not burden you on bigger projects that require a lot of work.
Its 10-amp motor creates 11,000 to 28,000 RPMs and is adjusted with a six setting dial. A guide is included with the router that matches the speed setting to cutting bit diameter, helping to make it the best wood router for beginner operating ease.
The best budget plunge router also offers handle-mounted controls and cord attachment that keeps it from getting in your way.
Hammerhead HAPR100 – What We Like
- An incredible price. Considering the design features included, this helps to make it the best wood router for beginner and first-time buyers.
- Cord attachment on the handle. This position keeps it out of your way and away from the wood as you work.
- On board wrench storage. This small detail keeps your wrench handy at all times.
Hammerhead HAPR100 – Not So Good
- Cheaper build quality. As you might expect, this router sacrifices top-tier materials to keep the price as low as it is.
- The parallel guide is flimsy. It probably will not last long due to the thin plate.
Checkout our complete coverage (constantly updated) of the essential woodworking power tools for your shop with links to reviews for each category.
Best Plunge Router For Woodworking – Cutting Your Groove
So, which of the power tools reviewed is the best plunge router for woodworking? The previous reviews will allow you to match features to your skill and needs as a woodworker.
The Festool 574692 OF 1400 EQ represents the best design available. You will pay more for it, but this router is a powerful component in the Festool system.
Triton's TRA001 3 1/4-HP Plunge Router represents a more economical alternative to the Festool. It offers many quality features at a more affordable price for recreational hobbyists.
A DeWalt DW618PKB will give you a durable router that can handle a rough shop environment. The tool will last a long time, which is impressive at less than $200.
The Bosch MRC23EVSK is a true kit design, and is recommended for woodworkers wanting both a fixed base and plunge base option at their disposal.