10 Best Plunge Routers
- Horsepower : 3.25 HP
- No Load Speed : 10,000 - 22,000 RPM
- Weight : 25 lbs
- Horsepower : 1.25 HP
- No Load Speed : 16,000 - 24,000 RPM
- Weight : 8 lbs
- Horsepower : 2.25 HP
- No Load Speed : 8,000 - 25,000 RPM
- Weight : 18.2 lbs
In the old days, woodworkers might exclusively use hammers and wood carving knives to etch out their creations – along with a great deal sanding and polishing. With the advent of the electric motor, we all have the convenience of routers. They make carving out the edges of wood much easier, especially joints and seams for furniture, boxes, and game boards.
How does it do this? What is a plunge router? Well, traditional routers start with the bit lowered below the bottom of the device. This means they are great for carving out the sides and edges of wood, but have trouble starting in the center of a piece of solid board. It’s doable, no doubt, but it’s a lot of trouble and the router can kick and jump, creating nicks in the wood that leave your project looking like a novice made it. The plunge router doesn’t work this way. It can sit flush on a piece of wood because the router drill bit starts within the drill, and then you lower it down to the depth you want it at. In this way, you can make extremely precise changes in the depth of your carving very easily, and it is much more tuned for fine pattern work or really anything that needs to be carved within the center of a block as opposed to on the edge.
In this article we will review ten of the best plunge routers available online, and go through their top characteristics, some technical specifications, and just general things to know about each plunge router, like what makes them unique. After our reviews, we’ll also get into some common uses for plunge routers, safety considerations, and a buying guide that should answer a lot of the questions you might have about the tool.
Table Of Contents
10 Best Plunge Routers Reviewed
Let’s take a look at the 10 best plunge routers available this year.
This is truly a heavy-duty router for heavy duty woodwork. Perhaps one of the highest quality routers we reviewed, it is also one of the heaviest, coming in at 25 pounds. Make no mistake though, this router can easily handle fine woodwork, and get through even the toughest hard maple surfaces. It has price control up to 1/246th of an inch, so you can rest assured that it will be able to handle the finest, most precise pattern work in the hardest wood you can give it. The handles are placed at a 30° offset, so pushing this router across a wood panel is much easier than might first meet the eye.
- 1/256th inch adjustable depth
- Integrated dust extraction mechanism keeps dust out of your way
- Magnetic spindle break extends the life of the machine
- Plunge depth of 3.15 inches
- 2200 watts of power, 3.5 horsepower make it smoothly power through hard woods
The Festool OF 2200 EB Router is certainly not for novice woodworkers as it offers a bevy of features and power that might not be necessary for the casual weekend warrior. But if you’re looking for the best of the best in terms of power, quality, and control – there is no second to this machine.
Some plunge routers seem to be made to carve a hole in solid steel, taking bits of metal and sparks along for the ride. This is not one of them, this is more like the New York Art museum version of a plunge router. At 6.2 pounds with its plunge attachment, it’s easy to handle. It has a maximum plunge depth of 8 inches and can easily transition between fixed and plunge set ups, a feature which makes this router truly unique. It comes in at 1.25 horsepower, so while it may not carve a whole easily through the hardest woods, it is perfect for fine work that may require a couple passes.
- No load speed: 16,000 to 24,000 RPM
- LEDs on the base light up the workspace
- Soft start motor keeps the RPMs at a constant rate as you cut
- Convertible between fixed and plunge base means you always have the right tool
- Excellent value for features
This DEWALT router wasn’t meant to cut out the mast of an oak ship, and you wouldn’t want it to. The fine detail work that the light weight and variable speed of this router makes possible means that it will definitely be your go to router for jobs that require a bit more finesse. And it comes in at an excellent price for the features you get, you’re basically getting both a fixed and a plunge base router for the price of one.
If you’re looking for a router that’s capable of fine woodwork but has a bit more power than the aforementioned DEWALT, this is a great go to. At 2.25 horsepower, you’ve got a bit more ability to get through hardwoods in a single pass, and the weight of the router itself, 18.2 pounds, will lend itself to jobs which require a bit more power. The aluminum construction means that unlike plastic based routers, this one is built to last – even if you mistreat it, which we hope you won’t.
- No load variable speed: 8,000 – 25,000 RPM
- Interchangeable fixed and plunge base router makes this device extremely versatile
- 25 Horsepower means you’ve got enough power to get through most jobs
- Comes with a carrying case meaning you won’t lose your drill bits and can keep the device clean
- Plunge base chip shield means keeps you protected when handling messy jobs
This is a mid-sized router that should easily meet the needs of most DIYers. If you’re looking for a high power, industrial plunge router, you may want to look elsewhere, but for everyone else—this should do the job well. The variable speed settings, soft start, and choice between plunge and fixed base router means that it’s appropriate for most jobs and you’ll rarely find routing work that this guy can’t handle.
When it comes to fine detail work, this is definitely the router you want to be using, hands down. Its high-speed engine means that you get smooth cuts even with a low power setting, which also means that this router is less likely to run away on you and take away too much wood. Furthermore, it has electric speed control which means you’ll always be getting the same speed no matter what you’re cutting through, even if you hit a knot.
This router is built for finer work than most, and you’ll finally be able to get started on that project for your daughter that the more heavy-duty routers would have made a mess of.
- Variable speed: 10,000 – 30,000 RPM is quite high
- Slim design means this high-speed router can fit in even small applications
- Low 1.25 HP engine means you’ll never cut away too much in precision jobs
- Lightweight at 3.9 pounds, extremely easy to handle
- Double insulation means this router won’t get too hot
For precision jobs, this is one of the best choices out there. The low power, high speed engine means that this router is perfect for small scale detail work that a larger router simply won’t be able to handle. Double insulation, along with an easily changeable fixed or plunge base means that you can switch between jobs easily. The ¼ inch shank router bits that this device uses means that it’s geared towards smaller jobs, so keep that in mind.
This WEN RT6033 woodworking kit is perfect for the beginner or novice woodworker who wants to get a bunch of the tools they will need to do some projects that they’ve been looking at all in one fell swoop. The straight guide rail as well as duplication tool are great tools to have around your wood working table, and the power of this device is more than enough to cover basic woodworking needs.
Another stand out feature of this router is that it can fit both ½ and ¼ inch drill bits, meaning that you don’t have to worry about whether or not you’ve picked up the right drill bits the first time around – which, admit it, can be a problem for first timers.
- Compatible with both ¼ and ½ inch router bits
- Variable motor speed: 8000 to 23,000 RPM
- 5-inch dust port is easily compatible with a tube for dust extraction
- Guide rails included for straight lines, as well as duplication
- 5 Horsepower adequate for most jobs
This kit is absolutely perfect for the guy (or gal) who wants to have all the options on the table the day they get their new router. The kit includes many add-ons that make no project out of reach – and will save you the trouble of having to buy additional gear later. The fact that it’s all easily stored in a hard-shell case is just icing on the cake.
This Makita plunge router is perfect for doing finish jobs on woodwork both outside on the deck or on the woodworking table. The key feature of this router, outside of its excellent quality and durability – is the electric break that is controlled by a trigger on the handle. This makes it perfect for woodworkers who need to stop and start on a dime and can really help out with productivity.
This router is substantially more powerful than the other Makita router we reviewed, and the two of them together make a great all-around combo to get done all of your wood working needs. It’s definitely something to consider.
- 25 Horsepower more than enough for most in house jobs.
- Variable speed: 9000 – 22,000 RPM
- 75-inch plunge depth capacity
- Built in LED lights to illuminate workspace
- Shaft lock makes changing drill bits extremely fast and easy
This router has great versatility and can switch between different modes quickly – making it a great purchase for woodworkers who need to be able to take large swaths of wood out of the edges of a piece, and also do fine woodwork at a slower speed. The quick change over between both drill bits and speeds make this plunge router a real gem.
Not all projects need the full power available from you power socket, and this router is definitely designed for the more lower power applications you might have. It’s great for soft woods, as its high speed and low power are probably not appropriate for more high-power applications. At just over 10 pounds, it’s relatively easy to handle and should be able to get into the harder to reach areas you may need to work in.
- Variable speed: 10,000 – 30,000 RPM
- 8 Horsepower makes this gauge great for fine work
- Vacuum dust extraction
- Aluminum edge guide makes straight lines super easy
- Depth gauge in increments of 0.25 inches
The freehand attachment of this router makes it perfect for fine detail work, and the lower power and high speed means you’re unlikely to make big mistakes while doing the finishing touches on your work. The extra add-ons (like the compass for creating circular patterns from 8 to 40 inches) mean that this is a great value purchase.
This is one of the smallest most mobile routers we found during our research. While it’s certainly not built for the most heavy-duty applications, it’s perfect for small operations such as making small game boards or toys for children. The great part about this router is that it is accessible to people who might not be as strong or sizable as woodworkers who use a router that is close to 30 pounds. Coming in at 3.3 pounds and with a single horsepower, you can be certain that this router won’t get out of hand.
- 1 Horsepower will get the job done on small projects
- Straight edge guide included to make sure you do it right the first time
- 3 pounds make this super light handheld router perfect for jobs that require mobility
- Variable speed: 16,000 to 35,000 RPM
- Receives standard ¼ inch drill bits
While this router may not be able to handle the most hard-core applications, it was never meant to! It has an extremely quick speed for doing fine work and is light weight so this is a great pick if you’re not a huge lumberjack type. Just keep in mind that this kind of “single hand” router is best used for appropriate jobs and might not hold up against oak or other hardwoods.
Among the routers that we reviewed, this one has some particular features that make it stand out against the competition, namely the battery powered operation – meaning you can use it outside and far away from sockets with no problem. With a 20-volt operation, it’s probably not the best for heavy duty operations, but who would expect that from a battery powered router.
- Cordless operation means no hassle and no danger involved in using a cord
- 6 Pounds make this a super light choice
- Variable speed: 16,000 to 25,500 RPM
- LED lights make sure you can use this even into dusk, out on the deck
- Quick brake on the motor means efficient and safe work
Of course, a battery powered router is not going to be your go to if you’re carving out a full-sized canoe. However, for jobs that are done outside, this certainly must be your go-to router, because absolutely no cord is needed whatsoever. That makes this router hands down the most mobile router we’ve found, with no competition.
This router is an excellent overall choice for the novice woodworker. It’s not so heavy, nor so powerful, as to become unwieldly, but it will be able to handle all your needs from both a precision to a bolder strokes level of woodworking. One might consider this router to be a great middle of the road choice, that won’t be too weak for your applications but also won’t fly off the table.
As always, Craftsman has built a router that is both reliable and durable over the long term, as can be seen in its aluminum frame, rubber handles, and soft start technology.
- Variable plunge or fixed based router
- 8 pounds make this a great midsize router
- Variable Speed: 15,000 to 25,000 RPM
- Excellent value for durability and brand
- 2 Horsepower make this a great go to for most projects
This router is a great starter for people who know they’ll be doing some relatively high-level woodwork in hard woods, but don’t want to go the full length and get a heavy-duty router. With both fixed and variable options, the router will fit most woodworking applications.
What to Use a Plunge Router for?
Here we will give you some ideas of the best ways to use a plunge router and general topics on what plunge routers are used for. There are many great resources online for projects that you can pursue with a plunge router if you’re looking for inspiration, but nothing beats just breaking it out and trying some new projects yourself.
In short, plunge routers are great for going where other routers can’t. They make starting a cut much easier, particularly if on the surface of the board you’re working on, because no starting drill hole is necessary, the drill bit simply lowers into its set depth from above. This makes plunge routers ideal for doing specialized cuts such as flutes or grooves. To reiterate, the benefit of the plunge router is the ability to start in the center of a piece of wood, or from above, rather than at an edge.
For this reason, they’re great for making decorative pieces or even game boards and patterned designs on cabinets or drawers. Many plunge routers also double as fixed base routers, so if you’re going to get one or the other, it’s always a great choice to go with the plunge router as it is much more versatile.
As with all power tools, you want to be extremely mindful of safety considerations when using a plunge router. We’ll outline some general safety guidelines, but this does not replace the need to read the safety instructions of your plunge router thoroughly. It’s also a good idea to watch some YouTube videos on the subject to get a better idea of what you’re doing before using your router.
As with all power tools, it’s absolutely essential to use eye protection and gloves. Plunge routers often have features that help direct wood scrap away from the user, and some even can vacuum in into a tube that is directed wherever you like, but goggles are always an absolute must.
Be sure that you’re aware of where your wire is when using a plunge router. If it’s under the table, or otherwise gets in the way of the router bit, you run the risk of electrocution – which certainly puts a stop to the Sunday woodworking activities.
Sharp drill bits are also essential when using a plunge router. You don’t want a drill bit that is dull as it’s liable to buck or slide on the surface your working with, which can lead to accidents. So, if you’re going to buy a plunge router, be sure to keep your drill bits nice and sharp.
Overall, you just want to use the same common sense that you would with all power tools when using your plunge router. There is no substitute for proper safety gear and paying attention.
A Brief Buying Guide
When it comes to plunge routers, there is a few key considerations you want to be aware of. Most of them have to do with the technical considerations of each plunge router, drill bit, power, weight, etc.
When it comes to weight, you want to be sure that you get a plunge router that you can actually handle. Be honest about this, as it involves your safety and the safety of others. If you’re not confident that you can easily push a thirty-pound router across a table, including the drag of the drill bit and the vibration of the motion, you probably shouldn’t get one that is that heavy. What will you do when it falls?
Power and speed go hand in hand with plunge routers. The larger the swath of wood you will be cutting, and the harder the wood, the more power you want. If you’ll be cutting exclusively hardwoods, it’s a good idea to look for a router that has above three horsepower and preferably more than that. The speed has an effect on the smoothness of the cut. If you’ll be doing a lot of finish work with your plunge router, a high speed is essential – above 20,000 is a good range to go for.
While the drill bits are essentially a separate purchase, they do come in several standard sizes, but the most common are ¼ inch and ½ inch. Generally, the larger the base of the drill bit the larger the actual area the drill can actually route, but this is dependent on your router. Some routers can use both sizes, which is a great feature to look out for.
While price shouldn’t really come into play when searching for quality power tools, keep in mind that you really do get what you pay for. The higher priced routers are generally going to last a bit longer and give you more bang for your buck. That being said, you can get plunge routers from anywhere in the range of $75 to $250 dollars, with most routers being right in the middle of that range. Of course, if you want to pay for power and quality, there are certainly other options.
At the End of the Day, Why a Plunge Router?
As we’ve seen, the variety of plunge routers on the market today is pretty wide, but as the old adage goes, you want to get “the right tool for the right job.” That means you probably want to have a good idea of what specific use you want the plunge drill for before you go in on buying one. If you don’t though, that’s alright too. A plunge router is a great tool to have around the garage ready to be pulled out when needed. Whether it’s small craft projects to do with the kids, or for a more substantial work up of the kitchen cabinets, a plunge router is going to save you a lot of time and possibly a few headaches when used instead of a traditional router. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that a plunge router is just a frivolous tool that’s too specialized to be used – it really can take your wood working game up to the next level, so be sure to check out some of the top choices of plunge routers out there right now, which we reviewed above.