September 6, 2021

Plunge Router Overview | A Detailed Guide

What is a plunge router?

A plunge router is a woodworking tool meant to lower the bit from a height while the base is flat on the material you are working on. It excels when you cut through the middle of your work material. 

It is a complex routing tool, and the more you get used to it, the easier it becomes. It comes with two arms that are on both sides. As you cut the material, the arms allow you to plunge into the wood. That is why the router is named plunge. 

It is ideal for professionals and heavy loads. It cuts letters, mortises, and grooves. You can adjust the cut’s depth to complete the task with accuracy. The setback with the router is that you cannot adjust the router with a bench or a table. Follow safety precautions.

How To Use a Plunge Router

Drive the cutting part of the router into the wood. The effort is needed as you use force to start cutting the wood. You have more control over the router, which is smooth to operate. The cutting experience is bearable. 

When using the router to handle edge work, use it properly to avoid difficulties. When adjusting the depth of the cutting bit, it goes where it has to be. Plunge routers work based on the amount of energy you apply to the cutting bit. 

When moving vertically, you have more control. Versatility and mobility allow the router to be in different places hence users working with varying depths of cuts. 

Benefits of Using a Plunge Router

  • Versatile
  • Mobile
  • Easily adjustable
  • Make cuts in the middle of the wood
  • Ideal for wooden signs
  • Simple fine-tuning
  • Ideal for inlay grooves
  • It cuts mortise with ease.

How to Choose a Plunge Router

Many routers are on the market, making it challenging to choose the best. Amongst the features, you should consider speed. The selection process is explained below. Know what you want to do with the router and not have difficulties choosing the proper one. 

Speed

Routers have different speed options. Some have a single-speed for consistency. Versatile routes have speed variance that allows you to adjust your speed depending on the material, bit diameter, and type of operation. 

Speed variance brings better quality products and ensures safety as you operate the machine. Each material is cut at the correct speed. You are at an advantage of a soft start.

Power

To achieve your woodwork goals, you need the required power. High power makes a heavy router challenging to control for handwork. If your plunger router is on a table, more power is ideal.  It would help if you had more power on hard materials so the router does not snap. 

Switch

A simple switch makes the operation easy and quick. An On/Off switch that locks in the On position is convenient. The power switch has to be in a convenient place to save time.

Collet

Great collects are of tempered steel. They are precise and fit into a tapered motor shaft. Poor collets have a cone-shaped lump of steel, and it is shallow to grip and wears quickly. That makes it chatter. Heavy-duty routers use 1/2collets. 

Different Types of Plunge Routers

DEWALT DW616PK  Fixed Base Plunge Router 

It comes with 1-3/4 maximum horsepower and an 11 amp motor. The motor gives the router power to rout smoothly on hardwoods. The micro-fine depth adjustment ring allows accurate depth adjustments. 

The template guides support multiple routing applications. The motor is easy to swap between bases, and the bits are easy to change (See The Price). 

Makita RP2301FC 3-1/4 HP Plunge Router

The Makita has a 15 amp motor. It is powerful and delivers 9,000 to 22,000rpm. That ensures smooth routing. The speed control maintains your speed under load. The speed variance allows you to match speed with your application. 

The soft-start feature allows the router to make smooth start-ups. The electric brake gives maximum productivity (Source). 

Plunge router use: What is a plunge router used for?

  • Template routing
  • It makes joints for jigs.
  • It makes inlay grooves.
  • Fine-tuning due to fine adjustments.
  • It protects bits.

Plunge router bit

A plunge router bit has a cutting edge that crosses the tip. The carbide tips are above the steel board. The tips are cut when the bit hits the wood. A bit on the right comes with an extra carbide at a price. 

A standard bit of the same diameter is more affordable. It cannot be very sharp, but the shape makes it effective. Bearing-free profile bits cut grooves and plunge at the same time. The bits have to extend across the bit’s tip.

How to set up a plunge router

  • Unplug the router and choose the proper bit. Please insert it into the collet until it reaches the shaft’s bottom.
  • Plunge the router to the tip of the bit as it contacts the workpiece. Ease the control bar to allow the indicator to align with the required depth displayed on the scale. Lock the control. 
  • Test a small piece of wood at the plunge depth to save your wood. Measure the depth required on the tester and mark the area to be cut. Adjust the plunge depth if necessary. 
  • Use the wrench to tighten the collet and depress the shaft button.
  • The router table increases your control.
  • Keep the router base flat when cutting decorative edges.
  • Clamp the material. 
  • The router table increases control over the workpiece.

Plunge router tips

  • Select And Set A Plunge Router
  • Attach the Plunge Router Bit
  • Clamp Your Wood In A Stable Surface
  • Wear protective clothing
  • Set Plunge Router Depth
  • Position the device 
  • Use the correct direction 
  • Start The Plunge Router.

What to improve on plunge routers

  • Plunge routers are not affordable as compared to fixed-base routers. However, the price range is worth the versatility of the tool. 
  • Plunge routers are ideal for professional users since they have to move the router whenever there is a cut. You might go for it regardless of the labor involved if you have the money to pay for the router. 
  • Plunge routers are not ideal for beginners since they require experience and skill for operation. The knowledge evolves around cutting and depth. 
  • Move the router to the position you are cutting. The material you are cutting remains stationary while the router moves. You cannot use the base, and that is not easy. 

Also See: Plunge Router vs Fixed | Which Tool For Which Job

David D. Hughes
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