Most master woodworkers and finish carpenters have at least two or three routers in their wood shops or work trucks. For most woodworkers, routers with 1¾ -horsepower to 2 ¼ - horsepower motors work fine for day-to-day projects. Fixed-base routers are useful for cutting rebates, hinge-mortising, flush-trimming, and performing joinery tasks. The plunge router does mortise-and-tenon work, sign making and cuts that are not accessible from the edge of the wood stock. In recent years, manufacturers have started marketing router combo kits, which offer the best of the fix router, with an interchangeable plunge-router base.
Fixed-based routers allow the woodworker to slide the router up and down to adjust the depth of the bit cut. Adjust the fixed-base router with the motor off to maintain the highest safety conditions. Due to the fact the router bit extends past the router base on the fixed-base router, it is not easy to use a fixed-base router except for edge routing. Fixed-base routers are lightweight, come with low-mounted handles making stability, and control two of the benefits of having this router in the wood shop.
Using a plunge router is different than using a fixed-base router, and if the woodworker has never used this type of router, can find it somewhat of a challenge in the beginning. The main benefit of the plunge router is the fact that the woodsmith can turn the router motor to adjust the height of the bit while the motor is spinning, and then lower the bit directly into any wood project for cutting. There is no downtime from turning on and off the router to adjust the bit height.
Router Combo Kits
For woodworkers and carpenters on a budget the router combo kit is the answer. A router combo kit saves serious money and a little space around the wood shop, by eliminating the need for several different routers. Router combo kits include one router motor with interchangeable fixed and plunge bases. Some kits also include a D-handle base. Combo kits are less expensive than purchasing both a fixed-base and a separate plunge router. With a router combo kit, the woodsmith will find it easy to complete most router projects with ease.
Fixed-Base Router Pros and Cons
The pros to a fixed-base router are very important to understand. The simple adjustment to the bit makes it a great first router for the beginning woodworker. The ease of mounting the router to jigs, tables, and fixtures allows the woodsmith to perform excellent cuts. The low centre of gravity enhances overall control of the router. The con to the fixed-base router is the fact that the fixed-base router does not work for plunge routing projects, which does limit the use of the router on more advanced woodworking projects.
Plunge Router Pros and Cons
The greatest benefit of the plunge router is the fact that it is easy to lower the router bit into mortise, stopped flute and dado router cuts. The plunge router also allows for multiple passes for deep cuts without stopping to change the height of the router bit. The main con to the plunge router is the heaviness of the router. The extra weight can make is difficult for some woodworkers to adjust the router bit when the router is table-mounted.
Router Combo Kit Pros and Cons
The greatest advantage of the router combo kit is the fact it is like having a second router, but at a far lower cost. The fixed-base can stay mounted to a router table. This allows mortise and stopped dado cuts to take place by removing the router motor from the table, and attaching it to the plunge base. There does not seem to be any known concerns with the router combo kits. The design of the router combo kit is to eliminate the cons of both the fixed-base router and the plunge router.