Best Plunge Router – Reviews And Buying Guide 2018

PreviewNameAwardsPurchase

Makita

Best Under 1.9 HP

Bosch

Best Between 2 - 3.1 HP

Hitachi

Best Above 3.2 HP

Many woodworkers see the plunge router as a luxury car – too many features yet only a few make sense. What they do not realize is that this spring-loaded machine is the ultimate solution for a wide range of cuts including rebates, grooves, dados, fluting and insets. The tool can also do profile edges and many other edge tasks. A lot of the penetration work you see on doors, decks, cabinets, boards and many other items is done using the plunge router.

You definitely need one in your workshop. Choosing the best plunge router is challenging for any woodworker because there are hundreds of options in the market. We will tackle this problem by listing the best options there are under these power categories: “Under 1.9 HP”, “2 TO 3.1 HP”, and “3.2 HP and above”.

Get a better understanding of these picks by checking our informative buying guide in the second section of this review.


Best Plunge Router Reviews


 

Best Plunge Router Under 1.9 HP

 

1. Makita RP0900K 1-1/4 Horsepower Plunge Router

Makita RP0900K

Plunge depth adjustment lever with 3 pre-set depth stops for added precision

Our discussion starts with a tool that has all you need for quality results- precision, high capacity, durability and user convenience. The manufacturer has managed to create a machine that combines speed and power alongside a wide range of other features. The result is something with unquestionable capability for doors, windows, cabinet, fine woodworking and many other routing applications.

Do not look elsewhere if your routing is mostly detailed or accurate. RP0900K plunge router carries all the features you need for the tasks we have outlined, including others such as decking, countertops, general carpentry and furniture making. Any medium woodworking project will come out excellent with this machine.

The tool’s 8-AMP motor has a no-load speed of 27,000 RPM, allowing for effortless penetration to a depth of 1-3/8-inch.  A plunge depth adjustment-lever is also included to add precision to the cuts. Convenience adds to precision, so the easy-to-read depth scales are valuable additions, as are the rubberized contoured handles with built-in switch that enhance user control and comfort.

The materials used as well as the design of a tool determine durability. For the Makita RP0900K the secret is in the design, where an oversized ball bearing construction has been adopted. The plunge router has a flat top design, which comes in handy when changing bits. To add to the excellent handle design, the tool also comes with a chip deflector that is engineered to divert chips away from the user.

Some of the other features that make the Makita RP0900K 1-1/4 Horsepower Plunge Router a must-have are double insulation, 1/4 shank router bits and a 1-year warranty. The machine also comes with a tool case, straight guide, wrenches and ¼” collet. At 6lb weight, this is also a highly portable product, so even a contractor has no reason to leave it.


 

2. Dewalt DWP611PKR Premium Compact Router Fixed/Plunge Combo Kit

Dewalt DWP611PKR

Durable 1.25HP motor delivers the power to meet the toughest applications

Finding an economical yet highly functional plunge router is as difficult as nailing jelly to a tree. That is if you are yet to meet a plunge router from Dewalt. If you have been searching for the best value money can buy, then you have the Dewalt DWP611PKR Premium Compact Router Fixed/Plunge Combo Kit (Certified Refurbished). It is remarkably cheaper than most of the competition, yet it offers unbelievable features and performance.  

You can always bet on Dewalt. The global giant has invested heavily in technology for its power tools and this has led to their phenomenal growth. Their plunge routers are popular for through cuts, stopped dadoes, grooves and mortises. The refurbished Dewalt DWP611PKR Premium Compact Router is engineered for tough conditions that the typical professional may encounter.

This corded-electric device carries a durable 1.25HP motor delivers the power to meet the toughest applications. It also comes with a variable speed to prevent burning and add user convenience. This feature is also suitable for users that need to switch to lighter work pieces occasionally. The motor power, which is a slight improvement to the 1.13HP for the DEWALT DWP611PK, is capable of generating between 16000 RPM and 27000 RPM, with the slowest speed developing a torque of at least 0.37 pound-feet.

It may be relatively powerful, but that should not be a bother during start up. A Soft-Starting feature on this Fixed/Plunge Combo Kit ensures that you have a firm grip of the machine before it gets to full speed. Alongside this feature is an electronic feedback to enhance maintenance.

Notably, the Premium Compact Router – DWP611 features both a plunge base and fixed base. Both bases help you cut a certain distance thus offering an impressive depth range. In line with this, the product comes with a depth adjustment ring for intuitive depth setting. If you are doing precise cuts, this feature will be helpful.

This plunge router features a dual LED for superior illumination and visibility. With the LED light, bits are more illuminated and making precise adjustments depth adjustments is faster. Refurbishment on the Dewalt DWP611PKR Premium Compact Router has made it even more valuable to the regular woodworker.  


 

3. Makita RT0701C 1-1/4 HP Compact Router

Makita RT0701C 1-1/4 HP

Quick release cam lock system for easy depth adjustments and base removal/installation

Affordability is such a crucial shopping consideration, but that should not translate into a poor quality item. Instead, a well-designed plunge router with minimal flaws is the best bet. The Makita Makita RT0701C 1-1/4 HP Compact Router scores very highly in the simplicity department and others, making it one of the best products in its power category. This machine is an ideal choice for the budget buyer, as it surprises with a versatile and compact design.

The movement of the rack and pinion is smooth to operate and adjust so it makes the finest settings for precise work. Alongside this is an impressive variable speed range of between 10,000 – 30,000 RPM, which enables the user to match the tool to almost any application. It takes satisfaction in the fact that its base can use standard template guides.  

Indeed, precision is second nature to the Makita RT0701C. The machine has easy to observe and use features. Distinctively marked scales take care of time. Above all, it comes with a quick-release cam lock system for easy depth adjustments and base removal/installation.

The list of advanced features does not end there, as the machine also features a soft start motor capable of a full 1-1/4 maximum horsepower. The motor starts slowly and maintains the set speed, thanks to the reliable soft start and variable speed features. Since the motor is of heavy-duty aluminum construction and the machine is double insulated, it is evident that the manufacturer took care of durability quite well.

The RT0701C might be small, but it is powerful enough to produce perfect hinges, dovetails, trim, edging and other small projects. Professionals and newbies will be at home with the tool because it handles both light and heavy-duty work, unlike your common small router that is restricted to light applications.

A slim design meant for superior user control, this plunge router is highly portable and perfect for the traveling user. Its ergonomic design weighs a mere 3.9 pounds with dimensions of 10 x 8 x 6 inches.  A durable flat top design supplements convenience by making bit changing seamless. If you want to install other bases, you will be pleased to know that the RT0701C allows for quick removal of the base. The shaft lock offers the same level of swift changeover of bits.

Together with the package, you will also receive two spanner wrenches, 1/4″ Collet and a Straight Guide. The crowning of everything is a 1 Year – 30 Day Warranty, as is custom for Makita to warrant its products against workmanship and material defects. Overall, the RT0701C is proof that you do not need to break the bank to own a quality wood plunge router.


 

Best Plunge Router Between 2 and 3.1 HP

 

1. Bosch 12 Amp 2-1/4 Combination Horsepower Plunge

Bosch 12 Amp 2-1/4

Aluminum construction makes this one of our most durable routers for woodworking yet with wooden handles on a fixed base and a soft-grip handle on a plunge base

If you have no problem flexing your muscles a little bit, the Bosch 12 Amp 2-1/4 Combination Horsepower Plunge and Fixed Base variable speed router is a bit cumbersome, but very versatile and powerful. As a mid-size router, it tackles a wide range of jobs powered by a powerful 2.25 HP/12 Amp motor, durable construction and a set of handy features.

For plunge routers, accuracy and safety are some of the most important considerations. Variable speed and soft start enhance these characteristics, so the fact this router has both is a great deal. The power is enough to tackle some of the hardest materials and therefore offers good versatility.

The first noticeable thing about the 1617EVSPK is ease of use. The immaculately designed handles will blow your away even before you start using the router. It is so easy to use the tool with such classical designs of rubberized grips on the plunging base and wooden handles on the fixed base.

However, the real deal for this plunge router is the availability of both ½-inch and ¼-inch collets. This increases the types of bits you can use. The fixed base features a state-of-the-art bit height adjustment system that allows for bit height adjustment from above the router table.

Another impressive thing about this router is the durable design. Both the bases and the motor housing are constructed from aluminum. The power switch is completely dust-sealed for extra longevity, while the backing of a one-year limited warranty, 30-day money-back guarantee, and one-year service protection plan crowns it all.

The Bosch 1617EVSPK is powerful and heavy, so it will manage to maintain stability even on tough materials. At 2.25 HP, this router is among the most powerful in the woodworking category. Note that it features a highly regarded Constant Response™ technology that takes care of any RPM instabilities. Talking of RPM, the 8,000-25,000 RPM machine has all it takes to tackle even larger-scale projects.  

Unfortunately, they traded off the admirable power with weight, giving the machine a relatively high 18.2 pounds. This comes with limited portability for those into smaller scale jobs. For larger scale jobs, we believe the trade-off makes sense.

Bosch is a big name as the have demonstrated in this and other products. The high amount of power in the small machine, a list of nice features, safety features and an incredible level of control make this plunge router a solid buy. It will particularly suit those looking for a quality touch on their bigger projects.


 

2. SKIL 1827 120V 2 HP Plunge Base Router

SKIL 1827 120V 2 HP

Quick-clamp release lever-for easy motor adjustments and removal

Majority of routing tasks fall within the capability of a mid-sized router, where a good balance of power and technique is necessary. It is in line with this that we are proud to present the SKIL 1827 120V 2 HP Plunge Base Router, a two-hand operated machine that is proving all doubters wrong.

This product is part of the new line from SKIL that also includes the 1830 combo kit and the SKIL 1817 fixed-base router. This tool features a 10- amp motor and soft start technology for reduced start-up torque (smoother start-ups) and longer motor life. The ON/OFF knob is accessible from the top of the device and is easy to operate because it barely protrudes. The dual position of this switch ensures better control and unmatched user convenience.

It is evident that SKIL intended this router for professionals and beginners alike, as its design is simple. Comfort was a major consideration, as evidenced by the ergonomic soft grip handles that minimize user fatigue. An LED light connected to the motor switches on immediately you plug in the router. It is not just useful for illuminating the work surface; it also comes in handy for safety reasons, as it warns whenever the router plugged in when you need to adjust or change bits.

The router features a 1/2-Inch collet capacity, thereby guaranteeing good performance even on larger profile applications. Adjusting or removing the motor is so easy thanks to the quick-release lever. For accuracy and ability to make fine cuts, this plunge router features a micro-fine depth adjustment.

Variable speed capability adds to the already excellent features. Thanks to the Soft Start technology, this speed serves well, starting smoothly and gradually increasing to the preset speed. Having this feature has put the SKIL 1827 plunge-base router a step above many competitors, as there is better control, less kickback and extended motor life.

We highly recommend this mid-sized product, which also comes with a carrying bag, a collet wrench and a 1/4-inch collet adapter.


 

3. Bosch 120-Volt 2.3 HP Electronic Plunge Base Router MRP23EVS

Bosch 120-Volt 2.3 HP

The router features a trigger control system with the power switch located on the handle for enhanced user control and convenience.

In a bid to better competitors’ solutions, Bosch manufactured this powerful and accurate plunge router, which is one of the best plunge routers in the market. A professional piece in all aspects, the MRP23EVS features a powerful 15-amp motor capable of delivering 10000 – 25000 RPM. Alongside this reliable power is a sturdy base coupled by an equally good fixed base.

Considering that the MRP23EVS is an improvement of the hugely successful 1617 Series Router, it is understandable why it is so good both on paper and on the job. It comes with extra features and improvements that would make any professional drop whatever they already have. Accuracy, control and power have been improved.

The first feature you will note is the conveniently placed trigger that allows the user to keep hands on the handle perpetually. The power switch in the plunge-base combined with the trigger-controlled power system give the machine offer the much-needed enhanced control for the operator.  

The user can also set the optimum speed using the variable speed knob. Those routing regularly will be thankful for the ergonomic, contoured soft-grip handles too, as these ensure high-level control and comfort.

How often do you find a plunge router with a plunge range of 3 inches? This product has beaten most of its competitors on this one. Two guide shafts carry the motor mount, and cover the springs. While there is constant resistance for most of the range, stiffness may become uncomfortable in the last half-inch or so. You may wonder why the plunge lock lever goes back to its locked position automatically. The lever comes with a spring-loaded mechanism that does all that magic.

Unfortunately, the MSP23EVS does not feature any dust collection mechanism, so dust and debris may fly all over as you work. The good thing is that you can get an ideal 3-Hood Dust Extraction Kit or a router guide that you can buy separately. The guide comes with a shroud that fits below the table. These would be excellent if most of your routing takes place below the table.

There is no doubt the MRP23EVS is among the best plunge routers in the market. It is elegant, simple and above all, engineered to produce the necessary power and accuracy for heavy-duty applications.

Even if it does not feature a guide fence, dust shroud and several other accessories, micro-adjustment, depth adjustment and a large plunge range ensure work quality remains. Every professional should aspire to own a product that combines functionality and user convenience to a superior level.


 

Best Plunge Router Above 3.2 HP

 

1. Makita RP2301FC 3-1/4 HP Plunge Router (Variable Speed)

Makita RP2301FC

Linear ball bearings for smooth plunge action and superior performance

This 3.25 HP plunge router from Makita has a design depth of 2 ¾ inches and full speed of 22,000 RPM. It is an awesome machine if you are professional woodworker. For a homeowner or beginner, it exceeds expectations- not a bad thing. This machine is capable of creating any item including windows, doors and cabinets.

As a plunge base router, it is amazing that the Makita RP2301FC carries a powerful 15.0 AMP motor. Not many of this type are able to come even close to that. Use it even on the toughest materials and it may never bog down. The machine delivers this kind of power in a controlled manner through a variable speed feature. Its lowest speed is 9,000 rpm, a safe range for larger bits from 2.5 inches.  It can achieve a top speed of 22,000 rpm and thus take smaller bits as well. What this wide range means is that the machine will take anything you throw at it.

We say this plunge router suits even the inexperienced user because despite its high power and weight, it is still relatively easy to use and comfortable. It comes with numerous features and accessories that make a lot of work easy.

The Makita RP2301FC 3-1/4 HP Plunge Router has controls at the right place. The locking and the trigger mechanisms are easily the best design features on this tool in this respect. It also features a number of user-friendly components that not only make work easier, but also enhance user safety.

Upon startup, this router does not jump to chosen or full speed immediately. Rather, it makes use of the soft start feature, starting slowly and then gradually accelerating to the required speed. It is one of the best safety features characterizing modern power tools. No risk of unexpected jolting that may cause injury to the hand.


 

2. Makita RP1800 3-1/4 HP Plunge Router

Makita RP1800

Quick release plunge depth adjustment with micro control along with 3 preset depth stops for added precision

Here is another impressive product by Makita, the powerful, ergonomic and precise RP1800. It will be a valuable addition to your shop if you do heavy duty routing that needs a sizeable wood router. Highly regarded for its massive power, the RP1800 features are 15.0 AMP motor that continuously delivers 22,000 RPM for smooth routing.

The range of projects you can cover is overwhelming, as the Makita RP1800 has a high plunge depth of 2 ¾”. This simply means that it can penetrate the work piece easily. The secret behind the smooth plunges and the accompany comfort to the user is the linear ball bearings. Furthermore, the machine offers fine and accurate plunges giving the user a satisfactory experience. You can confidently use it to make countertops, windows, furniture and so on.

Since the Makita RP1800 is a combination machine, you can be sure it features both ½ inch and ¼-inch collet sizes. Add that to the wrench and extended depth knob and you have efficient and smooth results. To add accuracy to the results, this product has preset-depth stops and micro controllers that easy to apply.

The ergonomic rubberized handles that enhance usage for extended periods further promote user experience.  It is along the same line of comfort and convenience that the RP1800 features a shaft lock for swift bit changes. For equally simple and fast installation or removal, make sure you take advantage of the “tool-less” template guide system. Other user-friendly features included are chip deflector for protecting the user from chips, easy-to-read depth scales and a flat top design that enhances stability when changing bits.

When it comes to adjusting the depth or the guides, the RP1800 offers a simple and quick solution. No debris or dust will get to the motor because the built-in fan with labyrinth construction does a spending job. One more reason to consider this machine is that it comes with a two-finger switch for the easiest of controls.

Usually, Makita products come with a 30 days return policy in case of unsatisfactory experience. Therefore, if the Makita RP1800 disappoints in any way (we doubt it) you can get refund or a full replacement.


 

3. Hitachi M12V2 3-1/4 Peak HP Variable Speed Plunge Router

Hitachi M12V2 3-1/4

Variable speed dial is conveniently located on the handle so the user can finely adjust the rotation speed without removing a hand or eyes from the work piece

Historically, Hitachi power tools have received accolades for the innovation and quality they offer. Often, their products are available at lower prices compared to rivals within the same class. It is for reasons such as these that the Hitachi M12V2 3-1/4 Peak HP Variable Speed Plunge Router continues to receive many positive reviews from commercial shop owners and in other heavy-duty applications.

We can all agree that with a peak power of 3-1/4 HP and a no-load speed of 8,000 – 22,000 RPM, this plunge router is among the most powerful in the market. This means that you can rout a wide range of materials. There is a variable speed switch for controlling the speed to your liking, and the on/off is just next to the thumb during the operating stance. A soft-start technology takes care of any dangers during startup by reducing the torque initially. When at full speed and torque, this tool offers more than enough capability for any commercial application.

Design wise there should be no contention that the M12V2 is attractive. Some may even see an alien in the black and green cover. Despite the plastic cover, the machine appears designed to last. Even the weight at 13.9 pounds and dimensions at 11 x 19.1 x 9.4 inches suggests durability.

Ergonomic shapes are associated with all Hitachi plunge routers, and this device has followed suit. The large side handles give comfort and total control. You can even hold the machine with one hand, as the handles are sturdy. While the weight is still stable and safe, the manufacturer used Elastomer compound in the handles to counter slippage and minimize vibration. Also included in the design is a dust guide to keep debris away from the surface and help you concentrate on the cuts.

Many of the features in the M12V2 are customizable to the user’s needs. For instance, the Quick and Fine Adjustments functionalities are controlled by one knob so one can dial the right plunge depths for tasks quickly and accurately. About the accuracy of the machine, a lot of credit goes to the rotating turret and the adjustable depth stops as well.

To be honest, there is so much good about the product that it is easy to overlook the negatives. The plunge lock may be a little bit hard and could lose grip if the vibrations are too much. We suggest that you check the bit for incorrect installation if the vibration is too much because it can affect performance. Overall, the M12V2 Plunge Router, which is also backed by a five-year limited warranty, is one of the best heavy-duty plunge routers.


 

Best Plunge Router Buying Guide

A plunger router is one of the most important tools for a shop, especially if you already own a router table. It can execute a wide range of tasks, some of which we already mentioned in the introduction and other sections of this article. The motor housing and the spring-loaded mechanism are the major parts of the tool.

Although a lever on the tool allows free up and down movement of the router housing, this does not mean you cannot cut a predetermined measurement. Most plunge routers have a locking mechanism for accurate cut of the same depth.

You may have heard some people claim that you do not need a plunge router if you have a fixed base router. We tend to disagree on this. The plunge router better off does many tasks. Consider an instance where you want to use a template. The plunge router comes in handy because it is capable of following curves all the way.

Before we digress, let us go to some considerations when buying the best plunge router as highlighted below:

 

  • Power Rating

 

The power rating of a plunge router goes hand in hand with another feature we will describe below- the router bit. It also determines the depth of cut the machine is capable of making. Generally, 1/2-inch shanks are big for a plunge router that offers 1500W and below. Low powered routers can only handle suit light and precise work. A 1/2-inch-shank calls suit more powerful routers that unfortunately offer less precision. The good thing is that they can handle a wide range of jobs. The point is that power rating will determine many things including the kind of bits the machine can accommodate.

 

  • Speed control/ Variable speed

 

A busy shop is bound to have jobs that require different touches from the router, and having variable speed on your machine is one of those irreplaceable benefits. Single speed routers will be so limiting. You will especially need this feature when using larger bits because safety is paramount and you need to work at manageable speeds. Even for lightweight routers, having this feature is a benefit. It gives the versatility needed to cut a wide range of materials including alloys and plastic.

Most full-size plunge router models provide this feature. The ones on the very top of the pecking order will even come with a handy electronic feedback system. This feature matches speed with load, as it senses any change and gives the perfect RPM.  

 

  • Soft Start

 

Safety is a priority when you are using any power tool. Every plunge router manufacturer includes safety tips in the user manual. Even with all the tips, the plunge router can still develop forces that make it to slide. Safety rules will help, but it is safer if your tool has a soft start feature.

With the feature, the machine starts slowly, and increases power output and speed as you continue to work. A machine that does not have this feature jumps to full speed immediately you power it on. Lurching may occur, leading to either damage of work or injury to the user.

Okay, the plunge router bit is normally away from the work piece surface when you turn it on, but it is necessary to have this added safety feature, just in case you got the settings wrong. While this capability is a priority for the beginner or inexperienced user, experienced professionals are increasingly looking for it. They cite improved handling to add to the enhanced safety of the tool.

 

  • Grips/ Handle

 

It is easy to overlook this feature and opt for a cheaper product, but this power tool can be hard on the wrist and hand. A cheap plunge router will either have a bad grip or wear out before you even settle. This tool can have either a side lever or a knob. The former offers more control, so they are common on heavy-duty machines.

Studies have been conducted about the effects of handle orientation in wood routers and they agree with what we have held all along. Ergonomics of a grip or handle matter a lot, even to the point of affecting the health of the user. That’s not all-A good handle does more than just add aesthetic appeal to the plunge router, as it also enhances precision of the product. As you buy, remember that the handle is the sole connection between you and the plunge router.

 

  • Dust Extraction

 

The dust extraction feature is now a common thing in most of the best plunge routers, as either an optional extra or a standard component. While extras are undoubtedly well intentioned, we can all agree that inbuilt dust extractors are the best. While only a few products are designed that way now, the tide is surely going this way.

If you land one that does not have a dust extractor, you can easily get an extraction feature fixed without affecting visibility. The component fixes to the router table, not the plunge router itself. Even if you do not carry all the dust, you will at least have minimized chances of tripping as you walk around the shop.

 

  • Plunge Distance

 

Every plunge has a maximum distance of travel, a feature that may escape your attention if you are not extra careful. Do you want a more versatile plunge router? Then buy one with a larger plunge travel. A large travel means that the router bit can sink deeper. However, it is important to note that the plunge depth is ultimately dependent on the size of the router bit. Another factor would be the orientation of the bit with the base plate.

 

  • Collet Measurement

 

A collet is that device that connects the router bit to the router. It works in tandem with the collet nut and the router shaft, which connects to the motor. Collets are designed to match perfectly with router bit and the tapered recess of the shaft.

For the plunge router, getting the collet chuck measurement right is crucial. Here, you need to pay the most attention to two measurements. The first one is the “ER” system that is between ER8 and ER50. The numbers should not intimidate- they simply represent the collet opening size in mm. Now you understand why ER16, ER20 and ER32 are the most common measurements.

Another important measurement is the chuck taper. Every machine has a female spindle taper, which should accept a matching male taper of the chuck. Therefore, as you buy the chuck, make sure it is for the right spindle shank. NST 30 and NST 40 are very popular measurements.

 

  • Other Features And Accessories

 

The number of accessories in a plunge router determines the level of versatility you can enjoy. Consider the type of accessories you are likely to need along the way. Differences in user preferences and needs explain why each accessory or feature is viewed differently.  Some of the other features that can determine the quality of the machine are:

  • Guide bushes
  • Side fence
  • Table compatibility
  • Base quality
  • Port functionality
  • Cord length
  • Plunge lock mechanism
  • Fine height adjustment
  • Collet plunge
  • Bit change mechanism
  • Ergonomic design

Conclusion

After the above analysis of some of the best plunge routers followed by a brief guide, it becomes clear that some brands are doing better than others are, if you concentrate on only some aspects. For instance, Dewalt and Makita continue to make dazzling machines at very pocket friendly rates. Our point is that there is always a plunge router for you out there, whether your concern is money, power or versatility.

Being the jungle that it is, the market can easily confuse, so we are glad we have offered this guide to make it easier for you. You do not have to spend countless hours looking for the best offer. Grab one of these quality projects and get the project going. As always, we welcome your sentiments or concerns regarding the best plunge router.

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