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8 Great Reasons to Own a Plunge Router
Plunge routers go where no other router can.
by Seth Keller
The plunge router deserves a place in every shop. Routing chores, such as mortising, stopped dados and inlay pattern work, are safer and easier to perform using a plunge router. Its unique base allows the motor housing to ride up and down on a pair of posts fixed to the base. The plunge mechanism is spring-loaded so the motor housing always wants to spring up to the top of the posts. A lock/release lever allows free up-and-down movement of the router housing or locks it in place at a given depth. The depth of cut can be preset, allowing you to position the router over the work and plunge the bit to an exact depth. The depth stop works much like the stop does on a drill press.
Plunge routers have been around for years. Some die-hard users of fixed-base models may argue that a fixed-base router can do everything that a plunge router can do, but they don’t realize what a great, unique tool the plunge router is. Here are eight things a plunge router can do with ease that present a challenge for a fixed-base model.
Great Template Router
Template routing with guide bushings is trouble-free when you use a plunge router. Just set the router over the template, turn it on, plunge the bit to the preset depth and rout. The plastic bowtie inlay template, shown above, would probably have a few battle scars if a fixed base router had been used. You may get away with tipping it into the cut for a while, but sooner or later that template would be nicked.
Required by Some Jig
A plunge router is a must when it comes to sophisticated jigs, such as the WoodRat and the FMT by Leigh (see photo, above). These jigs cut mortises, tenons, dovetails and a whole lot more, but they simply can’t perform all their operations without the use of a plunge router.
Ideal for Inlay Grooves
The plunge router is ideally suited for stringing and delicate inlay work, often called captured inlay, because the plunge mechanism allows a smooth entrance and exit from the cut. Try tipping your fixed-base model into a cut like this and your cut will likely be misaligned right where the groove starts. This is one operation you definitely want to get right the first time, and a plunge router is the surest way to get the job done well.
Burn-Free Stopped Flutes