The 10 Best Plunge Routers of 2022
When you're ready to take your woodworking to the next level, a plunge router is a smart purchase. Here are 10 top tools that empower your creativity.
Our editors and experts handpick every product we feature. We may earn a commission from your purchases.
Buying a Plunge Router
If you want to be a serious woodworker, sooner or later you’re going to need a plunge router. These handy little machines are designed to “plunge” their router bit directly into wood, so you can begin cutting in the middle of your workpiece. That is unlike fixed-base routers that are designed to be used only around edges.
A plunge router is perfect for creating decorative patterns on furniture, mortises, dowels and dadoes for joinery, or inlay recesses. I’ve used plunge routers on several large furniture projects, and have seen them used to cut out interior letters for a signage project. There is some variety in plunge routers though, so make sure to take these considerations into account when choosing one.
- Collet Size: Make sure your router can hold the size bit you’re going to be using. While most models offer two collet (the collar that holds the bit in place) sizes, some do not, so don’t assume all routers are compatible with all bits. Most lighter-duty routers only offer 1/4-in. collets.
- Speed: This can get a little complicated and require some complex geometry, but as a general rule, the larger the router bit, the slower the speed required. The experts at The Router Workshop recommend a minimum of 12,000 RPMS for larger bits (3 to 3-1/2 inches in diameter), and a maximum of 24,000 RPMs for smaller bits (1-inch in diameter).
- Dust Collection: Wood routers can create a lot of dust and wood shavings, which can create a frustrating mess to clean up. If you plan to do a lot of routing, or just want to cut down on cleanup time, make sure to choose a plunge router that is compatible with your current dust collection capabilities, whether that’s a shop vacuum or a dedicated dust collection system.
- Combination Kits: Fixed routers are just as useful as a plunge unit to have around, and with a combo kit, you can enjoy the benefits of both. These kits usually include a separate plunge base for the fixed router to fit into, and allow you to have all your routing bases covered. Combination kits do tend to cost more than a dedicated plunge router though, so if you already have a fixed base router, save some money and choose a standalone plunge unit.
Wen Variable Speed Plunge Router
This Wen router offers all the advantages of a plunge model, at a price significantly lower than other brands. Plus, it includes an impressive array of accessories and features, like a guide fence, dust collection port and profile guide, as well as a hard-sided carrying case. Most routers at this low price don’t come with a case. Plus, this tool can be easily transformed into a fixed router, without having to worry about attaching and setting up extra pieces or framework.
Makita Plunge Router with Powertec Templates
This Makita kit would be well-suited for professional users, thanks to its 10-piece set of template guides. These guides make it possible to complete complex routing applications, like butt hinges, and the lock-on switch allows you to keep working without holding down the trigger. Our favorite feature of this router, however, is the pair of LED lights on the base of the unit, which drastically reduce the chances of making a mistake while routing, not to mention increasing overall safety.
Festool EQ Plunge Router
Although it costs significantly more than any other option on our list, the extremely high quality of this Festool model is definitely worth the investment for a serious woodworker. This plunge router features a knob and pistol grip to provide maximum control as your route, and the dust collection system extracts dust and debris from both the top and bottom of the base, practically eliminating post-project cleanup. My numerous experiences with other Festool products have been nothing but positive, and I have no doubt this router will deliver.
Bosch Plunge Router and Fixed Base Kit
This budget-friendly Bosch kit includes both a plunge router and a fixed base, making it perfect for those who will be tackling a wide range of routing tasks on a limited budget. I’ve used this specific model for several furniture projects, and have always been impressed that it is easy to control, which is essential when routing for both accuracy and safety. This kit includes 1/2- and 1/4-inch collet chucks, making it ultra versatile.
Makita Cordless Router Kit
This Makita router is powered by a powerful 18-volt battery, making this cordless router much more portable than corded options, and convenient for those who don’t want to hassle with extension cords and wall outlets. Its variable control allows you to adjust its speed from 10,000 to 30,000 RPMS, and precisely match it to your specific task or bit size. A safety lock button reduces the chance of accidental start-ups, which is important, especially if you’re not an experienced woodworker.
Bosch Palm Router
If you’re looking for the versatility of a router combo kit, and prefer the compact size and maneuverability of a palm router, this Bosch machine could be the perfect fit. The large, textured handles of the plunge base provide good control during use, and the 7-lb. weight of the tool itself makes it ideal for those who want to avoid lugging around a heavy tool. It only includes a 1/4-inch collet, so that will limit the projects it can tackle.
DeWalt Fixed/Plunge Base Kit
If you’re planning on using your router frequently, and on projects that produce a lot of dust and debris, this DeWalt kit and its dust collection capabilities is one to consider. It easily attaches to the majority of standard shop vacuums, and by extracting the dust through the column of the tool itself, you maintain maximum visibility while you work. The included straight guide also makes this tool great for precise routing jobs — it does most of the positioning work for you.
DeWalt Fixed Base/Plunge Router Combo Kit
If you plan on transporting your router to and from a job site, or just want to ensure your tools are always protected, this DeWalt kit and its large, hard-sided carrying case could be just what you’re looking for. The clear base makes it easy to see your work, and its dust collection compatibility further increases visibility. This router comes with both 1/4- and 1/2-inch collets and two wrenches for when you need to switch out bits.
Milwaukee Compact Router w/ Plunge Base
This budget -friendly cordless router is deal for those who want the convenience and portability of a battery-powered tool on a limited budget. This router is also a great choice if you already have other Milwaukee M18 tools, and its battery will be a valuable addition to your current collection. Although you’ll have to keep an eye on battery levels while you work, this router does provide speeds up to 31,000 RPMs, which is higher than any other option on our list.
DeWalt Router Combo Kit
This DeWalt model is a great choice for the amateur woodworker who is looking to tackle light-duty tasks (like sign making or flush trimming) and doesn’t need a powerful, bulky router. Its soft-start motor slowly ramps up instead of starting at full speed, which increases overall control when you start to route. And, at just 4.6 lbs. it’s also easy to use as a fixed router. The two LED lights and the molded rubber handles are nice features, as well.