Wood Router Buying Guide
Plunge Base and Fixed Base Routers
Wood routers have two types of bases: a fixed base and a plunge base. Routers with fixed bases are locked in place. Unlike a plunge base router, the user cannot manually move the cutting bit up or down during operation.
When it comes to cutting grooves and edges, fixed base routers offer more power and precision. They are also easier to control, hence more ideal for beginners.
A plunge base router, on the other hand, is attached to a specially designed base. This base allows the router bit to “plunge” when the user manually exerts pressure on it. The cutting bit then returns to position when the pressure is removed.
This type of router allows you to manually adjust the depth and gives you greater control when cutting vertically. Plunge base routers are also ideal for starting a groove in the middle of your workpiece.
But plunge base routers are not as forgiving to beginners like fixed base routers are. They also tend to be more expensive than their fixed base counterparts.
Woodworking Router Size
Wood routers are available in different sizes. The smallest of these tools are palm routers. These machines are small, portable, and ideal for smaller projects.
If you want a router that is still portable but a step higher when it comes to power and strength, then mid-sized or compact routers are ideal for you.
But if you’re looking for the granddaddy of all wood routers, then check out full-sized routers. They are larger, heavier, and packs a lot of punch then taking on the heaviest tasks. These are ideal for professional woodworkers and builders, as well as for hobbyists who have regular projects and want a tool that will last for a long time.
A router that is not equipped with a soft start will go up to its maximum speed the moment you push the rocker switch. The noise the router produces and its sudden movement can be startling for many users. Plus, the sudden surge in power can cause damage to your router’s motor over time. Router motors equipped with soft start pause for a moment before gradually accelerating to the required speed.
Most routers available on the market right now have variable speed. This allows users to control the speed if they are using different bit sizes. Large bits, for example, work well and cut cleanly when the router is set at lower speeds. Smaller bits, on the other hand, work better when the router is set at higher speeds.
Compact and full-sized routers can be difficult to handle and even dangerous if they are designed poorly. Look for a router with sizable and textured handles to prevent it from slipping from your grasp and causing damage to your workpiece and causing injury. Rest your hands regularly to avoid developing muscle tension or carpal tunnel syndrome.
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