When someone takes up woodworking as a hobby, it doesn’t take them long to determine that they need to have a router. There’s several reasons why. One of the main ones is the various edges you can create for decorating your projects.
Many hobbyists who are new to woodworking tend to ask if routers are all the same. For those of us with some experience, we know the answer to this question is no. The next question is, what knowledge is needed before you know how to choose the right router for your projects?
The first consideration is whether you need to have a stationary router or a plunge router. The main different is that you can set a stationary router at your desired depth and then lock it into place so that it stays in that position.
A plunge router does just what it sounds like it would do. It lets you push the router into the wood. You plunge down to make your cut. Then you pull the router back out and up after you have finished your cut. So which of these two routers should you buy?
You will fair the best if you can afford to buy both of them. However, if your budget only allows for one at this time, your best bet is to first purchase a stationary router. Then when you can afford it, buy a plunge router. Another option is to get a router that’s both a plunge and stationary.
The router motor has two bases; the stationary and the plunge. They can be interchanged, depending on what you need for your project. This provides you with more versatility than if you have just one of the routers.
As I previously mentioned, if you can only afford to buy one router at this time, then go with the stationary first. Routers that have an interchangeable base tend to be expensive. Stationary routers, on the other hand, can be purchased for around $50.
Plunge routers are more expensive than stationary routers are. A plunge router will never be as low as $50 like stationary routers often are.
Lower priced routers of course won’t provide you with as much power as many woodworkers would like to have. Those with fewer than 2 Horse Power will not enable you to cut stock nearly as well as needed in some circumstances.
The collet size is another important thing to consider. Both kinds of routers are able to hold 1/2 inch and 1/4 inch bits. A 1/4 inch bit is less expensive and easier to find. However, a 1/2 inch bit provides you with less chatter and tear out than a 1/4 inch bit.
As long as you have the right part, it’s possible to adapt a majority of 1/2 inch collets for both kinds of routers so that they accept a 1/4 inch bit. Having variable speed control is another important thing to consider. This feature is available on some routers. For routers that don’t come with this feature, you can buy a speed control and attach it to the plug in on the router.
Having this controller is very handy because larger bits do necessitate slower cutting RPMs. When you have a large bit and don’t slow it down, you could end up burning both the bit and wood. This is true for both kinds of routers.
You want to have a router that feels good while you are handling it. If you get one that feels uncomfortable to you, it could end up being potentially unsafe to use. This is also true for the switch position. It’s better if you’re able to turn the router off without having to let go of it.
The fixed router and plunge router both have pros and cons to them in terms of handle placement and how comfortable the grip is. It really depends on how well the manufacturer’s design feels in your hands. The main thing to do is find one that’s a comfortable fit for you.
Most plunge routers are located on the opposite sides of the base. This allows you to use your thumb to reach out to the depth gauge without having to let go of either one of the handles.
To summarize, when you go out to buy a router, you best option is to purchase both a stationary and plunge one. If you aren’t able to afford to buy both, then purchase one with interchangeable bases.
If that’s too expensive, buy a stationary router. Later when you are able to afford to buy another one, purchase a plunge router. You get a lot more versatility from a stationary router than you do a plunge one.
A stationary router can be put into a router table. You can’t do this with a plunge router. A majority of woodworkers own a router table. Some even build one. Therefore, a stationary router will get you off to a good start.