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tibberous 07-13-2012 12:09 AM

Difference betwee a palm, fixed base and plunge router?
I'm looking to buy a router, really not sure what to get.

I'm thinking this one:

But is there anything I might want to do that I can do with it?

Maintenance 6 07-13-2012 07:36 AM

Palm routers run small trimming bits. good for tight spaces, edging laminate counters or making small profile cuts. Don't expect to run any substantial bits with this. Palm routers can have a fixed base or a plunge base. Plunge bases are spring loaded and allow you to drop a bit into the middle of a work piece with the proper bit. Plunge bases can be locked in a fixed position if need be. It sounds as though this is your first router, so I would not be inclined to start with a palm or some 3 horse plunge monster. You may want to start with something like this:

There is a plunge base available as an accessory for this one too.

Daniel Holzman 07-13-2012 08:03 AM

Routers have collets (the part that takes the bits) that range from 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch, with the (very rare) router that can take 3/8 inch diameter bits. If you are planning to do heavy work, such as cutting a 3/4 inch groove in hardwood, you are going to want to use 1/2 inch diameter bit, not a 1/2 inch diameter bit. If that is the type of work you are planning, you should purchase a router than can take 1/2 inch diameter bits. Typically such a router will come with an insert so it can take 1/4 inch diameter bits as well, however the small palm and trim routers often can only take 1/4 inch diameter bits.

Huge industrial grade routers can often take 3/4 inch diameter bits, but it is most unlikely you will ever use such a beast. Personally I have three routers, one is a 3 HP plunge router which does the vast majority of my work. One is a small fixed base router, very light, takes 1/4 inch bits, which I use for trim work. One is an old Sears Craftsman fixed base router, which I do not use any more, since the base refuses to lock firmly in position.

Couple things are crucial with a router. First, the bits need to stay rigidly locked in position, which is a function of how well the collet is made. Cheap routers often have poorly made collets, and the bits can loosen while your are working, which is incredibly dangerous. Avoid such a router. Second, the router base needs to lock firmly in position, which is a function of the quality of the base locking mechanism. Cheap routers often have weak or poorly machined locking mechanisms, so the base can slide up during the cut, which can ruin the cut. Make sure the router you buy has a good base locking mechanism.

There are things you can do with a plunge router than you simply cannot do with a fixed base router, typically starting a cut in the middle of the piece rather than having to start from the edge. This is often very useful. The fixed router is generally lighter than the plunge router, but for my money, I would get a plunge router due to versatility, if you are only going to get one.

woody4249 07-17-2012 04:05 PM

A friend of mine has a Dodge 350 with a 5th wheel attachment for pulling his 20 ft camper, a Dodge 150 for hauling his plywood and stuff, a Dodge minivan for hauling his kids to baseball and a Tywan-eeze scooter to get to the store for the milk.
Routers are kinda like that scenario.....they are made for different purposes.
If you want to be safe, buy a mid-range for what you will use it for most and as much as your budget allows.
I like professional grade Port-a-cable for reliability.
Harbor Freight for the cheapies you can afford to throw away.


jschaben 07-17-2012 06:55 PM

[quote=tibberous;964564]I'm looking to buy a router, really not sure what to get.

I'm thinking this one:

But is there anything I might want to do that I can do with it?[/quote]

Shoot, most of the time, I have no idea what I might want to do, much less what someone else might want to do.:laughing:

I've got that little Colt your looking at and it's a great little supplemental router. Small and lightweight, does a great job trimming laminates and doing small roundovers but I wouldn't recommend it as the ONLY router.
I would suggest you explore the combination kits, plunge and fixed base with an interchangeable motor. Somewhere in the 1-3/4 to 2-1/4 HP (9 to 13 amp) range. A couple of things I would list as MUST HAVE'S are 1/4 and 1/2" shank capability (with real collets, not reducers) and variable speed. Good dust collection at the collet is very close to a must have but there are ways to work around that so that isn't on my list....yet.
For now, this is my "go to" machine for hand held routing

I also have a Freud 1702 kit that is my backup and a very nice setup itself. Many times I have found it handy to have two plunge routers setup.
Good Luck:)

oh'mike 07-17-2012 07:01 PM

Maintenance ^ linked to a fine--well balanced unit that is easy to use--and tough enough for a pro--

Hand held use --good balance--I have several of those routers---that is my favorite---

Get a plunger router when you need to make plunge cuts---they are more clumsy and difficult to adjust.

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