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    What Is a Fixed Base Router?

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    What Is a Fixed Base Router, and Why Do You Need It?

    A router is a must in every modern woodshop because it is a powerful, simple, and versatile tool. If you are into DIY projects or own a woodshop, you may want to have one or even two because you can achieve much with such a tool.

    A router is a powerful tool with a flat base and a rotating blade. This blade extends past the base and is extremely useful in making duplicates of a pattern, making cutouts, cutting sharp edges, and more. 

    The two most common kinds of routers in terms of their base style are fixed base and plunge routers. Fixed base routers have two handles attached to them, which you can use to move across a project’s surface. They are called fixed bases because the router bit, and the motor is held at a fixed depth. On the other hand, plunging routers can change their depth in real time by using a crank handle. 

    Fixed base routers allow you to get close to the work surface and have better control. They are also often attached to the routing table, allowing hands-free operation, meaning you only need to move the wood. 

    There are many benefits of fixed base routers, due to which many woodworkers prefer them over plunger routers. Here are a few of them.

    Accuracy

    Fixed base routers are excellent if you want extreme precision in your work because their base is static, and the cutting depth is present. Due to its design, it reduces the risk of human error and ensures perfection in your work. 

    The design of a fixed router allows them to be ideal for projects you need to work on from the side. For example, edging.

    Cut Depth

    Fixed base routers are extremely easy to control because they have a low profile and are lightweight. These features make them easy to move across the surface at your will. With these routers, you can also set the depth before you start working, which allows you more control than ever. Unlike with plunge routers, you do not need to work on keeping the cutting depth even.

    Ease of Use

    Fixed base routers are incredibly easy to use. All you need to do is set the bit and guide it. The rest you can leave to the router. Unlike plunge routers, they do not need much physical control. They are easy to use, and you can use them for extended periods and not get tired.

    Additionally, most fixed-based routers are lightweight and compact, making them easy to control. If you are a beginner, you will definitely be able to use a fixed base router easily. This is also why most professionals prefer it because they can easily use it for extended periods without getting tired. 

    Fixed Base Routers vs. Plunge Base Routers

    Fixed and plunge-base routers are often compared in terms of ease of use and degree of control. Each has its own pros and cons, and here they are.

    Fixed Base Routers Plunge Base Routers
    They are excellent for beginners. It allows you to have absolute accuracy on the depth of the cut.
    They are lightweight and easy to use. Plunge base routers are excellent when you need a variety of cut depths in a single piece of wood.
    You can use them in edgework. It is difficult for beginners to master.
    These routers allow you to get close to the piece you are working on, which allows you greater control and stability. They are more expensive as compared to fixed-base routers.
    You can set the depth to ensure that your cut will be uniform.
    It is not as versatile
    Cutting from the middle of a piece of wood is fairly difficult.

    No router is better than the other. It all depends on how experienced you are and your uses. If you are new to woodwork, purchasing a fixed base router may be better because it is easy to use and allows you to fix the depth size. Additionally, if you plan on working on simple projects, you will probably not need a plunger base router. Not only are they difficult to use, but they are also expensive. 

    If you are experienced and work on much larger and more intricate projects that require you to change the depth of your cut, you should invest in a plunge base router. 

    No router is better than the other. It all depends on how experienced you are and your uses. If you are new to woodwork, purchasing a fixed base router may be better because it is easy to use and allows you to fix the depth size. Additionally, if you plan on working on simple projects, you will probably not need a plunger base router. Not only are they difficult to use, but they are also expensive. 

    If you are experienced and work on much larger and more intricate projects that require you to change the depth of your cut, you should invest in a plunge base router. 

    Different Sizes

    Fixed base router lying in sawdust.

    Routers are available in various shapes and sizes. All of these are used for various tasks and in different scenarios.

    1. Palm Size

    Palm routers are the smallest size of routers available on the market. Despite their compact size, they are powerful but comparatively less powerful than others. They come in corded and cordless varieties, and the cordless ones are less powerful than their corded counterparts. Additionally, they offer less stability because of the placement of the battery. Their batteries also run out quickly, meaning you may need to pause your work to charge them if you are working on a large project. 

    People usually gravitate towards palm routers because of their lightweight and versatile nature. They also have good visibility and can be maneuvered into small spots easily. 

    2. Mid-Size

    Mid-size routers are the most popular kind because of their ease of use and versatility. You can use them to perform various tasks, including those that require a palm-size or large-scale router. This means that they offer the best of both sizes. Mid-size routers come in fixed-base, plunge-base, and combo-base styles. They are excellent for those who are professionals and have a woodworking shop, or those who dabble in woodworking as a hobby. 

    3. Full-Size

    Full-size routers are some of the most powerful routers available on the market. They are designed to be used professionally for production use and are bulky. Full-size routers are expensive tools that need to be mounted because they are too heavy to be operated by hand.

    These routers mostly use motors that are 3 horsepower and more and are particularly useful if you want to work on large pieces and you can attach large attachments. 

    How Does It Work?

    A router is similar to a regular drill. It uses an electromagnetic motor to spin a specialized bit designed to cut grooves and channels into a piece of wood. 

    The router is set in a base that allows you to set the depth of the cut you want and makes them accurately and consistently. The base also allows you to hold the router in place and at a fixed height as you move it across the surface. 

    You can also place the router in a different base if it suits your needs. 

    What To Consider When Purchasing a Fixed Base Router?

    A wood worker cutting wood using a fixed abse router.

    If you are in the market for a new fixed-base router, there are a few factors you need to consider. By doing so, you will be able to purchase a router that fits your needs the best.

    1. Motor Size

    The motor size is one of the most crucial factors to consider when purchasing a fixed-base router. Most routers use amps to specify the motor size, and the higher the number of amps, the more powerful the motor will be. More amps give you the torque you need to cut through more challenging materials. The more efficiently the motor works, the less time it takes to complete your project. 

    You should ensure that the router you purchase has a higher amp rating because those will less power are challenging to use on hardwoods. They create a rough surface, and you need to spend long to get a clean cut. Low-power routers also get hot quickly and last only a short time.

    2. RPM

    RPM stands for revolutions per minute and is an essential factor to consider when purchasing a fixed-base router. If you choose one that has a higher RPM rating, you will be able to cut much faster, and the surface will be much smoother. Professionals also recommend choosing fixed motors with a higher RPM to ensure you don’t spend more time than needed on a single project. 

    Sometimes a higher RPM rating is not enough. Only some projects you work on will require you have a high RMP, which is why you should aim to purchase a router that offers variable speeds.

    3. Depth Adjustment

    Depth Adjustment is another important aspect you should consider before purchasing a fixed-base router. Some models use wenches to adjust the depth, while some use a convenient collar. For the latter, all you need to do is twist it. Due to its ease of use, you should purchase one with a collar as they are easy to use than wrenches. 

    Additionally, you should aim to purchase one that has micro-height adjustment. This added feature is available on both wrench and collar-style routers. They allow you to adjust the depth with a high accuracy of 1/64 inch. 

    Such accuracy is often needed for various kinds of projects, which is why it is helpful to have this feature on hand.

    4. Soft Start

    Soft start is an added feature that allows the tool to slowly build up speed to the desired RPM. With a slow start, the machine does not instantly jump to full speed and takes time to warm up the motor. 

    By refraining from jumping to full speed, routers with this feature protect their motor, which can be damaged by the sudden start. It can also cause the wood to jump and cause damage to its surface. 

    5. Power Source

    Fixed base routers can be corded or cordless. The corded variety uses a lot of amps and is considered a high-demand tool because it puts a huge demand on power and tool when you start it. 

    Most routers on the market are corded, and they are handy when working on larger projects because you don’t need to pause or charge them.

    Cordless routers are powered using batteries and are excellent for working on smaller, more complex projects. They have no cord, which allows you to get close to your project and have greater control and accuracy. Although cordless routers are powerful, they have short run times, meaning you need to charge them regularly. This can be a hassle if you are working on a large project. 

    6. Ergonomic Handles

    Fixed base routers have two handles, and you must purchase a router that has ergonomic handles. The best fixed-base routers are easy to hold, making them easy to use and allowing you the best results. Before you make your purchase, you should test it out and see if it feels comfortable to hold and maneuver into different positions. 

    Safety Tips on Using a Router

    Routers are extremely powerful machines that can cause injury if you are not careful when using them. You should ensure that it is turned off when you are not using the device. For extra measures, it is best to remove the battery or unplug it, depending on which power source it uses. This practice prevents the router from accidentally turning on and harming you or someone else.

    Before using the router, you must read the manual and understand how it works. Even if you are an experienced user, every router works differently and may have different controls than the ones you are used to. 

    Ensure that you always hold the machine with both hands. Routers are powerful devices and create a lot of power when they spin at high speeds. If it accidentally slips, it may cause a lot of damage. 

    Wearing the proper protective gear and clothing is essential. You should always wear a pair of goggles because when working with wood, there is a lot of debris. There is always a chance that a piece may ricochet and hit you, which can cause a lot of damage. It would be best to use a mask as some materials release toxic particles when cut using a router. 

    Brand

    Closeup of man working with a wood router.

    When purchasing a power tool, you must purchase one from a well-known brand because they are likely to be more durable than cheaper ones. Although branded fixed-base routers may be expensive, they are made using high-quality material and have an ergonomic and easy-to-use design. Some popular brands include DEWALT, Bosch, and Milwaukee.

    1. DEWALT

    DEWALT’s fixed base routers are known to be powerful devices that use high amp motors. A powerful motor allows it to create plenty of torque, meaning you can use these routers to cut hardwood and other hard materials. DEWALT routers are also easy to use and allow you a high level of control. Some popular models from the brand include the DEWALT DW616 Fixed Base Router and the Dewalt D26200 1/4 inch Compact Fixed Base Router (110V).

    2. Bosch

    Bosch fixed-based routers are popular in the woodwork industry because they are well-rounded. These routers are designed to have a super powerful motor and a high RPM that allows you to easily cut through just about any material. They also have a soft start feature that reduces the strain on the motor, meaning it is bound to last you for a long time.

    Some popular models from the brand include the Bosch 1617EVS Electronic Fixed-Base Router and the Bosch GKF125CEN.

    3. Milwaukee

    Milwaukee’s fixed-base routers are excellent power tools and perfect for anyone looking for a powerful device. They have extremely powerful 15-amp motors, which, when paired with their 10,00 to 22,000 RPM rate, make them suitable for professional jobs. The speed is also adjustable, which makes the device versatile in its use. 

    One of the most popular models from the brand includes the Milwaukee 5625-20 Fixed Base Variable Speed Router.

    FAQs

    1. Do I really need a wood router?

    A wood router is an excellent power tool if you dabble in woodwork. These devices can trim, shape, and cut different materials such as plastic, metal, and wood. Many woodworkers consider a wood router an essential part of their toolkit. 

    2. When should you use a fixed base router?

    A fixed base router is designed for tasks such as edge work because the router’s position remains fixed, and you can move your workpiece in any direction. You can also set the depth of the cut, which allows you to get the exact same cut every time.

    3. How long do routers last?

    Routers go through a lot of wear and tear, so they may get worn out quickly. If you use your wood router regularly, it can get damaged due to the heat generated by the motor, and you may need to replace it within two years

    4. Can I plunge cut with a fixed base router?

    Yes, you can plunge cut with a fixed base router, but it requires skill and woodworking knowledge.  

    Conclusion

    Fixed base routers are a tool every dad needs if they work with wood or indulge in DIY projects as a hobby. They are incredibly useful as they allow you to cut materials with a fixed depth, which enables you to make the same cut every time. This feature can be helpful if you want to make edges or repeated designs.

    To ensure that you get a fixed base router to fulfill all your needs, you need to know what you will be using it for, the size you will need, and how powerful it should be. You should also know how to use it safely to avoid injuring yourself. 

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