Tools & Equipment

The 7 Best Plunge Routers of 2021

Best Plunge Routers

Photo: Ryobi

When you want to cut intricate shapes in the middle wood boards with high precision, you need to have the best plunge router. These routers are designed to allow you to plunge the cutting bit into the material, and you can hence start the cut from any part of the workpiece.

Plunge routers are typically small and compact tools but still quite versatile. These tools are often used to form grooves in wood, cut in-lays, and profile edges, but they can do way much more.

However, like all other tools, they come in different styles and models from various brands, and here we aim to make it easier to choose the right one. We do this with a review of top products and a comprehensive buying guide.

7 Best Plunge Routers – Review

IMAGE

PRODUCT

FEATURES

Makita RT0701CX7

1. Makita RT0701CX7 (Best Overall)

  • Soft start feature
  • Slim & ergonomic body
  • Electronic speed control
Ryobi RE180PL1G

2. Ryobi RE180PL1G (Best for the Money)

  • Great value for a 2 HP router
  • Spindle lock included
  • Soft start motor
DeWalt DW625

3. DeWalt DW625 (Best Brand)

  • Top brand router
  • Spindle-lock button
  • Soft starting to prevent jerking
Wen RT6033

4. Wen RT6033 (Best 2-in-1)

  • Works as both plunge & fixed router
  • 7-stop turret for high precision
  • Accepts both 1/4" & 1/2" bits
Makita RP1800

5. Makita RP1800 (Most Powerful)

  • Powerful 3-1/4 HP router
  • Oversized ball bearing construction
  • Ergonomic rubberized handles
Milwaukee M18 2723-20

6. Milwaukee M18 2723-20 (Most Versatile)

  • Highly versatile design
  • Redlink Plus intelligence optimizes performance
  • Fine adjustment screw
Bosch MRP23EVS

7. Bosch MRP23EVS (Solid & Heavy-Duty)

  • Solid construction with hardwood handle
  • Convenient trigger control system
  • Built-in LED light
  • Micro-fine depth adjustment

PRODUCT

1. Makita RT0701CX7

(Best Overall)

Makita RT0701CX7
  • Soft start feature
  • Slim & ergonomic body
  • Electronic speed control

2. Ryobi RE180PL1G

(Best for the Money)

Ryobi RE180PL1G
  • Great value for a 2 HP router
  • Spindle lock included
  • Soft start motor

3. DeWalt DW625

(Best Brand)

DeWalt DW625
  • Top brand router
  • Spindle-lock button
  • Soft starting to prevent jerking

4. Wen RT6033

(Best 2-in-1)

Wen RT6033
  • Works as both plunge & fixed router
  • 7-stop turret for high precision
  • Accepts both 1/4" & 1/2" bits

5. Makita RP1800

(Most Powerful)

Makita RP1800
  • Powerful 3-1/4 HP router
  • Oversized ball bearing construction
  • Ergonomic rubberized handles

6. Milwaukee M18 2723-20

(Most Versatile)

Milwaukee M18 2723-20
  • Highly versatile design
  • Redlink Plus intelligence optimizes performance
  • Fine adjustment screw

7. Bosch MRP23EVS

(Solid & Heavy-Duty)

Bosch MRP23EVS
  • Solid construction with hardwood handle
  • Convenient trigger control system
  • Built-in LED light
  • Micro-fine depth adjustment

1. Best Overall Plunge Router: Makita RT0701CX7

Makita RT0701CX7

Photo: Makita

  • Power: 1-1/4 HP                     
  • Speed: 10,000 to 30,000 RPM
  • Weight: 3.9 lbs

Makita RT0701CX7 is an excellent all-round plunge router that scores highly in all aspects, from the build quality to overall performance. Key among its outstanding features is the soft-start function that ensures the smoothest startups.

This plunge router includes a smooth rack and pinon to provide a fine depth adjustment so that you always get more precise settings. Additionally, it has a variable speed and with electronic speed control to allow you to choose your preferred setting from 10,000 to 30,000 RPM.

The plunge router includes a heavy-duty aluminum motor housing designed to offer a long service life. Better still, the router has a slim and ergonomic body to ensure comfortable operation and easy control.

The only gripe some woodworkers might have with this router is that the base seems a little smaller, making routing corners hectic. But, most users do not have any difficulties using it once they get used to how the router works.

Pros:

  • Smooth startups
  • Easy depth adjustment
  • Maintains precise and constant speed
  • Heavy-duty motor
  • Comfortable and easy to control

Cons:

  • Base is relatively smaller

2. Best Plunge Router for the Money: Ryobi RE180PL1G

Ryobi RE180PL1G

Photo: Ryobi

  • Power: 2 HP
  • Speed: 15,000 to 25,000 RPM
  • Weight: 10.84 lbs

Ryobi RE180PL1G is our best plunge router for the money as you would need to spend way much more money to get anything better. What's more, it has many other impressive functionalities, such as a soft start motor that ensures no jerking during starting.

Since the router includes a spindle lock, it will allow for easy one-wrench bit changes, which is super convenient. Also, it has ergonomically designed handles to ensure more comfortable operation.

For projects that require finer routing at low speeds, this plunge router might not be very ideal as the speed cannot go lower than 15,000 RPM. However, it is still good enough for most other routing jobs.

Pros:

  • Unbeatable for the price
  • Ergonomic and comfortable handle
  • Easy one wrench bit change
  • Soft starting motor

Cons:

  • Speed does not go low enough for some projects

3. Best Plunge Router Brand: DeWalt DW625

DeWalt DW625

Photo: DeWalt

  • Power: 3 HP
  • Speed: 8,000 to 22,000 RPM
  • Weight: 11.2 lbs

DeWalt is one of the most reputable power tool manufacturers globally, and they have been in the business for close to a century now. Hence, if you prefer to buy your plunge router from a top brand, the DeWalt DW625 is a fantastic choice.

Apart from being a top brand product, this is a powerful router that delivers up to 3 HP and offers soft starts with no jerking to ensure user safety even if you start it at peak speed. Better still, the router has a spindle-lock button to make bit changes a breeze.

Like many other top plunge router models, this one has a variable speed from 8,000 to 22,000 RPM and is designed to maintain constant speed under load for the best finishes. You also never have to worry about keeping the workpiece and work area clean as there is a dust extraction adapter.

Although the handles look like cheap plastic, they are surprisingly quite comfortable. Lowering and raising tables could also be easier, but you should be okay once you master the technique.

Pros:

  • High-performing router from a leading brand
  • Starts softly with no jerking
  • Super easy bit change
  • Maintains constant speed under load
  • Dust extraction adapter included

Cons:

  • Cheap plastic handles
  • Raising & lowering the table can be hectic

4. Best 2-in-1 Plunge Router: Wen RT6033

Wen RT6033

Photo: Wen

  • Power: 2.4 HP
  • Speed: 8,000 to 23,000 RPM
  • Weight: 19.21 lbs

With a plunging base that can lock in place, the Wen RT6033 can also work as a fixed router, making it a handy 2-in-1 model. Better still, it can accommodate both 1/2 and 1/4-inch bits to give you more versatility when it comes to bit selection.

When using this plunge router, you can be sure of increased precision when making adjustments. It uses a combination of 7-stop turret and micro and macro adjustments to maximize accuracy.

There is also a parallel guide fence in the package you can use to route perfectly straight designs. What's more, this router comes with a hard shell carry case to ensure you never have to worry about storage.

The only notable shortcoming some users might find with this plunge router is that the plunging can be stiff when new. But, the good news is that it does loosen a bit as you use it more.

Pros:

  • Can also work as a fixed router
  • Highly precise adjustments
  • Handy parallel guide fence included
  • Accommodates different bit sizes
  • Comes with a hard shell carry case

Cons:

  • Plunging is a little stiff

5. Most Powerful Plunge Router: Makita RP1800

Makita RP1800

Photo: Makita

  • Power: 3-1/4 HP
  • Speed: 22,000 RPM
  • Weight: 13.4 lbs

With a more powerful motor that can deliver up to 3-1/4 HP, the Makita RP1800 can tackle any job in the workshop, which requires a plunge router. Another element making this top-rated plunge router fantastic is the fact it is made for a long service life with oversized ball-bearing construction.

Using the router should be easier and more comfortable thanks to the ergonomic and rubberized handles that include a large trigger for accommodating two fingers for better control.

When it comes to the bit changes, this plunge router gives you an easy time as it includes a shaft lock. Additionally, the router has a lock-on trigger switch that allows for continuous operation.

Although the brushes seem to spark quite a lot, they are still highly durable. Also, the plastic cover on the base plate is not the best quality, but this does not affect the tool's functioning even if it cracks.

Pros:

  • More powerful motor
  • Well-built for longer tool life
  • Easy bit change with shaft lock
  • More ergonomic and comfortable handles
  • Lock-on trigger switch

Cons:

  • Brushes spark a lot
  • Low quality plastic base plate cover

6. Most Versatile Plunge Router: Milwaukee M18 2723-20

Milwaukee M18 2723-20

Photo: Milwaukee

  • Power: 1-1/4 HP
  • Speed: 10,000 to 31,000 RPM
  • Weight: 4.86 lbs

Milwaukee M18 2723-20 is one of the most versatile models on our plunge router review. Its versatility stems from the fact it has a micro-adjust dial and button that allow you to fine-tune the depth accurately for different applications. There is also a fine adjustment screw to ensure more precise adjustments.

Moreover, it has a variable speed dial with a broader range between 10,000 and 31,000 RPM, making it even more versatile.

When it comes to performance, this plunge router does not disappoint as it uses Red Plus intelligence to optimize the performance and protect against overload and over-discharge. Many woodworkers also love that this is a compact and highly portable router.

The plastic base is not the best quality, but it should still hold up well for a long time with proper care and usage.

Pros:

  • Suitable for various applications
  • Provides an optimized performance
  • Highly precise adjustments
  • Compact and more portable

Cons:

  • Plastic base is not the best quality

7. Solid & Heavy-Duty Plunge Router: Bosch MRP23EVS

Bosch MRP23EVS

Photo: Bosch

  • Power: 2.3 HP
  • Speed: 10,000 to 25,000 RPM
  • Weight: 12.6 lbs

The heavy-duty construction of the Bosch MRP23EVS makes it one of the best routers for cabinet making and other jobs where it might have to take a lot of abuse. This solid construction also includes hardwood handles that are durable and comfortable enough to hold.

Plunging is guaranteed to be more precise with this plunge router. It features micro-fine adjustments and an LED light that is always on to ensure you can see exactly what you are doing for maximum accuracy.

Other outstanding features of the plunge router include the soft start motor, which prevents jerking and constant response circuitry that keeps the speed constant under load.

Although the plunge function is not smooth as it kind of locks sometimes, requiring extra force, it should smoothen out as you use the tool more and more. Also, you can always lubricate it to ensure smooth operation.

Pros:

  • Highly durable construction
  • Precise depth adjustment
  • Built-in LED light
  • Easy and convenient control system

Cons:

  • Plunge function is not smooth

How to Buy the Best Plunge Routers

How to Buy the Best Plunge Routers

Photo: Milwaukee

1. Power

Power should be at the top of your mind when shopping for the best router for woodworking because if the tool is not powerful enough, it will not work well for you. Moreover, the amount of power a plunge router can provide determines the wood hardness it can handle.

Most plunge routers use motors that can deliver anything from 1 to over 4 HP and so you can be sure there is something for you regardless of your needs.

Those with 1 HP or smaller motors are entry levels for light-duty tasks, while the 2 to 4 HP models like the 3-1/4 HP Makita RP1800 are ideal for professional use.

2. Speed

A good plunge router should deliver a high enough speed to ensure you finish the job faster and allow for adjustment so you can optimize the material removal. Hence, the best plunge routers are always those that have a variable speed output.

That said, for the best outcomes, the plunge router needs to have high and low enough speed outputs. A perfect example of this is the 10,000 to 31,000 RPM speed range you get with the Milwaukee M18 2723-20.

3. Comfortable Grip

Given plunge routers are handheld tools, they need to be comfortable to hold for extended periods. What this means is that the ideal tool for you includes a well-cushioned and comfortable grip.

A more ergonomic handle also helps ensure you get a comfortable grip, so it is crucial to consider as you choose a plunge router. Other things like control buttons placed in good locations that are easy to access can make the tools more comfortable and easy to use.

4. Soft Start

You do not want to spend several minutes trying to power on your plunge router. Therefore, any model you choose needs to be easy to switch on, and a soft start is vital here.

A soft start makes sure that the router powers on easily and eases itself to its peak power without dangerously getting to full speed instantly (jerking). Therefore, soft start makes the plunge router safer to use as it gives you time to steady up before it gets to the peak performance.

5. Spindle Lock

You often have to change bits to different types and sizes when using a plunge router as they serve varying purposes. Therefore, it is crucial to make sure the router you buy makes this easy with a good spindle lock system.

The absence of a spindle lock system means you have to use a couple of wrenches when you want to change the bits, which can be pretty hectic and time-consuming.

6. Above the Table Adjustment

At some point, you will need to adjust your router in the middle of the cut, and when this happens, a good model allows you to do it fast and easily. Those that allow for above-the-table adjustments are the best here.

Above-the-table adjustment means you do not have to go under the router to change the setting as the tool allows you to do it with a knob, handle or crank above the table. Since the adjustment is faster, this function minimizes downtimes.

Still, on above the table adjustment, a good model should allow you to extend the collet above the table as this means you can change the bits without lifting the router.

Conclusion 

Routing wood pieces is always quick and easy with the best plunge router. The good news is that finding the perfect one for you should now be easy as we help narrow down your choices.

From our review, the Makita RT0701CX7 is our top recommendation as it has everything you want in a plunge router, from a soft start motor to precise depth adjustment and solid construction.

But, the Ryobi RE180PL1G is the best for the money as it is hard to get anything better at the same or a lower price.

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