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What is the best base type, fixed or plunge, to mount to a router table?

Porter Cable 690
Ryobi Table
 

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Hello N/A...

Fixed...
Bosch 1617EVS....
 

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What is the best base type, fixed or plunge, to mount to a router table?

Porter Cable 690
Ryobi Table
Welcome, Ed, It's not about the base type but how you adjust the router height. In theory, a plunge base should be better but you have to look at the features. Some plunge bases would be horrible to use in a router table. The single biggest issue is depth adjustment. It is far better to be able adjust from above. There is at least one plunge base that allows above table depth adjustment.

However, in my opinion, the best approach is actually neither but a router lift. This will at least double your cost but gets you a much much better setup. At least you can just buy the bare router without any base and that can reduce your cost a little.

So, in evaluating a router/base you should consider the following:
  • Above or below table height adjust
  • Ease of height adjust
  • Above or below table locking
  • Bit change shaft lock? (a below table thing)
The last item is there because some routers use 2 wrenches for bit change and don't require a shaft lock. For hand held routing, a shaft lock is preferable but for under table routing, it is fairly inconvenient.

You may have figured out that I am a big proponent of ease of use. If your router table is hard to set up, you will use it less.
 

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Hi Ed and welcome. Don't use a router that has a rack and pinion adjustment type first off. As soon as you loosen the clamp on it it will drop through and hit the floor or table. Voice of experience on that. A number of plunge routers have above table adjustment capability built into them.The Bosch 1617 has it on a fixed base type and maybe there are other fixed base that can too. For fixed base the ring adjust type work pretty good if you have good access to under the table which you need anyway to clamp any type router once the adjustment has been made.

If you plan on using the router out of the table keep in mind that there are jobs that can only be done well and safely with a plunge router so if this is your first one it should be a plunge. The best idea if this is your first is to get one of the kits that have plunge and fixed in the same package. It's a little bit more money but is far more versatile in the long run. There are routers more reliable than Ryobi or Porter Cable these days. Bosch, Dewalt, Hitachi Metabo, and Milwaukee are all good. If you go with just plunge and only for the table then Triton has been getting the best marks.
 

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Chuck brings up an interesting point. If you plan on using your router in both a table and for hand routing, you will discover that it's very inconvenient. It's quite common to start out thinking that way but if you use your router table very much, you will probably wind up with a second router for hand held use only. The dual usage approach makes for conflicts in router selection. In a table you want as powerful as you can get but that might be heavy for hand use. A lot of wood workers wind up with a 3+ HP monster in the table and a 2ish HP for hand use. Or even a 1ish HP trimmer for hand use.

If you opt for the dual use approach, I suggest you get 2+ HP router to start. Then, if you decide you want to dedicate a router for the table, get a 3HP router for that.
 

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What is the best base type, fixed or plunge, to mount to a router table?

Porter Cable 690
Ryobi Table
Welcome to the forum Ed. What is likely better to decide is budget and frequency of use. And you want to qualify the "frequency" if possible and realise that is extremely possible that usage will increase the easier the setup is. After building my router table I found myself doing way more routing then previously. I went the route of the router lift and a bought fence and top, both from Woodpecker. You can of course make your own fence and top but I rather liked the features that this system offered. But again, some planning can save you money.

As Phil eluded to there are many paths that you can follow. I later added the LS positioner to my Sawstop table saw and because of its abilities I later added the Sawstop router table to the saw on the right side of the saw where the auxiliary table had been. So essentially I now have two router tables and both get used. I use the Incra system for dovetail and other joinery uses and the home built for rail/stiles, raised panels, and edge profiles. That second table also included the additional cost of a second lift.

Both lifts are JessEm and again you need to decide how much flexibility you want/need. The one in the home made table is more expensive but allows a far great number of different motors to be mounted while the table saw mounted one is sized for certain models (motor diameters). For the built router table I also used JessEm' variable speed 3.25 Pow-R-Tek motor and digital speed controller. The lift is a Mast-R-Lift II and the Sawstop table has a Rout-R-Lift II, both different with far more motor possibilities on the Mast-R-Lift II.

The built router table follows this design/plan
 

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Another alternative to consider would be to get a Triton TRA001, 3.25 hp, which has a built in above table height adjustment. Cost is $280, far less than a separate lift and a smaller hp router. I've kept my old Boach 1617 routers and bases for freehand use, but find myself using a small Bosch Colt for most freehand use. A small Bosch freehand, midsize router kit with both bases will be about $200 or so, so you'll still be in the price range of a Jessem or other top of the line router lift. Worth thinking about. I got my Triton on recommendation of Harry Sinclair, longtime member here. I've never been disappointed and the extra hp means I can cut anything with ease. I find the triton too heavy for freehand use, so I leave it in the table. That's my take on what to get. Here's a pix of the Triton in an aluminum mounting plate.

I don't do a lot of freehand routing anymore. I feel it's much safer to use a table mounted machine instead. My freehand tasks are often things like cutting hinge and latch mortices, so a 1 hp trim router is easier to handle than a larger machine. The trim routers only take a 1/4 inch shank bit, whick is OK for most uses.
 

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Welcome to the fold, Ed.

I am awaiting delivery of Jessem’s Rout-R-Lifft II ($189) to be adapted to my Bosch RA1181 benchtop table, after a miserable experience with Bosch’s cheesy lift rig (~$50). Assuming the leveling process will be no issue, I will route an 1/8” off each edge of the Jessem’s phenolic top to drop it into the Bosch’s table cavity. This will void the warranty but there’s not much to break on this rig, so if it arrives in good working order I’m OK with that. Unlike Bosch, Jessem parts will be available for a good while to come, I”m sure.

If that isn’t a solution I can always make an MDF top like everyone else and go the traditional route.

I may video the process as a guide to others who went too far with Bosch products toward this end like I did, assuming all insert/adapter plate dimensions would be the same - not! You can never do enough research...

PS: As Tom points out, a dedicated table router and separate hand router is worth spending on - whether a handheld or plunge style is your preference is all that’s matters there. Added rigs and jigs make that arrangement very convenient.
 

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Stick, the Bosch 1617evs, it adjusts with an allen wrench through a drilled hole in the router plate with out lifting the top to push a button?

I've recently been looking for an economical router dedicated to the RT and the 1617evs is in the mix.
 

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Stick, the Bosch 1617evs, it adjusts with an allen wrench through a drilled hole in the router plate with out lifting the top to push a button?

I've recently been looking for an economical router dedicated to the RT and the 1617evs is in the mix.
yes, it does...

but....
you have to manually unlock the router...
that you have to do w/ any of them...
 

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I agree with the sentiment that if it is easy to use the more it will get used.

I have had for over two decades a plunge router that I used for handheld and router table operations. Double duty saved money, but installing and removing the router from the table was a dread.

I recently added a lift with dedicated router to the table and now I am using it more now that it is so convenient. Not sure why I waited so long.


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