Tool review: Do-it-all Routers
Switching any of the three dedicated plunge routers in our test from handheld use to the router table and back typically requires more work than with the multibase kits. For kits, you can attach the fixed base permanently to the table and simply swap the motor into the plunge base for handheld work.
When installing any of the routers in a table, you want the access hole for the height-adjustment tool closer to the front of the table where the fence won't cover it. But sometimes an upfront height-adjustment access hole dictates that other router controls, such as the variable-speed dial, power switch, or base lock, be located toward the back of the table where it can be difficult to see or operate.
Although all the routers have through-the-table elevation capability--effectively, a built-in router lift--some perform this function better than others, letting you easily change bits above the table, thanks to integrated spindle locks, as shown at right. These engage and lock the spindle, letting you loosen the collet nut with one wrench above the table.
To change bits with the kit routers, you have to either lift the router and insert out of the table or remove the motor from the base. To change bit height in the fixed bases, you have to unlock the base before making changes; this requires reaching below the table. With the dedicated plunge routers and one kit's plunge base, you simply insert the adjustment tool through the table and turn.
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