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Take the plunge

Router with a dovetail type of joint routed out.

Bigger may often be better, but we’re in love with smaller routers, represented by the current plethora of nimble compact and trim routers, both corded and cordless. The only downside: They typically come only in fixed-base versions. But during the past couple of years, four manufacturers have started offering optional plunge bases that increase the versatility of these mini-mights. Here’s what we learned about them in our shop tests.

Milwaukee 48-10-5601, $110

• Fits Milwaukee 18-volt router no. 2723-20
• Turret: 6 steps in 18 " increments
•  Plunge travel: 2"
•  Bit opening in subbase: 2"
Pluses: With large, ergonomic handles, an intuitive plunge lever lock, and silky-smooth plunge action, this base works well. It also comes with a detachable dust-collection hood.
Minus: We found the small triangular locking knob on the depth-stop rod difficult to grip and turn.

DeWalt DNP612, $85

Plunge router base.

• Fits DeWalt 20-volt router no. DCW600B, and 114 -hp corded router no. DWP611
•  Turret: 5 steps in 14 " increments (one step adjustable)
•  Plunge travel: 218 "
•  Bit opening in subbase: 1316 "
Pluses: The stepped bit opening accepts two-piece guide bushings—the only one to do so. We can’t imagine using a bit bigger than this opening, so we appreciate the extra subbase support. Excellent plunge lock and movement.
Minuses: The 14 " steps on the turret sometimes result in routing deeper increments than we like with a router in this class.

Bosch PR111, $100

Plunge router base.

 • Fits Bosch Colt 114 -hp corded router no. GKF125CEN
•  Turret: 7 steps in 18 " increments (2 steps adjustable)
•  Plunge travel: 214 "
• Bit opening in subbase: 218 "
Pluses: Similar in many ways to the PRO11, this model shares its strengths.
Minuses: None

Bosch PR011, $100

Plunge router base.

•  Fits Bosch Colt 1-hp corded router no. PR20EVS
• Turret: 7 steps in 18 " increments (2 steps adjustable)
 • Plunge travel: 214 "
•  Bit opening in subbase: 218 "
Pluses: Its plunge action, lock, and turret all work smoothly, and the handles grip nicely.
Minuses: None

Makita 196094-2, $100

Plunge router base.

• Fits Makita 18-volt router no. XTR01Z and 1 14 -hp corded router no. RT0701C
•  Turret: 3 steps (all adjustable)
•  Plunge travel: 112 "
• Bit opening in subbase: 212 "
Pluses: Nice handles and smooth plunge action
Minuses: The short plunge-lock lever defaults to free plunge—the others default to locked—so you have to press down on the lever to lock it, an awkward setup. We found the depth rod clumsy to use, and we’d prefer more turret stops. The large bit opening reduces the amount of subbase contact when routing on small or narrow workpieces. 

Router with a dovetail type of joint routed out.
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