Compact Router Vs Plunge Router In 2022 – What is Right for You?

Last Update On: February 24, 2022 // Author:

Without a router, you cannot imagine a woodworking setup as it does some of the most important jobs on a piece of wood. From making hollow cut-outs to creating design works like lettering, a router can do just what you want. You can smoothen the rough edges after applying veneer or laminate topping on a board without scratching the laminate. However, there are so many types of routers for different types of jobs that you’ll get confused while selecting one.

If you can select a multipurpose, versatile router, you’ll be able to do almost any routing with boards or hardwood. When it comes to versatile router selection, a compact router vs plunge router are two popular options you can go with. In this article, I’ll talk about them both to help you select the best router that fits your needs:

compact router vs plunge router

Table of Content:

Comparison Chart:

Image Product Technical Spec Price
Makita XTR01Z 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Brushless Cordless Compact Router Makita XTR01Z 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Brushless Cordless Compact Router
  • Brand: Makita
  • Weight: 4.51 pounds
  • Dimensions: 6.2 x 8.5 x 5.8 inches
  • Style: Bare Tool
  • Material: TOOLS
  • Voltage: 18 Volts
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Triton TRA001 3-1/4 HP Dual Mode Precision Plunge Router Triton TRA001 3-1/4 HP Dual Mode Precision Plunge Router
  • Weight: 19.5 pounds
  • Dimensions: 10.2 x 12.9 x 11.4 inches
  • Style: 3-1/4HP Plunge Rounter
  • Material: Metal
  • Power Source: Corded-electric
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Compact Router Vs Plunge Router: What You Need To Know?

The dilemma between the compact router vs plunge router comes forward when you’re trying to select the one that can work multipurpose. I’ll get you through their working method and what distinguishing benefits they offer here:

What Is A Compact Router?

A compact router speaks for its name; it’s a compact router unit with a smaller form factor. You can use it while holding it in your hand, without having to hook it up to a table. It allows you to work with one hand and do almost all types of routine jobs. You’ll be able to make flush trims with the compact routers; in fact, they are especially efficient at flush trims. They are hugely beneficial when you have to make round overs around the edges of the wood. Compact routers are also compatible with table attachment with the proper mounting mechanism. You can hook it up with a table, make inlays, grooves, lineups, and so on.

Benefits Of Using A Compact Router

Using a compact router will give you endless advantages rather than using a full-size table router. Here are the most beneficial prospects you can expect from a compact router:

  • The main and foremost benefit of using a compact router is using it from every angle you want, making groove holes or inlays.
  • You can use a compact router with a smooth bearing guide for flush trimming the edges of veneer wrapping or thin wooden sheets without chipping or scratching.
  • Compact routers are lightweight and perfectly fit for reaching narrow spaces, such as inside a drawer box where you cannot reach a full-size router.
  • There are router accessories available for compact routers that will make you more efficient, such as inlay guide bushing, counterparts, and so on.
  • Different types of router bits are compatible with compact routers and different types of guides to make different types of chambers, beads, and coves.

1. Makita XTR01Z 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Brushless Cordless Compact Router

Makita XTR01Z 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Brushless Cordless Compact RouterThe Makita compact router comes with a high-torque brushless motor with a higher RPM rating for a precise cut, both on start and exit. The motor speed is variable with its speed controlling dial from 10000 RPM to 30000 RPM for a burn less maximum penetration.

To reach your working space without clogs, you’ll get an 18 Volts Lithium-Ion battery in the router for an efficient cordless routing experience. Its LXT technology will help you run the motor for 50% more time than regular batteries and give you overheat and overcharge protection.

Its start off button has a lock mechanism to prevent any accidental push, making it the best compact router with smart features. With its dual LED lights, you can illuminate the working area and make critical designs, combined with the depth adjustment dial.

Makita XTR01Z 18V LXT Features:

  • This router comes with Dual LED lights to light up under the bits to make a critical design.
  • It has depth adjustability with Shaft and cam lock for different types of woodworking.
  • You’ll get a speed control dial for the motor from 10000 RPM to 30000 RPM.
  • The motor has a smooth start and exit feature that prevents any chip off while trimming.
  • It comes with a start-button protection lock mechanism to prevent accidental on/off.

What Is A Plunge Router?

A plunge router is slightly a bigger version of the compact router that offers wider usability on woodworking. They come with handles and arms that help you hold on to the router while working. As they produce higher torque and heavier penetration, they need to be stabilized with two hands. A plunge router will get you more RPM rating for better and smoother operation from start to end. You can use different types of router bits with a plunge router and do a wide range of routing. It will allow you to flush-trim the edges and make guided trims along with working on wooden surfaces to make designs, grooves.

Benefits Of Using A Plunge Router

Plunge routers come with a bunch of special abilities that you can use for handling big projects. Here are some special benefits that a plunge router can offer you:

  • For designing on hardwood surfaces with better control over both the router and the bit depth, plunge routers are the best option.
  • Making inlay shapes or grooves on the surface is way easier with a plunge router as it will get you more control over the big spring plunge.
  • You can use different types of router bits with a plunge router for both surface and the edges for flush-trimming and guide trimming.
  • Plunge routers can make patterns such as lettering and shapes with different depths in the same design.
  • A plunge router will give you more control over the motor speed and the depth adjustment to make a smooth entrance and exit.

2. Triton TRA001 3-1/4 HP Dual Mode Precision Plunge Router

Triton TRA001 3-1/4 HP Dual Mode Precision Plunge RouterThe Triton precision plunge router has both rack and pinion mode for turning it from the plunge into a fixed-base with a single button. It allows you to use it both on the surface and edges with different router bits. For changing the bits, you’ll have a single wrench changing option with a spindle lock.

Its spindle lock engages only when you close the switch cover, which protects the power switch. This safety cover will keep you safe from accidental turn on for the motor. The motor is a 3 1/4 HP powerful one and runs with high torque and RPM.

You can control the speed from 8000 to 21000 for a controlled routing with a smooth start and exit. The micro winder system gives you fine adjustments of the depth of the bit, which makes it the best Plunge Router. You can use a dust extraction mechanism with the enclosed guard and side air vent.

Triton TRA001 3-1/4 HP Features:

  • This router has both plunge and fixed base modes with a single press of a button.
  • It comes with a single-wrench bit changing with an automatic spindle lock mechanism.
  • The micro winder controller of it can help you with fine adjustment on the bit depth.
  • It has a side air vent along with a fully enclosed garden for dust extraction.
  • You can control the motor speed from 8000 RPM to 21000 RPM with soft start and exit.

My Opinion: Which Is A Better Compact Router Or Plunge Router

It’s time to decide which type of router you’re going with, and that requires you to have a clear understanding of your primary perspective. If you need better control, cordless operation, higher speed, and penetration go for the compact router. It will give you a higher and smoother control both on the motor speed and the bit depth. If you’re more into professional work with a workshop and don’t need the cordless operability, the Plunge Router will be better. It has all the features and options that a professional may want.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the most frequent questions about compact and plunge routers that you might have interests in:

Can you set up a compact router for a table router?

Yes, you can do that, but you’ll need a custom router table that has the necessary modules.

Can you put a plunge router in a router table?

Yes, most of the plunge routers come with the cut-outs to hook it up to a table.

What is a collet on a router?

The cullet on a router is the piece you put in the bit, and it’s directly connected to the motor.

Watch out some tips to choose a router and use it properply


Final Thought

Getting a proper router tool for your woodworking can help you get a lot of critical jobs done. Both the Compact router vs plunge router have their special features to serve you effectively. After reading this article, I hope you have a proper understanding of the router you should go with.

However, if you require an expert suggestion regarding the best overall between these two, I’d suggest you get the Plunge Router. It has a brushless motor with highly powerful adjustability on the speed and a smooth start and exit. You’ll be able to adjust the depth of the bit and fine-tune it as well. Its side air vent will allow you to extract the dust and keep the workshop free from clutter.

Author - Lee Morris

Hi, I am Lee Morris, I have run a power tools business for woodworking. Where I sell mostly wood router, compact router, trim router, plunge router, wood lathe chuck, and many other power tools for woodworking.

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