A Beginner’s Guide to Choosing Router Base Plates
The wood router is one of the best purchases you can make for all of your woodworking projects. The woodworking projects are endless when you have a wood router.
To stay safe and create the best results, you will need to purchase a router base plate as well. The router base plate deserves more attention than it gets, which is why we are taking the time to dedicate this article to the router base plate.
If you are unsure of where to begin when choosing a router base plate, don’t go anywhere. We’ve got everything you need to know in this beginner’s guide to choosing router base plates.
What is a Router Base Plate?
A router base plate is attached to your router and will follow along as you make your cuts. They are important they keep your router level and prevent it from tipping, especially when you are cutting the edge of the board.
The router base plate saves you from having to restart a project due to a slip in your router while cutting. This will save you time and money and keep you from having to restart your project due to a mistake you can make without using a router base plate.
How to Choose a Router Base Plate
There are many considerations you need to make when choosing a router table base plate. You will need to consider the type of woodworking you will be doing, how much safety the router base plate will offer, and the material it is made out of, just to name a few.
The following are the most important considerations you will need to make when choosing a router table base plate.
What Type of Woodworking Will You Be Doing?
The type of woodworking you will be doing is the first question you should ask yourself. This will confirm that you need to use a router base plate.
If you will be making cuts with your router that will be on or near the edge of a board, you will need a router base plate. You will also need a router base plate if you will be making projects of different sizes. The router base plate is a beneficial tool to have for many types of projects.
The Material of the Router Base Plate
The next consideration you need to make is knowing what type of material the router base plate will be made of. What’s more, you’ll need to understand the difference in the materials and what makes them more useful than others.
Router base plates can be aluminum or Polypropylene thermoplastic, and both have their own respective advantages.
Aluminum router base plates are stronger and will last a long time. The downside to aluminum is that they typically cost more than plastic router base plates.
Polypropylene thermoplastic base plates are cheaper, but they can wear out easily and ultimately need replacing quicker.
The Size and Ease of Using the Router Base Plate
The best router base plate should have a thickness of around ⅜” thick. This will ensure that your router stays close to the wood that you are cutting.
The router base plate should also have removable rings that allow you to fit the router you are using. The best router base plates will fit routers up to 3 ⅞” thick.
The router base plate should not be difficult to set up or use. It should come with an Allen wrench to securely fasten the base plate into place. This is essentially the main reason for using a router base place, so this part is important.
Buying a router base plate with no method of securing the base plate can easily cause you to make a mistake when cutting.
The router base plate you choose should also be durable enough to support heavy routers. This will ensure that the base plate has the support it needs to make smooth cuts without dipping down or tipping over.
It should also be easy to adjust the opening for different sizes. This is typically through easy snap-out rings that change the size of the opening quickly and efficiently.
The router base plate shouldn’t make your woodworking job more difficult, which is why it is important to purchase a router base plate that has adjustable settings to fit virtually any size router for any job you need.
The Price of the Router Base Plate
We understand that price can be the deciding factor when choosing a product, so it’s our job to make sure you understand the difference between buying the most expensive router base plate on the market versus buying the cheapest.
Just because you opt for the most expensive router base plate doesn’t mean it will be the best. For example, you may be purchasing a router base plate that exceeds the job you need. What we mean by this is that if you have a small, lightweight router, you will be able to get by with using a plastic base plate. Plastic router base plates are generally cheaper than durable aluminum base plates that are built to hold heavier routers.
On the flip side, if you have a heavy router that will need a sturdy base plate to make level cuts, you shouldn’t choose the cheapest base router plate you come across. You will likely end up spending more time and money repairing your project or starting your project over by using a router base plate that was not equipped for the job.
The price of the router base plate is important to consider, but only if you know the type of router base plate you are getting for the money.
A router plate is an important tool to use while woodworking with a wood router because it will ensure that you create smooth, level cuts every time. This will significantly reduce the risk of making a mistake in cutting through a dip that the router can easily make without using one. It is a virtually inexpensive investment to make that will yield great benefits in the long run. If you don’t have a router yet, be sure to check out our article on good routers to buy or if you are interested in upping your router game then check out the best router tables.