Router for Fin Install - Plunge Router or Laminate Trimmer?

Which one would be better for fin installs? Does it depend on what system your doing, or should one do them all?

Laminate Trimmer

Plunge Router


ps. searched the archive but didn’t find a definate model number, brand, etc.

Depends on the jigs you’re using. The plunge routers are more versatile and powerful ( and can work with a simpler jig) , the laminate trimmers are light, cheaper and made for one-hand operation.

Have a look at the Swaylock’s Glossary Router and Laminate Trimmer entries: the models pictured are the ones I use myself. I like Porter-Cable routers, you may not.

I’d also suggest going to your friendly neighborhood tool store ( not Home Depot, which tends to have lots of cheap junk, but a place that sells to the professionals) and handling some, the way they feel and how easy it is to get at the controls while you’re working with it can make all the difference. Other important considerations: what accessories ( edge guides, collar sets, etc) are available for the thing, either from the manufacturer or aftermarket accessory makers - the accessories can make life a helluva sight easier.

hope that’s of use


Thanks Doc!

What would you recommend getting for a first router then, the plunge router?

Any installs I would do would be Speeedfins, supposedly close to doing Futures I hear.

As I’m not familiar with the jigs made for the Futures or the Speedfins boxes, I can’t give you an intelligent answer for that, but in general I’d go with a plunge router, or better yet a router that comes with both plunge and ‘standard’ bases, as plunge routers seem kind awkward and top-heavy for plain old routing use when I don’t have to do plunge routing.

Now, I’m familiar with the Porter-Cable 693 plunge router: I like it in general. They sell a Model 693LRPK kit which has the plunge router plus a standard base plus some accessories ( has the manufaturer’s page on that ) and you should be able to find it for about $180US at Amazon or others . There’s a new variation out: the Model 694VK ( ) which is the same thing but with a soft start varable speed motor rather than the fixed speed for another $20. Good idea, you can swing bigger bits with a slow speed, etc, the soft start is real nice with jigs 'cos the router doesn’t jump when you fire it up.

In fact… just looking at the Amazon blurb, order $150 or more of Porter Cable tools before April 30 and you get a $25 mail in rebate. Plus, Amazon will knock off ( promotional code thing, see the page) another $25 on anything Porter Cable over $199, and the variable speed unit is $199.95, so by the time all is said and done you have the better tool for less than the cheaper one… jump on it, man. I would if I didn’t have a fixed speed plunge model already.

go for it, you got one day left on the promo.


If you’re only doing speed fins you can get away with a laminate trimmer. Futures jig and two elevation cut are better suited for a plunge router. For Red X we recommend a Makita 3612 or a Porter Cabel 6931. The Makita has a brake to help prevent gouging when you lift the router off the jig. I know Herb uses a small router and a laminate trimmer with a modified O’Fish’l jig to install Red X. But, in production quantities the full size router is more efficient. It’s also a bit more intimidating for the back yard shaper. It really comes down to which systems and what volumes.

Excellent Doc!

Thanks for the tip off on the Amazon deal!

Sounds like the variable speed is the way to go.

De nada, man, it’s a nice tool and good for all kinds of things, I think you’ll enjoy it. I’ve used mine for timber framing, roughing mortises and tenons on heavy stock , let alone cutting foam for fin boxes. Keep the collets clean and shiny too, that’ll make life a lot more pleasant.

have fun


Howzit riley, Skill makes a plunge router for under $100. I actually saw 1 on sale at Ace for about $40. They don’t have a half inch collet but for fin boxes you don’t need the 1/2 one. I’ve had one for a couple of years and have had no problems. Aloha, Kokua


I put in a set of Speedfins with a standard issue 1/2" Porter Cable router, no variable speed, no plunge capability. It worked fine. You’ll need a $5 template guide that screws into the bottom of the router. I also used two narrow pieces of wood on the baseplate to provide clearance for the avocado (what Speedfins calls their jig).

I also, unfortunately, had to route out the pots after the first installation. I had set the toe in way too far in, which is easy to do if you follow the directions that come with the Speedfin set up guide. Watch the toe in before you glass 'em up.


hey kokua, most fin boxes and plugs need a 1/4" right?

Howzit riley, It really doesn’t matter, but 1/4" router bits are less expensive. What does matter is that you can router deep enough for the box. My fin box jig is made of wood and I have the bit set as deep as it can be, when I was on the mainland a couple of years ago I had a new adjustible jig made out of metal which was thinner than the wood one. But one of my room mates gave me the wrong dimensions( I called him to measure the wood one) so i’m still using the wood one. Aloha, Kokua

For futures use the RYOBI-tr series laminate trimmers, They worked well for the speeedfins as well during the 2 weeks we tested the system. You can find them refurbished for like 40.00 online, PLUNGE ROUTERS Are best suited for systems like LOKBOX and RED-X where we have the makita and the dewalt dw216

I have a Ryobi variable speed plunge router that i use for everything. Kinda bulky for cutting outlines but works great when installing the 4way finsystem. I like the versatility of the plunge router since i can do so many things with it. I was short on cash so i had to choose a lunge router.

So there really isn’t a one-size fits all option it sounds like?

Thanks everyone for their input!