A router table is a fine woodworking machine that you can use as a jointer, edge trimmer, lock-miter, and groover that you can use to with long, narrow, or small stock to create raised panel doors and more. There are also several types of router tables, each has a special feature that makes it perfect for certain woodworking projects.
The vertical router table is the more conventional type, while the horizontal router table is more uncommon but is known to have more versatility. There’s also a hybrid between the two that combines their functions to make the perfect router table.
One of the key roles of the woodworker in his or her workshop is to keep the workshop tools in excellent working condition. The router table in particular is very important when handling any task in the workshop and it is quite easy to implement any technique using a wood router.
However, it becomes frustrating to accomplish even small tasks when the router table is not in good working condition. Instead of spending a lot of your money to pay a repairman to fix your table, consider fixing some of the problems on your own.
Some of the most common problems
In some instances you try to switch on your power tool and it fails to turn on. This is quite frustrating. If there is no response on your router table when you switch on the power switch then you have to check out a number of things.
First off, check whether the router table is plugged in or not since the power cord might have been pulled out accidentally while you were cleaning the workshop. Secondly, check the circuit breaker. If the problem is not on the fuse then you have to call the repairman.
There are instances when the router bit keeps slipping in the chuck when you are working on your project. When you evaluate the router bit, you realize that the bit stops while the chuck still turns. In this case you simply stop the machine and tighten up the chuck.
If this fails to solve the problem, check out whether the chuck key has been stripped or not. This may be the reason why the chuck does not tighten. If you are using an older router table you may have to replace the chuck since it no longer locks or its clamping mechanism is now worn out.
Most woodworking projects require specific router bit heights and with the router table, the wood worker can set the bit depth using a gauge provided on the side of the table. However, after some time sawdust accumulate in the chuck and this pushes the bits higher. It therefore becomes a challenge to set the required bit height when working on the projects.
To solve this problem, you need to use some compressed air to eliminate the sawdust or the wood chips from time to time. As for the sawdust that has been compacted, you can use a screwdriver to break the sawdust loose then use the compressed it to blow it out.
Unstable or Inconsistent Bit Speed
Commonly referred to as stalling, inconsistent bit speed usually comes up due to worn out or loose belts. You need to first of all cut off power supply to the router table then open the router table’s housing and evaluate the belts. Check out for any abnormal wear or belts that have cracked for older machines.
If you fail to trace any problem with the belts, evaluate whether they are well connected to the drive wheels. You can then tighten or replace belts by following the instructions provided in the user manual from the manufacturer. If the problem persists then you have to contact a certified repairman.
The router table’s guides are just as important as the router. Without the guides it would be impossible to make precise and accurate cuts in line with your required dimensions. Some of the common fault with the guides is that they tend to freeze into place whenever temperatures fluctuate from hot to cold, more so when you have not used the router table for a while.
To rectify this problem, you need to loosen the bolts using a pair of pliers. You should be careful not to break them while doing this. A lubricating fluid will be helpful in loosening the bolts. In case you use a lubricating fluid, ensure you check and confirm that the bolts are locked into place a few times when you will use the router table.
Additional Tips-Avoid these Mistakes when Buying a Router Table
Fixed Mindset Over a Particular Brand
Most woodworkers venture into the market with a specific brand in their mind. This is a major mistake and should be avoided. Just because certain brand is new or is being used by a friend does not mean it will suit you. To avoid this mistake consider the features of the brand you are evaluating. You can save money and enjoy excellent benefits by buying an unpopular brand that has what you are looking for.
Settling for Too Small
This is perhaps one of the most common mistakes the novice make when they first get their router table. It is always tempting to buy an inexpensive table but remember soon you will outgrow such a router table. You should instead invest wisely in a table that has industry standard parts that will enable you use accessories such as fences, miter gauges, and many others. Buy a table you can grow with.
Failure to Plan for a Dust Collector
Most woodworkers do not think about a dust collector when getting their first router table and yet this feature is a needed later. You need a dust collection since the router table gets messed up when worked on. It will minimize your cleaning job.
This is a common mistake that most woodworkers commit from time to time. If you are buying a router table for the first time then it is wise you work with one for a while before getting another. Avoid spending too much on every accessory and table you see and focus on one table with a few accessories at first. You can later on add in some other things.
A few final words
Your first router table may be costly and therefore it will take some time before you think of getting another one. Even if it is not your first router table, you do not want to keep buying a new one after a short time. You should therefore understand how to regularly service and fix some common faults with the router table.
Some of the common mistakes with a table are not as complex as you may think and you can save a lot of money by fixing them yourself. With the simple tips above you can easily fix some common problems associated with the router table.
The use of combination machines has over the last few years been adopted by most woodworkers. These machines take various forms, usually being two or even five machines being combined in a single unit. The Router table and Saw Table combination is one of the popular examples of how the woodworker can use both the table saw and the router on one table. Combining the two proves to be of more benefit to workshops where space is a limiting factor. And even if space is not an issue for in your workshop, combining the two can give you features, quality, and capacity that are usually found on stand-alone machines.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Combination Machines
One of the main advantages with a combination machine is the fact that you can enjoy the benefits of more than one machine on one platform. Combining the workbench for your router with that for the table saw will enable you save plenty of space.
However, one of the major concerns that woodworkers have about combination machines is the issue of switching from one machine to the other. Some see this as inconveniencing since one has to deal with various things: fences, mortising tables, shifting from one cutter to the other, and many others. Nonetheless, having more than one power tool on one workbench is quite a time saver to some other woodworkers.
To the pro woodworker, the time taken to shift from one function to the other is insignificant. It normally takes a minute or two to shift to the other function and once everything is setup, you simply select the function you want to power and there you go. Overall, the advantages that come with a combined router table and saw table far outweighs the disadvantages.
Types of Combination Machines
The European-style combination machines that are available in the US market basically come in three types;
- Combined saw and shaper.
- Combined planer and a jointer with a horizontal mortiser if you like.
- Combined machine that has all the tools: planer, table saw, jointer, shaper, and the optional horizontal mortiser.
A sliding table is standard to all combos. You will find some smaller bench saws that come with standard sliding tables and are mostly efficient and do not vibrate during an operation.
When you compare the capability of stand-alone table saws, shapers, jointers and planers with those that are found in combination machines, they are generally the same. The only difference with combo machines may be the fact that the tools share some components. For instance, where there is combination of the jointer and planer, the two will share the cutterhead and therefore when you want to use the planer you have to swing the jointer table away. As for the router and the table saw, they will share some components and you can simply tuck away the table saw whenever you want to use the router. This can be a great space saver in a workshop where there is a small space.
How to Combine a Router Table with a Table Saw
You can combine your router table with the table saw and save a lot of space in your workshop. Here are some steps that will help you in doing this;
Step 1: Tools and Materials
To begin with, it is obvious that you already own a table saw otherwise there could be no need to do this. You must own a full size table saw that has an extension. You can get an affordable one in the market since there are so many types that are quite affordable. You must also have a router table. A mini router table will do. This is the one we intend to mount on the workbench. If you have a table that has a fixed base with all the fittings then it even becomes much easier to do this.
You will also need other tools such as a handsaw, square, sandpaper, cordless drill, clamps, a jigsaw, wood glue, measuring tape, and screws.
Step 2: Measuring and Cutting the Frame
Measure the size of the table and the size of the hole within the table extension. If your measurements are for example, 687 by 370 mm and 605 by 363, then you have to extend the table by approximately 41 mm at each of its end. As for the sides, you only have to provide support.
You can make a frame by simply cutting two long skinny pieces that measure 22*38*687mm and some other two short fat pieces of 38*41*370mm. You can then cut a rebate at each of the end pieces but make sure the skinny pieces measure exactly 18 mm lower than the fat pieces and the frame 44mm high. This will be equivalent to the thickness of the table top.
Step 3: Assemble
Glue and screw the frame together. If required, use a jigsaw to cut a rebate for the switch and use the table saw to cut slots on each of the sliding meter gauge’s end. You can use flat-head screws in fitting the frame into place.
Step 4: Final Step
Drill some holes on the frame and use screws to fix it into the lower side of the table (you can use 5 or 6 screws). Once done, mount your router. With this kind of arrangement, you can use the fence that came with your wood router or use the fence you have combined with the table saw’s workbench.
The combined router table with saw table setup above will work nicely for all your projects, especially when you need to “rout out” huge work pieces. This way you can enjoy the benefits of the table saw and still use the wood router when you want.
Expand the versatility of your workshop tools by using a combination router and saw table. You can buy a combination machine that has everything in place or design one by following the simple steps above. With a combination machine you can enjoy the benefits of each of the power tools on one workbench. The benefit of using two or more workshop tools on one workbench far outweighs the inconvenience of switching from one tool to the other.
The versatility and usefulness of the router table makes it an important tool in woodworking. It helps the woodworker implement even the most complex manipulations during wood routing. The wood router has to be kept in perfect condition so as to extend its life and achieve the best results when working on your projects.
However, mostly woodworkers overlook this because they have the perception that the best wood router table requires zero maintenance. According to the experts, every woodworker should learn how to maintain their router table within the first 3 to 4 months when they buy it. They should then begin the procedure every six months after that.
It is quite easy to work with any particular size of wood piece when you use a router table. This is almost impossible with other workshop tools. Furthermore, it is challenging to manipulate some wood types using a handheld router but with a router table you can manipulate it easily.
The router table also gives the woodworker full control of the piece of work. You can set up the router on the table so that it operates mechanically on its own and your job will only be feeding the wood into the router. With the handheld you can never do this. Furthermore, you can use a router table to carry out some complex functions such as edge trimming, creating slots, and handling of the functions of an edge jointer.
Maintaining the Router Table
To keep your router table in good working condition you have to continually carry out routine maintenance. Below are some recommended maintenance practices;
You should remove the fence and any other piece of wood from the router table then use a vacuum cleaner to remove sawdust from the surface. You should also take a damp cloth with some little water and wipe out the router table surface by applying an outwards motion. While doing this, ensure water does not go into the router bit. You can then take a dry cloth and use it to clean the base plate’s upper surface. Once done, replace the fence.
Router Bit and Base Plate
The router bit being the most engaged part of the machine tends to clog as a result of dust build-up. The base plate will also wear and tear, and therefore these two should be well-maintained. In order to do this, follow these simple steps;
- Take the base plate and put it in the router. Try to push it slightly and observe if it moves in any particular direction.
- You can now reconnect the router bit and the collet.
- Use industrial lubricating oil to apply it gently over the router bit’s entire surface. You can then wipe away any excess oil and leave the bit for some time.
- You should also check out for any signs of wear and tear on the router bit and where necessary replace the bit.
- Wipe out any sawdust and grime from the router bit and take off the collet.
- Take a leaf vacuum or vacuum cleaner and clear out any sawdust from the router’s mouth and the outer surfaces.
- Remove the router table fence and take away any piece of wood from the table.
- Take out the base plate and detach the power cable.
- Dismantle the cutting bit assembly.
- Evaluate whether the plate and the table are in one plane or not. You can use a leveling tool to do this. If it is not level, use an allen wrench to rectify the problem.
- Raise the base plate and check out for any sawdust. If present, use the vacuum to clean it out.
- Reconnect the base plate.
Maintenance of the Fence
Router table fences come in two types: the split and the solid fence. The split fence is the most popular among woodworkers. To maintain the fence, follow these simple steps;
- Put back the fasteners and replace the wood pieces on the rail.
- If the edges have extensive tear and wear, use a saw or router to smooth out the edges. You can only do this once or twice and if you continue to do it, the height of the piece of wood will change tremendously and affect the operation of the fasteners. Ultimately you may have to replace the wood pieces.
- Take out the pieces of fence and check out the edges for any wear and tear. Since these pieces are easily replaceable there is no need to panic if you see some signs of wear and tear.
- Detach the fasteners and use standard oil or grease to lubricate them. Then place them in the rail groove and try to run them across to ensure there is a smooth movement. If you get any resistance or unsteadiness, replace the fasteners.
- If you experience any of these conditions, use the fasteners to unscrew the pieces.
- Remove any sawdust from the router fence on the side that faces the cutting bit.
- Try to push the two pieces of the split fence until they come into contact. There should be no space between them. Otherwise, you may have to change the pieces.
- Try to push the pieces far away from each other and listen keenly for any unsteadiness, wobbling or any kind of resistance.
- You can then place the pieces in their original position on each of the side of the router bit.
The router table is essential to every woodworker. It should be kept it in good working condition for you to be able to carry out your projects without any unanticipated faults. Before you contact the repairman, ensure you have done some checks on your equipment first and correct the problems if you can.
Even though every router table has a unique layout, different fence configuration, and different holes, the fence and table are generally made using the same material. Therefore, the maintenance procedure above applies to most router tables. You can avoid unnecessary expenses by following these simple steps.
Asides the wood router itself, there are various components of the router table that make wood routing a success and these include router lifts, dust collection, extensions, and router table fence. The fence is important for wood routing since it helps in directing the wood into the router so that smoother, cleaner, and even cuts are achieved. You can buy a router table fence or make one from scratch in your workshop. In this guide on use of router table fence we shall delve into the nitty-gritty details on the router table fence.
The Use of the Router Table Fence
Installing a router table fence in the workbench or router table gives the woodworker more benefits when compared to routing by hand or without the fence. The fence allows the wood worker to carry out even the most challenging jigs such as rub off rough edges, shape small projects easily and safely, and many more. You can do these with your router table fence:
1. Creating own Moldings
It is a breeze to cut own moldings when you have a router table fence installed. You can be able to hold the boards tightly and set them to the required width. Trying to do this with handheld router is challenging and can even result in injury to your fingers.
To get the best moldings, start off by narrowing the bit against your wood router. Set the router at the lowest edge and then adjust it so as to get the desired height. While routing, move the board gradually and steadily without breaking. This will prevent red marks on the bit.
2. Quick and Easy Last Fiber Routing
You make the last fiber fit and get an accurate shape of a block using your router table fence. This is quite easy to carry out since the fence guides the cut. It will also remove small pieces and smooth them off in the course of cutting, chopping, or breaking of hard surfaces.
3. Eliminating Redundant Material on Edges or Boundary Lines
The router table fence makes the process of smoothing edges a breeze. The ideal procedure to follow while doing this is to force the left side of your router table fence into a narrow space and then work on your work piece along a straight line. Before adjusting your fence, attach a plastic layer on the left side and fasten it with a narrow strip so as to provide the perfect alignment.
How to Choose a Router Table Fence
There are ideally two things to consider when it comes to the selection of a router table fence: make one from scratch or buy one. If you are a beginner wood worker hobbyist then it can be challenging to make one from scratch. Therefore, you may have to buy one. When buying your router table fence consider these features:
Super Flat and Slides smoothly across the Router Table
The over design of a router table fence matters greatly when it comes to wood routing. Choose a fence that is dead flat and has a super smooth surface. This will guarantee a well balanced job and enable you get the most precise and accurate cuts.
Dust Collection or Extraction
You can easily distinguish the novice from the pro by simply looking at their pieces of work. A pro will deliver nothing short of clean and neat pieces of work and they are never covered in dust at the end of a project. This is simply because they understand the purpose of a dust collection. Buy a router table fence that has the best dust collection to get the cleanest cuts.
It is quite a challenge to get accurate measurements when your router table fence lacks a micro-adjustment. Therefore, look out for a router table fence that has the micro or meter adjustment on its inner and outer part. This will enable you get the best measurements.
Sturdiness and Size
Buy a fence that is strong and durable and can fit perfectly the router table. It should be equal in size to the router table so as to avoid sliding of work from the table when work is in progress. A sturdy and perfect size router table fence will hold your work piece securely and guarantee your safety while routing.
Use of Feather Boards
The fence should use feather boards since these are important when working on your wood working projects. They ensure user safety and cleaner cuts. All these are essential for successful wood routing.
Easy to setup and make adjustments
Your fence of choice should be easy to set up by following the manufacturer’s manual. It should also be easily adjustable. This will favor all skill levels, from the novice, intermediate skill, to the expert.
Apart from being straight, easily adjustable, rigid, and allow various positions, your router table fence should feature some additional features. Be on the lookout for fences that have measuring gauges, fence options, adjustment aids, and other advanced features. This will give you some extra convenience as you work on your projects.
Pre-made fences simply come in two designs: one piece fence and split fence. With the split fence you get two pieces, one on the out-feed and the other on the in-feed side. This design is geared towards facilitating easy removal of material while routing. It is always a challenge to align the two sides of the split fence accurately.
The one piece fence on the other hand is quite easy to set up. It is also the easiest to work with and you can build or buy a split sub fence in addition to this. However, most wood workers find this challenging and use one piece since it works just fine.
A router table requires two fundamentals: an excellent guidance for the work piece and a sturdy and well supported router. Most of the projects carried out on a router table need a fence and the fence you choose can be a simple one or complex if you like. However, no matter the kind of fence you choose keep in mind two major things, accuracy and safety. The router table fence should meet these two things.
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The purchase of a wood router is generally the first step most amateurs take towards getting into some serious woodworking. The next step for most of us is the purchase of a router table, which allows for you to use a router as a stationary tool, and makes a whole lot of things possible that you’ll never be able to do freehand.
With one of these vital tables at your disposal, you’ll find yourself easily able to perform tasks you’d never dream of with the router held in your hands. You can easily take your hobby to whole new levels with the addition of a best router table on the market.
A dedicated router table can be absolutely essential for some types of woodwork, including shaping the edges of wooden pieces and planning perfect edges and grooves into boards. A lot of people recommend building your own, but if you’re not absolutely confident in your work you’re risking quite a bit. The cost of entry is pretty low, so why not keep reading and find the perfect table for you. We have here some of the best rated router table reviews on the internet but first we’ll tell you what to look for.
Complete Guide on choosing the Best Router Table
What Am I Looking For?
There’s a lot to consider when looking into the purchase of a router table, so let’s go over a short breakdown of what you’ll need to determine which router table is the best suited for your own work.
Keeping this in mind, there are three main types of router tables that you’ll need to decide between in order to make sure you get what you need.
Bench router tables are undoubtedly the most popular for hobbyists. These handy tables are of the right size to place on a bench for easy use. They’ll take up less room and are usually quite portable. They are generally on the small side, for obvious reasons, and someone who works with larger pieces frequently will want to go with one of the other options.
Free-standing tables are exactly what they stand like. They’ll lift the piece to a suitable height for working without the need for a bench or other stable platform on which to be placed. These are better for professionals and those who work with larger pieces.
There are also router table extensions, which can be added onto an existing table saw. These are generally quite high in quality and are a great option for someone with limited space. They can readily be removed and stowed somewhere that doesn’t take up floor space.
What’s Best for Me?
This depends on what you’re choosing to do with the router table. A free-standing table is nearly always preferable, but they’re not always ideal for the individual’s space requirements. If you’re a professional or working in a shop environment though, a free-standing table with all the bells and whistles is definitely what you’re looking for.
For the amateur just getting into more serious woodworking, a bench router table is something to seriously consider. These handy, portable additions to your workshop add a ton of versatility to what you can do with your router. The limited space they take up is an easy sacrifice for the great amount of additional work you’ll be able to get done.
For the more serious hobby woodworker, router extension tables are a great idea. They can be a bit trickier to setup than the others, but the ability to just attach them to your existing table saw is a temptation that’s almost too good to give up. They’re also useful in shop situations since you can cut and immediately route the wood you find yourself working on.
Whether or not you take a look at extras depends entirely on your budget. Storage and dust collection ports are the main things you’ll be looking for here, and if you’re careful about your selection you can end up with some pragmatic additional features for your day-to-day working. The ones with extensive features tend to be a bit more expensive, however, and a carpenter with a lesser budget won’t be missing out on too much with a lack of storage space.
For the individual consumer there seems to be a bewildering variety of choices, but if you’re careful about your selection you’ll be able to find the best table for the price, and for you. All it takes is a little bit of study and it’s probably the best investment for woodworking you’ll ever make.
The 4 Best Router Table Reviews 2016
We’re here to show you some of the great options available on the market today. One of these is sure to meet the need of every carpenter, professional or amateur.1. Bosch RA1181 Benchtop Router Table
The Bosch RA1181 is possibly the best portable router table for the money. It’ll easily accept a Bosch router or a DeWalt router, or really pretty much anything. It’s obviously best suited for Bosch products, but don’t be discouraged if you own a different brand as you’ll be able to fit almost anything.
Whatever you’re working on, whether it’s designing a frame or engaging in a niche hobby like guitar making, this router table will be a welcome addition to your workshop. There’s definitely a reason why this is the best rated router table around.
It’s a solid piece, there’s no question about it. It also offers a pretty impressive work surface of 27” by 18” so it’s suitable for most home use. The work surface itself is made of aluminum though, so be sure to periodically check it for spurs that may scratch the wood you’re working on. A few seconds with a fine metal file will easily sort it out though and as long as you stay aware you’re unlikely to do any serious damage.
The fence was obviously well thought out, and makes for a fairly unique look as well. The aluminum gate is high so you’ll be able to easily finesse taller pieces of wood. The real draw here though is the MDF front to the fence, which will allow you to slide pieces along without even thinking of picking up a scratch.
The RA1181 router table is simply a fantastic buy for the money. It even has some awesome extra features like dual-vacuum ports for the best dust removal you’ll be able to get. If you’re serious about your woodworking, you’ll be glad to know that this router table also accepts a bewildering array of accessories to make your work easier.
Bosch offers a year warranty on this product as well, so you’ll be able to rest assured that any manufacturer error is covered. There’s also a 30-day money back guarantee for those who aren’t sure it’ll meet their needs.
The Bosch RA1181 really is one of the best bench top router tables you’ll ever find. If you’re looking for a router table for home, there’s no excuse not to just order this one now. Once you have it in place in your home workshop you’ll come to regard it as essential.
2. Bench Dog Tools 40-102 ProMax Cast Iron Router Table Extension
For those who are more serious about their work, but also want to save on some space, the Bench Dog Tools 40-102 is one of the best products you’ll be able to find. This router table expansion hooks onto your existing table saw and provides a sturdy cast iron surface to work on.
While it’s a bit heavier than the normal aluminum, the cast iron surface offers some surprising advantages. Aluminum has a tendency to burr, and if you’re working on a piece that’s already been sanded or stained these burrs can create unsightly scratches. You simply won’t have to worry about the extra maintenance step of making sure aluminum is smooth with a cast iron top.
The fence is also covered in wood, so you can slide without worrying about troublesome damage to your product. It’s simply a well-engineered extension to the capabilities of your shop, and it’s sure not to let you down.
The most attractive part of this table is definitely the ability to connect to a table saw. This makes it the best for a small shop without a doubt, since you’ll be able to take it off the saw and stow it away easily. Depending on your personal storage set-up, this may even save more working room than a bench router table. Attractive and low profile? Yes, please.
What’s really great about this extension is that you can even get some extra space for your table saw. This table has the capability to increase the versatility of two of your power tools at once. It’s made of the highest quality materials as well, leading this to be one of the best options.
It might also be best for home use as well. A lot of people who are handy around the home work out of their garage, and the modular design means you can easily move it around depending on what you’re working on. This one’s sure not to let you down whatever you’re doing.
The point is that the Bench Dog 40-102 is simply a fantastic expansion to two of your favorite tools. With one of these you’ll be able to use both in a fashion that’s much better than before, and the capabilities of your workshop can be greatly expanded with a single purchase. If that isn’t a great argument for making this your choice of router table, I don’t know what will!
3. Bosch RA1171 Cabinet Style Router Table
Those of us who are familiar with Bosch will be pleased to know that there’s a cheap and high quality router table they offer for the carpenter on a budget. The Bosch RA1171 isn’t quite as awesome as its cousin but it’s the best option for the amateur with a tight budget.
This one has a cabinet design, which makes the surface a bit less steady than something with some good, strong legs like the Bosch RA1181. That’s not to say that it’s unsteady, but for heavier use it’s generally preferable to have the contact area of the router table with the bench to be outside of the bench itself with outward leaning legs.
The design up-top is quite similar to the other offering from Bosch. The biggest problem here is that it simply isn’t as durable. You’re sure to receive use for years out of it, but it’s not the kind of router table which is destined to last a lifetime. If you’re not using it on a constant basis though, the lower price point may make it an attractive option.
The main draw here? The Bosch RA1171 comes in at under $200, which is a cheap price to pay for the amount of use you’ll get out of it. It’s perfectly suitable for cabinet making or any other task you set your mind on. For the woodworker on a budget this is the one to buy.
It’s compatible with a few accessories as well as possessing twin vacuum ports which will allow you to remove the dust generated by your router quickly and efficiently from the surface and air. This is especially great for those who prefer to work indoors, as you’ll be able to breathe and see a lot easier during longer jobs.
Even better, it might actually offer more dust collection capacity than the RA1181 due to the cabinet design which makes the whole process more efficient.
If you take care of this piece of equipment, though, it’s sure to become a favored part of your tool kit. Only a professional should steer clear of this one, it’s suited for almost any hobby or home use. If you’re just starting, you’re destined to go through a few tables over time anyways so why not get something high quality for cheap?
If you’re looking to take your carpentry to the next level without putting a hole in your wallet, the Bosch RA1171 definitely has you covered.
4. Kreg PRS2100 Bench Top Router Table
The Kreg PRS2100 is probably the best small router table you’ll find anywhere. It’s sure to fit into all but the smallest budget as well, since it comes in at under $300. It is the priciest one on this list, but that’s for good reason.
The work surface of this one is composed of MDF, and so is the fence guard. What does this mean for the user? A smooth, burr free surface which will allow you to easily move your work piece over the router bit without fear of scratching. That alone would make up for the increased cost of entry, but there’s a bit more.
Before we continue though, there is one drawback to this router table. The work surface is a bit smaller than the other options, measuring only 16”x 24”. If this small size makes it unsuitable for your intended projects, you’ll have to look elsewhere but for the vast majority of home carpenters this might just be one of the best options around.
They didn’t skimp on the materials here. The stand is made of high-quality steel, meaning there’s pretty much no fear of structural damage here. The paint should also keep unsightly corrosion away from the table for a long time to come.
It also comes with a set of high-quality levels that will make sure that you get the perfect angle when you mount your router. If you’re mounted level, you’re sure to make the cleanest, most precise cuts which is especially valuable for joinery.
This one might just be the best for beginners as well. Experienced craftsmen are often used to the quirks that come with having a metal top and unconsciously compensate for them, but with the MDF surface each and every piece will slide smoothly every time.
It also has a dust collection port, which can make the entire affair much more convenient. There is a lack of storage, however, but that’s a small consideration in the grand scheme of creating your amazing home workshop.
It may be a bit more costly, but some of us don’t consider our workshop’s vital inhabitants as toys. Making the investment in a high-quality router table is… well, it’s an investment. The dividends will pay you back in ease and amazing projects.
That alone is enough to make a bold argument for the Kreg PRS2100. Your workshop deserves only the best, and this is it. Don’t hesitate.
We hope that we’ve helped guide you to the answer to “What is the best router table?” that suits you best. The ease and additional safety which comes from one of these valuable workshop additions is immense, and you’ll wonder how you ever got by without one before.
If you’re still on the fence about purchasing a router table, it’s best to just buy one and get the wood against the fence. It won’t take long to see why they come so highly recommended by professionals. Once you make the purchase, you’ll have no idea why you even thought about hesitating before.
Different types of router tables exist in the market with most of them availed with all accessories required for woodrouting. Once you have chosen your ideal router table, you will only get the best out of it if you understand how to set it up correctly. We shall delve into details about how to set up and use a router table. Read along to know more.
Types of Router Tables
For you to clearly understand how to set up your router table you need to first of all understand the basics. Unlike initial models that were simple and straightforward to set up, the new router tables have been modified and redesigned such that it is a bit complex to set them up.
There are basically three types of router tables:
- Bench top: This type sits on a work bench and can be taken away whenever it is not in use.
- Floor-standing: This type features a cabinet that acts as the workbench and requires little space.
- Extension: This one is ideal for those who lack some space to spare. It is attached to the table saw.
It is always wise to ensure the machine is stable and since a stable base is invaluable when setting up the router table. The wheels should also lock firmly into position so that the machine does not shift while in use. You also need an adjustable fence as well as a dust collection port when using the router table.
A Guide on Setting up the Router Table
There are various factors that you need to look into when setting up the router table. The features that the router table has, in most cases, affects how accurate the cuts will be.
Consider these tips when setting up the router table:
Connecting the Switch
Make sure the switch is working properly so that you can switch the router on and off with ease. This will eliminate the hassle of being forced to reach out below and switch it off. There should also be a solid base that features in-built locking casters.
Plate and Router lift Setup
The router insert plate is another feature to look at when setting up the table. The insert plate links to the router base and therefore you should watch out for this. It should be attached in such a way that it is flush to the surface of the table. The plate should be easy to attach and remove so that height adjustments and bit changing becomes easier. You can also use a router lift to make this process easier.
Using Reducer rings
Most insert plates come with reducer rings which are used in eliminating any chance of chipping out. It also prevents the pieces from tripling down to the opening near the router bit. You should choose a ring that is compatible with the diameter of your router.
Set up the fence
An adjustable fence is very useful since it affects the level of accuracy that can be attained. The fence guides the work piece so that it can be worked on by the router as required. The fence also boosts the user’s safety since it facilitates an easy addition to the router table such as bit guards, feather boards, and some other accessories. In some instances, the fence has a dust collection. You therefore need to set up the fence for your router table.
Note: After continuous use, the router table may require some upgrade. The leather boards and the built-in-track require some adjustments. A meter gauge should also be added so that you can get additional support for precise results.
Using the Router Table When Routing Ends
In some instances you might be forced to “rout out” the ends of a board. This is particularly inevitable when making a joinery. In such a case your router table proves to be an invaluable machine for achieving this.
A meter gauge can be used in guiding the work piece so that it can pass through the 90 degrees angle with ease. To achieve this, the bearing on the router is aligned to the edge of the fence. This is important since it supports the work piece and protects it from any damages. If you lack a meter gauge, you can still use the router table fence and the backer board in routing the ends.
Cutting curved parts
Even though it is a challenge to” rout out” curved ends using a router table, it is not impossible. You can use a starter pin on a work piece that has curved parts. Simply ensure the irregular pieces are of the same size so that you can rough-cut them using a band saw.
Once that is done, trim them such that they match with the hardboard template. In cases whereby the curved parts require profiling such as chamfer, cove, or round over, you should ensure the bit has a bearing which you can use as a guide during the routing process. This will allow you to work on the piece of work with no need of a fence.
It is quite a breeze to work on your router table system once you understand the process of setting up and using the various components that make up a router table system.
Choosing an Ideal Router Table
For woodworker to get the best router table, they should evaluate the following:
- Flat, rigid and spacious top: This will help hold the routing machine firmly and prevent it from shifting from side to side when routing. It should also be large enough so that it accommodates the even bigger work pieces.
- The detachable base plate: This should be mounted and adjusted easily.
- Table fence: It should be adjusted easily and with minimal effort. It should also be accurate.
- Durability: It should be made with long lasting material since it is quite expensive to replace a routing table.
The router table can easily be setup by anyone irrespective of their skill level once they understand how to apply these basic tips. If you feel your router table is not up to the task, you can upgrade it so that it gives you the effectiveness and versatility you desire. The mentioned techniques apply to any type of router table and can help you get the best out of your router table. You can research on more techniques and tips that pro woodworkers use when operating their routers on a router table.
Ask any woodworker about the router table and you will be amazed about how useful the item is in the workshop. It makes it so much easier for woodworkers to work on projects that would have been almost impossible to accomplish without the router table. Read along to understand how useful this item is to woodworkers.
What is a Router Table?
The router table is simply a stationary woodworking machine that has a spindle at its center and a flat bottom. The spindle is usually vertically oriented and rotates at a high speed. The router table helps the woodworker in getting accurate and precise cuts when working on the projects. The router’s head and bits are connected to the spindle chuck which lies on the workspace. A workpiece is directed to the router which then creates a profile. In addition to these is the vertical fence that helps deliver precise and accurate cuts.
Router tables were initially designed in a simple and basic design. They were only meant for cutting and it was simple and straightforward to learn how to use them. Currently, router tables are extremely advanced and come in a variety of shapes and designs. They are even designed with some extra accessories so as to make wood routing a breeze. They are a great asset to any workshop.
Benefits for Using a Wood Router Table over Handheld Router
Every woodworker should get a router table instead of using the handheld router for various reasons:
Working with different stock shapes
Most woodworkers use a handsaw when cutting their stocks and this works well for beginners. However, as the skill level of the woodworker increase, they need to attempt bigger and better projects. It is with this regard that the hand saw is rendered ill-equipped and inefficient for the job. This is particularly true for stocks that lack a perfect shape: they may be too narrow, too long, or too small. The woodworker therefore needs a better machine in order to cut such stocks in a precise manner. The router table delivers that perfectly. This is impossible to achieve with a handheld router.
Working with templates
Precision is a key factor when it comes to woodworking. It is simply what makes woodworking an art in itself. Woodworkers have to work with templates and the best router tables in the market make this job a breeze. The use of a router table makes the workspace stable and makes it easier and joyful to get precise cuts in a work piece. Contrarily, the handheld router is unstable and cannot work well with a template.
Making different cuts
As a woodworker, you never think of the cuts when you begin to work on a project – what is always important is the project at large and the final results. However, the planning stage for the project is the point where the choice of cut comes into the picture. With a router table, the woodworker will easily maneuver projects that require dadoes, grooves, stopped cuts, slots, and many other types of cuts. You cannot do all this while working with a handheld router.
Working on locks and joints
If you make a living from woodworking then you clearly understand the kind of skill and creativity required if you want to get the best out of your pieces of work. You are required to go an extra mile and deliver professionally in most projects. The woodworker is even sought by some people to make an idea a reality. They come up with an idea and want the woodworker to deliver something that matches perfectly with their imagination. Furthermore, hobby woodworkers desire their projects to be elegant and outstanding as well. Such projects demand the use of dovetails, drawer locks, and finger joints. A router table makes it a breeze to achieve all these unlike using a handheld router.
Types of Router Tables
There are different types of router tables in the market designed to meet the different skill levels – beginner, intermediate, and the professional. If considering getting a router table, then you should match your needs with the router table design. Here are some popular types of router tables:
1. Benchtop table: This type is versatile and adaptable. It is portable and comes with some useful parts such as a built-in cord, aluminum fence, starter pin and guard, and adjustable MDF plates. It is available with popular brands in the market such as Kreg and Bosch.
2. Floor Standing Table: This fairly portable router table is popular among woodworkers. It is easy to mount, takes up some small floor space, and features some useful parts.
3. Extension table: This router table is ideal for those who lack a space to spare. It does not require extra resources to invest in it and comes with some useful features such as a split fence, wooden frame, measuring tape, aluminum-made T-track slots, safety guard, router and high split fence.
Pros and Cons of Using a Router Table
- Precision: A router table enables the woodworker get precise and accurate cuts in a work piece.
- Saves time: This machine saves time since you can accurately carry out some procedures and task that would take longer when using a handheld router.
- No installation: Most of the router tables come pre-assembled and therefore require little or no installation. This makes it so much easier to setup and begin using the router table.
- Quick results: The more you practice with your router table, the better you become in getting efficient results. Initially, there may be a learning curve involved, but it moves faster.
- Long term benefits: With a router table you get long term benefits. You get the skill and experience by working on different variety of projects within a short time and this helps in expanding your skill in woodworking.
- Extra expense: You have to spend some additional money so as to acquire a router table and all its accompanying accessories such as fence and lifts.
- Learning curve: It is always difficult at the beginning to master some skills when using a router table. It is daunting to make some complex joints at the start as well.
The router table is a useful machine to any woodworker, whether an amateur or a professional. It helps the woodworker handle some tasks that would be almost impossible to handle using a handheld router.
Perhaps you have heard of the wood router and its versatility but have never owned one. I guess one of the reasons you fear committing your hard-earned dime is that it is expensive. You may also think it is expensive to buy its other accessories including the router table. Well, to be sincere truth be told, wood routers do not come cheap. They are just like any other useful item in your workshop arsenal. The come in different sizes, models, shapes, and prices. You can get cheap ones and you can get the most expensive as well. They also have different capabilities.
As a beginner woodworker, you may not have access to a router table but is pretty easy to build own router table within minutes. We will therefore delve into how to make a router table in some simple step by step process.
Why Make Own Router Table?
A router table is an invaluable asset to any woodworker. However, the ready-built tables are extremely expensive. They are also too narrow and thus they may not be perfect projects that require wider router tables. When you build your own router table from scratch, you will be able to accommodate most routing jobs including those that require a huge space for routing.
- The router
Points to Note
- In this simple guideline you will learn how to make a router table with ¾ inch MDF or plywood within an hour or two.
- You should begin by making some 3-1/4 inch and 4 inch rips for the router table fence, legs, and frame. You should also make 1-1/2 inch rips for its top build-up. Cut approximately 24 by 36 inch piece for the top.
Step 1: Making the Router Table legs
Crosscut the materials to length. Glue and screw the router legs together. You can use one 3-1/4 inch piece and another 4 inch piece for each of the legs. You can then glue and screw the frames together then connect the legs to the two frames from the inside with the use of 1-1/4 inch screws and more glue. This is pretty simple and will take a very short time to finish.
Step 2: Attaching the Legs to the Frames
You can then take the top build-up and glue and screw it onto the underside of the top. Set it onto the frame. Use pocket screws or 1-brackets to attach the top to the frame.
Step 3: Linking the Top to the Frame
The only remaining task is to cut am notch at the middle of each of the piece of the fence so as to create a room for the router bit. You can then attach two pieces using glue and screws. When you want to use the router table, you simply clamp the fence. Additionally, you can laminate the router table top and fence if you desire a more outstanding outlook and minimum friction. Nonetheless, plywood and raw MDF are just fine.
Notch the two remaining pieces for the fence and attach them to the router table. Your routing table is now finished.
An Ideal Routing Table
Notwithstanding whether your routing table is homemade or ready-built, there are some special features which your routing table should meet for you to achieve the best results. Once your router is mounted securely in a table, you can be able to get maximum control of your workpiece.
The extra control you get makes it so much easier to manoeuvre certain operations such as edge profiling, groove routing, and many others. You will also be able to do some tasks that might be impossible to handle with a handheld router, for instance, routing narrow stock, making certain joineries such as cope-and-stick, and many others. For you to get the best out of a routing table it should have the following features:
Flat and Solid Top
The router table top should be rigid and should be as flat as possible. In tasks that require precision, minor irregularities in the surface may result in skewed joints, uneven edge profiles, and many other problems that ruin your piece of work. With a rigid surface you will be able to get accurate cuts and it will be able to support the weight of the router and plate without experiencing any deflection.
Flat, Rigid Base Plate
The quality and layout of the base plate highly affects the functioning of the router table. Since the base plate supports the router weight, it should be flat, solid and substantial. The best materials for an ideal base plate include aluminium or solid phenolic. The base plate chosen should also be compatible with your router. The base plate should also be such that it is perfectly on a level ground with the router table surface.
Accurate and User-friendly Fence
The router table should be accurate and easy to position. This due to the fact that in most of the routing operations you control the cut by keeping the piece of work pressed against the fence as you advance it through the bit. You should therefore get a fence that can work perfectly when handling such a task.
There are a number of fence types to choose from which vary in quality and functionality. You may get simple ones and the most complex ones.
Stable and Firm Base
For the woodworker to get clean, crisp cuts, they need the workpiece to be well-positioned and in sturdy contact with the cutter. This is only possible when the table is sturdy and stable. A wobbling and shifting table not only hinders the attainment of smooth and outstanding pieces of work, but it also poses a risk to the user. Remember you are handling a machine with sharp razor-bit rotating at a high speed. Any simple mistake can result in extreme damages.
A router table is an essential part of a woodworker’s tools and accessories. Whether you make your own table or buy a ready-made one, ensure it is well secured and it is firm enough for all your operations.