How to choose a good Router Table ?

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Blog entry by mtappe posted 09-10-2012 06:19 PM 5434 reads 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Looking into buying a router table and dont know much about them or what to look for in a router table? All ive been using is a plung router and clamping the work to a table. I will have to learn how to use a router table since its upside down to what im use to. Any advice will be greatly appreciated!
Marty Tappe

12 comments so far

View AJswoodshop's profile


1057 posts in 2334 days

#1 posted 09-10-2012 06:42 PM

Craftsman makes really nice router tables. Bosch also makes really nice router tables. Good luck!


View Peteyb's profile


131 posts in 2612 days

#2 posted 09-10-2012 08:46 PM

I am making one right now with my table saw cabinet. This way it doesn’t take up to much room. I have decided to go with a cast iron top for the router end and will have dust collection for it. If you want you can check out my blog as I have been working on it at This way I can try to save room in my small two car garage.

View Alexandre's profile


1417 posts in 2248 days

#3 posted 09-10-2012 09:02 PM

Well, Jessem or Kreg is the way to go (for me) when you are looking to buy a router table.
Otherwise you could make one.

-- My terrible signature...

View Chuck Anstrom's profile

Chuck Anstrom

87 posts in 3081 days

#4 posted 09-10-2012 09:35 PM

I second the comments of others.

My first router table was purchased. I built the next three . IMHO, one can make a much better router table than you can buy.

-- Chuck Anstrom - Virginia

View RonGoldberg's profile


44 posts in 2415 days

#5 posted 09-11-2012 12:02 AM

What about the Incra LS router table system. Love the dude in the video they have with the large goatee and head set. He is really into the product and you can tell an avid woodworker. I was very interested in the new Kreg routet table fence they are promoting (it is suposedly like a table saw fence in its gliding motion, however, some candid reviewers believe it to be hype and not the good). The freakin INCRA fence system looks outstanding. I compared the new Kreg, new Jessem and the Incra and I believe the Incra offers the best one, but I have none of them. An old bench dog router table that I purchased from Woodcraft after taking an introductory router class many years ago. Does anyone have the Incra system and can comment? Ron

View Alexandre's profile


1417 posts in 2248 days

#6 posted 09-11-2012 12:11 AM

Well, I like my jessem… Though We all have our own likes and disblikes…

-- My terrible signature...

View knotheadswoodshed's profile


222 posts in 2230 days

#7 posted 09-11-2012 12:18 AM

I have a Jessem table which I like, but their customer service is about as piss poor as you can get.
If I ever need a new table, I will go with the Incra system.

-- Randy - "I dont make mistakes, I make design change opportunities"

View bigike's profile


4052 posts in 3346 days

#8 posted 09-11-2012 12:32 AM

I would just make one it’s much cheaper and u can put anything u like according to features just do a search on here and u find different router tables. Good luck either way.

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop,

View davidroberts's profile


1027 posts in 3543 days

#9 posted 09-11-2012 12:53 AM

There are a lot of features you will want to evaluate, such as the fence, the plate, elec. switch, dust collection, tabletop surface area. What sets most store bought router tables apart over ho’ made or the newer cast iron or tabletop only models, compared to the Vermont, Benchdog, Ryobi, Bosch, Craftsman, etc, is tabletop real estate. A rock solid fence and a big flat table is a really good start to a deserving router table. That’s my opinion.

-- Better woodworking through old hand tools.

View mtappe's profile


15 posts in 2328 days

#10 posted 09-11-2012 04:09 PM

whats the difference between a good router table with a power lift and a Shaper? if im going to do this i want to explore all my options and make the best choice and spend whatever it may take to get a good Quality the First time. Ive been known to rethink or make a purchase without all the facts and end up with something im not so impressed with so i would like to get your guys info on the difference between routers/shapers?


View pintodeluxe's profile


5726 posts in 2870 days

#11 posted 09-11-2012 05:29 PM

I like the bench dog table and fence setup.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View davidroberts's profile


1027 posts in 3543 days

#12 posted 09-12-2012 11:51 PM

mtappe, someone will probably jump in here before I finish. I hope they do. I had the same question a few years ago, and this is what my research found. The simple answer is a router + router table is “Son of Shaper”. A Chevy Silverado compared to a Mac truck. That mostly holds true. Shaper come in light, medium and heavy duty, and are a magnitude above a light, medium and heavy duty router + table. A heavy duty router table setup is similar to a light duty shaper. There are light to medium duty shapers on the market, and hobbyist do invest in them. You can goggle for the brands and models. Probably most folks think of a shaper as stationary industrial-grade equipment used for production runs of moulding and trim. Shapers come with power or screw lifts, like a table saw height adjustment. The smaller shapers are typically 1.5 to 3hp, with the medium around 5hp, and heavy duty industrial up to 10hp. Some belt driven. The motors are reversible and are usually installed in a table saw type cabinet, with a cast iron top similar in size and heft to a cabinet table saw. They weigh between 250 up to 1,000 lbs, the older ones, more. The minimum spindle size is usually 1/2” and they go up to 1.5”, maybe larger, and are usually interchangable. The fence is a key selling point because they are rock solid. The knives are called cutters, not bits, and cost a lot more than router bits, some $200 and up. They screw on or attach to the spindle and are usually 4” or so in diameter, and can handle deep cuts on 4/4 stock in a single pass. They cut the same patterns as router bits, however, routers generally need to make several passes to complete a complicated pattern, or one where lots of wood is hogged off, such as raised panels. Light duty shapers are designed to use standard router collets and bits. You get the picture.

If funds are not an issue, I’d say go for a good quality light duty shaper. If funds are not an issue, you would buy one or two or a few routers any ways for the hand held work. Can’t have to many routers. If like most amateurs, woodworking dollars must be spend with frugality in mind, I say a good quality, versatile router and table will satisfy 99.9% of your needs, with very good results. Later, when you have gained skills and abilities, and your passion has ripened, invest in a good quality, light duty shaper, such as the Jet or equivalent Delta models, just as an example. You’ll probably keep the router table setup for spare capability, setups. You’ll certainly keep the router. Woodworking is a great hobby, and expensive hobby, but most are. A good quality shaper will hold it value. A boat, well, the second best day of my life is when I bought a boat. The first is when I sold it.

-- Better woodworking through old hand tools.

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