In need of some router table advice

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Forum topic by Buckskin posted 09-23-2007 09:04 AM 2203 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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486 posts in 3981 days

09-23-2007 09:04 AM

Topic tags/keywords: router table insert base

I am wanting to build a bench top router table. My kids got me this router for Christmas last year and I want to build a table for it.

My plan was to use 3/4 birch ply for the top but I noticed that it would be to thick to use most bits. So now my problem. What can I use to make an insert base?

I am thinking about using a piece of 1/4 tempered hardboard slightly larger than the foot print of the router and enough to lay in a rabbet. Doing this will limit, to some degree, the max depth of some bits by about 1/8”. I can live with that. The router is easy to handle by hand.

So, my last question is… do you think I am on the right track or should I go with something else?

Thank you in advance.

14 replies so far

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3809 posts in 4015 days

#1 posted 09-23-2007 01:57 PM

Lee Valley sell a semi prefab table insert if you want to go that way or if you have the source you can get a piece of 1/2” plexi or similar and use that to mount the router to a table of your liking.,43053&p=50264

-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 3956 days

#2 posted 09-23-2007 02:15 PM

Morning Buck,

The cheapest way I would go on this is one of the router plates available from Rockler, Lee Valley or Woodcraft. I tried a plexiglass insert and got the screws too tight and ruined it. I then went to the Jessum FX lift and have been using it for the last two years. In my businesss a lift was essential. You might be just as well off with one of the phenolic inserts made by Rockler. The disadvantage is that you have to take it out of the table to adjust height and change bits. Not as big a problem as some would think. It’s no different than doing those things on a hand held router. I defintely would not use plywood, hardboard ,etc. for the insert; not strong enough. I built my top from MDO but would recommend using 1 1/4 in. of particle board and laminate the top and edges. That’s a lot easier than it sounds as well. Come to think of it, I have been thinking about building a new top just like this and going to the Jessum Master-Lift. I think My FX is wearing out.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4024 posts in 4057 days

#3 posted 09-23-2007 02:27 PM

I’d go with a pre-fab insert as well. Lee Valley would be my number one choice. I have and have been happy with the Rousseau insert. I think hardboard will flex too much to hold the router, causing a dip that will be frustrating over time. In fact if anything there should be a slight crown (thousandths of an inch) centered on the bit’s entry through the table. If you make your own plate, 1/2˝ plexiglas or phenolic should hold up without sagging under the weight of the router.

I know it is dear, but I will put in a plug for the Incra fence and template system. There is a learning curve, but the precision is unbeatable.

When I got my first router I got books by Patrick Speilman who was an expert on routers and scroll-sawing. He has passed away in the meantime, so there is likely some new authority in the router world, but threre was a wealth of knowledge available in his books on table construction and router use.

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3809 posts in 4015 days

#4 posted 09-23-2007 02:48 PM

I have a new edition of Bill Hytons’ book on “Woodworking with the Router”
It’s very comprehensive and a good investment for a weekend warrior.


-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View mski's profile


439 posts in 3974 days

#5 posted 09-23-2007 02:51 PM

Hi Buckskin,
I used a 1\2” plexiglass insert on my first table, it worked fine except as Thos said you need to be carefull cutting and drilling the holes, I think it took me 3 tries (pieces) to get it right. I also would laminate 2 plys together for a 1 1/2” thick table top
I also am learning My Icra Jig, The book Bob#2 mentions is a great book with all the info you need to build a table and anything else to do with a router.
Woodpeckers have all kinds of inserts on thier site, they have a ringed phenolic plate for $35,


View TheGravedigger's profile


963 posts in 4018 days

#6 posted 09-23-2007 03:25 PM

I use the Rousseau insert as well. I’ve had one for years and it’s never given me any trouble.

-- Robert - Visit my woodworking blog:

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 3956 days

#7 posted 09-23-2007 04:13 PM

This might a good place for all of us to stress something else; the stablitly of particle board wrapped in laminate. I suggest even the bottom of the top. A router table would be best made of a flat piece of cast iron like a good table saw top. However, most of us can’t justifiy that, although Grizzly does make one at a reasonable price. In my opinion, two layers of particle board totally surrounded by laminate will be the next best thing. It is cost effective and doable by all of us. The table tops made by Rockler and others are great and stable but they do cost. I’m sure that someone has done a blog on laminate on here.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View gizmodyne's profile


1779 posts in 4084 days

#8 posted 09-23-2007 04:46 PM


I use a rockler insert, but you can also just screw the router directly to a piece of 3/4 ply with a hole cut in it. (You can relieve a circle for the router to fit into).

This is the quickest way. Fence= straight piece of stock. Clamp it to your workbench and you are in business.

Router tables aren’t rocket science. You just unscew it from the base to use it

My router table is super cheap. 3/4” melamine with the rockler plate installed. 2/4 legs. The whole thing clamps into my workmate.

-- -John "Do I have to keep typing a smiley? Just assume it's a joke."

View joey's profile


396 posts in 3898 days

#9 posted 09-23-2007 05:33 PM

I build my router table and bench top using a torsion box technique it is very strong, very stable, and as long as you build it flat and level it will stay that way. there is a very good story on fine woodworker online and I thing plans about torsion box workbench just change it a bit to fit your needs.


-- Joey~~Sabina, Ohio

View Buckskin's profile


486 posts in 3981 days

#10 posted 09-23-2007 06:35 PM

Thank you all for you advice. I will look at buying one of the inserts rather than making one.

Thos., I have glued a lot of formica to particle board. When you do this it becomes almost indestructible.

View bryano's profile


546 posts in 3927 days

#11 posted 09-23-2007 06:44 PM

Hi Buchskin. I built my own from a 1” impermiable counter top. I routed out the center to three eights of on inch to recess the router for bit clearence. I was very happy with the results. Also sears sells a universal insert that you will have to drill for your particular router base for under 20$.

-- bryano

View CapnRon's profile


27 posts in 4023 days

#12 posted 09-23-2007 08:07 PM

Everyone has great advice. My suggestion is along the same as everyone else except I would suggest that you pick a prefab plate and instead of building a table top bulid a dedicated router table/stand. Since you do not have a workbench I would be of use to have a space specifically for your router.

-- ~Capn Ron, workin wood is a way of life...

View CedarFreakCarl's profile


594 posts in 4047 days

#13 posted 09-23-2007 09:54 PM

Kreg has a router table. I don’t know if it’s common knowledge or not, but it looks pretty good. I saw it yesterday at Woodfest 2007 in Columbia, SC which was held at the Woodzone here in South Carolina. I had my 2 year old with me, so my interaction with the vendors was limited, but it looked pretty nice. Something to throw out there.

-- Carl Rast, Pelion, SC

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4119 days

#14 posted 09-24-2007 05:15 PM

As many others here have done, I just got a piece of 1/8” acrylic from the scrap bin at my local plastics shop, drilled a few holes in it, and voila, instant insert. Have to pull the router from the table when I’m not using it because acrylic under load sags over time, but it works great, and if it ever does sag it’ll cost me more to drive to the plastic shop than to buy the piece to replace it. If I wasn’t being a total cheepskate when I built my table I’d have found a piece of 3/16” or 1/4” aluminum, drilled a few counter-sunk holes in it for mounting and used the jigsaw to cut the center hole.

The table itself I did from melamine coated MDF, but the insert only has to be the size of the router hole plus a little bit.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

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