router tables?

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Forum topic by Jim K posted 11-13-2009 06:48 AM 1254 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Jim K

94 posts in 3166 days

11-13-2009 06:48 AM

Hi All

First of all. I have to confess this site is addictive i find my self looking around here at night looking at the projects asking a few questions. Learning? There are so many people here sharing knowledge.

I’ve been looking at different router tables. My question to any body out there is. If I buy a table/top with mdf. Do i have to worry about moisture warping the table? i’m in Michigan and i don’t plan to heat my workplace all the time. Only heating it when I’m working. There are really nice metal tables/tops out there. Yes another drawback is rust.

Any thoughts?


7 replies so far

View RockyTopScott's profile


1186 posts in 3507 days

#1 posted 11-13-2009 07:29 AM

I have a router table from woodpecker and love it. I would not go with metal.

-- “When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.” ― Thomas Sowell

View scrappy's profile


3507 posts in 3459 days

#2 posted 11-13-2009 09:17 AM

Made mine with a Corean Top. Works good for me.


-- Scrap Wood's the best...the projects are smaller, and so is the mess!

View CedarFreakCarl's profile


594 posts in 4083 days

#3 posted 11-13-2009 02:06 PM

My first router table came from Rockler and was constructed with a MDF core covered both sides with laminate. As long as it’s covered and sealed, you probably won’t have a problem. I mounted it on an old small table base with was freed which is also nice. If the core gets wet, it won’t warp, but will swell up which is just as bad which is why they are sealed with laminate. I made a new table from MDF and covered it with laminate and wrapped the edges with 3/4” red oak. No problems. I’ve still got the old table and it has been very reliable. Also, if you’re going to purchase a router to go in it, I would recommend the Triton 2 1/4 hp which comes with a crank so you can adjust it from the top without having to get a lift kit. Just my $0.02. There are plenty of other alternatives and there’s plenty of advice here on Lumbjocks.

-- Carl Rast, Pelion, SC

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Jim K

94 posts in 3166 days

#4 posted 11-13-2009 03:20 PM


I still want a metal top. Mlcs has 2 very nice ones that are cadilac in size and features. I think I’ll try one from the router depot or there is a nice one from wolfcraft too. The wolfcraft has a full size small Table with self on the bottom and has guides for dovetails and box joints. I think that will be a nice start in wood working. Making a few small boxes first. I want to work my way up to making new book selves in my living room. Every time i look at those cheap chipboard ones i have now. I sit in front of them and watch the shelf sag more and more.

Most bookcases are like everything else in life. the cheap is not good and the good is not cheap. So i want to make it my way!

View Tennwood's profile


112 posts in 3210 days

#5 posted 11-13-2009 03:33 PM

When I researched table tops, I found that more than half of them were MDF laminate, including many of the high end ones. Many people also make theirs using the MDF laminate. As this seems to be the dominate medium, I can’t imagine there should be much of a problem as long as you keep it dry, especially around the plate insert and miter track which are the most vulnerable areas. I got the Rockler top, probably the same one as Carl, and have not had any issues. I would recommend a metal insert plate though. Some of the phenolic plates can deflect, especially with larger routers. I have a heavy Freud router hanging from my metal plate and do not have any deflection.

-- Jim, SE Tennessee, "Don't spare the kindling Dear, we have plenty"

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2718 posts in 3315 days

#6 posted 11-13-2009 04:35 PM

MDF is “OK” for a router top. I don’t think moisture would be much of a problem unless you soaked it, which is not likely on a router table. I believe then you would have more serious issues. LOL
The reason there are so many MDF router tops is because it’s cheaper. If that’s what your budget allows, go for it. It might not hold up as well long term, but it’s not like it will fall apart next year either. I would prefer Phenolic or cast iron, but they get expensive. I built mine from solid maple glued up like butcher block. It works great—very heavy, which is a plus. I covered it with plastic laminate. Of course this is not cheap. I happened to have the maple and laminate already, so it wasn’t a big deal for me. The fence killed me though.


View TheDane's profile


5448 posts in 3692 days

#7 posted 11-13-2009 05:31 PM

I had a metal router table … climate here in Wisconsin is petty much the same as lower Michigan, and my shop is insulated but not heated. Any scratch, ding, or exposed metal edge would rust during colder months and during times of higher humidity. And the vibration and noise were ear-splitting.

I donated it to Habitat for Humanity, and bought a used BenchDog (benchtop design) off Craigslist. I outfitted it with a router lift from WoodPeckers, and am really happy with it. It is made of a composite material but is rugged and with the aluminum tracks and fence there is no rust to mess with.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

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