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Mounting a Router to a Table - Plate? or No Plate (directly to the top)?

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Forum topic by PurpLev posted 1667 days ago 15166 views 0 times favorited 32 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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PurpLev

8476 posts in 2244 days


1667 days ago

Topic tags/keywords: question router table mounting plate install

Hi,

I’m at the point where I am about to mount my router to the router table top.

The top is 1 3/8” solid phenolic. I am currently favoring mounting the router directly to the top. this means routing a circle recess on the underside of the top to house the router and keep it ~3/8” from the top (so that the bits can reach through).

I also have a 5/8” phenolic plate which at one point I was considering making into a plate that will sit in the router table, and have the router mount to it. this involves more work as I have to cut the plate square on all sides, round the corners, recess a hole to house the router (lowering the thickness of the plate to ~3/8” at that area), then routing the table top to house the plate, and level them out. the benefit I see in this though is easier router removal from the table if needed. another thing is – I could make plates for other tools (jigsaw,etc?)

I don’t see much need to take the router out of the table as this is a dedicated router for table operations. This makes me favor the mounting directly to the table top option. but before I go through with it. I was wondering – is there a reason why I shouldn’t mount it to the table? anything I didn’t think of? any bad experience from those of you that mounted the router directly to the top?

Thanks in Advance!

P.S. I am not going to BUY a $100 router-table plate, but will do with what I’ve got. (also my 5/8” phenolic plate matches that phenolic table top)

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.


32 replies so far

View miles125's profile

miles125

2179 posts in 2601 days


#1 posted 1667 days ago

I vote directly to the top. Sometimes we can overthink things :)

-- "The way to make a small fortune in woodworking- start with a large one"

View RetiredCoastie's profile

RetiredCoastie

999 posts in 1778 days


#2 posted 1667 days ago

Depending on how heavy the intended router weighs it could cause warping of phenolic plates. I’ve been doing research on components and that seems to be an issue when comparing phenolic to aluminium when used with heavy routers.

-- www.thepatriotwoodworker.com Proud Supporter of Homes For Our Troops

View CaptainSkully's profile

CaptainSkully

1190 posts in 2154 days


#3 posted 1667 days ago

I find that being able to work on the router/plate while it’s sitting on the table is very convenient. Changing bits, setting depths, etc. is easier. Being able to mount a different router in the future would be nice. Mounting the router would be considerably easier that first time too. I had to threadlock my router’s spindle, which was easier with the plate. I would go ahead and do the plate option just so I don’t regret it in the future. It’s a bit more work, but a lot of extra flexibility. My $0.02.

-- You can't control the wind, but you can trim your sails

View Cory's profile

Cory

721 posts in 2015 days


#4 posted 1667 days ago

I have used my table mounted router in a hand-held operation just using the plate as the base. I’ve also pulled it out when a bit was stuck in the collet (because I over tightened), when I wanted to lube up the height adjustment rod, when I needed to blow out the housing with compressed air, etc.

Basically, all that could have been done while it was mounted to the table, but it would have been much harder to do. I vote for you to spend the extra time and make a router plate. It’s easy for me to say, though, cause it isn’t my time!

Good luck. Can’t wait to see the final result.

-- The secret to getting ahead is getting started.

View cheller's profile

cheller

254 posts in 2704 days


#5 posted 1667 days ago

Here’s another thought. If you mount the router to the table the hole for the bit will need to be large enough to accomodate the largest diameter bit you’ll use, or think you’ll use. Mounting it to a plate means that it would be easier to have multiple plates to accomodate multiple bit diameters. It’s a lot easier to store extra plates than extra table tops, and you’d be able to work safer with smaller opening (the equivalent of zero clearance inserts in a table saw) around the bit.

-- Chelle http://artsgranddaughter.blogspot.com

View Beginningwoodworker's profile

Beginningwoodworker

13337 posts in 2268 days


#6 posted 1667 days ago

I just have my router base screw to the router top, and works great for me.

-- CJIII Future cabinetmaker

View TheDane's profile

TheDane

3646 posts in 2258 days


#7 posted 1667 days ago

My first router table had the router base mounted to the underside of the table. Bit changes were no fun, setting bit height required a good deal of fussing and fiddling, and if the bit was properly installed, I gave up a good deal of cutting height (I don’t trust bit extenders).

Next, I went with a plexilglass plate routed into the table top which solved the the cutting height problem, but bit changes and setting cutting height still required more tinkering than I like to do. I never noticed any flex in the plexiglass plate.

I finally dedicated a router to the table (PC890), then popped for a Woodpecker’s Quick Lift 350A http://www.woodpeck.com/quickliftalum.html) ... I love it!

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

View Blake's profile

Blake

3434 posts in 2469 days


#8 posted 1667 days ago

Like cheller said the main thing is how big to make the hole. If you only have a 1/4” router and only use smaller (1” diameter) bits than keep it simple.

I use my router table for larger bits a lot of the time, like frame and panel sets for making cabinet doors. So having a plate with throat insert rings is a must. You want to have the least amount of clearance around the bit possible for safety.

The other disadvantage to mounting directly to the table depends on how easy it is to change router bits from above the table on your particular router model. I lift out my router plate and router every time I change bits.

-- Happy woodworking! http://www.openarmsphotography.com

View Karson's profile

Karson

34852 posts in 2996 days


#9 posted 1667 days ago

I like the flexibility of having different size throat plates to fit the size of the router bit. and having a hole for the largest router bit doesn’t seem safe to me for use with smaller router bits and smaller pieces of wood.

I love my mfg’ed router lift with insert able router throat plates.

My lift is a Jessem that is about 8 years old and the newer ones are even nicer. with lots of features. I mounted a digital readout on mine to assisting in getting everything tweaked.

I bought a quicklift like TheDane posted about and it’s still in the box. I plan to make a dedicated router table someday. Mine is now on the tablesaw extension and sometimes it’s a hastle having to move the fence to use the router.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware karson_morrison@bigfoot.com †

View PurpLev's profile

PurpLev

8476 posts in 2244 days


#10 posted 1667 days ago

Thanks for the comments. I should have been a bit more clear:

regardless of whether I use a plate or not I WILL have a zero clearane INSERT setup. the through hole (plate, or top) will be 3” (opening in my router base), there WILL be inserts that will fit into the 3” hole (3 1/8” notch to take the insert).

bit change, and bit height are both contolled via the router which as a built in lift. not concerned about that. bit ‘reach’ above the table will be handled whether I use plate or not, and will have full extension over the table.

a good point was from Cory about blowing the housing and lubing the rods… didn’t think about that. can be done while router is installed, but def. easier when removed from table with a plate.

sagging is also an issue, as the plate (if chosen that route) will be 5/8” phenolic. I know the 3/8” phenolic have a tendency of sagging under heavy motors – which this one may be one. that’s also why I originally got the 5/8” material for extra strength…

still debating. :)

Thanks for all the comments- keep em coming. the more comments, and the more I think about it, the more sense it all makes.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View EEngineer's profile

EEngineer

885 posts in 2209 days


#11 posted 1667 days ago

Well, if you are not gonna spend $100 on a router plate then you are certainly not gonna spend what it takes for my suggestion: the Woodpecker QuikLift. I love mine! It is simply the single most useful addition to my router table. Bit height adjustment is smooth and accurate to .001” and one quick 90 degree twist of the lift handle brings the router up to the top for effortless above-the-table bit changes.

Even if you don’t want a Quiklift, there are good reasons to choose their router plate (BTW, all this applies to the Quiklift, too). As cheller mentioned, the table opening must accomodate the biggest router bit you intend to use. Woodpecker plates come with different inserts that are well-machined and easy to change. One of the standard 3 that ship with these units takes standard 1 3/16” PC inserts. A cheap ($12.99) set of brass inserts from HF allows openings from 7/8” to 1/8”. I think it is safer with an opening tighter to the router bit diameter; I’ve had some nasty moments when splinters or cutoffs fall into the opening around the bit and get chewed up.

The other thing I like is the ruler lines on either side of the router opening. These are indexed to the exact center of the router bit (at least on my Quiklift they are) and I use them constantly to setup the fence position accurately. My fence is just mounted to a coupla T-tracks dadoed into the router table and the rulers allow me to set the fence accurately every time.

Just my .02…

-- "Find out what you cannot do and then go do it!"

View EEngineer's profile

EEngineer

885 posts in 2209 days


#12 posted 1667 days ago

Sorry… posting at the same time you were :)

Still some good points.

-- "Find out what you cannot do and then go do it!"

View John Gray's profile

John Gray

2369 posts in 2481 days


#13 posted 1667 days ago

I use aluminum plates on my table and have one of the plates in the link below for each of my routers, I love ‘um…no sag!. They are a bargain and Rockler has free shipping until 1/3/2010.
http://www.rockler.com/product.cfm?page=1385&filter=router%20plate

-- Only the Shadow knows....................

View dbhost's profile

dbhost

5377 posts in 1827 days


#14 posted 1667 days ago

A plate makes it easier to pull the router if need be…

-- My workshop blog can be found at http://daves-workshop.blogspot.com

View bobkberg's profile

bobkberg

350 posts in 1668 days


#15 posted 1666 days ago

I’d vote for the plate myself – Both for the changing of bits and such, and because I only have one router.

And if that wasn’t enough, I also use the cutout in the table (it’s my radial-arm saw table) for my sewing machine.

-- Bob www.singularengineering.com - A sideline, not how I earn a living

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