LumberJocks

Routing table

  • Advertise with us

« back to Power Tools, Hardware and Accessories forum

Forum topic by jonlan posted 02-06-2016 04:38 PM 1800 views 3 times favorited 39 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View jonlan's profile

jonlan

35 posts in 353 days


02-06-2016 04:38 PM

Hi All – I had a question about router tables. Im at the point in my wood working where I’d like to start building cabinet doors. Seems like the most popular means to do that is using a cabinet door router set like this…

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KZM0NVE/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_S_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=26UD6TMKHC8XB&coliid=I9N9KZLRW0S4G

So while I have a router, I do not yet have a router table. This isnt the first instance where having a table would be handy, but I’ve been getting by without it up until now.

So heres my question. I dont have a dedicated shop and tons of space (yet). So while a bench top table might make sense, from what I’ve read they arent super useful for more complex or longer cuts. Im trying hard to buy tools that I wont need to upgrade later when I get a dedicated shop. So if a larger router table makes sense, I’d make the room for it so I didnt need to upgrade from a bench top later.

Couple of question – Do they make any larger router tables the collapse so they can be stored? I saw Festool makes one but thats out of my price range.

If we are talking stationary, what do you guys recommend? Im not completely against building my own, but Im not sure if my skillset is there yet.

Thanks!


39 replies so far

View conifur's profile

conifur

955 posts in 618 days


#1 posted 02-06-2016 04:47 PM

At the moment I have mine mounted under neath a Wolf Craft work mate, top tilts, legs fold. I made a fence for it.

-- Knowledge and experience equals Wisdom, Michael Frankowski

View conifur's profile

conifur

955 posts in 618 days


#2 posted 02-06-2016 04:50 PM

View WoodNSawdust's profile

WoodNSawdust

1417 posts in 642 days


#3 posted 02-06-2016 05:12 PM

All of mine are cabinets on castors but I don’t see any reason why you could not build a top and clamp it to saw horses / work mate for the legs.

Here are a couple of things to consider:
  • are you planning on using a router lift, a through the top hole to adjust the router bit height, or the squat down and adjust from under method?
  • a thick top (mine is 3 pieces of 3/4 MDF glued and screwed together) will prevent the weight of the router from causing the top to sag.
  • without a router plate a thick top will limit the height of the bit.
  • if you are thinking of adding something like the Incra fence system in the future then the router needs to be offset in the table.
  • if you have a table saw then the router top could replace on of the wings in the saw and you could use your table saw fence as a router fence.

Good luck

P.S. If I could find exactly what I want it would be a cast iron top with T-slots and miter tracks located where I needed them. Oh well it will not happen

-- "I love it when a plan comes together" John "Hannibal" Smith

View jerryminer's profile

jerryminer

528 posts in 907 days


#4 posted 02-06-2016 10:01 PM

My first “router table” was a scrap of birch plywood with a recess and a hole cut out for the router. I would clamp it to any nearby stable surface (cabinet, workbench, table…) and use a straight piece of 2×4 for a fence. Used it for many years (still have it in the back of my truck—-”in case of emergency”)

View sikrap's profile

sikrap

1121 posts in 2825 days


#5 posted 02-06-2016 10:17 PM

If your saw is a cabin et saw, I’d suggest turning the side table into a router table.

-- Dave, Colonie, NY

View joey502's profile

joey502

487 posts in 984 days


#6 posted 02-07-2016 07:38 AM

I will probably get bashed for this but i suggest you buy a quality top and lift. I have the jessem phenolic pvc coated top and a jessem lift. They are not cheap but i could not be more satisfied.

I bought the set not long after i started out. I did not feel i had the skills to build something that would allow me to achieve the accuracy i was looking for. I did build a cabinet to mount the top.

I think buying a top enables you to accurately make parts now. Perfect your skills milling flat and square boards. Cut accurate door joinery with a matching cabinet bit set. The ability to build useful, accurate tools and jigs will come with time.

You have already answered the question most often asked, what tool do i need next? My opinion would be to get something that fills current AND future needs. The bench top models dont really meet current or future project needs.

Site Lead
NE

Day
Sunday
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Saturday
Sunday
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Saturday
Sunday
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Saturday

Monday
Store
3157
3157

s.

View daddywoofdawg's profile

daddywoofdawg

1010 posts in 1041 days


#7 posted 02-07-2016 09:35 AM

View DrTebi's profile

DrTebi

256 posts in 2733 days


#8 posted 02-07-2016 11:32 AM

I agree with Joe. Better spend money once on a great tool than twice on a crappy one and a good one later. I made that mistake… well, sort of (got a good router, not so good router table). Anyway, I have a Jessem Mast-R-Lift Exell now, and it’s really great, I doubt I will need another router table again. Being able to adjust the bit height easily is really a huge help, and doing it from the side like on my Jessem is perfect, because I often use jigs, featherboards, hold-downs etc. on the table, and would not have liked a lift that adjusts through the router plate.

However, if you cannot spend much money now, at least I would make sure to get a powerful router. You were posting a link to a router bit with a 3 1/4” inch diameter… that’s quite a big cut for a router. Even for 2 1/2” horse power it might be tough.

View jonlan's profile

jonlan

35 posts in 353 days


#9 posted 02-07-2016 02:49 PM

Hi guys, thanks for the replies. Im on board with buying a more expensive set than buying a cheaper less functional one to start with. I hate buying a tool only to find out that I should have spent a little more to get one that would last me a long time.

I dont know much about Jessem, but from a quick look it looks like they are rather well known for their lifts and table tops. Do they sell fence systems too? I spent some time last night reading about Incra. I’ve always heard good things about Incra and quality.

I see that they sell router table combo packs and the #3 looks pretty appealing (and expensive)...

http://www.incrementaltools.com/Router_Fence_and_Table_Combo_3_p/rtcombo-3.htm

Their fence system that can be shimmed is appealing to me since that could possibly replace the need for a jointer as well. It definitely seems like overkill for what I need now, but Im wondering if I should be looking in this direction. Even if I didnt get the combo to start with (although its a much better deal) I could easily build up to that combo system over time. Anyone have experience with Incra router tables and accessories?

As far as routers go, I love my Bosch 1617, but had planned on buying a unit with more HP for the table so I could use those larger bits.

View joey502's profile

joey502

487 posts in 984 days


#10 posted 02-07-2016 09:12 PM

Jessem does sell fences but I have not used any of them. I have a simple fence that is made by Bench Dog, http://www.benchdog.com/profence I like the fence I have but the Incra fence linked above has far more features and uses than mine.

The Incra products are very high quality, I can not recall ever reading a bad word about them. If the Incra and Jessem products are within your price range then you will not be disappointed with either.

The combo above does not have a lift included. The ability to move the router from above the table is a very nice feature to have but by no means is a requirement. I think the Bosch models either come with or have an optional base that gives you above table adjustments without an aftermarket lift. That may be something you want to consider before you buy anything.

View DrTebi's profile

DrTebi

256 posts in 2733 days


#11 posted 02-08-2016 12:30 AM

As I already mentioned, I have the Jessem Mast-R-Lift Exell, and am very happy with it. I mounted it to my Kreg router table stand… I did not like the Kreg router table fence at all (it wasn’t even square), and wanted an easy way to adjust the bit height.

The Incra combo you linked to looks nice, and I believe it’s of good quality. Personally however, I find the ability to adjust the router bit from above, or better yet from the side like the Jessem Mast-R-Lift, much more important than a fence like the Incra one.

You can easily build your own fence. Design it with all the features that you want.

Below a picture of my fence, which may give you some inspiration:

It’s a bit overkill… but it works really well. What you see in this first picture is the base of the fence (mounted to my previous Kreg table), actually without the fence. To use it, you first put it roughly where you need it, and lock it down with the side clamps. Then you mount a fence to the linear positioner, and dial in the exact position. Linear positioners often show up for little money on eBay, or can be made with wood and an ACME screw.

In the pic above you see the new Jessem table and my big oak fence mounted. It has a slot on the top to mount featherboards, or stops, which is essential when routing mortises. It has a 2 1/4” opening for the router bit, and the top hole fits a vacuum hose. I can also replace the oak fence with a taller fence, any fence can be mounted to the aluminum angle of the linear positioner.

In this last pic you see what I added later—a dial indicator that snaps onto the top of the fence with magnets. This allows me to dial in the exact height of the bit before routing.

It’s a bit overkill for a fence… and it does have a couple of limitations. But it was quite cheap to make, and gives me the ability to dial in very exact distance and height to the router bit, which I find most essential when routing.

What it also does is, it moves the fence parallel with the linear positioner. This makes setup so much easier. I hated to always unscrew two screws and messing with the fence adjustment of the Kreg fence. Without trying to sound snobbish, I think a linear positioner was a great idea for a router fence ☺

Kreg actually came out with a very similar design (after I built mine!), but with a digitally adjustable fence that is automated:
http://www.leevalley.com/US/wood/page.aspx?cat=1,43000&p=72521

That one is even more overkill!

View conifur's profile

conifur

955 posts in 618 days


#12 posted 02-08-2016 12:46 AM

I went this route, just have not made the cabinet yet’, just the top not the stand and will make a mod of this cabinet, minus the top and fence.
http://www.mlcswoodworking.com/shopsite_sc/store/html/smarthtml/pages/tabletop.html
http://www.crestonwood.com/plans.php

-- Knowledge and experience equals Wisdom, Michael Frankowski

View JBrow's profile

JBrow

819 posts in 386 days


#13 posted 02-08-2016 03:05 AM

jonlan,

Regarding router size, bigger is better. Plus variable speed adjustment is a must. Both features are needed to spin those large diameter panel raising bits at the proper speed. Also, ensure the router plate to which the router is attached will resist deflection from a heavy router and that its hole will accommodate the diameters of the panel raising bits that will be used.

Also, perhaps the 30 year evolution of my router table would be helpful:

My first router table was a Craftsman bench top router table with a small fixed based ¼” Craftsman router. I discarded the legs and dropped the table into a hole I cut into my workbench (ouch). That worked for a while in my then small workshop. When I needed the bench, I pulled the router table and replaced it with the wood cut from the workbench. Since then, I discarded the Craftsman table and restored the workbench. It was cheap, compact, and met my needs when I was starting out.

I then built a router table on casters consisting of a plywood box with drawers for router bits and accessories. Its height allowed the router table to serve as a table saw outfeed table. The router compartment had an access door. I used a ½” thick aluminum router plate (no lift) that set in a hole cut into the top to fit the router plate which had leveling screws. The router table was hinged like a car hood, so I could access the router by lifting the top – for adjusting height and installing bits. I added T-Tacks to the top for hold downs and a mitre gauge. A tall fence was built that rode in T tracks in the top, and was equipped with a dust port and T-Track for vertical hold downs. The top could be any size, but mine was 24” deep x 44” long. I outfitted the router plate with a dedicated Hitachi M12V2 3+ hp plunge router. This router table served me for a long time. I made raised panel doors with MLCS rail & stile sets along with edge profiling with this table. Except for the router and bits, this set up was fairly inexpensive.

About a year ago, I started thinking of upgrading my router table. But when I added up the cost of the upgrades and having saved enough money, I elected to replace the router table with a spindle shaper. I went with a 3 hp unit (but there are smaller ones out there) with integrated castors, and along with the cutters, bushings, and shims, I found it cost a good bit more than the router table upgrade I had considered. However, there is no comparison when it comes to capability, setup, use, and finished results. I still have the old router table but it sees more use as a table saw outfeed table than as a router table.

My conclusion is that upgrading tools over time is not all bad. Money is saved, skills and experience grow, and as interest in the craft continues, better informed upgrade decisions can be made.

View jonlan's profile

jonlan

35 posts in 353 days


#14 posted 02-08-2016 06:52 PM

Thanks guys! I appreciate all of your input. Every time I do any wood working I cant stop thinking how useful a router table would be. So while its out of my price range, Im going to save up and pursue this setup…

Router – Porter Cable 75182 motor only ($329)
Table and Combo – Incra Router and Fence combo #3 ($752)

When I price out all of the Incra components (no motor) individually the number is more around ~$1300 so the combo is a substantial savings. So since I think I’d have a use for all of the components at some point in my wood working journey, I think the combo makes more sense. The lift will come next.

As to the lift, I assume that I can use the table without the lift and just use the included bracket for the router and physically bolt it to the table. That means that all of the adjustments are done through the router holder that comes with the router. Is that correct?

As far as lifts go – Im a little confused. When I look at Incras site, it looks like they sell 2 that are compatible with the table…

The INCRA MAST-R-LIFT II and the INCRA PRL-V2 LIFT.

http://www.incrementaltools.com/INCRA_Mast_R_Lift_II_p/incra%20mast-r-lift%20ii.htm
http://www.incrementaltools.com/INCRA_PRL_V2_Porter_Cable_7518_p/incra%20prl-v2%20lift.htm

If my reading is right, one is actually made by Jessem and one if made by Woodpecker. They are priced very close and both seem to support the router. Are they the same lifts made by the two different companies? I know people mentioned the Jessem being side adjustable but it doesnt look like the one Incra is selling can. Is that an add on?

View DrTebi's profile

DrTebi

256 posts in 2733 days


#15 posted 02-09-2016 05:51 AM

Porter Cable 75182 motor—great choice for a router table. If I would do it all over again, I would get that one, too. But there is one thing I wonder about—does the motor alone attach to the table combo you chose? Because as far as I remember, you need a fixed router base, which then attaches to the router table insert. You can only buy a motor alone, if you buy a router lift, which basically provides a base for your router… so just a motor necessary then. I am not 100% sure, but you really need to check that before you buy.

So to be clear:
- A router lift provides a base for the motor, just buy a compatible router motor and mount it
- A router table without lift requires a router with a fixed base, which mounts to the router insert

Either way, without a router lift, you will have to do all the bit height adjustments from underneath the table. A bit of a chore, and not very precise.

The two router lifts you mention are not the same… look at the way the router bit is lifted. It’s a wheel on the PRL-V2, and on the Mast-R-Lift you use a winder. Both from the top. The Jessem side-winder is not available separately as far as I know.

With all honesty though, I wonder what convinces you about the Incra router table combo. The fence is great, when you really need it (do you really need it?), but otherwise I think it’s pretty standard. Have you seen this Jessem package deal:
http://www.jessemdirect.com/Mast_R_Lift_Excel_II_Router_Table_Package_p/09412.htm
I would go for that one… yes, it costs even more, but it does have the lift included. And I find that more important than the fancy fence.

The Woodpecker Jessem Incra thing is definitely confusing… I think they just helping each other out somehow, selling each others products here and there.

showing 1 through 15 of 39 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

HomeRefurbers.com