router table materials

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Forum topic by spike posted 12-11-2007 06:20 PM 11994 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View spike's profile


66 posts in 4101 days

12-11-2007 06:20 PM

With a new Bosch 1617 router combo, i am upgrading my router workstation. I am planning to build a new router table and have some questions about materials used for the table top.
would two peices of 3/4” MDF with a laminate top be recommended? also, i am having a hard time finding any laminate in my local home depot and lowe’s stores. is there anything in those stores that i could use for the top? would a peice of hardboard work??
any help would be great.
also, i was thinking of making it two feet by 40 inches long. is there a recommended size?

8 replies so far

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 4046 days

#1 posted 12-11-2007 07:13 PM


I just finished building my router table and just one month ago I was asking the same questions as you.

By the way, I have your same router combo and I like it a lot for hand held/table use.

As far as a recommended size, it really depends on how you will use your router table and what kind of fence system you will have. That size (24”x44”) tends to be the “offset” style table for use with Incra router table fences… is that what your intent is?

If you look online at commercially made router tables the best ones are made from two pieces of 3/4” MDF and laminate top/bottom. But they are pretty expensive (I think about $250 for that size). I was on the fence as to whether to try to make mine or buy one. The greatest concern is that the table is perfectly flat and stable. I was also having a hard time finding the right materials at the big box stores. They said they could order stuff for me but I would have to order way more than I needed, etc.

I found a cabinet shop near by and the guy said he could laminate a table for me cheap and he even had a scrap of laminate that was just the right size that he wouldn’t charge me much for. He made the same thing as the commercially made tables for $80 bucks but I even got to specify my custom dimensions. Since my fence was actually 32” wide I made my table a little bigger. I didn’t want the fence hanging over the edges.

The only catch to doing it myself is that I had to put in my own router plate opening, miter slot, etc. These precision operations took time to set up but I saved a few hundred $$.

A router table can be as simple as a piece of plywood with a small hole clamped to your bench, or it can be an elaborate piece of cabinetry, or anywhere in between. So the materials for your top will depend on your overall use and design.

I blogged the whole process when I built my table and I think it will answer a lot of questions for you. Check it out:

My New Router Table

There are many other fellow LumberJocks who have built great router tables as well. Search for blogs and projects tagged with “router table” and look at theres too.

-- Happy woodworking!

View gerrym526's profile


274 posts in 3980 days

#2 posted 12-24-2007 11:14 PM

Hope this post is still timely to your plans-I just joined the lumberjocks but thought respond even though you posted 2 weeks ago.
I built my router table from a piece of 3/4 MDF and banded it with poplar around the edges-nothing fancy. Found that by putting a coat or two of paste wax on the MDF made it more than adequate to slide material across-no need to laminate. As far as fences, I have two made from plywood and MDF. Think of an L-shaped fence that spans the table, with right angle (triangle) supports to stiffen the fence from the back. I just fasten the fence I need to the table with c-clamps and it’s ready to go. The reason for the two fences-different sized openings depending on whether I’m using small or large diameter bits.
Hope this helps.

-- Gerry

View Catspaw's profile


236 posts in 3987 days

#3 posted 12-25-2007 04:05 PM

Thinking timely also…..Melamine is a nice durable surface that is slicker’n deer guts on a door knob. Chances are you’d never need to wax it. And you don’t have to buy material then have it laminated or have any one make up a laminate top.

OR I see alot of laminated tops premade in the clearance area (and as stock items). Sometimes they’re already cut out but sometimes not. You could cut off the backsplash, but, it would somewhat shorten your depth unless banded.

I don’t remember that Lowes carries it or HDepot. We have Menard’s here and they do carry the double sided melamine. something like $30 or so for the sheet. If I remember correctly they’re usually 49” x 97” also.

-- arborial reconfiguration specialist

View Joey's profile


276 posts in 3987 days

#4 posted 12-28-2007 12:58 AM

i built mine as a cabinet, the center has a door on it that seals the router in it’s own compartment with a dust vac port on the back. there are 2 drawers on either side that hold router bits and 2 large drawers underneath. i ordered my top from rockler. i think i paid around $160 which included a fence. I put casters under it so that it is mobile in my small shop. It looks somewhat like the one Norm Abram built. I didn’t follow any plans, except my own. I just built it to what i thought i needed it to do. Not too big. The right heigth for me, and plenty of storage. for router stuff.

-- Joey, Magee, Ms

View motthunter's profile


2141 posts in 3971 days

#5 posted 01-01-2008 02:23 PM

I have a commercially available ready made tops from bench dog but recently built a custom top with a friend. I still prefer my store bought one, but it is not hard to make a home built one.

The most important thing is to not go crazy with the design. Keep the table top a reasonable size so that the fence does not have to be an engineering nightmare. As for cutting the hole for the insert, use the actual insert to make a jig to cut the top. Save the jig so that a friend can make his own top another day. some contact cement, a roller, and a laminate trimmer makes applying the top easy and since you are doing it yourself, you can even pick a cool material to make your table unique.

For me the final consideration is the limited time I have in the shop. My time has value and if I can spend a few bucks to get ready made so that I can spend my real time making things of beauty, I prefer to spend a few bucks.

-- making sawdust....

View CoolDavion's profile


436 posts in 3996 days

#6 posted 01-06-2008 04:14 AM


Thanks for the info, I had actually asked about using Melamine in another post.

I went to Hartville tool and bought some T-Track todayso the plane is this week when I’m off for a couple of days is to build a Router Table.

-- Do or do not, there is no try!

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4271 days

#7 posted 01-06-2008 04:41 AM

Every Lowe’s and Home Depot that I have seen between Montana and Ohio carries laminate but melamine does seem to be a hit-and-miss.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View USCJeff's profile


1064 posts in 4240 days

#8 posted 01-06-2008 05:08 AM

I’ve ran into a minor drawback with MDF for a router table material. My table is Tablesaw mounted and I added a small face vice to the 1.5” MDF wing. MDF is not at all meant to hold screws well. I’m having to dedicate the vice to light duty operations. Stays flat though. I’d use it again. Mine has melamine as the surface.

-- Jeff, South Carolina

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