Routers and Router Tables..... help!

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Forum topic by gramoo527 posted 06-29-2010 08:28 PM 1610 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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5 posts in 2885 days

06-29-2010 08:28 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question router tip resource

I am looking to buy a router as well as a router table. It needs to be able to handle hardwoods etc, and I would like the most options as far as bit size. I do not want one that is a benchtop, and prefer stable, strong legs. I will be using it to cove and bead wood strips for a canoe to start, and will also use it for picture frames and heavy furniture work: tables, benches, bed, etc.

I am a novice wood worker, but am willing to spend $200-350 or so. I don’t want a cheap table or router that limits my options further down the road when I have more experience… but I wouldn’t mind a good deal on a good one either!

I have looked at the basics on HomeDepot, and am just looking for some input from yall. Any info would be great! – Thanks!

-- Grace, Texas

14 replies so far

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3071 days

#1 posted 06-29-2010 09:01 PM

My first advice is to build your own router table. It’s not very hard to do. In my opinion, the commercially available router tables are either junk or over priced. There is lots of advice available on making your own router table.

Regarding the router, I need to ask a key question. Will this router be dedicated to use in a router table or will you want to use it as a hand held router as well? For dedicated work on a router table, all you need is a good medium duty, fixed base router. A Porter-Cable 890 would be ideal.

As an FYI – I would recommend having a dedicated router for your router table. If you also need a handheld router, buy another one. It’s a hassle to mount and unmount a router on the table.

Most people prefer a plunge router for hand held use. I know I do.

Routers tend to fall into 3 categories: light weight trim routers, medium duty routers and heavy duty routers. Medium duty routers usually have about 1.5 – 2 hp. Heavy duty routers usually have 3+ hp. In my opinion, medium duty routers are all you need if you are a hobbyist.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Ingjr's profile


144 posts in 3013 days

#2 posted 06-29-2010 10:34 PM

X 2 to what richgreer said. Buy the router and then build your on table. Good practice.

-- The older I get the faster I was.

View charlie48's profile


248 posts in 3166 days

#3 posted 06-29-2010 10:47 PM

Grace, I agree with Rich on the table and router. You can build your own, and it’s a great learning experience,so you will be less of a novice because of it.
I will in the next day or so post a project of a simple router table I finished a week ago for my neighbors son, I think you would be able to build something similar by looking at the pics,and asking questions in the post.
Good luck

-- Charlie............Only time will tell if it was time well spent.

View Greedo's profile


473 posts in 2957 days

#4 posted 06-29-2010 10:56 PM

a router table is not the kind of project i would have tackled as a novice, and it seems you don’t have a router yet.
so i would suggest to get a good router and get used to working with it, finding out while making projects what your future router table would be used for. and how it will affect your design.
im into woodworking for almost 2 years and i think i will wait a few more months before starting my router table, just because i don’t want to botch it by rushing, like i did with most of my novice projects!

View spclPatrolGroup's profile


233 posts in 2891 days

#5 posted 06-29-2010 11:22 PM

My advice on a router, for what its worth. I stay away from the combo fixed base\ plunge kits. The reason why is, for a plunge router, I want the power button on the handles, so I dont have to take one hand off the router to turn it on\off like you do on the combo kits. I think its much safer for beginners to have the power on the handles and never let go. I am sure others will argue otherwise, its all a matter of personal preferance. Besides a fixed base only will be cheaper starting out, and chances are you wont need a plunge routher until you get into more complex projects, then you can add a plunge router, and a small laminate trimmer\router, and all kinds of good stuff.

I have a fixed base 892 that never leaves my router table, and a Dewalt plunge router , and a bosch handheld, I like the bosch and the Porter Cable, but I am not crazy about the DeWalt and the lack of accessories for it. For size, make sure your router comes with or accepts both 1/4” and 1/2” collets, other features that you will want to look for are, soft start, variable speeds for larger bits, micro height adjustments, and the ability to micro adjust from above the router table.

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 3266 days

#6 posted 06-30-2010 12:02 AM

First of all, you are not going to find a router table that is new for the budget you quote. An average price for the no frills models are about 150 or so for the legs, 250 or so for the table top, 150+ for a fence, and variable prices for whether you want a lift or a plate or such for mounting the router.

As for building a table. The top is the most difficult for the less experienced wood worker….it needs to be good and flat so that the router cuts straight and level. I usually recommend that a newer woodworker purchase a top and then make a table or cabinet around the top. The next item to research is the fence. The fence is very important…as it is on every tool that uses one (Table Saw, Band Saw, Router Table…etc..). I recommend you get one of the better fences as you will not regret this later down the road. Incra makes an excellent fence from a low priced – no frills to their top of the line jig fence. I have the LS system on mine and love it….but it may be overkill for some. There is also woodpeckers, rockler…and several others that make decent fences….when I was looking for one…I watched the you tubes….read the reviews….tried a few of them at the wood shows….it helped alot to get the hands on experience for sure.

Best thing to do is research….read up on each table and each fence…..see what they can do…and what they can’t….and asking questions on here is an excellent source of good info.

As for routers….I have several. My favorite and the overall best is my Festool 1400….it is expensive but one of the best I have used. I also have a Dewalt, Bosch, Makita, Milwaukee and Hitachi…all of them work very good…They are set up for various purposes and get used that way. The Milwaukee is the 3hp model and stays in the table. My Bosh is a fixed base…I use it alot for templates as it is light and easy to manuever – I also have the colt that I use for small intricate work (I have a rotary tool on a router base that I also use – mostly for inlays and small parts). The Makita is set up for edges…and has one of the better edge guides I’ve seen….My Dewalt is a plunge and so is the Hitachi…the Dewalt is the heavier and I use it for routing bowls and platters and deeper mortise. Over all though I use the Festool for the majority of my plunge work…it simply has better balance, and adjustments then the others…and the dust collection is superb.

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 2919 days

#7 posted 06-30-2010 01:08 AM

Grace: Something to think about. My router setup is as follows. I bought a damaged bath vanity from Lowes for 50 bucks took it home and put two screws in it and it’s my base cabinet. I mounted it on casters so I can move it wherever.
Next(some will disagree with me on this) I build my own tops out of melamine. I’ve never had a problem with it.
I’ve built 5 tops out of it,not because of failure,but because I kept changing the design. I have a rouseau lift and a makita 1100 router mounted on it along with an Incra LS system. I used a piano hinge to mount the top to the vanity so I can access it easily.
Works for me and I use it almost daily. And one thing about it,if you don’t like the setup it’s easy and cheap to replace.

-- Life is good.

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4121 days

#8 posted 06-30-2010 01:14 AM

Count me in the “build your table” camp. Flat piece of melamine coated MDF for the top, use the router to take off some of that on the bottom side to put in some good cross bracing, and you’re there. The fence can be similarly home built, my fence clamps are just “L”s over the edge of the table, with some T-nuts and wood handles with embedded bolts. You could hold the fence in place with a couple of C-clamps, for starters. Unlike a saw fence, a router fence doesn’t have to be square to the bit (a fact you can use to your advantage, because adjusting one end gives you ½ the adjustment in the middle), so it really can be a heck of a lot simpler.

I’ve got the big ol’ Porter Cable 7518 (in the Jessem lift), but really anything that’d cause it to bog down also usually means I’m trying to take off too much in a pass and am risking major tear-out, so, yeah, one of the 2¼ HP routers is totally reasonable (and those you might actually want to use hand-held as well). Worst that happens is you take an extra pass or two, which is probably smart and will save you the fear of splintering. Might try looking for one of the ones with the “integrated lift”, like the Bosch 1617EVS, Freud FT1700VCEK, Milwaukee 5625-20 or the Triton (if that’s still available?) (that list grabbed from the Fine Woodworking list of fixed base routers, except for the Triton which is from memory).

Some variable speed is good, you want to run those big bits slower.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View gramoo527's profile


5 posts in 2885 days

#9 posted 06-30-2010 03:25 AM

Thanks for all of the replies.. I am pretty much a novice, but have used a friend’s table router for an earlier project. I will have to look more into buying a router table top and building the support under it myself versus building the whole thing. I just started researching all this, and joined LumberJocks today, so I figured I could also get some good info from yall! A fixed router is definetly what I want to start with, and we will see where it goes from there with my evolving project list and subsequent power tool needs. I will do some more research on this, as well as cost research. Around a 2 hp with variable speed sounds like a middle of the road option, that would be appropriate for what I am looking to get out of it.

-- Grace, Texas

View iamwelty's profile


259 posts in 3112 days

#10 posted 06-30-2010 04:27 AM

+1 on building your own table… quite easy to do… several web sites with desing ideas and suggestions. As for the router… I’d look into a Triton. Features above table crank for height adjustment, Autolocks for easy bit changes. You won’t have to spend extra for a router lift. I would look at the Incra Router plate which features the magnet lock inserts… you’ll really like it!!

-- There is a fine line between eroticism and nausea...

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3071 days

#11 posted 06-30-2010 04:40 AM

Regarding variable speed – - You need it if, and only if, you are going to use some big router bits with a diameter over 2”. Those are usually bits used for making panels for doors.

Most of us don’t use bits that big and most of us do not need variable speed. OTOH – variable speed usually does not cost much more. However, if I could save $20 by getting a non-variable speed router, I would.

I own 4 routers. 3 of the 4 have variable speed. I have never run my variable speed routers at anything other than the highest speed.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Pete_Jud's profile


424 posts in 3749 days

#12 posted 06-30-2010 04:58 AM

Once you start using routers, you can never go back to a number of tools. Stay away from Craftsman, and some of the cheaper brands. I started with a Craftsman 30 years ago, and found that the only way to get any accs, was to go to Sears and order them. I only have PC routers now, I can go to many places and buy third party bushings, Table plates, etc, all to fit the PC’s. As for the table, A simple build is easy, and will fit in your budget. 100-150 for a new PC 690 router, 40 bucks for the plate, 15-20 bucks for a good 1/2 inch bit, and a couple of clamps and a straight lpiece of scrap wood for the fence will get you started. 3/4 mdf works for a starter top and scraps for the base. There are a lot of plans on the internet, or search here for router tables, and design your own. Also Craigslist, can be a good place to go to pick up a almost used router. I picked up the PC 3 1/4 speedmatic plunge for 50 bucks, that had only been used for one small job. But I had to drive 100 miles round trip to get it. It’s all time and money, and how much you think your time is worth.

-- Life is to short to own an ugly boat.

View Greedo's profile


473 posts in 2957 days

#13 posted 06-30-2010 07:19 AM

the variable speed is mostly there if you would want to rout in plastics or metal using appropriate bits, there the speed must be reduced to avoid overheating.
but even in wood my router manuals says to reduce the speed one or two clicks when working with panelwood, ex mdf, plywood, particleboards,... this avoids burning your bits and workpiece.

View Routerisstillmyname's profile


763 posts in 3505 days

#14 posted 06-30-2010 07:42 AM

Router Dewalt DW625, the most balanced router in existence.
Router table. build your own. all commercial tables have design flaws.

-- Router รจ ancora il mio nome.

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