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Aluminum vs. Phenolic router table insert

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Forum topic by DRJZ1974 posted 07-13-2010 07:44 PM 3129 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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DRJZ1974

71 posts in 2380 days


07-13-2010 07:44 PM

I am looking to get a table that has an option of either. Since I need to drill the holes for my router base with a hand drill I am nervous about drilling the aluminum one. Any thoughts?


14 replies so far

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PurpLev

8523 posts in 3115 days


#1 posted 07-13-2010 07:51 PM

the aluminum would be easier to drill than the phenolic. regardless, most companies will pre-drill the insert for you based on the type/model of router you have.

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

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DRJZ1974

71 posts in 2380 days


#2 posted 07-13-2010 07:58 PM

Purplev,
I have no experience drilling aluminum, I didn’t realize it was easier to drill. This is great to know. The company I am looking to buy from is MLCS and they will not pre-drill it. At least that is what the online tech told me. He said I would need to drill it myself.

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dbhost

5607 posts in 2698 days


#3 posted 07-13-2010 08:02 PM

FWIW, I am a huge fan of MLCS, but not all their products are up to snuff. I am not sure what router you are trying to fit, but have you considered trying Rockler for an aluminum plate? Rockler’s house brand, and their Bench Dog plates (the one I own) go for $59.99 already drilled, no potential for error, the MLCS aluminum plate is $65.95. If you catch the Rockler one with a free shipping sale, it should be a no brainer…

As far as phenolic versus aluminum goes, I would stick with aluminum. The Phenolic ones are known to flex under weight.

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

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DRJZ1974

71 posts in 2380 days


#4 posted 07-13-2010 08:30 PM

dbhost
I had thought about this already, the rockler seems to use its own size 8.25×11.75”, everyone else uses 9×12”. So then the Rockler would not fit in anyone elses tables and the Rockler table saw router table is way more expensive.

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PurpLev

8523 posts in 3115 days


#5 posted 07-13-2010 08:44 PM

for being in the $70+ price range, I personally would spend a bit more (~10) and go for the Incra plates . they are machined remarkably, and the inserts are magnetically attached – toolless. works really really well.

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

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DRJZ1974

71 posts in 2380 days


#6 posted 07-13-2010 08:49 PM

The particular table I am looking at has an option of either their phenolic or their aluminum plate, so choosing another manufacturer would not be an option.

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dbhost

5607 posts in 2698 days


#7 posted 07-13-2010 08:53 PM

I just double checked the dimensions on the Rockler, Bench Dog, JessEm, and Pinnacle router plates. All of them are 8-1/4” x 11-3/4”...

Now, admittedly Rockler’s tables are quite a bit higher in price. So yeah, go with the MLCS.

If you have never drilled metal, you will need a good center punch, a hammer, and some sort of tool to center your router base to the opening in the router plate.

For starters, I need to channel Norm Abram here for a second and remind you to be sure you use your safety glasses. Metal shavings are a real eye sight stealer… Don’t risk it. A good respirator for your machining operations will help too…

Once your router base is aligned and centered on the router plate as you want it, you will mark where you want to drill the holes, then center punch EXACTLY where you want the drill to go. This will help keep the bit from walking. Drill your holes, and countersink them on the top side so that your flat head screws will sit flush.

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

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DRJZ1974

71 posts in 2380 days


#8 posted 07-13-2010 08:58 PM

dbhost, I always wear my safety glasses, had to take my brother to the ER for drilling metal shaving with-out glasses, I pretty much wear them at all times in the shop.

centering the router is another thing I am a little concerned about also.

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richgreer

4541 posts in 2541 days


#9 posted 07-13-2010 09:14 PM

dbhost – - Pinnacle is a Woodpecker that is marketed exclusively by Woodcraft. I’m quite certain that their products are identical. I say this because my Woodpecker insert measures 11.75” x 9.25”.

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

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dbhost

5607 posts in 2698 days


#10 posted 07-13-2010 09:27 PM

I don’t know if there is anything commercially available. When I had to drill my Ryobi plate I simply used a caliper to measure everything up, and center it, then used some duct tape to hold things together while I marked the plate.

You have been in a similar situation, but I had a coworker do that when I was in college.

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

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DRJZ1974

71 posts in 2380 days


#11 posted 07-13-2010 10:27 PM

Dang, I am getting tempted to buy the template for the Rockler plate and build my own table to add to my table saw. It seems easier than trying to get everything lined up and drill the aluminum plate. What would the best wood be to build the table surface be? That white laminate wood you see at home depot?

View PurpLev's profile

PurpLev

8523 posts in 3115 days


#12 posted 07-13-2010 10:31 PM

you’d want something that is ubber flat – as in a well machined and THICK MDF. most router table saws are ~1 1/8” thick MDF with laminate/phenolic surfaces.

you may have an easier time centering the router on the plate, than perfectly fitting a plate into a custom made table top – dont forget that you’ll also have to setup your custom home made table top to your table saw somehow.

either way you look at it – it’ll require some work and finessing on your end. question is – which one would you rather be dealing with, and what is your time worth?

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

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DRJZ1974

71 posts in 2380 days


#13 posted 07-13-2010 10:38 PM

Wait a sec, looks like Bench dog makes a cast iron insert for my table saw AND and a pre-drilled plate for my Bosch router! This might work! The surface between the bit and edge of table again seems small about 10”, but everyone seems to re-assure me this is plenty of room to run stock.

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DRJZ1974

71 posts in 2380 days


#14 posted 07-14-2010 01:56 AM

Just ordered the bench dog. The clincher was that it is drilled to move the fence to the other side of the bit so that I can use the table saw surface in addition to the router table surface for large items which was my original concern with the cast iron mlcs model. The Bench dog plate also comes drilled for my router base too, so don’t have to worry about centering the base and drilling the aluminum.

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