To build a router table or to buy one?

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Forum topic by Chris_T posted 01-28-2011 11:47 PM 6399 views 0 times favorited 33 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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94 posts in 2993 days

01-28-2011 11:47 PM

I was looking at buying a Bench Dog contractor router table. I think it would be way cheaper to just build one, maybe a small cabinet like one. Would you buy or build one and why? If I build one does it need a lift, what does a lift do, what is the advantage? Is it better to build or buy a fence?

33 replies so far

View Dan's profile


3630 posts in 3080 days

#1 posted 01-29-2011 12:04 AM

I would build one. There are many many different plans available for building router tables, from super basic to really fancy. You also get the joy of building it.

Buying one would be quicker and easier but I think you will find most people build their own.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View live4ever's profile


983 posts in 3210 days

#2 posted 01-29-2011 12:21 AM

Like Charlie said, the advantage of building one yourself is designing it EXACTLY how you want it to be and filling your own personal needs. If you find yourself simply copying a commercially available design, it probably won’t be worth your time because you won’t save much cash. But when you build it yourself, you might be able to incorporate many different ideas into one table/cabinet.

-- Optimists are usually disappointed. Pessimists are either right or pleasantly surprised. I tend to be a disappointed pessimist.

View SteveW's profile


396 posts in 3058 days

#3 posted 01-29-2011 12:21 AM

Build your own, build your skills, build your confidence…

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! SteveW

View Brian024's profile


358 posts in 3599 days

#4 posted 01-29-2011 12:34 AM

Build it.

View surfin2's profile


51276 posts in 3335 days

#5 posted 01-29-2011 12:51 AM

Build your own, then you’ll have what you want, the way yo want, not what they’ll give you…

-- Rick

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3274 days

#6 posted 01-29-2011 01:04 AM

In general, I advocate building versus buying most of the time. On this issue it is a closer call. There are some fence systems that are much better than anything I can make (Incra or Freud). I also think the table tops available are better than anything I can make. What I insist on making is the stand/cabinet that the table top sets on.

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

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3847 days

#7 posted 01-29-2011 01:12 AM

I’ve built a few and owned a few. Each had its strong points.

I built my own fences always. I’ve seen some commercial ones that
were pretty cool, but none offered features I couldn’t replicate
with a little ingenuity.

I’ve never felt enough need for a lift to go to the trouble of buying
one. The Milwaukee routers have a built-in topside-adjustment hole.

The difference between a router table fence and a table saw fence
is the table saw has to have parallelism to the miter slot. The router
fence can be clamped at any angle to the table. The Incra/Jointech
jigs are cool, but not fences per se, even though fences are often
sold with the jigs. They can do some spectacular looking joints but
whether you’ll use those types of joints depends on your aesthetic
and philosophical approach to woodworking.

You’ll be mad when you carve up your expensive fence with a router
bit or drop it and break off a corner – But when it is one you whipped-up
yourself you’ll be like me: “ce la vie”

View knotscott's profile


8146 posts in 3575 days

#8 posted 01-29-2011 01:16 AM

The only one I ever bought was a piece of junk (even to a newb)...I gave it away less than a year after I bought. I’ve since made one for every saw I’ve owned (wing mounted). It’s fairly inexpensive to do, it’s a great learning experience, and you can make them with the features you like best. I’ve made fences and purchased fences…currently using a modified HTC/Jet router fence attachment on my Jet Exacta II fence.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View Chris_T's profile


94 posts in 2993 days

#9 posted 01-29-2011 05:15 AM

Well you guys talked me in to building one. I’ve already got the plans drawn out, now I just have to get it done.

View knotscott's profile


8146 posts in 3575 days

#10 posted 01-29-2011 07:55 AM

Good call IMO….it’s typically an afternoon or so (with some tweaking…). Enjoy!

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View surfin2's profile


51276 posts in 3335 days

#11 posted 01-29-2011 08:54 AM

Don’t waste your money on the (Rockler) Deluxe Router Station Hardware Kit…

It’s not worth it…

-- Rick

View bigike's profile


4055 posts in 3488 days

#12 posted 01-29-2011 04:48 PM

Me i would build it and just splurge on the fence this way you get a table with all the storage you need and then some. It fits in your shop no matter what. I like the incra fences for the accuracy and dependability of repeatable cuts i would use a lift in conjunction with the incra fence just for better accuracy. I would build an out feed table mounted router setup rather than a stand alone, just for more space. All in all i think building one will be cheaper and much better looking than anything store bought. GOOD LUCK in any venture.

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop,

View Jonathan's profile


2609 posts in 3250 days

#13 posted 01-29-2011 05:00 PM

Let us know how the process goes for you.

I was contemplating the same decision a couple of months ago, and have since decided to build my own. Don’t know when, but it’ll help me build a few skills, as well as let me make it exactly how I want it. I won’t be constrained by, or have to settle for a commercial design. I plan on adding a lift as well, enclosing the router for noise and dust collection purposes, etc. Beyond that, and rough dimensions, I haven’t decided on number of drawers, etc. yet.

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 3050 days

#14 posted 01-29-2011 06:41 PM

A router table looks daunting at first but the recipe is very basic.

1. Build four legs of two boards each, sort of “angle iron” like.

2. Glue an 8” block in one end of each one.

3. Build a box with a drawer and doors or two drawers. Set it on the blocks and attach it to the legs.

4. Square the leg tops and frame them.

5. Build your top and hinge it on the back.

I have built several and even taught classes in which the students built their own. We never even considered buying a fence—that just seems like folly. We did buy the insert but that was all.

With the hinged top you can tilt it open (use the prop of your choice—I used a hydraulic cylinder from a hatchback) and adjust the the bit height easier than squatting down and turning a crank.

I’ll post pics if you want.



-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3358 days

#15 posted 01-29-2011 08:26 PM

Since nobody has mentioned it, I have to say that one of the best purchases I’ve ever made was my Benchdog router extension wing for my table saw. If you have a table saw that can support it, especially if your shop is space-challenged, it’s hard to ignore this (or other make extension) as an option.

Similiarly, I think the idea of dropping it into an existing workbench has some real advantages.

Building a stand-alone router table is cool, and I’m really envious of some of the ones I’ve seen here at LJ, but fundamentally you don’t need a whole lot to allow you to bring your work pieces TO the router.

-- jay,

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