Birch Plywood for Router Table Top

  • Advertise with us

« back to Power Tools, Hardware and Accessories forum

Forum topic by Alan S posted 03-29-2011 02:21 AM 10201 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Alan S's profile

Alan S

181 posts in 3557 days

03-29-2011 02:21 AM

Everyone I have seen makes their router table tops out of 2 layers of 3/4” mdf and laminate on top. Is there a reason to use that instead of 2 sheets of 3/4” birch plywood (without laminate)? I have some birch plywood available in my shop, but would have to buy laminate and mdf. What’s your take?


9 replies so far

View TheWoodNerd's profile


291 posts in 3432 days

#1 posted 03-29-2011 02:31 AM

After building mine out of MDF, I wish I had used something else. A little spill at the router plate opening and one corner swelled up. I was able to sand it down flush again, but it’s not pretty any more :(

-- The Wood Nerd --

View PurpLev's profile


8548 posts in 3889 days

#2 posted 03-29-2011 02:44 AM

as Skarp said – Baltic Birth is quite expensive while MDF is darned cheap and for the purpose of the top works just as well.

that said – if you have BB at hand and no other plans for it – might as well use THAT instead of shelling some $$ to buy additional material. OR you could use the BB to make the router table cabinet/carass and get some MDF for the top. whatever works for you.

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

View thewoodmaster's profile


62 posts in 3433 days

#3 posted 03-29-2011 03:05 AM

If you have baltic birch, it would work. Plain old birch ply is probably not a good idea.

A router table needs to be flat and slick. mdf with laminate is flat and slick. Birch ply is…well…we’ve all used it and its probably not gonna stay flat even if it is now.

-- dan "insert pithy woodworking coment here"

View cannonskate's profile


8 posts in 3147 days

#4 posted 03-30-2011 10:53 AM

You could use a layer of birch with some 1/4” tempered hardboard attached to the top…

View bubinga's profile


861 posts in 2908 days

#5 posted 03-30-2011 01:11 PM

This is what I am making my NEW router table top from
Old one I bought has been warping more and more over years
This is a manufactured bench top surface I got on eBay for 50 bucks
PVC laminate , Polyurethane (PU) over MDF
I think this might not warp
What do yall think ?

-- E J ------- Always Keep a Firm Grip on Your Tool

View CharlieM1958's profile


16281 posts in 4458 days

#6 posted 03-30-2011 03:39 PM

I’d say no problem to using the birch, but skipping the laminate would be a mistake. As others have noted, your top needs to be flat and smooth. Bare plywood with a bit of wax might be good when new, but you’ll eventually get wear, nicks, and dings that will make it not-so-flat-and-smooth anymore.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 3090 days

#7 posted 03-30-2011 05:40 PM

This subject seems to pretty regularly get out of control.

First, let’s remember there is a reasonable amount of inaccuracy that is acceptable in woodworking.

Next, a smooth surface is a safety feature on a router table. The work should travel easily and not be impeded by any irregularities. Plastic laminate is the most practical solution. Top and bottom is recommended. Edge the MDF with solid wood before applying the plastic.

Now, flat? Actually, a little crown right at the router would be an advantage! Not, of course, if all your stock is perfectly straight, but it isn’t (see italics above).

Is heavy better? All the top has to do is stay in place.

If it is heavy, and perfectly flat, will it guarantee better work? Perhaps slightly. (See italics…...) But remember you are cutting a hole in this perfectly flat top. In my case, the plate is 13% of the total top area. Removing a piece of that size from your top will affect its flatness.

I sometimes think I have only three things to offer this group:

1. Don’t buy cheap tools
2. Buy more wood than you need by 35%
3. Your time is better spent and your increasing skill is better served by making things rather than obsessing about stuff like zero clearance inserts and flat router tables and $75 Starrett squares.

There. I just sighed. And I feel better. We now return to our regular programming. Please continue as if nothing happened.



-- " 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 Bertha's profile


13551 posts in 2933 days

#8 posted 03-30-2011 05:48 PM

I like Lee.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Alan S's profile

Alan S

181 posts in 3557 days

#9 posted 03-30-2011 08:23 PM

Thanks everyone for all your input! I was thinking of skipping the laminate because the plywood I have has a pretty good finish already on it. I got some scraps a year or two ago from an old desk, in good condition, that was taken apart. I would say it’s got poly or similar finish on it. The surface seems pretty slick and smooth.


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