What is a Good Material for a Shop Built Router Table ?

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Forum topic by crank49 posted 06-07-2011 04:25 AM 2750 views 1 time favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4030 posts in 2969 days

06-07-2011 04:25 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I am gradually getting my basement shop set up and the next project I think I want to work on is a router table. I have read dozens of threads on here and read every magazine and book at my disposal to gain knowledge on the subject.

The size I think will work for me is 24” deep and 32” wide. I have designed an enclosed base with 3” square legs, through tennons for the stretchers, draw bolts through the mortise and tennon and into the braces (front to back). I am very satisfied with my design up to this point.

Now I am looking at the top. I’m trying to keep costs down, so buying a pre-fab top, like a Kreg or Woodpecker or similar, is not where I want to go. Besides, I really want to build everything I can myself. I have purchased a phenolic table top insert to fit my router, A PC 690, and I have an Incra miter slot (32” long) left over from another project. I plan to use these two items in the top I plan to build.

I think I want to make a top by laminating two layers of 3/4” material to total 1-1/2” thickness. Part of the reason for this thickness is the miter slot requires a 1/2” deep dado which would only leave 1/4” of material in a single 3/4” layer of material.

Now the question part. I have looked at melamine covered particle board, but how could I glue two layers of this together ? Or, would two layers of MDF work. If using MDF, should I cover it with laminate like formica ? Or, would laminate covered plywood work ? I personally am leaning toward the plywood; just because I don’t like particle board, don’t know why.

Anyway, now ya’ll know what I am wanting to do, and any of your comments, suggestions, and or criticisms would be much appreciated. Thank you.

8 replies so far

View mrg's profile


823 posts in 2997 days

#1 posted 06-07-2011 05:11 AM

I have been wanting to get to putting my table together. You can use any of the materials you have mentioned. After buying the plate, tracks and miter and then the cost of laminate and what ever material you want to make the table out of I found would work out to the price of buying a top.

You can use melamine and glue to pieces together, mdf and asheet of formica. Formica roughly 50 dollars for the sheet. You could use mdf coated with watco finish as suggested in the router book. Plywood may warp over time.

I am sure what ever way you go will work fine.

-- mrg

View WinterSun's profile


163 posts in 2608 days

#2 posted 06-07-2011 08:53 AM

I’m building a router wing for my table saw right now and, like you, I’m keeping a close eye on the budget. I picked up a short length of laminate countertop from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. It cost me all of a buck. If you have a ReStore or similar used building materials store in your area, check it out. My entire project, including an adjustable fence with dust collection which will mount on my table saw fence, will probably work out to be well under $100 thanks in no small part to my $1 countertop.

-- Rory // Milwaukee, WI

View Loren's profile


10390 posts in 3646 days

#3 posted 06-07-2011 09:06 AM

I’m of the Gary Rogowski school of router tables and wouldn’t invest
more than about $50 and a couple hours putting one together.

For a 690 a single layer of MDF or melamine is fine.

If you’re wanting to do router joinery and good stuff on the cheap,
get Rogowski’s book “Router Joinery”. Secrets of accurate work
with minimal fuss and pricey gear revealed therein.

View knotscott's profile


8013 posts in 3374 days

#4 posted 06-07-2011 11:57 AM

I’ve used old laminated countertops for my last couple with good results….it’s often free and works well. MDF, MDO, melamine, birch ply, can all work well too…some might need extra bracing.

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

View crank49's profile


4030 posts in 2969 days

#5 posted 06-07-2011 02:35 PM

Thanks for the comments and suggestions.
I’ll look into those countertops. Hadn’t thought of that. There is always some at Home Depot with broken corners.
Loren, I’ll look for Rogowski’s book. I have other routers, but I picked up a new 690 (showroom display) for $50 and thought this would make a good home for it.

Does anyone know of an inexpensive source for a 1/4” collet and collet wrench for the 690 ? Porter Cable seems to think these are made of gold. These items were missing from my floor display model.

View Richard's profile


1916 posts in 2688 days

#6 posted 06-07-2011 09:24 PM

Check out this link at the Router Fourms it gives you a lot of info plus more is available on the site since it is dedicated to routers.

View PurpLev's profile


8535 posts in 3646 days

#7 posted 06-07-2011 09:39 PM

Id use double MDF which will add weight (stability) to the table, will stay flatter than plywood and cheaper as well.
you can use regular wood glue to laminate 2 panels together, and add melamine layer on top and bottom to keep it smooth.

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

View Minorhero's profile


373 posts in 2603 days

#8 posted 06-07-2011 10:49 PM

I built a base and table top for my router table. If I were to do it again I would still build the base but I would buy the router table top. I made my router table out of 2 sheets 3/4” MDF glued together. The problem is that once you put the cost of the sheets, the router plate, the t-tracks and miter tracks together, you end up with a cost that is pretty comparable to the cheaper end of pre-made router table tops. While I am happy with my router table, it is far from perfect and I think I could have ended up with a better product if I purchased my table top.

Keep in mind for budget purposes that you will also want to build or buy a fence for your router table as well.

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