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Laminated Maple Router Table Top?

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Forum topic by bill4123 posted 05-09-2012 06:23 AM 1940 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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bill4123

24 posts in 1313 days


05-09-2012 06:23 AM

Hi All,

I am a bit dissatisfied with my Incra 32” x 32” table top. I have it suspended between the rails on my table saw and after only a few months I am seeing about 1/8” bow from side-to-side and 1/16” s-warp front-to-back even though I’m using the Incra metal braces. In defense of the router table I am hanging a Kreg Lift, Rockler Dust Bucket, and a Porter Cable 7518 from it. Anyways, I’ve been getting crummy results on cabinet doors because of these distortions so I want something better.

I have been looking around and am not willing to shell out the many hundreds of dollars needed for a cast iron top and don’t want to buy another MDF or HDF top and have the same thing happen. This has got me thinking about what I can make and one thing I thought of was a laminated maple top much like a top for a work bench. I’m thinking 1.5”-1.75” thick. How does this sound?

Thanks,
Bill


12 replies so far

View Loren's profile

Loren

7809 posts in 2372 days


#1 posted 05-09-2012 06:37 AM

Use a smaller router table and don’t hang it off your table
saw. The height it too low for many hand-fed cuts and
there are other compromises. There’s a chorus of “it’s
2 machines in 1” but like all combination tools the router
in the tablesaw wing makes compromises. I tried it,
abandoned it and haven’t looked back because I don’t
see the point of ruining the router setup to enjoy the
dubious convenience of using a table saw fence as a router
fence. The bit sticking up gets in the way of table
saw cuts and router fences rely on fulcrum and sacrificial
faces, not parallelism, to work right.

P.S. shapers eat router tables for lunch for door parts.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

View bill4123's profile

bill4123

24 posts in 1313 days


#2 posted 05-09-2012 07:11 AM

I have a 20’ by 20’ garage that needs to fit a SUV at night with simply no more room so I’m stuck with the table saw setup. Believe me, I get tired of switching between the two but I’ll take switching between the two over not having both. I also don’t have the fence problem you speak of because it’s a Incra fence. That being said and back to the topic of this discussion, what are your thoughts on a laminated maple router table in this style setup? Will I run into warping and bowing problems?

View Loren's profile

Loren

7809 posts in 2372 days


#3 posted 05-09-2012 07:42 AM

Not worth the trouble imo. A smaller benchtop-type router
table has served my purposes fine. Are you using INCRA
templates for dovetails or something like that which pushes
the system?

-- http://lawoodworking.com

View bill4123's profile

bill4123

24 posts in 1313 days


#4 posted 05-09-2012 07:50 AM

Seriously, I have no more room for any new stuff! The question I asked is will a 1.5”-1.75” laminated maple top warp or bow under these conditions? Is there anything inherently wrong with maple as a top?

However, I will humor you and pretend I’m going to walk away from my setup and build a bench top router table using a shop made laminated maple top. This brings me right back to where I started with the same question I originally posted which is will a 1.5”-1.75” maple top bow with a heavy router and lift bolted to it?

View SignWave's profile

SignWave

135 posts in 1760 days


#5 posted 05-09-2012 01:56 PM

I don’t see why a maple top wouldn’t work, but I don’t think it would be ideal. It would be prone to damage and depending on the finish, might not be smooth enough to act as a router table surface.

Instead, I’d look at adding bracing to the underside of your existing top. Specifically, you could turn it into a torsion box, but with an opening in the middle for the lift/router. I’d probably use 1/2” or 3/4” ply for the grids, spaced 6 inches or so apart and about 1 1/2” deep, with a sheet on the bottom (with router opening, of course) to tie it all together.

Torsion boxes are easy to make, and are very rigid. I’ve made them from particle board, plywood, MDF, and even OSB, and they all remain very straight and rigid.

View bill4123's profile

bill4123

24 posts in 1313 days


#6 posted 05-09-2012 08:06 PM

Thank you for pointing out the cons for this particular type of work surface. I think the torsion box idea is going to be the winning ticket since I already have some of that ply wood laying around. If it ends up not working for me at least I haven’t spent a tremendous amount of money.

View crashn's profile

crashn

519 posts in 1190 days


#7 posted 05-09-2012 08:42 PM

I have the cast iron router table in my table saw and love it. I would think that if the router table is properly braced from underneath (think cross braces), instead of just the metal L brackets, then you should be able to prevent sagging. If I understood correctly, there was no bracing of any type under the HDF table, and it eventually sagged. and what signwave said, a torsion box underneath the hdf table

-- Crashn - the only thing I make more of than sawdust is mistakes

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

1985 posts in 1218 days


#8 posted 05-09-2012 09:35 PM

I think the torsion box offers a really good compromise between light weight and stiffness, should work well. The extra thickness might be a problem but should prove workable. My first RT was in the table saw wing (particle board) and I fastened some 3/4” angle iron under it (running front to back) to prevent sagging…seem to do fairly well.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2698 posts in 2011 days


#9 posted 05-09-2012 09:36 PM

My router table top is 1 1/2” maple butcher block, covered with Formica.
I have used it for about 3 years with no problems.

Go for it! (Although the torsion box will also solve your problems)

-- She thought I hung the moon--now she just thinks I did it wrong

View lieutenantdan's profile

lieutenantdan

176 posts in 1030 days


#10 posted 05-09-2012 10:41 PM

Here you go. A dedicated router table is the answer. Please, you do not have to thank me.

-- "Of all the things I have lost in life, I miss my mind the most."

View bill4123's profile

bill4123

24 posts in 1313 days


#11 posted 05-10-2012 05:25 AM

I currently have the Incra angle iron from the mounting kit but it just isn’t enough so I think I’ll do the suggested vertically oriented ply “beams” to sort of convert my existing top to a torsion box. I like the idea of the maple butcher block top as well and if this torsion box setup ends up not working well I may go that route. Thanks for the constructive input everyone!

View Iggles88's profile

Iggles88

247 posts in 1085 days


#12 posted 05-11-2012 02:31 AM

Don’t you love how people give you their input even though you pointed out you have no more space? I’ve seen many forums where people will say they don’t have enough space for something or don’t have enough in the budget for a certain saw but people will recommend it anyway. Very frustrating, I’m sure you’d love to have a dedicated router table but if you don’t have the room then you don’t have the room. Back to your question I agree that a torsion box assembly would work well to prevent any sag in the future.

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