My misadventures trying to buy a flat router table....

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Forum topic by noone posted 05-21-2013 03:11 PM 5920 views 0 times favorited 26 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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584 posts in 2509 days

05-21-2013 03:11 PM

I guess you can call me obsessed at this point.

History -
I had a Bosch aluminum router table. It was curved on the outside edges slightly down so that when you fed a piece of wood in you had to hold it in the center and on the outfeed, you had to make sure that you didn’t press down on the end, otherwise you would get a curve on your work.

So I set out to buy a new, flat router table.

I initially ordered a Kreg Precision Router table and it was suggested that it was a waste of money and that I should build my own. So I returned that order and bought a Rockler HPL top, plate and fence combo. Well that thing had a huge dip in the middle of the table, a solid 3/32” dip, which was probably worse than what I had previously. Plus the router plate was not flat and bowed as well. I sent the whole setup back and ordered a Bench Dog cast iron setup. Quite expensive, but I assumed that spending that kind of money would buy me a nice piece of equipment.

Boy was I wrong.

The Bench Dog cast iron was anything but flat and it has a .012” dip in the middle of the table. Probably not the most significant thing, but I thought cast iron was supposed to be flat. The icing on the cake was that the actual “Pro Plate”, was not even flat at all either. It’s bowed and the plastic insert that screws into the center won’t sit flush with the lip. I am thoroughly disappointed at this point.

What is ironic is that the aluminum router plate on my Bosch router table is perfectly flat, but the insert rings sit beneath it, so I know it is possible to manufacture a flat router plate.

I thought about my options:

If I build my own table and buy a fence and router plate, that is about $100 for the plate, $100 for the fence, plus materials to build the table, so that puts me at about $250-$300 already, and that doesn’t include the cost of the cabinet.

So i’m thinking I may go back to the Kreg Precision router table. Is this thing somewhat flat? Does the router plate and ring sit flush with the table? These are really my only requirements.

Rant over…...

26 replies so far

View PurpLev's profile


8548 posts in 3885 days

#1 posted 05-21-2013 03:16 PM

yes – you are obsessed.

yes – router tables can be flat – to a certain degree. Mine is – at least flat enough. but no – I did not use feeler gauges to check – I’m sure there are some low spots, But when I pass a flat board through the table it goes straight and doesn’t ride up and down – that ultimately is what matters.

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

View DS's profile


3045 posts in 2657 days

#2 posted 05-21-2013 03:20 PM

Doesn’t sound like anything a ten pound sledge hammer can’t fix. ;-)

I never had any luck with the plastic router table inserts, but I bought a Rockler aluminum insert and set it into a table of my own manufacture and, if it isn’t flat, I haven’t noticed.

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

View noone's profile


584 posts in 2509 days

#3 posted 05-21-2013 03:56 PM

If I can achieve a flush router plate and insert ring, then I will be happy. I haven’t gotten there yet. The “Pro Plate” won’t sit flush with the cast iron table. Either the 4 corners sit flush or the middles sit flush (since the plate itself is not flat). So yeah, I can’t get a board to ride across my table without bumping. I guess i’m asking for a lot here…..

View oldnovice's profile


7380 posts in 3604 days

#4 posted 05-21-2013 04:00 PM

My Benchdog is as flat as “board”, for lack of a better analogy! It’s my 40+ year old TS that developed a 0.008” cup, front to back.

Have you communicated your issue to Benchdog? I think they would rectify the problem since it is part of this forum so they could show good customer service!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View RonInOhio's profile


721 posts in 3101 days

#5 posted 05-21-2013 04:58 PM

They need people with your exacting obsessions on the quality control line. Can honestly say
I never have measured flatness with any of my wood working tools with feeler gauges. But now
you have me wondering.

I doubt that they even manufactor tops and plates that are “perfectly” flat for typical consumer grade products.

The bottom line is you should be able to run a board over the surface,through the blade, without hangups or the board catching. If this critieria is met, and the piece has no defects to the visibile eye, and is within an acceptable
range of tolerances, the top and plate are doing their job imo.

While I can understand wanting “flat”. I think you have taken it to another level and are more obsessed about what your gauges and straight-edge are telling you. Than with how the top and plate actually perform . Also I don’t see how you can be so sure the straight edge is accurate without some way to check it.

Regardless , it doesn’t matter what my opinion is . You are the one that needs to be satisfied. I will be watching your journey in search of flat . I think its interesting and perhaps something that shouldn’t be taken lightly or with skepticism.

I have a feeling you are going to figure this out.

Good luck.

View bondogaposis's profile


5150 posts in 2588 days

#6 posted 05-21-2013 05:32 PM

Build your own, table top and fence. The only thing you need to buy is the plate. You certainly can make a flat table top w/ 2 layers of 3/4” MDF and formica top and bottom. There are tons of plans out there, many are free.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View noone's profile


584 posts in 2509 days

#7 posted 05-21-2013 05:48 PM

The straight edge I’m using is straight. I can put it on my aluminum table saw fence as a reference- no light shows through the bottom. I put this same straight edge on the cast iron table and could immediately see the gap underneath it, with my naked eye. As I mentioned earlier, the main issue at this point is with the router plate. I cannot get it to sit flush with the cast iron top, no matter how hard I try. I can get it flush from left to right in the very center of the plate, but the front and back edges won’t sit flush. I think that is an unacceptable issue, on an almost $700 piece of equipment.

I have reached out to Bench Dog. I’m sure they will do their best to make this right. If they can’t, I’ll just return it and move on and make my own table that I will have to replace every few years (something I was hoping to avoid).

View noone's profile


584 posts in 2509 days

#8 posted 05-21-2013 10:02 PM


Bench Dog responded to me. I had voiced my concern and showed them that the table was out of flat by .012” with pictures. They now say that the new tolerance spec has been changed from .008” to .012”. I wonder if I had said it was out of flat by .015” if they would have said that is the new spec? Basically, in a polite way they said “take it as it is or return it”.

So I will return it.

If I could get the router plate installed flat, that would be one thing and I could probably live with the .012” out of flat on the iron table. But the fact that the plate is not flat and I can’t get neither it, or the center ring to sit flush, I will just move on to something else. Guys, say what you will, but a .012” out of flat is a pretty slack tolerance. This is a gap you can see your finger behind the straight edge in dim light.

I think I can find better ways to spend my $700.

I think I will look back into the Kreg table offering going into it knowing it won’t be perfect. If it’s router plate sits flush with the table, it’s a winner, and it will cost me $450 vs. $700, and come with a stand.

I still am contemplating building it, but I know I still need to buy MDF, one-sided melamine MDF, t-track, knobs, angle iron(optional), and a router plate which I think when this adds up will be around the $200+ mark before a stand is constructed.

View oldnovice's profile


7380 posts in 3604 days

#9 posted 05-21-2013 10:37 PM

noone you stated ”I think I can find better ways to spend my $700.”

I didn’t pay half that much for mine! I guess there must have been a price increase in the last eight years.

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View RonInOhio's profile


721 posts in 3101 days

#10 posted 05-21-2013 10:49 PM

I hear ya on the price. I have a BenchTop Pro . A Rockler lift, a Bosch 1617 router, and a Dust Bucket.
Have yet to purchase a single bit and I’m already around 700 dollars in.

View Jackietreehorn's profile


150 posts in 2175 days

#11 posted 05-21-2013 11:17 PM

I have a kreg router insert in the middle of my workshop table. I’ve noticed a sag in it when the router is in place. I have a PC 890 series, it’s not a terribly heavy router in my mind but it still makes it sag…
I used the leveler system and can keep it flush to my table, but there’s a definite sag in middle.


View Von's profile


238 posts in 2450 days

#12 posted 05-21-2013 11:46 PM

I took an old counter top made of 2 and 3/4 thick mdf with a laminate surface. I drilled a small pilot hole in the center of it. Flipped it over and plunge routed out a small area to affix my router. I still have yet to build a decent fence for it, but the table is about as “flat” as I can make it. I even put a couple of spanner braces on the bottom to keep the weight of the router itself from causing the table to flex. It’s not fancy-pretty, but it has served my purposes. I don’t get those “dippy” curves on my projects at least.

View Straightbowed's profile


717 posts in 2535 days

#13 posted 05-21-2013 11:54 PM

woodworking is not supposed to be perfect but maybe someday you will find that flat table goodluck

-- Stevo, work in tha city woodshop in the country

View OnlyJustME's profile


1562 posts in 2614 days

#14 posted 05-22-2013 01:10 AM

Have you looked at WoodPeckers router tables/plates?

-- In the end, when your life flashes before your eyes, will you like what you see?

View RibsBrisket4me's profile


1554 posts in 2742 days

#15 posted 05-22-2013 01:24 AM

I guess I am at the opposite end of the spectrum. I have @ $40 in my router table. LOL.

Except mine does not have the fancy table extensions this pic shows anymore :)

I understand where you are coming from though…700 dollars is a lot of money.

Best of luck on your quest.

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