Router plate: basic, basic questions

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Forum topic by Choupinette posted 08-20-2013 10:44 PM 2118 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Choupinette's profile


22 posts in 1765 days

08-20-2013 10:44 PM

Topic tags/keywords: router router table router plate

I have a router table, with a plastic insert for the router base that fits the opening in the table, however I still have to drill holes in it to hold the router. In the meantime, I have a few basic, basic questions:

- does the router plate have to be transparent? Can’t I just use plywood or something?
- what about the middle hole where the bit will go through: does it need to be just slightly bigger than the bit, or can it be much bigger?
- still about the middle hole: does the router have to be exactly centered in reference to it? After all, as long as the router bit is perpendicular to the table, and free to spin, it shouldn’t matter, right?
- finally, if my router plate isn’t totally level, how do I adjust it?

Thank you!

-- Christine G., Northern California

6 replies so far

View knotscott's profile


8008 posts in 3371 days

#1 posted 08-20-2013 10:55 PM

The router plate can be any material you want, provided it’s stiff and flat…..doesn’t have to be transparent.

The center hole is best/safer when it’s only slightly bigger than the bit….some inserts have multiple throat inserts to allow for multiple size bits. There are also brass insert sets to get a good custom fit to the bit.

Leveling can be done using a variety of methods…. adjustable screws, tape as shims, etc.

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

View REO's profile


928 posts in 2070 days

#2 posted 08-20-2013 11:01 PM

most of the router plates available are aluminum far from transparent. the hole does not have to be centered or small. usually there is an insert that will make up space between the bit and the plate opening. the size of the hole will make a difference on how small a piece you rout as far as the stability of the piece. most router insert plates have adjustment screws for leveling but if yours does not it can be made up with layers of masking tape on the edge of the recess into which the plate goes. If you are using dust collection underneath to small a hole will reduce the amount of pick up available through the center hole to extract debris. on the flip side if you are using top removal the smaller hole will reduce the amount of stuff that falls through the table. I have drilled a hole in a piece of plywood and screwed the router to the bottom to use as a makeshift router table. for a fence I used a 2×4 screwed to the top.

KnotScott types faster than I do LOL

View Sandra's profile


7207 posts in 2071 days

#3 posted 08-20-2013 11:03 PM

Hmmmm, I’m hoping that someone else with more experience chimes in. When they do, completely ignore my comments…..

I’ve opened up my Woodworking with the Router book by American Woodworker for reference.

-No, the router plate does not have to be transparent. It does however have to be completely rigid.

-If the hole is much larger than the bit, you have a dangerous situation. Your workpiece can dip into the hole and the bit will shoot it out like a bullet. Safety reasons aside, you need the workpiece supported as much as possible throughout the entire pass to make a clean cut.

- Being centred isn’t an issue, provided you don’t have too much of a gap anywhere (see above)

- If your plate isn’t totally level, you could use small shims from the bottom, where the plate sits in the table. Don’t settle for ‘almost level’ either. Having your table set up properly will go a looooong way in how much you use it and enjoy it.

I’m still relatively new to woodworking, but I’ve built a few things. Regardless I don’t think I’d have any interest in building my own plate though. You may want to consider ordering just the plate. I bought a secondhand homemade router table, scrapped the base and kept the top which came with two plates.

Also, plexiglass is not as hard to work with as you may think. You might be even able to bring your dimensions to an auto glass company and have them cut it to size for you.

Good luck

-- No, I don't want to buy the pink hammer.

View Sandra's profile


7207 posts in 2071 days

#4 posted 08-20-2013 11:04 PM

REO and knotscot beat me to it.

-- No, I don't want to buy the pink hammer.

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4929 posts in 3956 days

#5 posted 08-20-2013 11:57 PM

FWIW, I used the Lee Valley round plate in my router table with great results. Easy install, great instructions, very good final application. If ya screw up, they’ll send ya a new plate.
Over 5 years with no probs.
What’s to complain?


View Choupinette's profile


22 posts in 1765 days

#6 posted 08-21-2013 10:19 PM

Thank you all for your detailed and very informative answers!

I like the “auto shop” resource tip about bringing a piece of plexi to them to do the sizing.
I like the 2×4 fence! :)
I also like the Rousseau plate. The different size disks look very handy, and that is an option that I would not have with a plexi plate.

Next question: about the opening in the middle, my plate’s is 2 1/2 inch. I plan to use a template bit of 1/2 inch width. I kind of think the opening may be too wide. Thoughts?

-- Christine G., Northern California

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