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Forum topic by azlogger posted 06-25-2014 06:45 AM 1388 views 2 times favorited 29 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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azlogger

28 posts in 341 days


06-25-2014 06:45 AM

Topic tags/keywords: router table router lift

Hello.
Digging for expert opinions…
I’ve been using a homemade router table for several months, but it has proven to be a total failure. :(
Now I really need a new one, and I don’t want to mess around. I’m ready to buy a high-quality table and lift.
I don’t want to spend more than ~$800.

Here’s my current idea:
Excalibur 24×32” cast iron top
Excalibur fence
JessEm Mast-r-lift II
Homemade stand/cabinet Cost should run about $800 or a little less.

Anybody have some other ideas?
For what I do, it needs to be very accurate, and I can’t stand poor quality.

-- Who needs PLANS??!! Be original!!


29 replies so far

View retfr8flyr's profile

retfr8flyr

251 posts in 392 days


#1 posted 06-25-2014 09:06 AM

If you want accuracy get the Incra system, incredibly accurate and very repeatable. Also the Incra Mast-R-Lift II is made by Jessem but I think the throat plate system is better. I have basically this setup but I have it mounted in my table saw, so I have the Wonder Fence Joinery setup.

-- Earl

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azlogger

28 posts in 341 days


#2 posted 06-25-2014 03:48 PM

Are there any cast iron tops the incra fits? I’m not set on cast iron, but I’ve read some stuff about phenolic that scares me a bit. I read that the phenolic is flexible and relies on a good stand to hold it flat, and I’ve also read reviews of warped tops…should I fear this?

-- Who needs PLANS??!! Be original!!

View TheFridge's profile (online now)

TheFridge

963 posts in 209 days


#3 posted 06-25-2014 04:16 PM

Sounds like you’re in shaper territory.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

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azlogger

28 posts in 341 days


#4 posted 06-25-2014 04:25 PM

Maybe I ought to say what I’m doing with it?
I’ll be doing about 10 feet of template work per day with 1/4” template cutting 1/2” material. And the same amount of very fine chamfering and 1/8” roundover. And then some occasional grooves and rabbets, etc.

-- Who needs PLANS??!! Be original!!

View NiteWalker's profile

NiteWalker

2710 posts in 1299 days


#5 posted 06-25-2014 05:35 PM

I agree you’re in shaper territory for $800.

What about your current setup is a failure?
I do all of what you posted on my shop made router table with no issues.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

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azlogger

28 posts in 341 days


#6 posted 06-25-2014 05:44 PM

Well, let’s not go into that too deep…it would require some objectionable language to do it justice.

The top is no where near flat and cannot be bowed (a good thing, if it had been flat in the first place), the fence is worthless in every way, the shop-built lift holds the router at about 2 degree angle….the list goes on.

I thought when I built it that it was going to be the best table ever, so now I feel like such a failure I don’t want to even think of trying again…........

-- Who needs PLANS??!! Be original!!

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azlogger

28 posts in 341 days


#7 posted 06-25-2014 05:47 PM

Maybe my “Who needs PLANS??!! Be original!!” attitude needs to change?

-- Who needs PLANS??!! Be original!!

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HorizontalMike

6960 posts in 1637 days


#8 posted 06-25-2014 06:03 PM

Well, if you own a TS, you could add a cast iron router extension w/fence, add a Triton router with its own lift and for a total around $600 you can have a great stable router setup. That is if you own a TS.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

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azlogger

28 posts in 341 days


#9 posted 06-25-2014 06:20 PM

I do have a table saw, and it needs an extension. But I need an accurate router lift, and judging by the plunge base on my bosch 1617, I’m not sure I want a plunge router as my lift. How about:
Excalibur 16×27 cast iron wing
JessEm Mast-r-lift II
...but what for a fence??

-- Who needs PLANS??!! Be original!!

View azlogger's profile

azlogger

28 posts in 341 days


#10 posted 06-25-2014 06:58 PM

My current table saw situation:

My shop is long and skinny, so the right side of the saw is against the wall. The router table would replace the wood extension on the left.
I likely won’t use the fence all that often, what’s your thoughts on a fence that clamps to the TS fence?

-- Who needs PLANS??!! Be original!!

View HorizontalMike's profile

HorizontalMike

6960 posts in 1637 days


#11 posted 06-25-2014 07:21 PM

IMO, this setup is plenty accurate. As a matter of fact, I would venture to say that regardless of the router/lift/table setup, that “user” error when shoving a piece of lumber through, is probably the greatest potential for making errant cuts. Been there and done that enough that I know that it is not the router setup, but ME. When I function/feed at the top of my game, then everything goes great as well. Can’t blame this setup at all.
My 2¢...

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View GregD's profile

GregD

634 posts in 1859 days


#12 posted 06-25-2014 08:18 PM

I have noticed in videos that Charles Neil and one other professional (I don’t remember which one) use a router mounted on the bottom of a plywood top. Very crude looking but it seems to be all they need to get the job done. And the plywood didn’t even look like paint grade stuff as I recall. But they probably have supports that pull the plywood flat which is something I didn’t know how to do when I was newer to the hobby.

The Triton routers and some others are designed to be used as HMike has his. I imagine they work just fine; HMike is probably not the only guy who is happy with this setup.

In my case I spent the money and got a Woodpecker’s setup. Yes, the lift works very well and may have some nice features compared to say Mike’s Triton (I don’t know; I haven’t compared the two) but it has a bit of backlash that I need to work around so even it isn’t perfect. Mine is an MDF top, but with proper support (I’m using a Woodpecker’s metal stand) I don’t see any sagging issues.

My point is that there are several different strategies for getting yourself a router table setup that is going to work well for you. The options that cost more may require less effort and skill to set up and may be more fun to use, but it seems the more economical options can work just fine as well.

In my view the key features are:
1. dedicated router for the table. Big motor & big bearings are best
2. above-table depth adjustment (some plunge routers provide this)
3. above-table bit changing.
4. flat-enough table with a smooth top (pushing stock over a plywood top is not my idea of fun)

Alternatively, if you are going to be pushing lots of stock over the table you probably want a shaper that can better handle a high workload. I have the big Porter Cable router and at times I feel the need to back off the feed rate so that I don’t push it too hard.

Then it gets down to what you want to do on the table. Some special features are fun to use in certain applications but pretty meaningless otherwise. My fence (Woodpecker’s Superfence) has some features that I enjoy and some the have been a bit frustrating. Incra fence positioners are really cool for some work but require lots of table behind the bit.

One thing I left off originally: Dust collection. Routing can throw off an awful lot of dust and chips and makes a huge mess without decent dust collection.

-- Greg D.

View Fettler's profile

Fettler

159 posts in 720 days


#13 posted 06-25-2014 09:45 PM

I just picked up a rockler table, w/ FX Lift, a Porter Cable 2 1/4hp motor and accessories for $300 off craigslist. Bittersweet craigslist score because the previous owner died from an untimely heart attack. =\

I was looking for a shaper and almost pulled the trigger on a benchdog cast iron setup.

-- --Rob, Seattle, WA

View DrDirt's profile

DrDirt

2542 posts in 2465 days


#14 posted 06-25-2014 09:51 PM

Ditto to Greg.

A successful effective router table need not be expensive.

Mine is mounted in my extension on the Table saw. Not the cast iron wing that is available, but the wood extension. I installed a router lift which was ~350 8 years ago from jointech, that I bought at a woodworking show.

Looking at the list in the OP, there is a plan to spend 800 bucks excluding the router itself.
That seems a lot more than is needed to have good results

-- "If we did all the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astonish ourselves." Edison

View azlogger's profile

azlogger

28 posts in 341 days


#15 posted 06-25-2014 10:09 PM

Sure, a fixed base router bolted up under a piece of MDF with a 2×4 clamped down as a fence would work ok, but a large, industrial-grade cast iron table with the best-ever lift and an Incra Positioner would be easier to adjust, easier to change bits, everything will go more smoothly.

That was quite exaggerated, but you get the point. That is why I want more than a cheap homemade job…

If what you’re saying is that for only a few hundred bucks I can have a table that is smooth and dead flat, and something that I can swap bits out and have adjusted to within a few thousandths of an inch in less than 40 seconds, I’m willing to listen. But as I said in the original post, I don’t want to mess around…

-- Who needs PLANS??!! Be original!!

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