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Router table top material

This is a discussion on Router table top material within the Table-mounted Routing forums, part of the Routers category; What material do you guys recommend for router table tops? I'm going to be building ...


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Old 12-26-2011, 12:33 PM   #1 (permalink)
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What material do you guys recommend for router table tops? I'm going to be building a new router table and Im not sure what to use. I used Phenolic plywood that I picked up from woodcraft on my last table. It worked pretty well but it is pretty expensive-$60 for 1/4 sheet of plywood. What are some other good table top materials?

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Old 12-26-2011, 12:43 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Hi

It's hard to beat the MDF stock, it's flat from the get go and it's not to high in the price, with 2ea. 3/4" thick boards and a bit of Johnson floor Paste wax it's good to go and you can re coat from time to time if you want to..and you don't need a trim board around the top of the table after all it's all wood..

===

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What material do you guys recommend for router table tops? I'm going to be building a new router table and Im not sure what to use. I used Phenolic plywood that I picked up from woodcraft on my last table. It worked pretty well but it is pretty expensive-$60 for 1/4 sheet of plywood. What are some other good table top materials?
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Old 12-26-2011, 01:32 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Hi Guitar Demon:

Welcome to the Router Forums!

I would like to add to Bob's comments.


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Hi

It's hard to beat the MDF stock, it's flat from the get go and it's not to high in the price, with 2ea. 3/4" thick boards
Absolutely! Two layers of good MDF, glued together, to form one top with a minimum total thickness of 1 inch is a great starting point. Make sure you support the MDF well when doing the glue-up. The support should maintain the flatness.

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and a bit of Johnson floor Paste wax it's good to go and you can re coat from time to time if you want to..
A big drawback to MDF is it is hydrophilic -- water-loving. It absorbs water and swells. Not good! So, one needs to seal the MDF. Quite a few people, like Bob, Part Warner, John White use a good quality paste wax, such as Johnsons. Other people, like Bill Hylton prefer to encase the MDF with some sort water-barrier material. A common one is laminate.

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and you don't need a trim board around the top of the table after all it's all wood..
===
Correct, you don't need to. However, for some of us, a good hardwood edge is desirable. For example, on my home-made table, I have a 1-1/2" square red oak edge. Accidental bumps are more forgiven on the red oak, than on MDF. Also, I have installed inserts into the red oak, to permit attaching accessories to the table top -- accessories such as t-tracks and the Incra LS positioning fence.

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Old 12-26-2011, 02:08 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Im interested in the laminate over the MDF idea. What kind of laminate is normally used? What is used around the routed hole for router plate? Would you just wax this area?
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Old 12-26-2011, 08:11 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Hi Guitar Demon:

I use the economy version of Formica. It has held up well so far.

For the routed hole, wax is one way. Other possibilities include anything that will seal the MDF, but should not be water-based. Oil-based, thinner-based, alcohol-based.

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Old 12-26-2011, 08:22 PM   #6 (permalink)
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The design from ShopNotes #1 uses 3/4" plywood and then two 1/4" layers of Masonite on top. This is wrapped with a hardwood trim and then Formica is applied top and bottom. This is a proven design that works well. Some commercial tables use 3/4" Baltic birch plywood with Formica top and bottom; one example of this is the Router Workshop table. There are several methods which work. I like the Formica because it adds ridgidity and can be marked on with a pencil. To clean give it a spray of Windex and wipe dry.
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Old 12-26-2011, 08:44 PM   #7 (permalink)
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HI

I don't suggest using laminate I will suggest using 1/4" thick plastic and using it on one 3/4" thick MDF board..the plastic will make it strong and very ridged..a little bit of 3M 77 spray on glue and it's in place..round the edge over and it's nice clean...below you will see a snapshot of the smaller one I made, the new one will be just like it, so to speak..

I'm making a new router now this way that will hold two routers on one table top, a tank ( 3 1/2HP) and a 2 1/2 HP router, using 2ea. 1/4" x 9" x 12" mounting plates..and the swing fence..

====

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Im interested in the laminate over the MDF idea. What kind of laminate is normally used? What is used around the routed hole for router plate? Would you just wax this area?
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Last edited by bobj3; 12-29-2011 at 10:11 AM.
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Old 12-26-2011, 09:03 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Bob I like you 1/4 plastic idea. How did you affix it to the MDF? Will epoxy stick to the plastic?
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Old 12-26-2011, 09:06 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Hi

3M #77 super glue,spray on type, epoxy will work but it's a bit thick..and hard to work with..

http://www.amazon.com/3M-77-24-Super...4955711&sr=1-3

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Bob I like you 1/4 plastic idea. How did you affix it to the MDF? Will epoxy stick to the plastic?
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Last edited by bobj3; 12-26-2011 at 09:16 PM.
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Old 12-27-2011, 11:25 PM   #10 (permalink)
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One last question...I think... What kind of plastic did you use for the top? Our local plastic place (Tap Plastic) has quite a few different types of plastic. Can you recommend one type of any of the others?
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