Solid wood top vs Phenolic insert - Router Forums

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post #1 of 34 (permalink) Old 05-17-2007, 04:09 PM Thread Starter
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Solid wood top vs Phenolic insert

Planning on building my own router table.
Strictly hobbyist level use.
Current router 1.75 hp Ryobi 1/4"
Have seen plans I like on seemingly trustworthy sites for a table top made strictly of layered hardwood plywood leaving 3/8" thickness where the router is to be mounted.
Other sites - some clearly connected with sales of the rectangular phenolic insert plate insist this is the only safe way.

Input would be welcome - particularly on any reason a solid wood top is a safety issue.
The point of avoiding the use of the insert is avoiding the $49 cost.
Input on less expensive options would also be welcome.

thanks

The one who says it can't be done --
Should avoid interrupting
the person doing it.
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post #2 of 34 (permalink) Old 05-17-2007, 04:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drugstore Cowboy
Planning on building my own router table.
Strictly hobbyist level use.
Current router 1.75 hp Ryobi 1/4"
Have seen plans I like on seemingly trustworthy sites for a table top made strictly of layered hardwood plywood leaving 3/8" thickness where the router is to be mounted.
Other sites - some clearly connected with sales of the rectangular phenolic insert plate insist this is the only safe way.

Input would be welcome - particularly on any reason a solid wood top is a safety issue.
The point of avoiding the use of the insert is avoiding the $49 cost.
Input on less expensive options would also be welcome.

thanks
Drugstore Cowboy,

Here is something that may help you...
I would stay away from 'solid wood' for a top...
Study this video for the fine points... you'll learn...
http://www.taunton.com/finewoodworki....aspx?id=28007

Here, Tom has two dedicated router tables... with his favorite 2 bits available at all times... Note how fancy his stuff is...
I found out that the sections that hold the routers are Corian with the routers mounted directly to them.
http://www.plamann.com/sys-tmpl/inth...piii&UID=10005

EDIT: I think I remember him saying that one is for 1/2" shanks and the other for 1/4" shanks...


W e l c o m e . . A b o a r d !!

Have Fun,
Joe

Alta Loma, CA

www.WoodworkStuff.net

Last edited by Joe Lyddon; 05-17-2007 at 05:30 PM.
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post #3 of 34 (permalink) Old 05-17-2007, 10:51 PM
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Many ways to make a router table that is for sure. Not a thing wrong with using hardwood plywood for a router table. The handy thing about a router plate vs mounting directily to the plywood is you can remove it easily for making bit changes etc. I have seen several plans that have the router mounted directly to plywood. I would avoid the solid wood myself for the top, it just moves to much. Pat Warner's router table is made from MDF with no laminated top. The laminated tops make it nice and slick and easy to mark on and wipe off etc. Lot's of ways to do it!

corey

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post #4 of 34 (permalink) Old 05-17-2007, 11:23 PM
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There is no safety issue I can think of when mounting a router directly to a wooden table top. It will work. It will be much more difficult to change bits and you pretty much rule out the use of guide bushings and templates with a solid wood mounting method. Another consideration is for the wood to be strong enough to support the router it will need to be thicker than a phenolic plate so you will end up losing some of your cutting depth.(or in this case bit height above the table) If you can live with all these limitations then you will save a few dollars. If you really want to save money forget about a table for now and make a new sub base plate that accepts guide bushings. You can learn about building jigs to work with them in our jigs and templates section. When you are ready to build a table it really is best to use a mounting plate, be it aluminum, steel or phenolic.

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post #5 of 34 (permalink) Old 05-17-2007, 11:32 PM Thread Starter
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Clarification -
When I said "solid wood" I was referring to -- "all wood" as opposed to wood with an insert.

The plans I saw that I was thinking of using were in the June 2001 Popular Woodworking. The top was made of 2 - 3/4" thicknesses of birch plywood glued together with the area where the router would be mounted hollowed out down to 3/8" thickness.

I've used the aluminum router tables with the router mounted directly to the top -- so I am used to the issues that raises with bit changes etc.

The only thing that concerned me was a comment on one site that mounting to wood rather than an insert -- ran a risk of the router tearing loose.
This sounded like 'salesman talk' to me -- but - I wanted to be sure I wasn't blowing something off that I should pay attention to.
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post #6 of 34 (permalink) Old 05-18-2007, 02:41 AM
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The risk you mention would be very real with a 3-1/4 HP router. These units develop serious torque. Your Ryobi would not be a problem. Two layers of 3/4" plywood is a bit of overkill. Let me suggest you click on the link at the top of our home page and visit Oak Park, the sponsor of the Router Workshop. There you will see a very good table design, it handles just about anything you throw at it. The table is constructed with 1/2" Baltic Birch plywood, the table top is 3/4" BB plywood laminated on both sides with Formica. This design has withstood 14 seasons of television shows with 3-1/4 HP routers. I believe the plans for this table are $4. You can build this yourself without the phenolic plate, simply rout the size opening you need half way through the top. The real beauty of this is should you change your mind you will be able to easily mount a plate in place of your through holes. Baltic Birch plywood has many fine layers and is much stronger than your average birch plywood found at a home center. You can purchase this from lumber yards or woodworking specialty stores like Rockler or Woodcraft.

Mike
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post #7 of 34 (permalink) Old 05-18-2007, 10:44 AM
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The Oak Park table top kit:
http://us.oak-park.com/catalogue.html?list=BYOT--

Advantages of This Kit:

-Table top laminated on both sides, guaranteed not to warp;
-Pre-cut base plate recess;
-Pre-drilled mounting holes for spacer fences;
-Pre-drilled base plate to mount to your router;
-Available with standard plate or with the vacu-system;
-Plans included to complete the router table;
-Purchase this kit and save compared to purchasing these items separately!

Build Your Own Table On Sale 152.95

Have Fun,
Joe

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www.WoodworkStuff.net
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post #8 of 34 (permalink) Old 05-18-2007, 01:41 PM Thread Starter
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Cory -
Thanks for the mention of Pat Warner. Checked that site and thought it was interesting he seems to DISlike inserts as much as some sites push them.
I like MDF for desktops etc. Hadn't considered it.
Joe-
Thanks for the suggestion -- I had already looked at the Oak Park table top kit-
If I decide to go with an insert -- I think I will probably order that.
Mike -
Thank you for reminding me there was a THIRD option --
That I could add an insert later if I decided the convenience was worth the cost.
I'm thinking right now THAT is the way I am going to go.

One last question - assuming I stick with my plans for not using an insert.
Mike mentions that the wood would need to be thicker than the insert to provide the same support - thus losing some of my depth of cut. Frankly - I was concerned aobut that too.
But the plans I have looked at for 'non-insert' tops say I can get by with leaving only 3/8" - same thickness as an inser. The logic seems to be -- if I route out ONLY the space occupied by the router base -- support is actually being provided by the surrounding table. Are they/I missing something important?
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post #9 of 34 (permalink) Old 05-18-2007, 02:08 PM
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Many inserts are 1/4" thick, some are 3/8". Using BB plywood a 3/8" thickness should be strong enough for support. For home center grade plywood you would need 1/2" thickness for safety. This is due to the difference in construction between the plywoods.

I will edit this later today showing photos of BB and home center grade side by side.

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post #10 of 34 (permalink) Old 05-18-2007, 03:58 PM
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My first table top was 3/4" MDF and I still have it.. I made a new top with MDF, but put a Rousseau insert in it.. Either way works fine.. I use the first top for portable use, such as when we go north for a week I take it and clamp it to the work bench up there..

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