Buy vs Build - Router Forums
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post #1 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-22-2016, 10:56 AM Thread Starter
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Default Buy vs Build

I have a router table almost together. Realy been taking my time. Maybe even more than Rainman.

I saw the Bosch router table over the weekend for $165 @ Lowes. I thought that was close to a proce where it would make more sense to buy. Now I see the same one @ $139 on Amazon and it's to the point I wonder why a guy would need to build one if price were the driver:



It doesn't look like such a bad table - anyone ever actually used one? Is there any reason to steer a newbie to the Router Workshop model as a cost-effective starting point anymore?
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post #2 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-22-2016, 11:14 AM
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I started with a Ryobi benchtop model similar to the Bosch. Several years later I cannibalized the fence and switch assembly to use on my shop-built fold down table. If you have the money, I don't think you'll go wrong with the Bosch table since you can always use the parts if you want to make a change.
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post #3 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-22-2016, 11:46 AM
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I looked at the Bosch and other bench-top tables and decided that the RT top was just too small (15" X 25") and that since I don't have a bench it could sit on, I'd have to build a stand for it.

So I am building an RT for myself. Having a bit of difficulty with the top because it's too cold in my shop for contact cement to bond ;-( Finishing will just have to wait for warmer weather.
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post #4 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-22-2016, 11:48 AM
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I agree with Oliver, you could use it for awhile then part it out!
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post #5 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-22-2016, 12:37 PM
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I started with the Bosch 1181 (the model for $20 more) and had it about 2 years. You might not be able to do better for the price, but there's some real downsides to the 1181. This amazon review and comments (one of them mine) sums it up very well:

Amazon.com: jesse dosher's review of Bosch RA1181 Benchtop Router Table

I usually like Bosch products, but this is not one of them. Not all of Jesse's points on the 1181 are shared with the 1171, such as the rough surface, but it sure looks like the majority are.

On the plus side, I built a stand for it, and sold the whole thing for a $100.

Last edited by furboo; 02-22-2016 at 12:41 PM. Reason: add plus side
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post #6 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-22-2016, 12:39 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gaffboat View Post
I started with a Ryobi benchtop model similar to the Bosch. Several years later I cannibalized the fence and switch assembly to use on my shop-built fold down table. If you have the money, I don't think you'll go wrong with the Bosch table since you can always use the parts if you want to make a change.
That's a great point. Sometimes "it's easier and cheaper to make one" come into play when you have "stuff" laying around. I'm specifically looking at this from the standpoint of a new guy trying to formulate a beachhead in woodworking. Making everything leaves a "chicken or the egg" conundrum, and often results in buying more than the "average" person would in order to complete an "easy" project.

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Originally Posted by CharlesWebster View Post
I looked at the Bosch and other bench-top tables and decided that the RT top was just too small (15" X 25") and that since I don't have a bench it could sit on, I'd have to build a stand for it.
I thought about the top size and it's one of those "bring the router to the work or bring the work to the router" things. If the table is too small the piece may be too large (judgement call of course.)

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post #7 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-22-2016, 12:50 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by furboo View Post
I started with the Bosch 1181 (the model for $20 more) and had it about 2 years. You might not be able to do better for the price, but there's some real downsides to the 1181. This amazon review and comments (one of them mine) sums it up very well:
I didn't see your reply when I posted mine. I am NOT an owner of this table, but I thought in the interest of this thread I might reply to the review you posted:

Quote:
-I take it back, there's one thing that's pretty bad: the accessory rail at the top of the extruded aluminum fence is not flush with the fence. It sits back from the face of the fence about half an inch. This makes is necessary to use fiddly little plastic spacers when mounting the feather boards or guard. While it's not a fatal flaw, in the end it's really quite annoying.
I did notice this when playing with it in the store. I thought at the time it would be smartest to shim the rail out. I can't guarantee that's possible but that was what I thought I would do if I owned it.

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-The fence doesn't move back far enough to remove the plate. Often if you have a router that's not easy to remove bits from the top you'll just pull the router and plate up out of the table. With the RA1181 the fence blocks the router plate from being removable.
The table for the 1171 has keyholes to remove the fence.

Quote:
-The surface of the table is rather rough. While this seems more of an aesthetic issue, you'll soon realize it creates issues when doing coping cuts (routing the ends of boards). Even after waxing up my Woodpeckers coping sled and the surface of the RA1181 there's still a lot of resistance to smoothly sliding over the table. I can see why people prefer a smooth melamine or cast iron table.
I'd say if a guy has discerning taste and purchases Woodpecker tools, he probably should not buy an entry level anything else.

The table did not seem rough and that sort of melamine always waxes real nice. I'm not speaking as a user but I didn't note that table as being particularly rough. The plate should be the main bearing surface anyway and that was aluminum.

Quote:
-Sharp plastic. This probably seems like I'm being a pansy, but I've scraped more than enough skin off my hands reaching under the table to adjust the router. Everywhere is sharp plastic edges.
This is an MDO table, I didn't see any places to cut one's self. Still if you are a router user and can't figure out how to smooth something ... maybe woodworking is not your best bet.

Quote:
-The fence is not precise. When you tighten the clamping screw down the fence moves a small amount. It's minor, but it's an issue.
No comment here ... I'l try to remember to check that out when I hit the store again.

Quote:
-The fence can't be removed as easily as other tables. I have mounted my RA1181 in the extension wings of my Delta table saw and when I need to do a long cut I have to completely unscrew the RA1181's fence knobs to remove the fence. Most tables have a key hole slot and you can lift the fence of by moving to the far end of the slot.
Like I said, there were keyholes.

Quote:
-The included feather boards have a pretty fiddly, annoying mounting system when putting them into the miter track. They don't just slide in, they have to be lined up and inserted into a pair of key-holes.
Accessories are just that. You can always replace them. It's true these were fiddly, and again I'm not a user of the tool, but they seemed a minor annoyance. They are carriage-head bolts that slide in the track.

Quote:
-If you every decide to add a router lift to the table you'll discover that the plate is a non-standard size and your options are, well, non-existent.
Why would you add a $300 option to a $150 table?

I appreciate the review though - it let's a person know what he is walking into. Nothing about that makes me believe it's a bad choice for a beginner who just wants to make some sawdust.

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post #8 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-22-2016, 12:55 PM
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Well, if it's a choice between no router table or that one, I'd opt for the bosch.

But, if the choice is between the bosch (or any "benchtop" router table) and even a half way well thought out shop built RT, I'd take the latter in a heart beat. There are at least a dozen reasons why you should build your own: size, stability, storage, cost, ... It may be a little daunting to a new woodworker but it's really not that hard and you learn a lot along the way. Tons of plans out there to choose from. And if it's ugly, who cares??? - it's in the shop. I consider building a router table to be a woodworker's rite of passage.

By the way, if you build, just start with a top and put it on two saw horses. You are up and running fairly fast. Then use that to build the cabinet.

Measure twice, cut once and CROSS OUT THE WRONG MARKS.

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post #9 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-22-2016, 01:12 PM
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-snio-
By the way, if you build, just start with a top and put it on two saw horses. You are up and running fairly fast. Then use that to build the cabinet.
Yeah, that's the mistake I made. I should have made the top first because several tasks in building a router table are much easier if you already have a router table
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post #10 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-22-2016, 01:22 PM Thread Starter
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By the way, if you build, just start with a top and put it on two saw horses. You are up and running fairly fast. Then use that to build the cabinet.
That's what I have ...

The point is if a new guy needs an RT rather than to check off a rite of passage, something like this ain't bad. Then he can decide for himself what he likes and does not like about it and then incorporate that into one he builds.

If it's a matter of "here's how to be a woodworker" then maybe I agree with you. If it's "here's how to get that project you already have done without getting sidetracked" then I think buying this might not be bad.

This video rated the 1171 higher than the 1181 by the way:


The Bench Dog 40-001 seems to be a top-rated benchtop:



@ $299 it's quite a bit more. Here's where "build vs buy" starts to gain traction.

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