Butcher block top? - Router Forums
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post #1 of 27 (permalink) Old 09-16-2020, 10:26 AM Thread Starter
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Default Butcher block top?

Hi,
I have a leftover piece of maple butcher block countertop that is just a few inches longer than my really beat up (and originally crappy) 3/4" MDF router table top. I am considering using it to replace the old top. I know it sounds really fancy, but I'm not after fancy, I'm after better durability and would like it to remain flat.
So if I start with flat butcherblock and finish both sides, is there a reasonable expectation that it will remain flat?
And anal thought processes aside, just how important is flat, really, in a router table top? Or maybe I should ask "just how flat does a router top really need to be?"
Thanks,

--Brian
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post #2 of 27 (permalink) Old 09-16-2020, 10:38 AM
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Hey, Brian; is it long grain or end grain? Running end grain through a planer can be risky. How else would you get it dead flat? Just curious.
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post #3 of 27 (permalink) Old 09-16-2020, 10:42 AM Thread Starter
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It is long grain. Like you use in countertops and workbench tops. Plus, my ailing old 12" planer wouldn't be of any use to me at all.

I'm partly asking just how flat does it need to be? I seriously doubt that dead flat is possible or necessary. If it isn't flat enough right now, I'm probably not going to have any way to improve it.
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post #4 of 27 (permalink) Old 09-16-2020, 10:47 AM Thread Starter
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I should add that my current top is not very flat at all, plus my aluminum router plate is domed. It was originally made for me in a local metal shop when my original plastic plate proved too light for my heavy router. This was in the early 1990s and I don't think there were any aluminum plates on the market at that time. I should have had them mill it flat on both sides, but that was not in my budget at the time. The slight dome has always bothered me and required some extra care, but I can do pretty good moulding and similar work on it as-is and I don't do little boxes and such. I'll probably replace the plate when I have the new top. (And if I use the butcherblock, I'll replace the plate before I route the opening in the table.)
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post #5 of 27 (permalink) Old 09-16-2020, 10:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FatBear View Post
Hi,
I have a leftover piece of maple butcher block countertop that is just a few inches longer than my really beat up (and originally crappy) 3/4" MDF router table top. I am considering using it to replace the old top. I know it sounds really fancy, but I'm not after fancy, I'm after better durability and would like it to remain flat.
So if I start with flat butcherblock and finish both sides, is there a reasonable expectation that it will remain flat?
And anal thought processes aside, just how important is flat, really, in a router table top? Or maybe I should ask "just how flat does a router top really need to be?"
Thanks,

--Brian

Only as straight as you want the profile...

Depends on where the table is not flat. You might be thinking that it doesn't need to be flat all...for example if the table is bowed up where the bit is, it might not matter because the work piece will always "flat" from the bit's perspective. But, if the bow is caved, it would depend on the size of the workpiece. If the workpiece is as long as the fence the bow will be reflected in the profile over the length of the piece.

So much for the theoretical...now for the practical... The table needs to be flat, the plate and inserts need to be flat to the table so as not to catch when running the workpiece through and it needs to be flat on all its axis for when you have any width and length to the workpiece. Imagine if it rocked as you push the piece through...like putting an edge profile on a panel door...

Go for flat...length, width and diagonal...couple of thousandths won't hurt...
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post #6 of 27 (permalink) Old 09-16-2020, 11:21 AM
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Originally Posted by DaninVan View Post
Hey, Brian; is it long grain or end grain? Running end grain through a planer can be risky. How else would you get it dead flat? Just curious.
use carrier runners on the sides and sacrificials to start and end...

This would have been the week that I'd have finished chewing thru the restraints...
If only new layers hadn't been added....

Stick....
Forget the primal scream, just ROAR!!!
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post #7 of 27 (permalink) Old 09-16-2020, 11:25 AM
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Originally Posted by FatBear View Post
It is long grain. Like you use in countertops and workbench tops. Plus, my ailing old 12" planer wouldn't be of any use to me at all.

I'm partly asking just how flat does it need to be? I seriously doubt that dead flat is possible or necessary. If it isn't flat enough right now, I'm probably not going to have any way to improve it.
check for flatness w/ a straight edge ...
hand plane the high spots...
and to smoothness...

This would have been the week that I'd have finished chewing thru the restraints...
If only new layers hadn't been added....

Stick....
Forget the primal scream, just ROAR!!!
"SNORK Mountain Congressional Library and Taxidermy”
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post #8 of 27 (permalink) Old 09-16-2020, 11:29 AM Thread Starter
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I guess I understand all of that so well that I don't even think about it in the general sense anymore. Every single stinking thing I run through the router needs to be thought through carefully in order to compensate for the crappy top and plate. I've been doing this for more than 20 years and I'm hoping to get away from it, but I cannot justify the cost of an ultimate router table top for my occasional use. It isn't my main tool, though I've got some projects in mind that will use it more.

So if I ensure that the top is as flat as two thousandths and I finish both sides and it lives in my sheet-rocked, but uninsulated and unconditioned garage in mostly dry southern CA, is it likely to remain flat enough? It is 1.5" hard maple butcher block. Dimensions will be 25x32 inches.

If the butcher block will warp too much, I will probably just keep using the crappy top until I get the time and inclination to build one from MDF. Though I have no idea how to glue up two pieces of MDF, cover both sides with formica, and manage to keep it within 2 thousands of flat.
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post #9 of 27 (permalink) Old 09-16-2020, 11:41 AM
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Originally Posted by FatBear View Post
I guess I understand all of that so well that I don't even think about it in the general sense anymore. Every single stinking thing I run through the router needs to be thought through carefully in order to compensate for the crappy top and plate. I've been doing this for more than 20 years and I'm hoping to get away from it, but I cannot justify the cost of an ultimate router table top for my occasional use. It isn't my main tool, though I've got some projects in mind that will use it more.

So if I ensure that the top is as flat as two thousandths and I finish both sides and it lives in my sheet-rocked, but uninsulated and unconditioned garage in mostly dry southern CA, is it likely to remain flat enough? It is 1.5" hard maple butcher block. Dimensions will be 25x32 inches.

If the butcher block will warp too much, I will probably just keep using the crappy top until I get the time and inclination to build one from MDF. Though I have no idea how to glue up two pieces of MDF, cover both sides with Formica, and manage to keep it within 2 thousands of flat.
that top will remain flat...
instead of MDF use Film-Faced or Phenolic coated Baltic Birch on top of a torsion frame...

This would have been the week that I'd have finished chewing thru the restraints...
If only new layers hadn't been added....

Stick....
Forget the primal scream, just ROAR!!!
"SNORK Mountain Congressional Library and Taxidermy”

Last edited by Stick486; 09-16-2020 at 11:49 AM.
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post #10 of 27 (permalink) Old 09-16-2020, 12:55 PM Thread Starter
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Well now that phenolic plywood sure looks like a way to maximize my expenses. I've already got the wood right now, if maple butcher block is acceptable. That's what I'm trying to decide on. Otherwise I'll buy a pre-made MDF top that is hopefully thicker and better than the one I've got. Either way I'll buy a new router plate which will greatly improve my flatness.

If by "that top will remain flat" you mean the MDF one, I am aware that it is unlikely to warp once I've made it. But remaining flat assumes that I can make it flat to begin with. There would be four layers with three glue joints (two pieces of MDF plus a piece of formica on each side). I've done enough glueing and formica to know that without a perfectly flat gluing surface and a perfectly flat and stiff press, the chances of a perfectly flat within .002 glue-up are pretty close to zero.
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