Over the years I have used a few different routers and a couple of different benchtop router tables. I have a rather old Craftsman benchtop router table, which is now the top of a tall narrow roll around shelf unit in an out of the way corner of the shop. That was built three shops ago, and though I left it where it could still be used as a router table I have not found the need to do so when it was a convenient thing to do. I opted to go and buy a Ryobi benchtop router table rather than dig the Craftsman out of it's hidden location in a storage unit when I was building the cabinets for the teardrop trailer project I was working on a few years ago.
This year I finally tore myself away from the welding shop to build some Christmas presents with wood. In the process I ended up digging out the Ryobi router table. Just used it with a roundover bit on the edges of a half dozen triangles. It could have been done without a fence at all but I ended up using the old Craftsman fence on the Ryobi table and it actually worked out fine (I was using the Ryobi router that came "free" with the router table).
But , all this has got me to thinking about getting or building a "real" router table. I have better routers to choose from that I could use in a bigger router table, both a Porter Cable and a DeWalt. I have about a 3 foot square piece of 1" thick phenolic which I was thinking of using for a table top but know nothing of working with the stuff (it was scrap from a job site a few years ago and was given to me). I have used that bit of phenolic often when I need a good flat hard surface in the shop. I'm sure I have a piece of 1/4" aluminum somewhere that is big enough to make a router plate, and if not I know I have 1/4" steel plate that I could use for that. There's a short bit (maybe 24") of 6x6x1/4" extruded aluminum angle out in the metal shop somewhere too that might be the start of a decent fence. I would weld up a frame from 1.5 or 2" square tubing to support the top.
My biggest problem with this idea is not knowing anything about machining the phenolic or how hard it is on blades, motors and lungs. Of course I could use MDF and formica instead of the phenolic. I know MDF is cheaper than phenolic but in this case I already have the phenolic, while I would have to buy the MDF and formica. My question here is whether it would be worth the trouble to build the table from the phenolic, and make the mounting plate from the aluminum or steel, or would I be better off just buying a router table? Also any suggestion on using material other than what I have mentioned would be welcome.
Sorry for the long rambling post, my first one was a little shorter.....