So you want to buy a router table... - Router Forums
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post #1 of 40 (permalink) Old 04-29-2010, 10:56 PM Thread Starter
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Default So you want to buy a router table...

I was told by my son Mark that many members were interested in comparing the router tables out in the market. He wants to know, what is needed to compare commercially built router tables? The first thing that come to my mind was, what do you need a router table for? You are a beginner and you received your grandfather's Sears router complete with the packaging. This router has rounded over three boards and then was quickly put back in the box and left there for the next 30 years.

You found this tool and have heard that it is the most versatile tool in the workshop. Now you own one of these tools and you want to know more...so why the router table? Most of them out there can round over a board and cut a rabbet joint, that's it. Each of the manufactures create the same style with subtle differences but for the most part they are all the same and of course they can round over the board and make a rabbet joint.

So again why do you need to spend hundreds of dollars for something as useless as that? You can have the same thing by just taking the sub-plate off your router then using this sub-plate to match and drill the holes on a piece of 1/2 Good One Side plywood approx. 24" X 48". I would put the router at one end of the plywood leaving it equally from the two sides and the end. The commercially built ones would have you put the router in the center of the plywood. Mount the router and screw the 1/2" plywood on the end of your workbench and you are set...you now can round over a board and create the rabbet joint. Cost about 10 bucks...

So again you ask what router table to buy? There must be more to the router tables out there right? No there really is not much more out there, they have no idea how to make the rabbet/dado joint or the box joint to say the least. They make it virtually impossible to change router bits, remember the hole for the router is the middle of the table leaving no place to put the router while changing the router bits. They all do it this way so is that really what you want to do?

Let's talk about changing router bits, probably the most used operation on the router table.

So first thing to look for is 1) where do I put my router to change the router bits? With the router mounted in the center there really is no place to put the router and change the router bit. Oh yes I know over on the workbench across the shop, that is real handy...

Next two questions are related to router bit storage. So question 2, where do you put the router bit after you have taken it out? and 3, where do you get the next router bit from? Is there a system used to hold your router bits built into the table? Again the answer is over at the workbench in a box full of plastic cases...

Next, let's talk about the fence. Did you ever look closely at the router bit and really decide for your self how much fence you really need to mold the edge of a board. Using just the bearing it is about 1/4" so why a 30 inch fence. We agree that router bit does the cutting, right? And you agree with me that you need a small amount of fence to get the board on the router bit and off the router bit, right?

Being cautious let's say 6" on the in-feed and 6" on the out-feed. So then 4) why do all these router tables make the same sized fence leaving it to be 24 to 30" is length...To be honest with more fence you have the chances of not getting your board to touch the router bit at all, it becomes a real problem. A bit of a warp in the project piece makes it difficult to mold the edge. So why such a long fence?

Now let's look at a real gem, how they mount the fence to the table? This is suppose to be a feature...each have a T slot, a T-nut with a bolt and I think they want you to make the fence parallel with the side of the table. That is so you can use your table-saw miter gauge to do cross cuts. That's right they want you to use a tool designed to be used with the table-saw to be used with the router.

Why is this not a good idea?

The table-saw cuts in the vertical plane and the router cuts in the horizontal plane. This is two different ways to cut, and in the horizontal plane you need the support right over the router bit. But with the miter gauge the support is at least 6" to the right. This works fine with the cutting tool in the vertical plane and where the saw blade is cutting into the miter fence. This tool is not for the router bit cutting in the horizontal plane.

Next, let's think about the clamping process, because the router bit cut in circular motion in the horizontal plane makes the fence always parallel to the router bit. The best process to mount a fence is to use a C-Clamp on the out-feed to first position the fence then moving the fence into position and clamping the second C-Clamp on the in-feed side. Nothing needs to be parallel. All you need is the fence to be the desired distance away from the router bit. 5) You need each of these router tables to be demonstrated. You want the salesman to show you how to set up the fence 2" away from the router bit. Just watch how quick this can be done? Trust me this is not an easy task even with practice...Do you want to be doing this every time you need to make a set up? Not likely...

So that is just a few things to ask when looking for a router table...I think you will find that most of these commercially purchased router tables are basically the same and work as described above...So to start you should use my plywood table with a 2 X 2 fence with two C-Clamps to start...round over your boards until you get the feel of what the direction of feed is all about. Use the round over, cove, and the roman ogee bit to mold the edges of all the boards in the shop. Remember across the grain first, with the grain second then across the grain and follow up with the grain one final time.

Next, let's talk about making some simple wood joints with your plywood table. Joints like the dado, groove, rabbet and linear dovetail. And again don't buy a router table just yet...You need to get a few wood joints under your belt before purchasing that useless router table.

Rick and Bob
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post #2 of 40 (permalink) Old 05-02-2010, 07:17 PM
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I'm new to using a Router, Do you have picture of this table top so I can try to make it
post #3 of 40 (permalink) Old 05-02-2010, 07:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
I'm new to using a Router, Do you have picture of this table top so I can try to make it
Hi - Welcome to the forum
Here's the picture from the Oak Park website. Not much to make, It's some phenolic impregnated plywood with a hole for the plate and some other holes for Oak Park jigs. The fence just clamps to the table, or maybe one end pivots and the other clamps. Not real sure. I haven't got one of these but noticed no one had answered your post yet.
There is a link to the Oak Park website down the left side of the page when you first enter the forum. Didn't think to copy the URL. Will come back later and post it as an edit.

Here's the link
http://us.oak-park.com/catalogue.html
That link is to their US catalog. The Canadian catalog may be different, haven't looked.
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post #4 of 40 (permalink) Old 05-03-2010, 07:43 AM
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A lot of assumptions and misinformation here IMHO. I'll address some of the inaccuracies..

Quote:
Originally Posted by BobandRick View Post
I was told by my son Mark that many members were interested in comparing the router tables out in the market. He wants to know, what is needed to compare commercially built router tables? The first thing that come to my mind was, what do you need a router table for? You are a beginner and you received your grandfather's Sears router complete with the packaging. This router has rounded over three boards and then was quickly put back in the box and left there for the next 30 years.
Ummm.. not the case for most here. Some of us have been using routers for quite a while and have never invested in a commercial router table.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BobandRick View Post
You found this tool and have heard that it is the most versatile tool in the workshop. Now you own one of these tools and you want to know more...so why the router table? Most of them out there can round over a board and cut a rabbet joint, that's it. Each of the manufactures create the same style with subtle differences but for the most part they are all the same and of course they can round over the board and make a rabbet joint.
So again why do you need to spend hundreds of dollars for something as useless as that? You can have the same thing by just taking the sub-plate off your router then using this sub-plate to match and drill the holes on a piece of 1/2 Good One Side plywood approx. 24" X 48". I would put the router at one end of the plywood leaving it equally from the two sides and the end. The commercially built ones would have you put the router in the center of the plywood. Mount the router and screw the 1/2" plywood on the end of your workbench and you are set...you now can round over a board and create the rabbet joint. Cost about 10 bucks...
Not so. There are large and significant differences between manufacturers of router tables. And none that I know of uses plywood. Thankfully. Also not every table has the router mounted in the center. Many are offset. The better manufacturers offer options. Also, for that $10 cost you'll get about $10 worth of accuracy. Stay away from plywood and go with an MDF core surface, it's rigid and flat.


Quote:
Originally Posted by BobandRick View Post
So again you ask what router table to buy? There must be more to the router tables out there right? No there really is not much more out there, they have no idea how to make the rabbet/dado joint or the box joint to say the least. They make it virtually impossible to change router bits, remember the hole for the router is the middle of the table leaving no place to put the router while changing the router bits. They all do it this way so is that really what you want to do?
Actually there is plenty out there. A diverse group of products. They do not make it virtually impossible to change the router bits. Those are changed the same way on any table, lift out the plate. Simple.


Quote:
Originally Posted by BobandRick View Post
Next two questions are related to router bit storage. So question 2, where do you put the router bit after you have taken it out? and 3, where do you get the next router bit from? Is there a system used to hold your router bits built into the table? Again the answer is over at the workbench in a box full of plastic cases...
Ummm no. Why are there a box full of plastic cases? Why not one large case where all your bits can fit? or a drawer in your workbench to store them? I'm not sure what the point is here. Is there some magic bullet? The bits have to go somewhere no matter what router or table you use, right?

Quote:
Originally Posted by BobandRick View Post
Next, let's talk about the fence. Did you ever look closely at the router bit and really decide for your self how much fence you really need to mold the edge of a board. Using just the bearing it is about 1/4" so why a 30 inch fence. We agree that router bit does the cutting, right? And you agree with me that you need a small amount of fence to get the board on the router bit and off the router bit, right?
Simple, the longer and straighter the fence the more support, safety and accuracy in the cut. Not every piece cut is 10" long.


Quote:
Originally Posted by BobandRick View Post
Being cautious let's say 6" on the in-feed and 6" on the out-feed. So then 4) why do all these router tables make the same sized fence leaving it to be 24 to 30" is length...To be honest with more fence you have the chances of not getting your board to touch the router bit at all, it becomes a real problem. A bit of a warp in the project piece makes it difficult to mold the edge. So why such a long fence?
Again, what about long workpieces? Board not touching the router bit at all??
You guys work with boards with warped edges? That's not safe or smart. Square straight stock is pretty basic to all woodworking. Unless you're working with curved pieces in which case you wouldn't be using a fence anyway.


Quote:
Originally Posted by BobandRick View Post
Now let's look at a real gem, how they mount the fence to the table? This is suppose to be a feature...each have a T slot, a T-nut with a bolt and I think they want you to make the fence parallel with the side of the table. That is so you can use your table-saw miter gauge to do cross cuts. That's right they want you to use a tool designed to be used with the table-saw to be used with the router.
Sometimes it's desirable to have the fence parallel with the edge of the table. A miter gauge is useful in keeping the work piece square to the fence. And the miter gauge is not used exclusively on the table saw. It can be used for a variety of tool applications.


Quote:
Originally Posted by BobandRick View Post
So that is just a few things to ask when looking for a router table...I think you will find that most of these commercially purchased router tables are basically the same and work as described above...So to start you should use my plywood table with a 2 X 2 fence with two C-Clamps to start...
Again, some c-clamps and a short fence are fine for small pieces, but what about larger ones? How does a 2 x 2 fence give you support for vertical work?
What material are you using for the fence? will it remain straight? High quality commercial fences will. What about safety? where is the bit guard mounted on your homemade fence? How about dust collection? Your fence account for that? Mine does. As do most well made commercial fences. As well as safety, something you failed to mention. What type of surface does your "plywood" table have? Is it rough? Won't that require more effort to feed the stock through? Sounds like that might be unsafe.

It seems to me that it it is more important for someone just starting out using a router to make the learning process as easy and as safe as possible and NOT to focus solely on the cost. High quality well made tables provide large flat work surfaces. High quality well made fences provide straight true rigid, accurate and safe work surfaces and include protection from sharp bits and include dust collection.
My advice for someone purchasing a router or router table, as with all tools, get the best quality tool you can afford. There are a myriad of manufacturers out there and a wealth of information about them on the internet. Educate yourself.
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post #5 of 40 (permalink) Old 05-23-2010, 03:55 PM Thread Starter
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Just got back to this thread...and see that I have stirred up some fur from at least one of the members. Sorry I just realized this joker has been banned for some reason. Anyways I will take some time to answer each of the so called concerns in my next post.

Rick and Bob
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Well I have just completed my first PDF E-Course, which is 10 embedded lessons from the Router Workshop Video Series. This is a must have PDF that you can get some very good pointers on how to use the router. Get your FREE copy here!

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post #6 of 40 (permalink) Old 05-23-2010, 06:09 PM
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I'll be honest with you, only answer his concerns if you have the free time. His presence on the forum is no more and his disregard for the rules and respect for other members has earned him his fancy "Banned" title. Suppose this is a good time as any to address how seriously we take member disrespect on Router Forums, let Joe be an example.

I'd only encourage you to reply to his comments if other members are curious and if you have the free time to do so.

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post #7 of 40 (permalink) Old 05-24-2010, 06:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jschaben View Post
Hi - Welcome to the forum
Here's the picture from the Oak Park website. Not much to make, It's some phenolic impregnated plywood with a hole for the plate and some other holes for Oak Park jigs. The fence just clamps to the table, or maybe one end pivots and the other clamps. Not real sure. I haven't got one of these but noticed no one had answered your post yet.
There is a link to the Oak Park website down the left side of the page when you first enter the forum. Didn't think to copy the URL. Will come back later and post it as an edit.

Here's the link
Oak Park Enterprises Ltd.: Catalogue
That link is to their US catalog. The Canadian catalog may be different, haven't looked.
Here is my version of the Oak Park table.

I had to make mine as They will not ship outside NA

there is a definate disadvantage for larger pieces.

You will see the boxes I made. They are 80cm long and I needed to rout for the piano hinge. Even using the long fence and long side of the table it was too short to do a good job.

It would be good for smaller pieces. And was interesting to make and (I hope) good practice for the next one that will have a much longer top though not too much wider.
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post #8 of 40 (permalink) Old 05-24-2010, 07:34 AM
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Originally Posted by sometimewoodworker View Post
Here is my version of the Oak Park table.

I had to make mine as They will not ship outside NA

there is a definate disadvantage for larger pieces.

You will see the boxes I made. They are 80cm long and I needed to rout for the piano hinge. Even using the long fence and long side of the table it was too short to do a good job.

It would be good for smaller pieces. And was interesting to make and (I hope) good practice for the next one that will have a much longer top though not too much wider.
Hi Jerome, nice job ... Adding the sketchup with dimensions helps give a better perspective of what you have, wish I could get the hang of that program
What kind of problems did you have? I'm going to guess infeed or outfeed support.

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post #9 of 40 (permalink) Old 05-24-2010, 09:24 AM
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Originally Posted by jschaben View Post
Hi Jerome, nice job ... Adding the sketchup with dimensions helps give a better perspective of what you have, wish I could get the hang of that program
What kind of problems did you have? I'm going to guess infeed or outfeed support.
Hi John

You almost have it.

The boxes are 2x Systainer so they are all 30cm x 80cm. So far I have Sys 1, 2, 3, and 4 Hights

The side material is 1.7cm and the piano hinge needs about 1.6cm x 3mm x 76cm taken off the lid and base.

The table had neither the front to Router bit depth nor the infeed and outfeed length to support either the box or even the box on a 10mm full length/width jig.

The boxes may well be a larger size and the piano hinge longer than most people will make but they are not huge.

The table is perfectly useable for smaller work but it is clear to me that a 2nd larger one is essential for my work.

On the subject of SketchUp the main benefit I found was in placing the Dominos. FWIW The hole for the power cable/dust extractor hose was placed in the SketchUp file after drilling the hole in the side. It looks too big in the SU drawing but is correct from the actual hole.

If anyone is interested the Shetchup file is at ftp://ftp.meekings.net/Woodwork/
the file does not have the hard wood edging or router plate support or the melamine top.

The reason these are not included is that I didn't need them for my own build. They aren't difficult to add if you want them. I can't at the moment as the router table is 3000 miles and 3 months away.

Feel free to copy the design or use the Shetchup file under the GNU GPL copyleft license

This Sketchup file is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify
it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by
the Free Software Foundation, version 3 of the License,

This file is distributed in the hope that it will be useful,
but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of
MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the
GNU General Public License for more details.

see <http://www.gnu.org/licenses/>.
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Last edited by sometimewoodworker; 05-24-2010 at 11:16 AM.
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post #10 of 40 (permalink) Old 05-24-2010, 02:31 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sometimewoodworker View Post
Here is my version of the Oak Park table.

I had to make mine as They will not ship outside NA

there is a definate disadvantage for larger pieces.

You will see the boxes I made. They are 80cm long and I needed to rout for the piano hinge. Even using the long fence and long side of the table it was too short to do a good job.

It would be good for smaller pieces. And was interesting to make and (I hope) good practice for the next one that will have a much longer top though not too much wider.
Great job...sometimewoodworker

Rick and Bob
The Router Guys


Well I have just completed my first PDF E-Course, which is 10 embedded lessons from the Router Workshop Video Series. This is a must have PDF that you can get some very good pointers on how to use the router. Get your FREE copy here!

Click here to join the Router Workshop!!
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