Do I need a router plate for my new table? - Router Forums
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-15-2010, 12:29 AM Thread Starter
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Default Do I need a router plate for my new table?

First of all, I have more theoretical knowledge than experience. So far, my craftsmanship hasn't measured up to my standards for precision.

My shop is in my basement. I have a PC 890 - currently have a Rockler MDF table with Rockler 1/4" alum. plate. I have a Incra positioning jig and I want to get into dovetail and box joinery, and hope that I can get good enough with making them to justify upgrading to an LS next winter. Generally, I leave my router on the table - I don't really use it "freehand" - even though I have an extra base.

I have always had trouble getting the router plate flushed all to the table all the way around. I can get the corners flush, but the the center of the plate is out of flush. I finally figured out that my MDF table has an ever so slight warp to it - probably due to regular humidity in my area. I was able to get it to flatten with the use of angle iron stretchers under the table but that interfered with the lock lever on my router - repositioning them brought back the warp. I have finally decided it's time I build my own table top with baltic birch plywood and plastic laminate (both sides).

My end goal is to have a perfectly flat, perfectly flush table, and I am afraid that I will not be satisfied with the flushness of any router plate - I've never gotten mine to work right so I can't imagine one ever working to my satisfaction. Here's my idea:

I'm thinking of making the router table with a lamination of 3/4" and 1/2" BB plywood and then plam on both sides. I would cut the 3/4" sheet to the rough size of the router base plate so I could mount the router directly to the bottom of the 1/2" plywood on the top. I think the 3/4" plywood will provide good support, and I think the 1/2" plywood will be thin enough so I don't think I will miss the depth. This way I can avoid using a plate that will need to be leveled, and I'll be able to slide by the bit absolutely flush to the table top with no hang-ups or bumps. I can drill out holes on the top to insert the PC 890 height adjuster tool and adjust height like that, and I usually change the bits from above the table. Long and the short of it, I don't think I will miss not having a router plate.

The only drawback I see is I probably won't be able to use bushings because I'm not betting on being able to size the hole perfectly and then there's the problem of getting the hole absolutely perfect. I think I might be able to live with that.

I'm also thinking of drilling out dust evac holes in the table top ala the Oak Park router Vac-plate.

Do my plans make sense? Would mounting the router directly to the table like I described work? Would I be better off by using a router plate? Was my bad experience out of the ordinary?

The cost of a good plate (Oak-Park Vacu- plate) isn't that bad - probably less than the extra sheet of 1/2" BB plywood.

Your advice is appreciated.

Thanks,

Chris (Ryan's Dad)
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-15-2010, 12:36 AM
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Welcome to the RouterForums Chris. Thank you for joining our community.




Dave
the "Doctor"

In woodworking there is no scrap, only firewood.



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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-15-2010, 08:15 AM
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What you are describing is a standard way of making router table tops. More commonly, though, both sheets would be MDF, and they would be laminated to reduce friction and protect the wood from absorbing moisture.

I have tried twice to get a perfectly flat top this way, and I have failed. I am not saying it's not possible, but it is difficult. Living in North Carolina, the humidity changes are substantial; perhaps it's that in my case, or it's just my lack of skills. In the end, I did also get a Rockler table (just to get it over with), and I am dealing with the same issues you are describing. I also mounted a frame underneath. It's still not perfect, but I think I can live with it.

If you look around, you'll find that many people are struggling with getting their plates absolutely flush. There are plates that are cupped by design. All this tells me that one can live with such tolerances - in most cases.

If you really want to get a flat table you'll probably have to look at some material other than wood. Phenolic or cast iron come to mind. Humidity won't affect those. Other than that, a mounting plate that's as small as possible might be an option. There are circular plates available that are just slightly larger than the normal base plates routers com with. You could give that a try, but you'll still have to start out with a flat table top.

Good luck! MM
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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-15-2010, 10:50 AM
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What is the easiest way to determine if the table is flush?
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-15-2010, 02:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sarumokikaraochiru74 View Post
What is the easiest way to determine if the table is flush?
Take a piece of wood, your finger, a metal square, etc. and slide it from the table onto the plate from all directions. If it snags, the plate is too high. Then slide the piece from the plate onto the table. If it snags, the plate is too low. MM
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-15-2010, 03:54 PM
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Hi Chris:

Ok, I'm going to be the devil's advocate here and stick my foot into it.

What is the function of the router base plate and what is the function of the table?

The base plate keeps the router at 90 degrees to the work piece. The table top supports the router base plate and provides _some_ support to over-sized work pieces. There are several things to consider: is your work piece perfectly square and true? Probably not. Wood moves as much as 1/16" over 12" of width but over it's length, movement is almost negligible. If you joint a piece of wood, the moisture content of the core of the block begins to change and the structure of the block changes accordingly. Your table is going to move. It is made of man-made materials. Steel will move with temperature, wood with temperature and humidity. Unprotected MDF will also prove unreliable over time.

Are your workpieces large enough to require the additional support of the table? It is possible that feather boards on a tall fence and on the table surface will be better for your requirements than a micro-adjusting fence and perfectly aligned table top and base plate? Alternatively, it may be more efficient to use the stock handles and a bit with a bearing, or even an edge guide.

I find OakPark's base plate quite adequate for anything up to 36" long and it's only 11" square. Any longer and I change to my torsion table and use edge guides, straight edges or bearings.

I'm redesigning my tables to be one base with 3 interchangeable tops and the torsion table. Maybe by next winter, I'll have some results of how effective they are.

Allthunbs
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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-17-2011, 01:41 PM
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Guys - noting the comment about humidity, I'm in Hawaii on the windward side of Oahu - lots of salt, lots of humidity. It's fun at the beach, but not much fun for the tools. Although I've been involved in construction for about 50 years, router table work hasn't been something I've done much of over the years. I use a hand-held, big Hitachi for making stair hand railings, etc., but now it's crunch time for doing some custom molding, and am contemplating building my own router table, but buying a top since it looks like phenolic is the best choice. Anybody have a good recommendation on tops?
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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-17-2011, 01:55 PM
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My very first router table was an old office desk. It had a 1.5" top with plastic laminate. I drilled a hole in the center and drilled a few more holes for my router plate. I routed a couple grooves for my fence to slide in. That desk was very flat and gave me years of good service. But it was a pain in the butt when it came time to change bits, etc. The 30x60 was probably overkill too.
I finally got a plate and installed it in my table saw extension table. The plate makes a lot of things so much easier, but is not absolutely necessary.

That said, I am in the process of making a stand alone router table. My table saw extension table has got a slight dip in it where the router plate is.
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-17-2011, 05:26 PM
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The simple solution is to cut the rabbet for the plate slightly deeper than the thickness of the plate, and then install leveling screws from the bottom side. One way of doing this is to install threaded brass inserts, and use machine screws with lock nuts on the bottom side. That, of course, means the rabbet for the plate needs to be wide enough for the installation of the threaded insert and still be strong enough to hold it.

- Ralph
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 01-17-2011, 06:37 PM
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I don't know much but Pat Warner seems to and he has an article someplace titled "Why I don't like router insert plates" or something like that.

The Router Table

KR
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