Why are tabletop so expensive? - Router Forums
 
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-13-2012, 06:39 PM Thread Starter
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Question Why are tabletop so expensive?

I'm pretty new to using routers so I'm in a steep learning curve. After reviewing table tops until my eyeballs fell out, I decided on a Bosch benchtop table. I have to say I'm pretty disappointed. (more on that in another question I'm planning to posts).

I understand a need for flat, but in reading some of the posts here it seems to me like flatness is being carried to an extreme. We're working in WOOD. Accuracy, yes, but are these tables especially dead on flat?

It seems to me that 3/4 MDF plus a formica laminate and some reinforcing cross ribs will get/keep a table surface flat enough for 99 percent of home use. I am not a professional shop doing massive projects. My intended use is to make small boxes- like jewelry boxes.

I've purchased and set up an Incra jig for my fence. (Great product)

I just don't see the real value in spending $200+ on a table surface. What am I missing?
Thanks
Dick
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-13-2012, 09:12 PM
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Dick, there are numerous ways to achieve good tabletop material - in any price range you could ever wish for. Flatness is certainly important for several reasons, but like anything else - a great finished product requires more than just great tools and tabletops. Certainly you can make an inexpensive tabletop as you have described and it may be of great quality - but it will cost you more if someone else is making it, handling it, delivering it and marking it up. If you have the time and the skills - certainly you can make a fine router table / top. I make almost all of my own work surfaces, because I often have special dimensional restrictions or a particular tool that I am trying to make it for. My suggestion is to make a list of your needs and shop-around for the best ways to meet those needs. Many router forum participants will have helpful suggestions and you will find that almost anything you're likely to attempt in woodworking has been done prior and you can benefit tremendously by getting multiple opinions. This is by far the most helpful forum that I've ever participated in - on any subject. Enjoy!

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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-13-2012, 09:46 PM
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"Why are tabletops so expensive?"

Primarily because there's not much profit in selling a slab of plain-Jane MDF. Dress it up, fit it out with grooves, slots, clamps, edging, make it out of cast iron, expensive plastic or unobtainium, all ways to jack the price and up the profit margin.

My first router table was a piece of cabinet-grade birch ply underpinned with a frame of 5/4 quartersawn heart pine, all salvaged from job site leftovers. Routed a 1/4" recess to fit my two(yes, just two) router bases, drilled some holes for screws and I was done. Worked fine for me for over fifteen years. No base, it just hung between two sawhorses.

I succumbed to the hype, made my new table top out of laminated BB ply, slathered it with contact cement, layered on the Formica. Cut a big hole in it, routed out a ledge and hung a Jessem lift in it. Put all this stuff together and guess what? My old piece of birch ply was flatter by a big margin....

I like the lift, love the Incra fence but the top is severely lacking. Yeah, it's pretty and real slick but not flat worth diddley and that's what counts most, right?

My next try will most probably be something like Quillman's table. KISS principle, sometimes less really is more. Add some reinforcement around the opening for the lift, probably aluminum bars, and I'm there.

Lots of hype in the woodworking equipment business nowadays, folks selling high-$ solutions desperately seeking problems. A healthy dose of skepticism is a good thing if you don't have money to burn, sounds like you've got a head start in that direction. Keep an open mind and a firm grasp on your wallet, you'll be better off.

Great thread! Ducking and covering.......

Best,
Bill

Last edited by billg71; 04-13-2012 at 09:49 PM.
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-14-2012, 01:06 PM
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Think for yourself on this. An easily made router table that won't cost you much at all will work just fine believe me. You can make it as flat as you need. Like you said you are not a pro and not a production shop. A piece of 3/4 inch birch plywood with a hole cut in it and a router plate insert works great and can be put out of the way when not in use. You can easily make your own fence too. That is what wood working is all about. You can spend as little or as much as you want on most things. Never a good idea to spend a ton of money on a hobby when just starting out, could come back to bite you in the arse if you tire of it. Resale of tools is not real good.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-14-2012, 01:18 PM
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or a simple piece of melamine coated shelving from home depot (around $15) with a hole cut in it.

that is essentially what i have (except mine was scavenged from an old Ikea armoire), and it is plenty flat enough for my purposes.

you can also sometimes get scrap kitchen coutertpos from those people who sell granite countertops
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-14-2012, 02:53 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks Guys. You all are confirming what I originally suspected. I wish I'd found this forum before I jumped the gun and bought the Bosch benchtop table- Oh well, live and learn. I'm off to make some modifications so the table is a little more user friendly.

Thanks again
Dick
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-15-2012, 04:21 PM
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I am fairly new to woodworking but decided to build my own router table. I just used 3/4 inch MDF and made a high grade plywood insert. I am like you, I can't figure out how some of these companies can get the prices they are asking for their tables.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-15-2012, 04:42 PM
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I'm with you on costs and just don't get it. A router is used infrequently for joints and edging and is not a big deal in my life.

I have a combination work bench and router table. Serves two functions just fine. I don't want a free standing item getting in my way that used infrequently for a short time.

Trying to make a flat top is difficult. Anything under 2" will warp. To start out dead flat and stay that way I use a hollow core doors stacked two deep and glued up. Then I skin them on both sides with birch ply and edge with 3/4" oak. You need 3/4" skins and I see no reason for Formica.When the tops get worn looking I sand them down and recoat with Poly. They last several years before needing this. I only sand off the original Poly. 3-4 coats of poly with a roller and good as new.

No problem at all cutting a hole for a router and lining the hole with 3/4" oak. Any slots you need are made by inlaying a strip of oak and routing what ever width you need. Cost well below what you can buy and warp free for ever.

Expensive router lifters I also don't get. I have a plunge router machined by the factory to be smooth and true. For a lift I use a scissor jack. I recently added a digital readout. Jury is still out on whether I needed this.

So its OK with me if a hobby guy wants to spend mega bucks on a Router, just not my style.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-15-2012, 04:48 PM
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My Cheap Ryobi router is adjustable after drilling a hole in my insert by just buying a cheap nut driver that fits the end of the adjustment screw, no need for a lift. The hole was free, and the nut driver was about $3.
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