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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-03-2012, 09:36 PM Thread Starter
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Default how flat?

I'm wanting to build a router table and I have 1 choices for material. a 15" x 24" piece of 3/4" plywood or a 20" x 36" piece of laminated particle board(leftover desk top). The problem is the plywood has a crown of about 1/32". I tried to pull it flat by installing angle iron of it, but it is still there. Am I making a mountain out of a molehill?

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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-03-2012, 10:16 PM
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if i was in that situation, i would use the desk top and support it with a couple of 2 by 4s
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-03-2012, 10:31 PM
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Two by's or some angle, iron or aluminium. The laminated top would be smoother and easier to work on. Just be sure to seal the bottom some how to keep moisture out so it'll stay flat.

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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-03-2012, 11:39 PM
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My gut instinct is that the particle board is a better choice because it will stay flatter over time. Particleboard and MDF stay flatter over time because the wood movement with humidity variations phenomena is minimized compared to it's affect on solids and ply-woods.

I would not suggest just poking a big hole for the bit and a few more smaller holes for the mounting screws through particle board, MDF or ply-wood. Doing that focuses the weight load of the suspended machine on 2, 3 or 4 screws. This technique is very popular in the 'cheapest' of tables, and it invariably fails sooner than 'plate based mounting'.

Router Table Tops should be flat, but also need to be sturdy enough to support the weight of the router they are suspending. Those two considerations are what has fueled the trend of using plastic or metal mounting plates with MDF tops. The larger surface area has the stability of MDF, but the weight load of the motor is distributed across a long rectangular 'joining area' where the plate meets the MDF.

I haven't got around to crafting up a router table top myself yet, because I haven't needed to. three 'factory made' tables available for use. Two of those have steel tops, and one is MDF. Some people use aluminum tops, but something about aluminum can stain wood that crosses over it, so I avoid them.

Being as 1/32 is far less than the thickness of the average ply, if I had to level up the ply board, it wouldn't take more than 10 to 15 minutes with the right hand plane to do so. By right hand plane I mean a longer bench plane, jack plane or jointer plane.

Good luck with your 'build' and I hope you share the details of your experience with the others here.

If you haven't read through Old Chipper's thread here on building router tables yet, I would be remiss for not recommending it. With over 600 posts, it takes a while to work through it all, so the amount of insight and knowledge takes some time to absorb. It took me three days of focused effort!

Here is a quick link:

Wanted! pictures of your router table!

wbh1963 is flowing with the grain in Arlington, Washington, USA

A day without curls is like a day without sunshine!
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-04-2012, 05:40 AM
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Don't mess with the plywood that is bowed. Even if you could/can pull it down flat, the chances are good that it's going to bow again.

Do yourself a favor, and do it right the first time. If you can't afford, or don't want a factory made router table top, go to Home Depot, Lowe's, Menard's or any other home improvement store, and get yourself a piece of melamine. It's stable, strong and the surface is smooth and slick. I think that's the surface you will find on most factory tops anyway.
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-04-2012, 07:58 AM
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As everyone else has stated go with the laminated piece. It is larger and larger is better when it comes to a top. You will also need a router plate to put it on otherwise your bits won't reach through the wood. You could route the top out to accept the router however you would also have to cut out different size rings out of plastic so that use could use small and large bits. Here is a picture of what I'm talking about. I use this little table when using a rail and style set so that I don't have to keep setting things up.
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-04-2012, 09:24 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the input everyone. I guess I just wanted a "second opinion". My machinist background said .030" is too much, but that's for metal. not wood. I'm learning wood can actually move. Again thanks.

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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-04-2012, 09:55 PM
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Lee Valley makes a metal router table (05J20.01) that is purposely convex. This insures that the cut stays the same. A concave bow will rout higher at either end and lower across the middle. The very slight bow you have should not hurt and may even prove to be an advantage.

Someone I consider a master woodworker once told me that a master woodworker is not someone who never makes mistakes. He is someone who is able to cover them up so that no one can tell.
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