Almost ready to order my first router table - Router Forums
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-19-2014, 10:21 AM Thread Starter
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Default Almost ready to order my first router table

I'm just about ready to order my first router table. I've been doing quite a bit of research and have just a few loose ends that I thought perhaps you all could help me tie up.

1) I plan to buy the Hitachi M12VC 2.25 HP router because I have read that it is the quietest. I don't want to annoy my neighbors.
2) My interest is box making/mirror frames/small cabinets. Small stuff.
3) I would like to try the INCRA LS system...but not sure I'm going to be able to afford it right now. So I figure I'll get the router and table now and get the LS later.

With that in mind, I figure it makes sense to get the top from INCRA, because then when I do get the LS I'll be ready to use it. And if I'm going to do that might as well get their stand as well...it lets you just slide in panels to enclose it on the remaining 5 sides, which I plan to do for further noise reduction.

Also, I really like the look of their CleanSweep downdraft attachment for gathering dust from under the table.

Here come the flood of questions:
1) Their top has an MDF core. Is it going to sag under the weight of the router and lift?
2) I suppose I could build my own downdraft box...but they make a big deal about their rings which have been slotted to improve airflow. Thoughts? If you buy a package from Incramental tools they'll give you a credit so you don't end up paying for the conventional rings and the CleanSweep rings.
3) If I don't buy the lift....how would I do bit changes and height adjustments?
4) Is there a good value basic offsettable fence I could use on this top? I know lots of people love the Wonderfence, but if I'm not buying the LS system now, will it be useful to me? I am interested in trying to use my router table to edge joint (don't have a jointer).
5) They want $45 for the table-mounted power switch. That seems crazy. Any other options?
6) And finally: what tools/gauges/devices do I want to have on hand so that I can check/adjust the table's flatness, level, square, etc.?

Last edited by Harvey Dunn; 01-19-2014 at 10:44 AM.
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-19-2014, 02:40 PM
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A few thoughts. Routers in an enclosed space can run hot which will shorten their life. Much of the noise will be caused by the bit, not the router, and the enclosure won't help that. In fact, to me the cutting noise is the most annoying sound produced. Another option, especially if you only plan on making items, is to hang heavy curtains around your work area. Another option is to close in the area behind the bit, top/sides/and back, with some sound absorbent material, like cardboard egg cartons (just the part that holds the eggs), and face the open side towards your house or the street. If you closed in just the back side and ends of your stand that would help with the router noise.

I have heard of some of the tables like that sagging and I do recommend putting in some cross bracing close to the insert plate. I do that with my home made tables. Gravity holds the plate down just fine so there is no need to attach the plate to the table. That way when you want to make changes just pop the router and plate out of the table.

If you want to joint with your router on a regular basis then you will want a split fence. I made one out of shop scraps, 4 -1/4" carriage bolts, and 4 knobs and it worked very well. There is a picture of it in my uploads.

You can buy a much cheaper switch from Grizzley. They have a variety of different ones, some for under $10.

You just need a decent straight edge to check the table with, something you need to have around anyway. A good steel rule, 3-4' level, etc.

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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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-19-2014, 04:09 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks. Wouldn't the dust collector hooked up to the box, moving several hundred cfm of air, keep the router from getting excessively hot?

"when you want to make changes just pop the router and plate out of the table"
Do you have to relevel it each time?
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-19-2014, 07:04 PM
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Not necessarily. We've had some discussions about this on the forum before and some say that they don't have a problem with heating. The other issue is that 99% of all the sawdust will be made above the table and the router cooling air is headed up so it doesn't make much sense to me to try and suck it down. The most successful pickups I've experienced are right behind the bit. The only operation this doesn't work for is grooving panels which is something I don't usually do on a table anyway. Leaving the area open around the router makes it easier to get to.

I managed to get the rabbet at the right level in my table for the plate to sit in so I haven't had that problem, just have to blow the ledge clean first before I put it back in. Even if you use some leveling system, if you put the router back in the same orientation I wouldn't think it would change or change enough to matter.

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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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-19-2014, 07:50 PM Thread Starter
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-19-2014, 11:34 PM
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I hadn't seen them before and they do look pretty efficient. Here are the downsides. You have to have a lift for $340 and it doesn't come with those rings and I wasn't able to find a price on them. You need the collector box at $85. You need a table to put them in and their fence if you want to do those operations without trying to make your own jigs. You're up to at least $800 I would guess. And I would still like to see one in operation to see if the router does get hotter in that box than mine does in the open. It may be a beautiful setup and worth every penny.

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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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-20-2014, 11:49 AM
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I have the LS with Wonder Fence, Table, Stand and all. I do not have the slotted inserts and don't use the collection box either, but I have thought about it...

I use a Triton, so I didn't need a lift.

I did try using the Wonder Fence as a jointer, but honestly found it to be a bit of a pain. I have a jointer and was really just doing it for the fun of figuring it out.

I seldom use the wonder fence. I thought I would, but I don't. I just throw on a sacrificial fence for most of the cuts I am doing. I guess if I was using a large array of different sized profiles I might bother with the wonder fence more and perhaps I will in the future.
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-20-2014, 12:12 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Cherryville Chuck View Post
I hadn't seen them before and they do look pretty efficient. Here are the downsides. You have to have a lift for $340 and it doesn't come with those rings and I wasn't able to find a price on them. You need the collector box at $85. You need a table to put them in and their fence if you want to do those operations without trying to make your own jigs. You're up to at least $800 I would guess. And I would still like to see one in operation to see if the router does get hotter in that box than mine does in the open. It may be a beautiful setup and worth every penny.
Do I have to have a lift? Couldn't I pull the router & plate combo out from above the table and do the bit changes and height adjustments from there?
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-20-2014, 12:50 PM
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What would you grab hold of? I wouldn't go pulling it up by the insert ring. Are there any other holes in the plate you could put a hook into to get it started up with? If you are working on something that needs several very fine adjustments to get right (like rail to stile alignment) you could have that plate and router in and out a few times to get the adjustment right which would quickly become a pain. If you don't have a lift it would be much easier to have the router in the open.

Whatever you decide to go with it should be enjoyable to use. You don't want a setup that you are going to fight with. Those on the forum who have the full blown setups love them. I can do all the same things with my simple setup and the difference in price is the cost of my drill press which I wouldn't want to do without ever again. Somewhere in there is your spot and what you'll be happy with.

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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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-20-2014, 01:16 PM
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Default Support for Incra table

The purpose of this is to tell you to buy the Incra table with the goal of an LS system. Prior to my Incra LS system I mostly looked with envy at boxes made by others. Now I can make boxes that really look good. The Incra was my third table and by far the most expensive. It was worth it. You will be amazed at your ability, (actually it is the equipment) The instructions that accompany the tools are the best I have ever seen, a far cry from the typical.

I have the wonder fence. It is very useful. I don't use my jointer now for edge joining small pieces for boxes. The offset fence is a remarkable improvement. The wonder fence also improves dust collection but you still need to vacuum when you finish. I don't have and don't plan to buy a downdraft box.

I bought the 36" table. If had to that again I would buy the 43" table. I also bought the stand and wheels mostly because it was the easiest choice, i.e. take 2 to 4 weekends to build a stand for my brand new table, no way. I bought the shelf supports which I now consider way to expensive. The material that slips into the stand is 1/2' MDF. Not sure if that material would contribute to the noise reduction you are looking for.

I have a 3.5 hp Freud router -no sag so far and no lift. I move my table twice every time I use it so I use a 4' level with the table. Not familiar with your proposed router but an offset wench might be useful as well as a good way to measure the height of the bit.
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