top 10 features of a router table - Router Forums
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post #1 of 27 (permalink) Old 05-23-2008, 06:49 AM Thread Starter
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Default top 10 features of a router table

Can members list their top 10 features for a table mounted router. e.g. table surface, placement of dust extraction, control placement, size for an all purpose router table (even though no such beast really exists).
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post #2 of 27 (permalink) Old 05-23-2008, 03:31 PM
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1. Flat top.
2. Flat top.
3. Flat top.
4. Flat top.
5. Flat top.
6. Flat top.
7. Flat top.
8. Flat top.
9. Flat top.
10. Flat top.

These are a few other things, but they are irrelevant if the top is not flat:

11. Convenient access for bit changes. (Convenient for you, the user. There are plenty of opinions on this.)
12. Convenient height adjustment. Convenient for you... I actually prefer an adjustment easily reached while crouching down to sight the bit from near the table top. Many don't.
13. On/Off switch on front of table.
14. Straight fence, square to the table surface. Tall and short fences are useful.
15. Some method of predictably fine adjusting fence position. Fancy fences are nice, but this can also be done if the fence is a straight stick held to the table with two clamps. All you need is a block, a 3rd clamp, and a feeler gauge. Clamp the block to the table with the feeler gauge between block and fence, then move the fence to the block.
16. DC. I like a shopvac pulling from the fence, since it has a small opening around the bit and good suction with small air volumes helps. A real DC works better in the table itself. I have a horizontal baffle between two supporting ribs, positioned about haflway up the router. The router protrudes through a hole in the baffle. The DC pulls air from above the baffle, below the table top. This collects well, and gives the router plenty of clean air, coming through in the correct direction (up).

You might notice that I have not addressed the main design questions, except to say what you need to be able to do. These things can be done, in different ways, with a variety of equipment. People have vehement opionions.

Should you use a router lift? They are accurate, convenient, and expensive. If you don't get one, you need to look at how easily and accurately your router can raise and lower. Many routers these days allow above the table height adjustment, though as I alluded, I don't care. Few have the clearance to allow above the table bit changes, which I think would be truly useful.

If you can pop the router plate out of the table, you can get at the bits easily enough. If you bolt the router directly to the tabletop, it's easier to keep the top from sagging because to the structural continuity, but might complicate bit changes. Tilt-top tables address this, as does use of a router that it quickly removed and replaced from its base.

One of the limitations of the Pat Warner bolt-to-the-table approach is that the table is usually at least 5/8" thick, so you give up some reach compared to a plate. That is probably why Warner always notes the extension distance when he reviews routers.

Pat Warner's books are worth reading, as are Hylton's. It can be quite interesting to contrast their advice, and look at how each carries out the same task.
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post #3 of 27 (permalink) Old 05-23-2008, 04:18 PM
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Everything Alan says above plus a mitre track (T slot). Also (tho' not strictly table fixtures) featherboards to keep your workpiece tight to the top and fence.

I've cut it twice and it's still too short! But only at one end.
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post #4 of 27 (permalink) Old 05-23-2008, 05:01 PM
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This is why I love the OP table. No, it doesn't have the "T" slot, IMHO it doesn't need one. All the features needed are in that table design. If there are extra's needed, these can all be easily made to suit YOUR needs.

Just my $0.02 worth


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post #5 of 27 (permalink) Old 05-24-2008, 10:22 PM
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My top 10 router table features (OK, so it is 12) would be:

1. Easy access to mounted Router On Off Switch and electrical plug
2. Easy access to mounted Router to change bits and adjust height
3. Flat top.
4. Possible to sit and work.
5. Stable base.
6. Smooth top.
7. "Slick" top (at least not sticky).
8. Straight fence.
9. Fence Easily adjusted.
10. Easy to attach feather boards.
11. Guards to protect against things flying from the rotatating bit
12. Easy to use push sticks, etc.

I use the Oak-Park table top and am building a stand that allows me to sit and to move the table top so that the work area can be adjusted. I see no need for T-tracks in the table top itself. (Hamlin has already made this point)

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Last edited by TWheels; 05-25-2008 at 08:07 PM. Reason: clearer statement
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post #6 of 27 (permalink) Old 07-24-2009, 01:39 AM
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A remote front or right of table switch for the router is a godsend when you do a lot of work and it's much safer too.
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post #7 of 27 (permalink) Old 07-24-2009, 04:23 AM
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A convenient size table. Big enough. I have both large and small tables (2' x3'and 14" x 18")
Off centre bit placement to allow you to work at the most convenient area, rather than overreach.
A good on/off switch where you can easily reach it.(I use an NVR and a foot switch)
A slick top.
I have been using a router lift which makes the router a joy to use.
A cranked spanner.
Unobstructed vision, so you can see what you are doing.
The correct bit so you dont overextend or abuse a small/short shank
Rubber faced push blocks.
Ear defenders.
Lots of experience
The willingness to see faults and modifications to incorporate into the next table you will build.
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post #8 of 27 (permalink) Old 07-26-2009, 12:27 AM
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I have to agree with Ken the OP table has all the best features. From all the Router Workshop videos I haven't seen anything it can't do that any fancy expensive table can do. And it can often do more! The KISS system just works!
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post #9 of 27 (permalink) Old 07-26-2009, 06:22 AM
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Originally Posted by wingate_52 View Post
Can members list their top 10 features for a table mounted router. e.g. table surface, placement of dust extraction, control placement, size for an all purpose router table (even though no such beast really exists).
Alan's list is quite interesting and well worth learning from. He speaks from experience. His #15 is a "fine adjusting tool, accurate to <0.001". However, I have to concur with Ken, the OakPark system offers everything on Alan's list. I don't agree with the "T" track philosophy. I prefer the "to it yourself" philosophy.

Tom's list is also interesting, "possible to sit and work" if possible but "stable base" is more important. His "slick top" I don't necessarily agree with. I want a bit of "stickshun" in my top. It helps control the work piece better.

Mike's list is a goodly dollup of imagination and experience. My smallest table is 2'x4' and offcentre is a major plus. The on/off switch is mandatory. "Rubber faced push blocks" don't necessarily go with "stickshun" table tops. "The willingness to see faults and modifications to incorporate into the next table you will build." Is probably the most true statement here. You'll never just own one router, like you'll never build just one table. I have one base with (what I hope will be) interchangable tops -- one for fences, one for skis, one for duplicator, one for templates... ;-)

However, you must remember that this horizontal table with protruding bit is only one of 16 methods to use a router.
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post #10 of 27 (permalink) Old 07-26-2009, 07:39 AM
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1. Flat, square fence
2. Sacrificial inserts for close bit tolerances
3. A good lift
4. Bent wrenches
5. Dedicated VS router with decent HP
6. THICK (So plate can be inset), FLAT TABLE
7. Excellent chip/dust collection system
8. Wide range of table insert sizes
9. Foot switch
10. T track(s) on fence....I do not like clamping feather boards or vertical extensions to the fence

Gene Howe
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