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I'm very new to woodworking. I'm also working with limited time and money.

My real goals in woodworking are to learn to make small items like picture frames, small boxes, and maybe a small end table. I really like mission style furniture. So, I've been drawn to learning how to make mortise and tenon joints.

I know I could buy a table saw and a tenoning jig or dado blade to make tenons, but since I have a router and really like working with the router, I thought I would buy a router table and do tenons on it.

I've looked around a lot on the web reading any recommendations, reviews, etc that I came across. I've narrowed my choices down to the Bench Dog ProTop Contractor, the Rockler Standard top (possibly building my own stand/cabinet), or the Rockler Bench Top router table. I was hoping you all could give me whatever personal opinions you have on these table options. Maybe you could even mention some good places to buy the Bench Dog if I get that one. I assume the Rockler ones are only sold by Rockler.com or the retail stores.

Since the Rockler Bench Top table is only $100, I've almost bought it, but then decided to wait and look for more info. I thought I read a review that said it wasn't very sturdy and wobbled a bunch.

If it matters, I have a PC 694VK. I also have a D-handle base that I received as part of a rebate. I think I'll just permanently attach the standard fixed bae to whatever table I buy.
 

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Don't be in a hurry to buy a cheap table. You can attach your base to a piece of plywood ,use a straight stick as a fence and set over a barrel. Dust collection taken care of. All humor aside try using this or some thing similar until you get a feel for what you would really like in a table.

Regards
Jerry
 

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Jayhawk.. I have thr rockler router table, the full table made out of wood,Cost $75.99, and with that I got the # 1 package ,router table top with a darn nice fence. For $159.99, I have had it now for about 3 years and love it ,It will do every thing I want a top to do. I don't think you can go wrong for the price. I built the cabinet for under the top. I just looked at the photo in the rockler book and made one just like it for a 1/3 the cost. Learning Herb
 

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Learning Herb said:
Jayhawk.. I have thr rockler router table, the full table made out of wood,Cost $75.99, and with that I got the # 1 package ,router table top with a darn nice fence. For $159.99, I have had it now for about 3 years and love it ,It will do every thing I want a top to do. I don't think you can go wrong for the price. I built the cabinet for under the top. I just looked at the photo in the rockler book and made one just like it for a 1/3 the cost. Learning Herb
Herb/Jayhawk,

I just ordered that Rockler table/fence set 2 days ago and right now it is $10 off ($149.00) and free shipping also.

I have some big plans for it when it arrives and I am glad to see your comments on being happy with it. Thanks Herb!
 

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What about a stand

Ok. Maybe I'm convinced to buy the rockler table top and fence. I like the large size it offers. It seems like that would come in handy. I also noticed the sale price and free shipping, like Bob N. pointed out.

So, I've got some follow-up questions.

What do I do about a stand? I would like this to be somewhat portable since I'm mainly working in my unfinished basement, but would like to take it out to my deck on nice days. That way I don't have to clean up sawdust (or rather, routerdust) when I'm done working.

I saw that Rockler has a set of folding metal legs that can be attached to the top. Has anybody used them? Are they sturdy enough?

Should I just build my own legs? How would I go about doing that?

I want to make sure this is all very sturdy since I'll be strapping a $200 router to the bottom of this thing. I also don't want something so wobbly that I have to worry about it when I should be focused on where my hands are and where the bit is.

Any ideas on a homemade stand/cabinet that is still somewhat portable?


Another question to keep you all busy...
Has anybody bought and used the Rockler router table switch? It seems like a nice addition to a homemade router table stand/cabinet.
 

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Bob, no problem, I just love to help. that fence is a split fence that you can adjust to any size bit ,plus I put a peice thin plastic behind the out feed part when I want to joint something and that works real good to.
Learning Herb
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Table top mounting method

How do the rockler tops mount to the stands they sell? Is it something odd or do the stands just screw into the bottom of the table? Isn't screwing into the table bottom bad on the integrity of the table?
 

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To get started you can place your table top on a pair of sawhorses. Be sure to clamp the table down so it doesn't slide off! This will let you use your router to build a nice stand. First thing you need to know is the height for you to be comfortable with. Bob and Rick recommend while standing your table should be 6-7" below your elbow. Take your measurement and subtract the thickness of your table. Now cut 4 2x4's to that length. These will be your legs. For good support the cross piece's should be a little over 2/3 of the depth of your table. Cut 4 2x4"s to this length. You can lay these cross pieces on your legs in a squared off "A" shape and screw them together. For a nicer look cut half lap joints where the boards meet, glue and screw together. Next subtract 6" from the width of your table top and cut 3 2x4's to this length. Place two on the inside of the legs, above your lower cross pieces and screw to the legs. The third piece ties the back side of the legs together at the top. Depending on your table size it may need to be on the outside of the legs to allow clearance for the router. Attach your top with 2 angle brackets; one on each side support. Use only 1 screw in each bracket into the top. Gravity will hold the top in place, the screws just keep it from sliding about. You could also run the screws through the cross pieces into the top at an angle, (like toe nailing) and eliminate the brackets. 4 2x4x8 boards and some screws are all you need. Light weight, sturdy and simple. What more could you ask for?
 

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The suggestion to use 2x4s and saw horses is a good one. Instead of using screws I would use clamps. Easier to take down and the MDF that Rockler's and some other tables are made of sometimes don't hold regular screws enough for tightening. Rockler uses Melamine to cover the MDF while some others use high pressure laminate which according to several owners is more durable than melamine. If the table Rockler is offering includes the router plate they may drill it to fit your router. I bought mine from Hartville Tools and they drill plates for some routers. It's not hard to do but itm takes careful measurements to get the router plate centered around the hole already in the plate. Welcome and good luck in this money hole of a hobby.
 

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DONALD said:
Welcome and good luck in this money hole of a hobby.
Funny, very funny... what hobby isn't a "money hole"... Add woodworking to fishing/shooting/hunting!!! :'( :eek:
 

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PoPnBuG said:
Funny, very funny... what hobby isn't a "money hole"... Add woodworking to fishing/shooting/hunting!!! :'( :eek:
Yeah, I noticed that too.. my nice big heavy duty bench I built in the garage for reloading got turned into a woodworking bench instead. Seems I have to juggle some of them hobbies since I started this one. hehe.. So now I go over to a friend's place and use his reloading bench instead. *laughs*
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Now I need a fence

So I just bought a 2'x4' chunk of melamine at Home Depot. I'm simply going to mount my router fixed base to the bottom of it. I'll probably just set it on some saw horses for now. As far as making a fence goes, I'm up for anything really simple. I've considered buying a few oak 1"x2"s and gluing them up to make a 2"x2" fence. Then I'll just rotate it into a bit to eat away a center hole. Any reason why I shouldn't do this?
 

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jayhawk said:
So I just bought a 2'x4' chunk of melamine at Home Depot. I'm simply going to mount my router fixed base to the bottom of it. I'll probably just set it on some saw horses for now. As far as making a fence goes, I'm up for anything really simple. I've considered buying a few oak 1"x2"s and gluing them up to make a 2"x2" fence. Then I'll just rotate it into a bit to eat away a center hole. Any reason why I shouldn't do this?
Well..... sounds like a plan to me ;)

My only concern would be a 2' X 4' piece of any material stretched accross 2 saw horses may provide some sag in the middle from the router weight and cause for a not so flat work surface. I see no problem with the fence idea and it should work well.

Just some thoughts to consider.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
More support for the top

Bob N said:
My only concern would be a 2' X 4' piece of any material stretched accross 2 saw horses may provide some sag in the middle from the router weight and cause for a not so flat work surface. I see no problem with the fence idea and it should work well.
Maybe I can simply run some oak 1"x4"s between the sawhorses and set the table top on this. That should greatly reduce any sagging that would occur. I might just screw the 1x4 supports to the underside of the table top.
 

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jayhawk said:
So I just bought a 2'x4' chunk of melamine at Home Depot. I'm simply going to mount my router fixed base to the bottom of it. I'll probably just set it on some saw horses for now. As far as making a fence goes, I'm up for anything really simple. I've considered buying a few oak 1"x2"s and gluing them up to make a 2"x2" fence. Then I'll just rotate it into a bit to eat away a center hole. Any reason why I shouldn't do this?
In regards to making a fence for routering projects I found 3/4" MDF to work real good. It is smooth and doesn't bend.
 

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jayhawk said:
Maybe I can simply run some oak 1"x4"s between the sawhorses and set the table top on this. That should greatly reduce any sagging that would occur. I might just screw the 1x4 supports to the underside of the table top.

You can never tell if solid wood is going to remain stable or warp. I have some solid oak 1xs in my garage and some have warped and some have not. MDF is unlikely to warp but it isn't very strong if it's placed over a long span it will bend or sag. High pressure laminate is more resistant to damage than Melamine. The Melamine board I've seen at HD was made from particle board and is not as stable as MDF. If you're going to make your own router table I recommend MDF at least 1 1/2" thick. You can buy plates predrilled for your router and a template for routing the opening in your table. If I had it to do over again I would have made my own table and made it as plain and simple as I could. A top made of MDF and covered with a few coats of Polyurethane and banded around the edges with hardwood is all you need.
A router table will look much larger in a small shop than in the catalogs so you might want to take that into consideration. Good luck and let us know how it turned out.
 
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