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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,
I have a leftover piece of maple butcher block countertop that is just a few inches longer than my really beat up (and originally crappy) 3/4" MDF router table top. I am considering using it to replace the old top. I know it sounds really fancy, but I'm not after fancy, I'm after better durability and would like it to remain flat.
So if I start with flat butcherblock and finish both sides, is there a reasonable expectation that it will remain flat?
And anal thought processes aside, just how important is flat, really, in a router table top? Or maybe I should ask "just how flat does a router top really need to be?"
Thanks,

--Brian
 

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Hey, Brian; is it long grain or end grain? Running end grain through a planer can be risky. How else would you get it dead flat? Just curious.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
It is long grain. Like you use in countertops and workbench tops. Plus, my ailing old 12" planer wouldn't be of any use to me at all.

I'm partly asking just how flat does it need to be? I seriously doubt that dead flat is possible or necessary. If it isn't flat enough right now, I'm probably not going to have any way to improve it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I should add that my current top is not very flat at all, plus my aluminum router plate is domed. It was originally made for me in a local metal shop when my original plastic plate proved too light for my heavy router. This was in the early 1990s and I don't think there were any aluminum plates on the market at that time. I should have had them mill it flat on both sides, but that was not in my budget at the time. The slight dome has always bothered me and required some extra care, but I can do pretty good moulding and similar work on it as-is and I don't do little boxes and such. I'll probably replace the plate when I have the new top. (And if I use the butcherblock, I'll replace the plate before I route the opening in the table.)
 

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Hi,
I have a leftover piece of maple butcher block countertop that is just a few inches longer than my really beat up (and originally crappy) 3/4" MDF router table top. I am considering using it to replace the old top. I know it sounds really fancy, but I'm not after fancy, I'm after better durability and would like it to remain flat.
So if I start with flat butcherblock and finish both sides, is there a reasonable expectation that it will remain flat?
And anal thought processes aside, just how important is flat, really, in a router table top? Or maybe I should ask "just how flat does a router top really need to be?"
Thanks,

--Brian

Only as straight as you want the profile...:smile:

Depends on where the table is not flat. You might be thinking that it doesn't need to be flat all...for example if the table is bowed up where the bit is, it might not matter because the work piece will always "flat" from the bit's perspective. But, if the bow is caved, it would depend on the size of the workpiece. If the workpiece is as long as the fence the bow will be reflected in the profile over the length of the piece.

So much for the theoretical...now for the practical... The table needs to be flat, the plate and inserts need to be flat to the table so as not to catch when running the workpiece through and it needs to be flat on all its axis for when you have any width and length to the workpiece. Imagine if it rocked as you push the piece through...like putting an edge profile on a panel door...

Go for flat...length, width and diagonal...couple of thousandths won't hurt...
 
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Hey, Brian; is it long grain or end grain? Running end grain through a planer can be risky. How else would you get it dead flat? Just curious.
use carrier runners on the sides and sacrificials to start and end...
 

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It is long grain. Like you use in countertops and workbench tops. Plus, my ailing old 12" planer wouldn't be of any use to me at all.

I'm partly asking just how flat does it need to be? I seriously doubt that dead flat is possible or necessary. If it isn't flat enough right now, I'm probably not going to have any way to improve it.
check for flatness w/ a straight edge ...
hand plane the high spots...
and to smoothness...
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I guess I understand all of that so well that I don't even think about it in the general sense anymore. Every single stinking thing I run through the router needs to be thought through carefully in order to compensate for the crappy top and plate. I've been doing this for more than 20 years and I'm hoping to get away from it, but I cannot justify the cost of an ultimate router table top for my occasional use. It isn't my main tool, though I've got some projects in mind that will use it more.

So if I ensure that the top is as flat as two thousandths and I finish both sides and it lives in my sheet-rocked, but uninsulated and unconditioned garage in mostly dry southern CA, is it likely to remain flat enough? It is 1.5" hard maple butcher block. Dimensions will be 25x32 inches.

If the butcher block will warp too much, I will probably just keep using the crappy top until I get the time and inclination to build one from MDF. Though I have no idea how to glue up two pieces of MDF, cover both sides with formica, and manage to keep it within 2 thousands of flat.
 

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I guess I understand all of that so well that I don't even think about it in the general sense anymore. Every single stinking thing I run through the router needs to be thought through carefully in order to compensate for the crappy top and plate. I've been doing this for more than 20 years and I'm hoping to get away from it, but I cannot justify the cost of an ultimate router table top for my occasional use. It isn't my main tool, though I've got some projects in mind that will use it more.

So if I ensure that the top is as flat as two thousandths and I finish both sides and it lives in my sheet-rocked, but uninsulated and unconditioned garage in mostly dry southern CA, is it likely to remain flat enough? It is 1.5" hard maple butcher block. Dimensions will be 25x32 inches.

If the butcher block will warp too much, I will probably just keep using the crappy top until I get the time and inclination to build one from MDF. Though I have no idea how to glue up two pieces of MDF, cover both sides with Formica, and manage to keep it within 2 thousands of flat.
that top will remain flat...
instead of MDF use Film-Faced or Phenolic coated Baltic Birch on top of a torsion frame...
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Well now that phenolic plywood sure looks like a way to maximize my expenses. I've already got the wood right now, if maple butcher block is acceptable. That's what I'm trying to decide on. Otherwise I'll buy a pre-made MDF top that is hopefully thicker and better than the one I've got. Either way I'll buy a new router plate which will greatly improve my flatness.

If by "that top will remain flat" you mean the MDF one, I am aware that it is unlikely to warp once I've made it. But remaining flat assumes that I can make it flat to begin with. There would be four layers with three glue joints (two pieces of MDF plus a piece of formica on each side). I've done enough glueing and formica to know that without a perfectly flat gluing surface and a perfectly flat and stiff press, the chances of a perfectly flat within .002 glue-up are pretty close to zero.
 

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Lee Valley used to make a steel router table top. I have one and use it for a bench top router table when I am only routing small pieces and want them to be higher and closer to my eyes. It was purposely made with a slight crown to the table. Lee Valley's explanation for this is that even with the heaviest of routers mounted to it (which I think would mean the PC 7518/7519s) it would not sag and wind up with a dish. A dished surface (depressed) is bad. Your work will bridge across the dip when the middle is at the bit but the ends will dip down to the bottom of the depression when they are at the bit.

On the other hand, a slight rise has no effect since the wood will be flat at the bit. By the way, lots of us have mdf tops but most of us glue some countertop laminate to it and that makes it both durable and slippery. If you put a level frame under your top the top will be level and stay level. I've never yet doubled a top nor have I finished the underside of one. Admittedly I don't live in a super high humidity area like some do so I don't know if that would make a difference but a sturdy level frame does and that includes cross member support as close to the plate opening as possible.
 

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Brian; i've mentioned this on the Forum in the past,. Steeel angle iron in faairly long lengths is available for either free or pennies, frorm mattress shops. They recover from older style metal box spring frames. It makes exceptionally rigid support when screwed to the underside of your top. You might want to make slightly elongated screw holes in it to allow for wood expansion nd contraction.
I think the angle iron is 1 1/4" or 1 1/2"

Build a Workbench/Cart from Bed Frame Angle Iron
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
My current router plate is severely domed. That's why I said I can take the inaccuracies into account and still come up with quality millwork. But I'd rather that it was a lot closer. :)

I like the angle iron idea. But is that for the 1.5" butcher block or for thinner MDF tops? Right now I'm just trying to figure out if what I have on hand will work. If not, I'm not planning on running out and buying or building some ultimate router table top. Though I might screw some angle iron onto the bottom of my current 3/4" MDF top.
 

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It wouldn't hurt to use angle iron on either one. If you use it on the butcher block then the holes need to be slotted if the angle iron goes cross grain to allow for expansion/contraction. That might not be easy depending on what you have to work with. The angle iron on bed frames isn't mild steel and can be hard to drill. That's also what makes it such a good choice for bracing, not to mention the price.
 
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Dang, and we just tossed one of those frames a few months ago.

I have cobalt drills that will work quick and easy in bed frame steel, but making the holes into slots sure doesn't sound like much fun. Still, I'll keep it in mind.

Thanks.
 

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I used to have the old Craftsman Al router table. Could not figure out how some of my pieces that I routed did not fit tightly. Finally put a straight edge on table and found it was not flat. Built my new router cabinet and bought the Rockler top. Gave the old table away. Bottom line, it is my opinion, the flatter the better.

Frank
 

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