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Discussion Starter #1
I'm building a top for a router table and have seen lot's of "How to" guides on the subject. Most involve one or more layers of plywood,MDF, Masonite or similar with a covering of Formica.

The question I have is, should the formica be the type that is smooth as glass or the type that as a very slight texture.

I think that the texured type, while still being flat overall, would allow wood to pass over it more freely, as the wood is riding on all the tiny ridges (less surface contact - less friction).

Any thoughts on the choice ?
 

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I would stick with the smooth surface. I have built a couple tables this way and have excellent results. Keep in mind that at times you need to be able to pencil a reference point directly onto the table. A quick wipe with a wet rag and its gone. I can't help but feel that anything textured would accumulate dirt and debris faster thus increasing friction. It makes sense to me that these tiny ridges would wear faster than a smooth surface. Remember that you are concentrating the weight on the ridges, less support. It may not make a practical difference either way. Let us know what you decide and how it turns out.
 

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As well as covering the table with formica laminate you need to do the same to the underside as well or the table will sag losing its flatness.
 

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I would go with the smooth for easy gliding of the stock. If you look at the commercial models, They all appear to go with smooth surfaces and I would assume there would be a good reason for there choice. I just purhcased the Rockler table top and it is smooth.... I llike it very much and as Mike mentioned, very easy clean up.

Dewy also brings up a good point about surfacing both sides for preventing warping.
 

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Your thoughts and mine run alone the same lines. That’s what I chose when I made my router table and I have no regrets. It also will look better longer as it doesn’t show scratches as bad as the shiny glass surface. Good choice.
 

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Hi: I would not use a textured formica it will not give you a good surface for routing.
I would use the smooth laminate, and I would also laminate the bottom of the table top. This will tend to stabilize the top from warping. Plain white or gray Formica is usually on sale, and can be had in small sizes than 4ft X 8ft, which makes it a little cheaper. How ever allow for some waste when you calculate what you require.
Hope this helps, Woodnut65
 

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Hi blairrm. I looked at several commercially avaiable table tops before deciding to make my own with a smooth laminate top. I think the point about keeping the table clean of marks is a very good point. The lack of texture makes cleanup very simple. I periodically apply a thin coat of Butchers wax to my table top to protect it and it's smooth as silk. My top is constructed of 2 layers of 3/4 MDF and the laminate top. I installed a Rockler plate to support my PC7539 (heavy) and there is absolutely no sag in the table top or plate. Best of luck with whatever you choose to do.
Bill
 

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Well Blair, this is an interesting exercise in how opinions vary. In practical application it may not make any difference which laminate you choose. We all seem to have good reasons for the choices we have made, and it's plain to see it's a toss up. My first table I went with plain white laminate because I thought it would look the cleanest. The table I am in the process of building now is going to have "Mauve Nebula" laminate. It's kind of a cross between tan and pink. Why you ask? My logic for this one is simple. CLEARANCE! I bought 4 pieces that measured 24" x 48" for $21. It is going to be trimmed in brazilian cherry, also bought during a sale. Yes, I could use poplar and save even more but I figure the cherry will look nice with the Mauve Nebula. Who knows? Maybe this table will show up on an episode of "Queer eye for the straight guy?"
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Good taste - or tight with money

aniceone2hold said:
The table I am in the process of building now is going to have "Mauve Nebula" laminate. It's kind of a cross between tan and pink. Why you ask? My logic for this one is simple. CLEARANCE! I bought 4 pieces that measured 24" x 48" for $21. Maybe this table will show up on an episode of "Queer eye for the straight guy?"
We must have shopped Homedepot at the same time. I ended up getting two bit's - one smooth and one of the clearance "Mauve Nebula" (that has a slight texture).

I did one side of the top (2 * 3/4 MDF) in each type and then decide to go with the "Mauve". Maybe we can start a trend.

I had gone into the local wood craft store and their tables all seemed to have a slight texture on them.

I picked up a Rousseau - table insert. Though so far I've not been to happy with it. It's designed with a slight curve and i'm having troule getting it setup.
 

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The Rousseau plate is my weapon of choice. Did you get the template and the centering kit for your router?
 

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Discussion Starter #11
If I take a straight edge across the the table and adjust the plate so that the center ring is touching the the stright edge. The outside edges of the plate are approx 1/16 below the table surface. When routing shorter stock, the end will tend to catch on the small lip/edge of the formica, as it leaves the plate.

Maybe I just need to chamfer the formica edge to let the stock move over the lip ?
 

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Blair, I am guessing you installed the corner snugger's. There are 4 small holes near the corners of the plate for leveling screws. I can't remember the size off the top of my head but you can take the plate with you to the hardware store. I ran a tap through mine and installed allen screws for a cost of about $1. Since you know you need to lift the plate edge about 1/16" get screws just slightly longer than the edge is thick. You can glue a small piece of metal to the edge where the screws ride if need be. This should have you up and routing in a jiffy.
 

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blairrm said:
If I take a straight edge across the the table and adjust the plate so that the center ring is touching the the stright edge. The outside edges of the plate are approx 1/16 below the table surface. When routing shorter stock, the end will tend to catch on the small lip/edge of the formica, as it leaves the plate.

Maybe I just need to chamfer the formica edge to let the stock move over the lip ?
If I understand what you are saying the plate itself is not flat??? Without any inserts and plate out of the table try the same thing and see if when the square is on just the plate are the sides still down by 1/16" or so..... if so the plate must not be flat. If that looks flat then try putting one of the inserts in and trying the same test if it still looks flat then it is table related but if the 1/16" thing only happens with the insert then the insert is the issue..... What ever the case a chamfer is not the solution.

Ed
 

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Ed, the Rousseau plate is not flat. It has a very slight curve built into it that flatens out when supporting the weight of the router. The problem Blair has is leveling the plate to the table surface, and that is solved with the allen screws.
 

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aniceone2hold said:
Ed, the Rousseau plate is not flat. It has a very slight curve built into it that flatens out when supporting the weight of the router. The problem Blair has is leveling the plate to the table surface, and that is solved with the allen screws.
I guess only he can answer but when I read his message I get that the plate is not flat... makes me think how in the heck do they engineer it with all the different weights of routers and hole spaces.... is it a thermaset type plastic? I'll have to stop at their website and do a little reading I guess. All the stuff I've done starts straight and ends straight.... just plain stiff enough.....

Ed
 

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Ed, once the router is attached to the plate you loosen the screws slightly with the router hanging down. At this point you apply hand pressure to flatten the plate and then tighten the screws. Stu made mention of this in one of his posts and I sent Blair a private message detailing this fine tuning process.
 

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aniceone2hold said:
Ed, once the router is attached to the plate you loosen the screws slightly with the router hanging down. At this point you apply hand pressure to flatten the plate and then tighten the screws. Stu made mention of this in one of his posts and I sent Blair a private message detailing this fine tuning process.
OK this makes more sense now. I found their web page in case anyone wants to visit but they don't have much info there:
www.rousseauco.com

The plate is at:
www.rousseauco.com/model3509.htm

The feature called "Unique Leveling System" While it is not explained this must be what you are talking about. I'm guessing from a few other things I found and read tonight that this is not explained very well or needs more press to see what I mean check this out:
www.enotalone.com/tools/B00002242B.html
see the third post down or so.

Maybe it would be a good idea to write out how this works and post it here maybe even with a sticky. What do you say Mike?

Ed
 

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Ed, if you look at Stu's table you will see the unique leveling system. Screws through the table, 6 to be exact, and none of the 4 plates I have purchased came with them.
Now isn't THAT unique? You are right, I should do a start to finish installation sticky. I am hoping to glue up a table top tomorrow so this might work out well.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I'll try the trick to press the insert down while it's in place. It is designed not to be flat - "Molded With Slight Crown For Distortion Free Cuts ".

Maybe mine has a little more "Crown" then expected.

Though I'd think unless you have a 3HP router there wont be anything line the weight to change the profile of the insert. I have PC892.
 
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