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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all,

I've been an avid reader of these forums for some time. I'm somewhere between a beginner and intermediate woodworker. Sadly, we don't have a lot of room, so my workshop is a tiny part of our garage. I've finally decided to build my own router table. I've sourced a free laminated benchtop that looks to be just what I need. I bought a Kreg phenolic router insert plate for my Triton TRA001 and it's just arrived in the mail. I have a few newbie vexing questions.

The laminated benchtop is slightly concave (sagging) over it's length but close to dead flat over the width. I measure it at only about 0.004" (0.1mm for us Australians) over the span of about 2 1/2 feet of my straight edge on the length. The Kreg plate is surprisingly fairly convex (bowed upwards). In fact, over it's one foot length, it's a good 0.04" from centre to edge to my eye. So here are my questions.

1. Should I keep the benchtop or look to get something flatter?
2. Should I return the Kreg plate given how far off flat it is? I bought it on eBay from the USA so returning it could be more cost than it's worth.
3. If the answer to 1 and 2 is that I keep them, I have the option of flipping the benchtop over and using the underside, which is not as nice a laminated surface but would present a slight convex instead of a concave. The combination with the plate means that this setup would result in a pronounced convex at the router bit that would be hard to correct with adjustment of the plate.

My own thoughts are that the best setup is use the laminate benchtop the right way up with its slight concave, install the Kreg plate and adjust the height of the plate so the reducing ring surrounding the bit is level with the outside of the benchtop. The result is that the edge of the plate will be slightly below the top of the benchtop but at least there will be no catch points around the plate. Does this sound like a reasonable plan?

Thanks in advance, folks. Sorry if it's a bit of a daft question. I'm showing my lack of experience here.
 

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Lots of existing threads on this topic. I think it's a good idea to use a double layer of whatever material you choose. But I'd also be very careful when buying the material, maybe taking a straight edge with you when buying it. I'm a fan of Baltic Birch, but even that doesn't necessarily arrive flat. Bought a couple of sheets last week for a project and had to go down a couple of sheets in the stack to find flat ones. When you glue two layers together, they tend to flatten and stay that way. Just as important to me is having a nice aluminum router plate to mount your machine on. You can do without that, but the table without it will surely sag a bit.

Too late tonight to add more. Click the new posts button at the top of the page and then click on posts for the last 2 weeks and you'll find the most recent posts, which were very detailed. There was another post on making a great fence for your table.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Lots of existing threads on this topic. I think it's a good idea to use a double layer of whatever material you choose. But I'd also be very careful when buying the material, maybe taking a straight edge with you when buying it. I'm a fan of Baltic Birch, but even that doesn't necessarily arrive flat. Bought a couple of sheets last week for a project and had to go down a couple of sheets in the stack to find flat ones. When you glue two layers together, they tend to flatten and stay that way. Just as important to me is having a nice aluminum router plate to mount your machine on. You can do without that, but the table without it will surely sag a bit.

Too late tonight to add more. Click the new posts button at the top of the page and then click on posts for the last 2 weeks and you'll find the most recent posts, which were very detailed. There was another post on making a great fence for your table.
Thanks for your reply, Tom. Yes, there's lots of reading on people building their own tops. I was more interested in people's opinions on the benchtop and Kreg router insert plate I have already acquired. I'm not sure whether it was clear that I already now have these rather than seeking opinion on whether I should get them.
 

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I think you can salvage both the bench top and the router insert. You should be able to flatten the benchtop by building a skirt to go under the edges. A little glue, a few clamps and you can suck that sucker down to very nearly dead flat. Take the plate to a local machine shop, or build a jig using a hydraulic jack to apply controlled pressure to the right places to take out the bow. You really don't have anything to lose there, because I think your plate is too bowed to use now.
 

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Welcome to the community Stevan...

Just my opinion but I'd say go with whatcha got! At .004 across its length the laminated surface you have is darn near flat. I'd give shimming it out flat a try. As for the Kreg plate the weight of the router itself may be enough to pull it down to more acceptable levels. I"d mount the router onto the plate then just hang the plate by the edges in a warm place for a few days and see if it doesn't flatten out. Since returning it may not be practical, what do you have to loose? See how this works prior to creating the opening for the plate in your top just in case you change your mind on which plate to use. You mentioned catch points, and that is a big deal. You don't want any catch points whatsoever anywhere.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I think you can salvage both the bench top and the router insert. You should be able to flatten the benchtop by building a skirt to go under the edges. A little glue, a few clamps and you can suck that sucker down to very nearly dead flat. Take the plate to a local machine shop, or build a jig using a hydraulic jack to apply controlled pressure to the right places to take out the bow. You really don't have anything to lose there, because I think your plate is too bowed to use now.
Sorry, not sure I follow on the bench flattening. I get the skirt on the outside. Where does the glue go and where is the sucking? I imagine perhaps the clamps would clamp at the centre to try to pull it to flat?
 

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Welcome to the community Stevan...

Just my opinion but I'd say go with whatcha got! At .004 across its length the laminated surface you have is darn near flat. I'd give shimming it out flat a try. As for the Kreg plate the weight of the router itself may be enough to pull it down to more acceptable levels. I"d mount the router onto the plate then just hang the plate by the edges in a warm place for a few days and see if it doesn't flatten out. Since returning it may not be practical, what do you have to loose? See how this works prior to creating the opening for the plate in your top just in case you change your mind on which plate to use. You mentioned catch points, and that is a big deal. You don't want any catch points whatsoever anywhere.
Good suggestion on the mounting of the router to see if it pulls any closer to flat. Do you think a heat gun applied to the phenolic insert might help it along? I need to research what the heck phenolic material really is. Clearly some sort of plastic or resin but no idea on its properties.
 

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Sorry, not sure I follow on the bench flattening. I get the skirt on the outside. Where does the glue go and where is the sucking? I imagine perhaps the clamps would clamp at the centre to try to pull it to flat?
Sorry, American colloquialisms may not travel well. The glue goes between the bottom surface of your top and the top surface of the skirt. Clamps go in the center of the top to pull (suck) it down to the skirt.
 

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I had a Kreg plate that was bowed and they sent me another and it was bowed also. Get a aluminium plate.
 

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Good suggestion on the mounting of the router to see if it pulls any closer to flat. Do you think a heat gun applied to the phenolic insert might help it along? I need to research what the heck phenolic material really is. Clearly some sort of plastic or resin but no idea on its properties.
By all accounts, Kreg's customer service is top shelf! If trying mounting the router and giving it time to settle in doesn't work, I'd contact Kreg and see what they have to say. A heat gun may very well help things along, BUT..it may very well create more problems down the road. Causing the plate to sag too much, dishing of the plate. etc. I really dont' know... Screwing down the plate to the router base may very well provide enough pressure to level things out nicely.

Kreg Tool Company
201 Campus Drive
Huxley, IA 50124

Phone:

Toll-Free: 1 (800) 447-8638
Tel: (515) 597-6400
Fax: (515) 597-6401

Office Hours:

8:00am - 5:00pm CST
Monday through Friday

if you go to KregTool.com they have international dealers. just enter country and postal code to find one near you. Might be a damn site easier than dealing directly with US..
 

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Hi Stevan, when two things are wrong at the same time, you get the first corrollary of Murphy's law. The slight lengthwise bow in your top can be fixed by screwing the ends down firmly to the subframe, and shimming the middle (add a cross-piece on either side of the intended router opening if you have to). I did the same on mine.
The plate, not so much. If it does not correct by mounting the router to it, ditch it. Heating it may introduce ripples into the surface.
The last thing you want is to have the rim of the plate below the table level. Guaranteed to catch on the outfeed side, and ruin your day. Kreg sells some fancy levellers to avoid just that. You would be better off excavating a hole for the base of the router on the underside of the top, and mounting the router straight to the top, for the time being. When you get a straight plate, the excavated area will be cut out in any case, so you will lose nothing.
 

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Hi Stevan, when two things are wrong at the same time, you get the first corrollary of Murphy's law. The slight lengthwise bow in your top can be fixed by screwing the ends down firmly to the subframe, and shimming the middle (add a cross-piece on either side of the intended router opening if you have to). I did the same on mine.
The plate, not so much. If it does not correct by mounting the router to it, ditch it. Preferably for a refund or exchange for an aluminium one, as Tom suggested. Heating it may introduce ripples into the surface.
The last thing you want is to have the rim of the plate below the table level. Guaranteed to catch on the outfeed side, and ruin your day. Kreg sells some fancy levellers to avoid just that. You would be better off excavating a hole for the base of the router on the underside of the top, and mounting the router straight to the top, for the time being. When you get a straight plate, the excavated area will be cut out in any case, so you will lose nothing.
 

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Whilst not a gambler, I would lay bets that the table as is will cause no problems at all and as for the mounting plate, the bit cuts at the point on the plate that is line with the bit so that also won't cause any problems. Many commercially available mounting plates appear to be slightly convex.
 
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You already have the basic table. Try it out with the plate and if it's satisfactory, you're done for now. I believe you may help the flattening along, or at least stabilize it by adding and gluing trusses under the table. A truss is just a 1 or 2x3 set on edge that runs under the table from long edge to long edge. You drill holes through it just deep enough so the long screw doesn't penetrate the top but enables the truss to come in full contact with the underside all the way across. This may help further flatten the warp, but definitely will help support the 13 lb weight of the Triton. It is a heavy router!

I would consider replacing the plate with aluminum. You might recall the many times on the Forum where people have reported that phenolic plates have warped from the weight of the router.

If you replaced the top entirely, it wouldn't cost very much and you could add the second layer so the trusses have a better grip on the bottom. I have to add that I'm a belt and suspenders kind of guy. A table top is pretty easy to build, two layers of ply plus a layer of laminate, a can of spray contact cement. Once done well, it lasts a long, long, long time. Take the old top off the table and attach the new one. A day's effort at most and you have something really nice.

Install the Kreg levelers, they make the leveling process easy and precise. That's my personal opinion of course.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Welcome to the community Stevan...

Just my opinion but I'd say go with whatcha got! At .004 across its length the laminated surface you have is darn near flat. I'd give shimming it out flat a try. As for the Kreg plate the weight of the router itself may be enough to pull it down to more acceptable levels. I"d mount the router onto the plate then just hang the plate by the edges in a warm place for a few days and see if it doesn't flatten out. Since returning it may not be practical, what do you have to loose? See how this works prior to creating the opening for the plate in your top just in case you change your mind on which plate to use. You mentioned catch points, and that is a big deal. You don't want any catch points whatsoever anywhere.
Thanks Bill. Sometimes the simplest bit of advice can be the best. I don't know why I didn't simply mount the router to the plate. Given the flex in the phenolic plate, screwing the router to the plate firmly seems all it needed. Now the bow is completely out and it's as close to dead flat as my eye can perceive. No light under my straight edge. As Harry suggested, it may well be by design that it's slightly convex and makes some sense if it is. Either way, the plate is fine and I'll keep it as long as it stays that way!
 

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Welcome to the community Stevan...

Just my opinion but I'd say go with whatcha got! At .004 across its length the laminated surface you have is darn near flat. I'd give shimming it out flat a try. As for the Kreg plate the weight of the router itself may be enough to pull it down to more acceptable levels. I"d mount the router onto the plate then just hang the plate by the edges in a warm place for a few days and see if it doesn't flatten out. Since returning it may not be practical, what do you have to loose? See how this works prior to creating the opening for the plate in your top just in case you change your mind on which plate to use. You mentioned catch points, and that is a big deal. You don't want any catch points whatsoever anywhere.
Whilst not a gambler, I would lay bets that the table as is will cause no problems at all and as for the mounting plate, the bit cuts at the point on the plate that is line with the bit so that also won't cause any problems. Many commercially available mounting plates appear to be slightly convex.
Thanks Harry. I think I'll just run with what I have, as you suggest. Worst case scenario is I have to ditch the top in the future and make a new one. As per my reply to Bill, simply mounting the router to the plate has taken the bow out of it. I'm mildly embarrassed I didn't simply try that in the first place. I gave the phenolic base greater rigidity credit than it deserved. As you say, I've seen ads for bases where they sell the convex of their plate as a feature. I think it was a Veritas one on the Lee Valley site?
 

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You already have the basic table. Try it out with the plate and if it's satisfactory, you're done for now. I believe you may help the flattening along, or at least stabilize it by adding and gluing trusses under the table. A truss is just a 1 or 2x3 set on edge that runs under the table from long edge to long edge. You drill holes through it just deep enough so the long screw doesn't penetrate the top but enables the truss to come in full contact with the underside all the way across. This may help further flatten the warp, but definitely will help support the 13 lb weight of the Triton. It is a heavy router!

I would consider replacing the plate with aluminum. You might recall the many times on the Forum where people have reported that phenolic plates have warped from the weight of the router.

If you replaced the top entirely, it wouldn't cost very much and you could add the second layer so the trusses have a better grip on the bottom. I have to add that I'm a belt and suspenders kind of guy. A table top is pretty easy to build, two layers of ply plus a layer of laminate, a can of spray contact cement. Once done well, it lasts a long, long, long time. Take the old top off the table and attach the new one. A day's effort at most and you have something really nice.

Install the Kreg levelers, they make the leveling process easy and precise. That's my personal opinion of course.
Thanks Tom. I think I'll run with your advice and add a couple of trusses under the table to help support the weight of the Triton. It's certainly a heavy beast.
 

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Welcome Stevan. I have a Lee Valley steel router table top and Lee Valley purposely made it with a few thou convex camber. Slightly concave is bad, your work will bridge across the high spots and drop down when the end is close to the bit. Slightly convex is no issue. Your work will be level at the bit even if one end is "light" at one of the table ends. If the plate is convex it may be that way by design. Lee Valley said that "even with the heaviest of routers mounted the table would not sag".
 
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Welcome to the forum Stevan.
 
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