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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been wrestling with the question, "To make, or to buy" a new router table. I didn't really want a separate table at all, due to space constraints, but have resigned myself to the fact that they don't make extension tables for TS, like mine, that only measure 22 inches between the rails. Besides, I don't foresee the need to cut any sheet goods or extra wide stock, so I don't really need the extension for the saw. Removing it will free up room for the router table.

Decision to make or buy was $urpri$ingly ea$y. In addition to the overwhelming difference in cost, it dawned on me that I already have the makings of a pretty decent router cabinet. I've got a kitchen sink base cabinet that didn't pass muster with the quality control inspector (it took two attempts for me to get it right,) and a 2' x 8' piece of 3/4" prefinished plywood left over after making all my cabinet carcasses. All I need is four casters, and I should be practically good to go! Which brings me to my question. Can anyone think of any reason why I shouldn't use the prefinished ply for my table top? Yeah, I know it's an expensive alternative, but the piece I have isn't going to cost me anything. I might even double it up with a piece of 3/4" MDF I have laying around, then edge the whole thing with leftover hard maple.

This time around, I'm going to use an aluminum insert plate for my 3-1/4 HP Hitachi (the single speed M 12SA2, not the M 12V2.) Rockler just happens to have theirs on sale for $29.99 today. I'm hoping to use Kreg's clever Insert Plate Levelers to eliminate the need for rabbeting the opening, but the location of the holes for the lockdown screws on Rockler's plate may not match up.
 

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The prefinished ply will work but not stand up as well as a Formica top. Hold down screws for a mounting plate... are you planing on mounting your router table to the ceiling? Gravity will hold it in place just fine.
 

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Hi John,
I am glad you asked this question as I am also in the planning stages for a new router table. My original RT has a finished top (poly on veneered plywood) and it has held up pretty well. When I was routing many feet of primed casings I needed to stop and clean the surface several times but that is really the only problem I had with this top. However, for me new RT I am leaning towards a laminated top. Just in case you are interested my RT design has been influenced by a Fine Woodworking video on making a RT. You might want to check it out.

Best of luck with your project!

John
 

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Theo
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Making your own router table will always get my vote. Not only is it less costly, you can make it whatever size you want, and put it wherever you want - mine is bolted to the second shelf down, so I can sit while using it. AND you can make it out of whatever you have available. My top is 1/2" plywood. Under is a spiderweb of 2X4 pieces, so it is amply supported.

$29.95 for a plate? Ow. Mine are all homemade, out of 1/2" plywood. They pop out, and pop in, more or less. Found out the last batch of plywood is not the 1/2" I had thought I was getting, apparently mislabeled, but thinner, so had to lower my bit a tad. Popped the plate out, figured how to lower the bit (it's been a lonnnng time), then took longer getting the plate back in than all the rest put togethe - told you it's been a long time since I've had it back. Still and all, about 3 minutes to do it all. I should have a picture of one of my spare routers mounted on a plate, if I can find out where this system put it.

I drill a hole thu the plate so I can hang the whole thing on a nail in a roof rafter. Each router/plate combo will have the bit size written on the bottom side, so I can just read what I need without taking one down. I've got four routers just now, and three different bits I will be using, so works out nicely.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Hold down screws for a mounting plate... are you planing on mounting your router table to the ceiling? Gravity will hold it in place just fine.
What do I know? I buy a plate that comes with countersunk holes, and plate leveler gizmos with screws that are obviously meant for the holes, and I just naturally think you're supposed to put the screws in the holes. :eek:

Thanks, Mike. Exactly what I needed to hear!

John
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
You're a madman, Theo. Changing routers instead of just bits? I want to party with you, cowboy!

I can only hope to acquire the level of familiarity and comfort with routers that you obviously have. Until then, I'll probably stick to letting outfits like Rockler, Woodcraft, Lee Valley, etc. do my thinking for me. (Yeah, I know. Pretty lame.)
 

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I'm thinking of using this for another router tabletop:

Buy Phenolic Faced Plywood 1 2 x 24 x 48 at Woodcraft


Sure, it's expensive as hell, but it will probably be the last table I'll ever build.;)

I used the brown phenolic to make my latest tablesaw sled, and it slides fantastically, magically; across the top.:laugh:

As long as the top is slick, smooth, and more importantly...FLAT, you'll be good to go.;)
 

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Harrison, if you look at the economy table top sticky thread you will see that we used the phenolic impregnated Baltic birch. Work slides nice across it but it is a softer surface than going with a Formica top. I have found that clamping the fence or fixtures to this material leaves tiny marks from the pads. This has not been a problem but I felt you should be aware of it.
 

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Yes, I know a little about surface hardness. ;)The sled does have some small scratches on the bottom, which wouldn't be there if I used Formica.
But, you know, if everybody kept everything clean as possible; that would eliminate those pesky scratches.

Then again, a spotless shop is not making much sawdust or shavings.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Too many choices!

Hi John,
I am glad you asked this question as I am also in the planning stages for a new router table. My original RT has a finished top (poly on veneered plywood) and it has held up pretty well. When I was routing many feet of primed casings I needed to stop and clean the surface several times but that is really the only problem I had with this top. However, for me new RT I am leaning towards a laminated top. Just in case you are interested my RT design has been influenced by a Fine Woodworking video on making a RT. You might want to check it out.

Best of luck with your project!

John
Thanks, John.

The really great thing about using material I already have for constructing my RT (besides the obviou$, of cour$e,) is that's one less decision I have to make. There is so much great stuff out there to work with!

I suffer from an affliction which frequently hampers my efforts, and it really flares up in situations like this. You may have heard of it. It's called Analysis Paralysis. Honestly, I can waste more time making relatively insignificant decisions than anyone I know. Drives SWMBO right up the wall! :rolleyes:
 

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Theo
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You're a madman, Theo. Changing routers instead of just bits? I want to party with you, cowboy!

I can only hope to acquire the level of familiarity and comfort with routers that you obviously have. Until then, I'll probably stick to letting outfits like Rockler, Woodcraft, Lee Valley, etc. do my thinking for me. (Yeah, I know. Pretty lame.)
Thank you, thank you, thank you. I'll be appearing here all week. :dance3: The other day I changed from my straight bit, to my roundover, to my 45 degree, and back to the straight bit. It was the first time I'd had the roundover or the 45 degree bits in so had to adjust them a tad, but even so, it was in 15 minutes or less. And next time no adjusting the roundover. Oh yes, using each, not just changing them. These are all the cheapest Craftsmen routers, 1/4" shank, and work very well for me. Got less invested in all four than a lot of people have in just one router.

You two can become familiar and comfortable with routers. All you have to do is learn to keep your fingers away from the whirly parts. :lol:
 
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