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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi folks. While I've been a long time lurker of these forums I'm really only just getting to grips with a router (Finally :grin:) and I'm looking for some advice regarding router tables.

Now, I have been searching through the forums so I know that the first and most common bit of advice will be to make one and at some point, I will no doubt go down that route. Right now however, I have a couple of problems. One is that having never used a router table, I don't really know what I want and what I don't want. To begin with I'll be finishing the wooden parts of some wind chimes I've started making as well as some backing pieces for some ceramic frames my other half is making, but, like I say, I don't really know what I need.

My second problem is that, right now at least, I'm much more comfortable working with metal (Although my current home setup doesn't allow me to build a metal router table unfortunately) and I'm not entirely convinced my current skill levels with wood are going to let me build a table with reasonable accuracy yet so I'm looking at a couple of shop bought tables to get me going.

Now, I've only got around £60 to £70 to spend so the first is the generic cast aluminium table with pressed steel legs and side extensions. Having done some research I gather that the legs and extensions can be a bit flimsy so if I got one of these I would screw the legs down to a base which would help stiffen them and I can also brace the extensions to help stiffen them a bit. The other table I've come across is the Charnwood W012 which looks a bit different with the MDF top and so on. One of my thoughts with this one is that when I do get round to building a table, I would have the option of scavenging parts such as the fence, mitre jig, track and so on to go on to whatever I build.

So, I guess my question is, is the Charnwood worth looking at? I know from research that there are issues with it like there are with the generic metal version but I guess that with the money I have to spend, anything is going to have issues. I don't mind doing a little fettling here and there to fix minor issues but could do without buying a complete lemon in the first place!!
 

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I had a look at the Charnwood and it doesn't seem too bad, just quite small. One option you would have later is to just drop that table top into a larger top. You'd just need to extend the slots for the track maybe but I don't bother with the tracks. Some members don't care for them and some love them. It's a personal preference thing and that is true about router table features as a whole. I'm on my 6th one I think. I've tried a number of things to see what I like and don't like getting to that point. Some features I'm not fussy about, like the tracks, some can't live without. I've tried t-slots to clamp the fence down and just clamps to hold it in place and I don't have a preference either way for those. I do like my router plate offset towards the back of the table like the Charnwood has, but I also like to be able to work from either side of my table. Some members have the plate offset both front to rear and side to side. Those are things you find out by trying them. Some of my tables only cost me $10 -20 to make. This last one is the most expensive of the lot but it very likely is the final version too.
 

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Hi, Jon; welcome! Not sure why the wood DIY version is off the table, so to speak(?).
A basic starter table is a piece of plywood or MDF with an opening for a router plate and router to drop into. Some legs and and a nice straight 1x4 or 2x4 with a couple of clamps. That's pretty much it.
Mind you, I still haven't built mine...I'm quite happy doing my routing handheld.
 

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Rick
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Hi, Jon; welcome! Not sure why the wood DIY version is off the table, so to speak(?).
A basic starter table is a piece of plywood or MDF with an opening for a router plate and router to drop into. Some legs and and a nice straight 1x4 or 2x4 with a couple of clamps. That's pretty much it.
Mind you, I still haven't built mine...I'm quite happy doing my routing handheld.
I wish I wasn’t so intimidated by making one at the beginning, as I wouldn’t even consider buying one now . I’d buy a lift and build a router table and have multiple fences . Kinda late ,as I have all the parts now .
 

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Theo
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Hi, Jon; welcome! Not sure why the wood DIY version is off the table, so to speak(?).
A basic starter table is a piece of plywood or MDF with an opening for a router plate and router to drop into. Some legs and and a nice straight 1x4 or 2x4 with a couple of clamps. That's pretty much it.
Mind you, I still haven't built mine...I'm quite happy doing my routing handheld.
Yeah. I'm like Chuck, start simple, build more, build cheap. I think I'm on my 5th one now, and likely less than $5 in it, because I keep reusing the bolts, which are the only things I buy. Look at my latest, and it looks simple, mainly because it is. Top is 1/2" plywood, supported by a spider web of 2X4 chunks, router plate is 1/2" plywood. This last one is somewhere around 15 years old I think. So, make one, if it doesn't do what you want, make another, don't need a lot of money dumped on it. No lift, because I don't want a lift. Does exactly what I want and need.
 

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1" or 3/4" MDF plate cut to size at the wood store for you is the way to go. Nothing is flatter or more precisely squared up for the money. It also cuts and edges very nicely and has a reasonably tough surface that will remain true. Don't let it get wet or damp tho, that may be less than ideal. You could also make the fence from MDF in order to ensure concentricity and flatness.
Phenolic is better and 10x the money, so that's out of the question.

If you go on Woodpecker, Kreg or some of the other nicer brands websites, they have online assembly instructions for their tables, so that will be more than helpful in designing and sizing it. Incra, Jessem, etc. Go on Rockler and Woodcraft websites for the brands and pics etc.

I ended up buying a Woodpecker drill press table, and copying it in half scale in MDF to fit on my 8" table drill press. Easy peasy and lots of fun to build once you get rolling.

I'm not a woodworking guy either (car and car stereo guy) so i suffer from stage fright on here as well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for the replies folks. I guess I am now leaning towards making a basic table :surprise:

I'm a bit wary of using MDF for anything that needs to be stable dimensionally as my work space is in a garage that often gets a bit of a damp floor by the door when it rains (We're in the Peak District in the UK and it rains. A lot :rolleyes:) so the possibility of the top shifting is definitely there. I know MDF usually absorbs moisture through the edges so would sealing the edges with paint or varnish be worth doing? Or indeed even varnishing/painting the whole thing?

Also I've been looking at table inserts which I like the idea of. The router I'm getting (This is all part of my 50th birthday) is the Bosch POF 1200 AE so, while looking on Amazon, would the Milue Aluminum Router Table Insert Plate (Sorry, can't post links yet but if you search for that one with those words it will come up) be the sort of thing I'm looking for? Having looked at a few the quality of the machining on the back (At least as far as you can tell from a pic on Amazon) would appear to be reasonably clean and the best I've seen.

Also, if I was to sketch up some plans, would it be okay to post them here and see if I've missed anything blindingly obvious :grin:
 

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Stage fright kind of sums things up for me. I have a Rockler (USA brant) table that has a composiiton top. I had more money than time back then. Today, I'd have made one. My first table was a small one, and it wasn't really workable for things like doors and larger, longer stuff.

It is possible also to repurpose an old table or even chest of drawers and use the top on it. If you want to get fancy, glue a layer of Medium Density Fiberboard (18mm MDF) to the underside of the table top, but cut a hole large enough in the MDF to mount the router in. The hole for the bit should probably be about 2 inches (50mm) at most.

For the fence, you just need a nice straight board that you can clamp down to the table top. You could use MDF or really good ply, but even flat kiln dried pine will work. I also have found the stair steps you can buy anywhere in Oak will do a good job.

You've gotten several people here urging you to make your own table, and of course it is completely your choice what you do. With your metal working experience I can see thoughts about an iron top, but you are no more likely to get a flat top that way than with carefully selected plywood. I never buy the top sheets of ply, always dig down a few layers where they're less likely to be warped.

That web of construction grade wood under the top that was mentioned above will stiffen up the table top nicely and help keep it flat over time. It's a good way to stiffen up any surface.

Give it a go, it'll take an hour or two at most, and spend what you save on some bits.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
You've gotten several people here urging you to make your own table, and of course it is completely your choice what you do. With your metal working experience I can see thoughts about an iron top, but you are no more likely to get a flat top that way than with carefully selected plywood.
You're absolutely spot on there. When I was working as a fitter it wouldn't have been an issue, I could have gotten an aluminium top or even cast iron machined to crazy stupid tolerances...sadly my home workshop isn't quite up to that :laugh2::laugh2:
 

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Instead of sealing the MDF, try a double layer of plywood, preferably Baltic Birch, Glue and clamp them together using cawls, flat lumber spans the plywood, clamps go on the ends to apply pressure evenly across the plywood. Cut an opening big enough for the base of the router in the second layer, or if you are going to use a metal mounting plate, cut the opening about half an inch inside the shape and size of the plate. You can then use screws through the seond layer to level the plate with the top. Cut the top opening the exact size of the plate, PLUS about the thickness of a playing card more or you'll never get the plate out.

I have attached a couple of images of a fence made from ply that are pretty cool. The first drawing is the offset, but slightly different than the simple double layer because you would cut a rebate or rabbet edge slightly deeper than the thickness of your plate.

The second is a Kreg leveling device you may be able to get over there. Or you can drill throught he second layer and fit a screw up through the bottom. File off the sharp end if you wish. Not expensive here, but easy to install, and you can cut the opening the full size, no lip is needed using it.

Glad you decided to jump in. The most important part of learing woodworking is to make stuff yourself. You'll learn from each project you do.

BTW, get yourself a dust mask when working with power tools. The router throws off a LOT of sawdust and it's not good for you. Take and post a picture of your table when it's done.

I have also posted a pdf of the 18 things I've learned over the past decade that accelerated my learning curve. It's about USA gear, but most of it applies to the UK, just different model numbers and brands.
 

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Theo
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I like the key shaped plate, Theo. K.I.S.S. in pictures! :)
Yeah, I do too, no movement at all. And still not sure how I made it, let alone get it so precise. I think it is because I used three pieces for the top. I made a master of it, and cloned about 5 more plates, and they all fit perfectly, just drop right in.
 
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Glad you decided to jump in. The most important part of learing woodworking is to make stuff yourself. You'll learn from each project you do.

BTW, get yourself a dust mask when working with power tools. The router throws off a LOT of sawdust and it's not good for you. Take and post a picture of your table when it's done.

I have also posted a pdf of the 18 things I've learned over the past decade that accelerated my learning curve. It's about USA gear, but most of it applies to the UK, just different model numbers and brands.
Well, I'm still not entirely convinced that making one myself right away is such a good idea, but I guess we'll see soon :grin:

I work with a lot of horn, antler and bone as well as small pieces of exotic woods for jewellery so the importance of good dust extraction is not lost on me. Thanks for the PDF as well, some useful stuff there that I hadn't thought of.
 

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Shop built router table

The attachment includes some appropriate pages from a Shop Notes article which you may find interesting. All 95 issues are available for free download - I tried to include a link to them but was told I had to complete 10 posts before I could post urls . . .
Hope you're inspired to build your own table!
Roger
 

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I wish I wasn’t so intimidated by making one at the beginning, as I wouldn’t even consider buying one now . I’d buy a lift and build a router table and have multiple fences . Kinda late ,as I have all the parts now .
There is nothing to be intimidated about. It's just a board with a hole in it. You don't need a fence or a plate just a hole and a something flat to push your wood against. Find a place that makes laminated countertops and they will probably give you a sink cut out for free. Once you get the hang of using a table you'll most likely seldom if ever take your router off the table. You don't need a fancy fence because 99.9 percent of the time you will never need a micro adjuster you'll push the fence up to the bearing and leave it there. As far as the fence just cut a hole in it big enough for the bit to fit through. Then add a second split fence so that you can slide both sides wider or narrower depending on the bit size.
 

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Jon it sounds like you'll be doing mostly small projects so Art's suggestion is a good one. A sink cut out would make an ideal small table. The high pressure laminate cover is perfect for a table because it's durable and very smooth. Most of us add HPL to our larger tables for that reason. In fact, I use a sink cut out on the bed of my planer (thicknesser to you) because wood slides on it better than it does on the steel bed. You just need to cut a hole out for the router and add a set of legs under it.
 

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...put legs under it...

Nice to leave your table set up, which is why I suggest browsing thrift shops for a piece of furniture or table you can use to hold the router up. Cheap and easy solution. Use the existing top as the second layer to create the plate shelf, then the laminate on top of that, cut to the size of the plate. Voila, pretty much done. Probably last, oh, a lifetime, particularly if you use a plate. You'll need a jig saw and a drill, which cost is offset by your savings over an "official" router table and stand. You'll gain some confidence too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
Jon it sounds like you'll be doing mostly small projects so Art's suggestion is a good one. A sink cut out would make an ideal small table. The high pressure laminate cover is perfect for a table because it's durable and very smooth. Most of us add HPL to our larger tables for that reason. In fact, I use a sink cut out on the bed of my planer (thicknesser to you) because wood slides on it better than it does on the steel bed. You just need to cut a hole out for the router and add a set of legs under it.
I'm going to ask around locally to see if I can scrounge a bit of work surface from somewhere.

...put legs under it...

Nice to leave your table set up, which is why I suggest browsing thrift shops for a piece of furniture or table you can use to hold the router up. Cheap and easy solution. Use the existing top as the second layer to create the plate shelf, then the laminate on top of that, cut to the size of the plate. Voila, pretty much done. Probably last, oh, a lifetime, particularly if you use a plate. You'll need a jig saw and a drill, which cost is offset by your savings over an "official" router table and stand. You'll gain some confidence too.
It's going to have to have legs unfortunately. I simply don't have the room to leave it set up permanently otherwise an old chest of drawers or something similar would be a stonking idea. Sadly however it's going to have to share the workmate with my band saw. It means I'll have to plan my work carefully as I really don't enjoy shifting the band saw around too often, but then, in my case at least, being forced to do a bit of planning is probably no bad thing :grin: I've already got jigsaws and drills, so no issues there and I will definitely be bearing the furniture idea in mind for future expansion.
 

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might be some ideas here...

.
 

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