Norm, it is much easier than you think to build your own router table. Please check out the many posts on this forum. This is also a very good way to develope your woodworking skills. A few straight cuts with a saw, using your router for a plunge cut and with a flush trim bit for the edging, a bit of glue and some screws. This is practice using your tools and a very rewarding learning experience. Plans are available for between $4 & $5 for many very good table designs. You dont need all the whistles and bells available on the store bought tables. What you need is a simple way to mount your router to a table, a removeable safety pin for starting edge routing, and a fence. The fence need only be a piece of hardwood and 2 "C" clamps to work well. Here is my first project; a router table built using the plan from Woodsmith. I was applying the finish to the red oak edge banding when my buddy came by and bought it on the spot. The photo is of it in his garage. Trust me when I say you can do this, you will be glad you did!
Norm, I don't come out to this forum much, but I will confuse things a bit by offering you an alternative to the standard router table using a phenolic or metal plate. I built a table completely different from what everyone here uses and, in my opinion, is so much better than the standard table. Most of the people here think a removable plate is mandatory, but it's not. I've posted some pictures and short commentary on my personal web space. Like I say, I don't want to confuse you, and I'm not saying everyone is wrong and I'm right, but I did want to show you an alternative type table that is much easier to change bits and adjust the cutter depth than the conventional mounting plate.
JCouch, Nice job on your table. The reason many of us use mounting plates is for the ability to alter our set ups rapidly. If I need to cut a raised panel I pop out my Bosch 1617 and drop in my PC 7518. If I am heading to a job site I can use my router of choice in a small portable table. Rockler pioneered using a Kreg jig mounted to a plate for their router table. I am building my own version. I am also looking at mounting other tools to a home made plate that would function like the Tool Dock products, with a storage rack for premounted small machines. There are lots of great ideas for the workshop. I feel that mounting plates help make the most out of a small shop space. Are they the best answer? Not for everyone.
You bring up some good points. I agree that the type of work someone expects to do dictates the table that is best for them. I've been woodworking for about 30 years, and I've been thru just about every type of design out there. And I always build my tables, not because I'm cheap, but I can design it my way and I get as much enjoyment from building tools and jigs as I do doing actual projects. I guess it comes down to each person's preference. But the people just starting out really don't know what their preference is. (not to infer ignorance, only lack of experience) The plate mounted router is by far the most popular, and does work well. And as you stated, for using several different routers, it does make a lot of sense. But I just wanted to show Norm, and any one else just starting out, that there are other designs out there. You'll notice that I tried to get the point across that just because I use this type and others use another type, there is no right design or wrong design. I know from experience that the more informed a person is on this subject, the more satisfied they are with the final purchase. And I highly commend all of the newbys here, because they are wise enough to educate themselves before spending a lot of money on equipment, only to realize they didn't get what they really wanted or needed. All of us have purchased special tools that we thought were great, only to end up discarding them in a drawer or shelf, never to be used, therefore wasting money that could go to buy our common passion...........WOOD.
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