What kind of projects do you hope to use the router for in the next few years? What kind of shop space do you have? Are you still in the service? Is ease of moving with it an issue? Often it is best to buy a plate and make the table yourself. For example Rockler Aluminum Pro Router Plates not saying that is the perfect one for you.
Welcome to the forum. It would be good to think about what you bought the router for and what you hope to do with it. Since building mine I have not once thought of using it by handheld method or at least haven't had a need to. Many considerations come into play with a router table. Size, weight, fence ability (offset or 1 piece), dust collection, bit size (maybe a raised panel 3.5" bit), ease of access if you don't have a router lift for the table, size of work pieces (needed support), and so on. Access also comes into play with ability to easily get to the speed control as the larger the bit the slower you need it to turn. Sometimes making a simple top is a good start unless you have a very good idea of what you want to do already. If you subscribe to Fine Woodworking there are some very good video series that cover basic router table techniques on a very basic table by Bob Van **** Could be worth having a look.....
Welcome. Many plates come predrilled for standard mounting holes, mostly based on two standard placements. You will be removing the plastic base plate already on the router, so save the screws and fit them to the plate. Not certain that Skill uses standard screw placement, but you can contact them and ask. Then you can buy a predrilled plate.
Whatever plate you get, get one with a twist lock (Bayonet) insert. Most do, but a few still use the three tiny screws to hold the insert in place. The technical name for these is "Where the hell did that screw go?" The twist lock eliminates that problem.
Or you can buy a blank plate, use the plastic base to mark the hole positions with a punch, then drill them out. If the screws (or miniature nuts) have a cap, drill the hole slightly larger (1/32 nd) then drill a second hole on top just a little larger than the bolt head. See illustration. This allows for a little error.
Whichever way you go, keep the base plate you removed because you will need to put it back on if you have to use it hand held. I seldom use a full sized router for simple tasks anymore, and use a small trim router instead. These are very inexpensive.
I suggest you NOT bold or screw down this plate so you can lift it out to change speed and bits. Much easier to do that way.
Making your own table can be very simple. Do find and use Baltic Birch ply if you can find it. Make sure it is flat, some precut stuff is stored improperly and is not flat. I suggest you do two layers, top 1/2 inch, bottom 3/4. Cut the opening in the top just slightly larger than the plate (too tight and it will be hard to get out. lay it out on the bottom piece so the two same-size pieces are aligned, then draw a pencil line onto the bottom layer. Separate the pieces, mark a second line half an inch inside the first, then cut that out. Lay tape on the top when you make the cut to limit tear out. Drill holes in the corners with a Forstner bit if you have it, about the size of the curve on the plate. Sand and smooth the opening on the top after cutting with a jig saw.
Glue the two pieces together.
You'll need to add leveling screws of some sort up through the bottom layer on the rabbit you have formed. They make the plate level with the top, or use some Kreg levelers as shown.
Making a fence can be simple or complex. The key is that the fence face MUST be straight. And you need to cut an opening in the center for the bit. Make an L shaped fence by gluing two pieces together with square blocks to brace the fence at a 90 degree angle. That will give you a base you can clamp to the table. With that setup, you can buy a 2.5 inch hose attachment to suck the sawdust away from your work.
You will always need something to measure a 90 degree angle, and a really good plastic triangle will do for many uses. On the bottom front of the fence, cut or sand away a 45 degree by about 1/8th piece so sawdust has someplace to go. Sweep away sawdust atop the table before every pass you make. Sawdust under your workpiece will cause small differences between pieces which show up if you butt two pieces together.
Once done, wax the surface of the table and buff the heck out of it.
All of this is far simpler than it sounds. And your cost will likely be $70 or so, depending on the plate you choose, the leveling screws and a 2.5 inch dust port. You could do without the plate, but it will not be as convenient.
Making your own router table is almost a right of passage and it can provide some basic lessons in working with wood.
My first router table was a 20 X 24" piece of 5/8 plywood with a center hole for the bit and 3 mounting screw holes on the router base pattern to allow attaching the router. Each time that I needed to use it I screwed it to the edge of my workbench with a couple of screws so most of it and the router hung off the bench. For a fence, I had a 2 X 4 about 32" long with a U shaped notch about in the middle of it to fit around the router bit and allow most of the bit to be within this notch. I clamped this fence in place using two C clamps. I used this router table frequently for about 5 years before I became displeased with it's limitations, but by then I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted in my next router table.
This is a great no-frills way to get started with using a table mounted router that will likely cost you almost nothing. I never owned one of those Craftsman or Skil router tables, but I have used them, and liked my first router table far better than either one of those. They were too small, and in the wrong places, and moved too easily when trying to feed long boards through them. Mine never moved when it was in use, until I unscrewed it and put it on the shelf. I think you should seriously consider returning your router table and then making one something like the one that I made. In a few years you can then buy or build what you really want. Well, I think I'm on version 5 now, and each one has been better than the one before it. My third table was built to attach to a B&D Workmate. There are all kinds of possibilities and you should learn what works best for what you do before spending a lot of money on something that will be a significant frustration for you.
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