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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
What is your preferred table top material?
I’m in the planning stage of a new router table build.
My shop is in an old toolshed, not climate controlled, so it is hot and humid in the summer and cold and dry in winter.(I use a woodstove to heat in winter)
My top will be roughly 44”x26”, 1 1/2” thick, edge banded with oak, and have plastic laminate on both sides.
Would mdf remain stable enough after cutting the t track slots and router opening, or should I use ACX plywood?
I seem to remember reading somewhere about making a “sealer” out of wood glue thinned with water and coat exsposed edges ( like router cut out). Would that help?
Sorry I got so long winded. Wanted to let you know all the information I could.
Thanks

Tom
 

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You're on the right track using a sheet good rather than solid wood of any species if you want to wrap it with oak. MDF has no grain integrity and can warp under its own weight over time. Good support is mandatory. Plywood would be my choice. You might use the thinned glue on the slots and perimeter of the router opening as a sealer.
4D
 

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I would go with a good grade of plywood as well. MDF and other composites will fail from humidity. Phenolic is an even better choice than plywood, if you can afford it. Masonry Supply stores carry a plywood for making concrete forms that have a phenolic coating on the surface. This is also very stable and ideal for uses like this. If you talk to concrete contractors who do form work, maybe they will give or sell you a piece large enough for your needs. Just make certain that the piece offered is flat.

Charley
 

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I needed to laminate two pieces together to get the desired thickness so I laminated 3/4 plywood to 3/4 mdf, covering both sides with laminate. Plywood was on bottom, mdf on top so it wouldn’t splinter when routing opening for lift.

sounds like you are making a top for Incra ls positioner being that large.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I needed to laminate two pieces together to get the desired thickness so I laminated 3/4 plywood to 3/4 mdf, covering both sides with laminate. Plywood was on bottom, mdf on top so it wouldn’t splinter when routing opening for lift.

sounds like you are making a top for Incra ls positioner being that large.
Thanks Terry, thought about that too. You have any trouble with seasonal movement with the mdf?
No incra- just prefer a large top. I like to make sure my stock is well supported,lol.
 

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Thanks Terry, thought about that too. You have any trouble with seasonal movement with the mdf?
No incra- just prefer a large top. I like to make sure my stock is well supported,lol.
For the first several years of use it was in an unheated, wet nasty basement workshop in a nearly abandoned house and never showed any indication of problems. Now it is in a really nice climate controlled workshop where we are much happier.
 

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I am in the process of rebuilding my portable sawhorse based table into a cabinet and I had to make the same considerations. For the same money that it would take to build up the table from plywood and MDF, I picked up a butcher block top (51 x 25 x 1.5, Birch) at the big box store. My table was 48in so the size was right and I will not have to rebuild my fence. Since it needed to be sealed - I put a few coats of poly on it. I do not know if this will withstand the test of time - I am in a insulated but non-climate controlled garage. I do know that I had much better success cutting the recess for the router lift in real wood - no more leveling screws needed.
 

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I am in the process of rebuilding my portable sawhorse based table into a cabinet and I had to make the same considerations. For the same money that it would take to build up the table from plywood and MDF, I picked up a butcher block top (51 x 25 x 1.5, Birch) at the big box store. My table was 48in so the size was right and I will not have to rebuild my fence. Since it needed to be sealed - I put a few coats of poly on it. I do not know if this will withstand the test of time - I am in a insulated but non-climate controlled garage. I do know that I had much better success cutting the recess for the router lift in real wood - no more leveling screws needed.
Nothing strong with leveling screws, any movement at all in the thickness of the top will cause a lip that catches the wood when either starting across or exiting the router plate. I think that even the best constructed top can change slightly in thickness with heat and humidity changes.
 

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My Oak Park table is BB ply, laminated both sides.

It has been in my unlined, dirt floor shed for 10+ yrs in all weathers. Floor wet, humidity, heat and cold, and is still perfect.

If I was going to make another top. this is what
Furniture Table Gas Folding table Outdoor table

I would use.
 

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My preference is a half inch BB plywood top, cut to allow the plate to fit tight, but still able to be lifted out. I'd take a straight edge to make sure it started out flat. Then a 3/4 inch layer of MDF, with the opening smaller to allow a small lip. I'd use spray contact adhesive and with the utmost care, fit the two pieces together with a LOT of weight pressing down on them. I'd then put laminate on both sides, and then wax the inside edges of the mdf to block moisture.

Next I'd cut some 1x material and incase the edges. to keep moisture out, Then it could go on any kind of table you made, bought or even a thrift store clothes dresser from which you remove the old top and attach the router table top. That way you get storage drawers and an easy to clean out recess for the duct collection.

For leveling, you can buy the Kreg levelers (around $20 for four),

or even drill and place some threaded inserts so you can insert bolts from below and level the table. If you do that, use a slightly longer bolt so you add a nut to lock the height in place.

Last suggestion is to make the table the same height as the table saw so you can use it as either an infeed or outfeed table. I did that and it is really handy when I'm cutting something large on the table saw. I have an outfeed table so the router table is always my infeed table.

This is fancier than just two layers of thoroughly waxed BB plywood, but if you make it nice and large, say 24 by 36 or 42, you'll be passing it on to your grandchildren and it will do any kind of project you might come up with.

If you really want it flat, and this is way overkill, my outfeed table stays flat because I put 1x3 trusses underneath it. I drilled holes for the screws so they don't penetrate all the way through the top. That thing is now almost 15 years old and is dead flat. Note that I am a fussbudget about such things.
 

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I had thought about the project as well in the beginning and took a different route of buying a table top to install on the cabinet I built which was a derivative of Norm Abram's plans. The top is this Woodpecker's model but wasn't near that expensive when I bought it maybe 5-6 years ago. Must be a COVID thing.....
 

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What is your preferred table top material?
I’m in the planning stage of a new router table build.
My shop is in an old toolshed, not climate controlled, so it is hot and humid in the summer and cold and dry in winter.(I use a woodstove to heat in winter)
My top will be roughly 44”x26”, 1 1/2” thick, edge banded with oak, and have plastic laminate on both sides.
Would mdf remain stable enough after cutting the t track slots and router opening, or should I use ACX plywood?
I seem to remember reading somewhere about making a “sealer” out of wood glue thinned with water and coat exsposed edges ( like router cut out). Would that help?
Sorry I got so long winded. Wanted to let you know all the information I could.
Thanks

Tom
I have two router tables. A benchtop router table with 3/4" thick MDF with melamine surface. And a cast iron router extension wing on the table saw. Both have T-tracks.

I personally prefer, after having both, the router table with a melamine surface. The boards seem to glide easier over the melamine vs. the cast iron surface, when being routed. I have not had an issue with the 3/4" thick MDF surface bending, like some may suggest. Going with a 1 1/2" MDF thickness is probably the preferred way. But you will have to cut out or router out the under-side for room for the bottom side dust collection adapters to the router. A 3/4" or 1" MDF thickness is all you need, even with installing the T-tracks. Considering you have a good frame for the router table. Your able to purchase the plastic hole adapters for the router table if you'd like. In making your fence, the MDF with melamine surface can make a nice fence.
 

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What is your preferred table top material?
I’m in the planning stage of a new router table build.
My shop is in an old toolshed, not climate controlled, so it is hot and humid in the summer and cold and dry in winter.(I use a woodstove to heat in winter)
My top will be roughly 44”x26”, 1 1/2” thick, edge banded with oak, and have plastic laminate on both sides.
Would mdf remain stable enough after cutting the t track slots and router opening, or should I use ACX plywood?
I seem to remember reading somewhere about making a “sealer” out of wood glue thinned with water and coat exsposed edges ( like router cut out). Would that help?
Sorry I got so long winded. Wanted to let you know all the information I could.
Thanks

Tom
Hey! I live in S. Louisiana, so I know about heat, cold, and moisture. I finally broke down and built a complete cast iron table out of a table saw that the motor had burnt up on. The most difficult part was re-machining the top to accept the big Triton router underneath and adapting an optional DRO to it, and fabbing the insert blanks to accept the router table inserts. The rest was pretty much a cakewalk. Depending on the saw, you could end up with one about the size you're looking for with an all cast iron top, a dust box made from the base, a stand, and a fence with rails. I did the machine work myself, but I have under $100 in the table by itself.
 

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I prefer MDF over Baltic birch plywood because of dimensional stability. Yes, I know plywood is stronger than MDF in bending. You need something that will stay flat. I can buy perfectly flat plywood and by the time i get it home it is no longer flat. You need to be able to level the router plate relative to the table top and if the table top is not flat you can't get there from here. Look at the materials used in high end router tables like Woodpecker, Incra, ... and see what material and thickness they use for the table top.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks a lot for all the replies!!
So sorry for the long delay in my reply but I have been super busy at work.
You guys are awesome ! Definitely gave me something to think about. Kinda leaning towards the bottom layer of plywood and the top layer of mdf as was one of the replies.
My new router table, I hope will be better than what I’m using now. Kinda planning a combination of the Sommerfeld table, and the Creston table (which is basically the Norm Abrams table).
The one I currently have, is from router magic. Always hated the way the bit storage came out.
Tom
 

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Thanks a lot for all the replies!!
So sorry for the long delay in my reply but I have been super busy at work.
You guys are awesome ! Definitely gave me something to think about. Kinda leaning towards the bottom layer of plywood and the top layer of mdf as was one of the replies.
My new router table, I hope will be better than what I’m using now. Kinda planning a combination of the Sommerfeld table, and the Creston table (which is basically the Norm Abrams table).
The one I currently have, is from router magic. Always hated the way the bit storage came out.
Tom
Good choice. With laminate on both sides and edgeing, I bet it will last two lifetimes. Take your time cutting the opening for the plate. It needs to be the size of the plate, plus a playing card's thickness more. The opening should be about half an inch deep, with a smaller opening through the rest of the table. I like a half inch lip all the way around. Rough cut the smaller opening all the way through, starting with drilling with a drill bit, then jig saw the opening.

The easy way to cut the opening is to lay out and clamp down four STRAIGHT pieces of wood, fit tight around the plate itself, with a playing card between plate and wood on all four sides. You can also use double sided tape to hold it in place. Like this:
Rectangle Font Electric blue Circle Parallel

I confess that when I bought my Woodpecker plate, I paid $10 for their pre-cut pattern. Expensive, but the plate is larger than what I had before, which worked better for my Triton TRA001, and I felt flush so cost wasn't an issue. The other thing I wanted was a plate with twist-lock inserts. No more lost insert screws! At the time, the only plate I could find with all those features was the Woodpecker plate. I also liked that it is a little thicker than most other brands, has a whole series of inserts with different size openings, and was drilled for the Triton. Pretty looking thing, too. Here's the Kreg plate, followed by the Woodpecker.
Product Font Automotive tire Circle Auto part

Circle Auto part Metal Font Composite material

If you haven't applied laminate before, watch a couple of Youtube videos. With Contact cement, you apply to both surfaces, but put several dowels between them. The laminate should be oversized. Once it's lined up, you pull out the center dowel and use a J roller to press them together, starting from the middle, out. Try not to get any air bubbles. Remove another dowel and repeat until it's flat all the way across.

As I said, I can be a fussbudget about this kind of thing.
 
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