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To Buy or Build

7064 Views 12 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  Murray
I'm planning a routing table and am trying to decide if I should build a base and purchase a top from Rockler or the like, or build the top as well. Any advice? If the recommendation is to build a top suggestions on design and materials would be appreciated.
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gaviaimmer said:
I'm planning a routing table and am trying to decide if I should build a base and purchase a top from Rockler or the like, or build the top as well. Any advice? If the recommendation is to build a top suggestions on design and materials would be appreciated.
Part of the satisfaction would be to do it yourself, incorporating ideas and tips that exist here and in literature. Of course, if you are in a hurry, get out the credit card.
gaviaimmer said:
I'm planning a routing table and am trying to decide if I should build a base and purchase a top from Rockler or the like, or build the top as well. Any advice? If the recommendation is to build a top suggestions on design and materials would be appreciated.

I bought a fairly inexpensive table from e-bay. It's nicely built and will handle my 690 PC. I have a PC 7518 on order and I don't think this little table will handle that router. I'm going to build my own but it wont have as many features as some do. I have some old counter tops from my kitchen and they are covered with high pressure laminate. I intend to use one of them to practice on. I need to see if I can rout thru the laminate and how to make the cutout for the plate. There is a plan for on available on this site. There ara also some very well made tables of different designs over on but the search function doesn't work as well as it should. Also you can do a search and find companies that sell tables and get a lot of ideas from there. I think mine will be made of MDF unless I can find something sturdier. Phenolic material costs more but it may be stiffer. Mine will be a bit larger than the one I have now. Probably over 30" wide and over 25" deep. It will have a miter slot, a split fence backed maybe strong aluminum angle, I want an easy and accurate way to shim the out fence for edging. I'll have a t slot for attaching featherboards. I'm in the same position you are trying to decide on a design. In the November issue of WOOD magazine there is an article on making a fairly elaborate fence. Good luck in your search. Sorry I couldn't be of more help.
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Well I gess it all comes down to how much money you have to spend. I myself have the rockler table and top.I built the cabinet with dub. doors that fit under it. I have racks and home made bit holders there and room for some of my jigs and other goodies.I think the table and top are great. It Comes with an outstanding fence. I have no complants about it at all .
Learning Herb
It not really a money issue for me. I like the idea of building the whole thing myself including the top but am concerned about warping or quality issues that would effect functionality. I also like the simplicity of the table that is used on the Router Workshop program. It leaves a novice wondering how much value there is in all the expensive fences and do-dads on the purchased units.

If I build it my self do I need to use some sort of laminate for the surface. I know this sounds a bit strange but I like the idea of a maple butcher block top (I just like wood, ok) but am concerned about how flat I can get it and if it would warp.

Any thoughts?
In my opion a butcher block top is to thick, and will make cutting out for the router base difficult. I would buy the top and base plate, Oak Park sells them for anyone
wanting to make a table. It is stress free baltic birch with a mica top layer.
I've had mine quite a while and it is warp free. I have a PC7539 router that I mount in it. That is a big router , it's crowded in the tabe but works out OK.
I suggest you go on Oak Parks web site and take a look.

Hope this helps, Woodnut65
I don't know about the Butcher block, it may be too thick. My table top is 1 3/4 inches thick and it works well. I have a Hitachi M12V hanging off a 9" by 13" plate (I think... goodness, I just made the plate a couple of weeks ago how can I forget the size that quickly?) but I am using hardboard which I coated with paste wax.

I built a fence for around $40 that has an adjustable width opening, plus the left side is adjustable towards the front for jointing purposes. The fence is about 8" high with a T-track along the non-adjustable top half for feather boards and bit guards. It has most of the doo-dads at a fraction of the price. However, as I have said in another thread, I have just started using this fence so I shouldn't be singing its praises too highly yet :)
There are many styles of table and you know how much space you have to work with. I suggest checking out the plans from ShopNotes and Woodsmith for ideas. I built my table using the plans available from a ShopNotes booklet. It uses 3/4" plywood and two layers of 1/4" hardboard or Masonite, both sides are covered with a Formica laminate. Its all glued up with contact cement. There is a solid hardwood border which really dresses it up. I used a Rousseau mounting plate and I spent the money to buy their installation kit since I am building more of these tables. The booklet also gives instructions for building either an enclosed or open base, and a very nice fence which makes a big difference. Fast and easy to build, I think its worth a look. The fence photo's are here:

The fence shown on the table is a ShopSmith I think. My buddy bought this table before the finish was dry.


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Thanks for all the feed back. I couldn't find pictures on the Oak Park site for their table offerings so I didnt pursue that option. The tips on ShopNotes and Woodsmith were helpful. I guess I need to get over my obsession with aesthetics. I still like the idea of a maple top in a butcher block style (abeit a thin version) but I dont think I could get it flat enough after glueing it up. - I appreciate all the feed back
Build It-Recommended, But Buy the Insert Plates

Sorry for the late response to your question-wasn't on yesterday. I bought a router table and fence with all the trimmings from Woodhaven (I think) a few years back. Found that the split fence, t-tracks, plastic guards and featherboards to just add to the frustration of set up. So just in the last month I built two separate router table tops and fences that can be fitted into the legs/frame that I have. The reason for 2 different tops and fences is simple-one is used for my PC690, the other for my PC 7315 (big 3hp Powermatic). I do recommend buying the 1/4" heavy duty metal insert plates from Rockler, then fitting them to the table tops. As far as aesthetics, I built the table top on one from 3/4" Baltic Birch ply, and edge banded it with oak strips. Finished it with wiping on gel varnish (Bartley's) and it looks great. The other table I built out of MDF, edge banded it, and waxed with paste wax.
As far as fences, the split versions I've used have been a pain to level (shims, etc.), so I've opted for single piece fences cut to accomodate the largest bit I would use. In using smaller bits, I simply fasten one of several auxiliary 1/2 or 3/4" MDF fences to the face of the primary fence with a set of clamps. Each has an opening sized roughly to the bit, I"ll be using.
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Re: Butcher Block Router Table. FWIW I don't think that this table would be practical. Keep in mind that the finish would have to be slick enough for the work pieces to slide with no resistance. It would look nice thou.

Oak Park has pictures of a number of alternatives if you deceide not to build. Look for the catalogue under the US or Canadian Flag - whichever is appropriate.

The table top, vacuum plate and accessories are on sale - but, the member discount is not available

Hope this helps.
I agree with CFM about the table looking great but not letting the workpieces slide easily. The Formica top lets the work pieces slide with no effort, covering top and bottom helps with rigidity, and you can buy a piece of Formica with a butcher block pattern on it for the same cost as a solid color. A 2' x 4' piece will run you about $22 and is more than enough to finish both sides of your table. I dug up a pic of one of the Shopnotes fences I built. This one has Rockler accesories: T track, finger boards,(2 for hold down and one for holding the work to the fence) vacuum connection and hardware. It is mounted on a friends purchased Shopsmith table in the photo. Note that this fence has 2 sliding faces that are easy to adjust.


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Look at the RT1000 table. They are well built and are in Nova Scotia Canada. . Just to compare if anything.
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