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Which table should I buy?

9478 Views 29 Replies 19 Participants Last post by  boogalee
Hello everyone, I am in need of some good advice please. I just purchased my very first real power tool, a Porter Cable 895PK router!!! The salesman at WoodCraft said this was the best tool for a novice woodworker who wanted to make tables and other furniture pieces. Now I need a router table. I have never even used a router before but I am determined to learn SAFELY how to use this tool and eventually to master it. Can I buy any table or must it be a PC table? And does PC make more than one table (I could only find one table on the PC website.)? And do I need to purchase the Tru-Match Sub-Base or will that come with the table? Also, are there any other items I should purchase now, my first project is a 3'X9' oak desk/table. Please forgive my ignorance. And thanks in advance for any advice. Denise :confused:
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Hello and welcome to the world of routers, I'm sure you'll love it. You can go to oak-park, link at the top of the page, and purchase a nice table for your router. They also sell plans and parts to build your own.

On a side note, if you take any classes at the WoodCraft store can you share your views on how they are. The nearest WoodCraft store to me is about a 2 hour drive and I would like to know if the classes are worth the drive.
I just ordered the PC 895PK and am waiting for it to arrive via UPS. Here is my take on router tables. I now have a 2 Craftsman routers, one is mounted in a Craftsman router table. Not a very expensive set up at all and it does a pretty good job. Now take a look at all of the $300 to $500 set ups in the catalogs and then watch what Rick and Bob use. Do you see where I am going here? You do not have to spend a lot of money and buy a lot of gizmos to make great furnature. I also have on order the Vac-U-Plate from Oak Park and I am going to make my own table. Peter
Once you have started with routers you will never stop!!! Oooohhh the humanity!!

Anyway, what I did was just got used to my router over a few weeks and looked at different tables available (not much over here at all) and then made my own (actually got the directions off the Dewalt website). I used that for about a year and then made another with the modifications I wanted (and also my skill level had increased!!) If you do end up making your own don't go to overboard on the first one as there will be things you want to change when (not if) you want to make the second.

Recommend you look at the video that came with your kit. It's a great video of B&R building the router table they use on their show. Oak Park carrys the parts/pieces that you could use. In fact - they carry the assembled table. You can decide how much you want to build (if any) and order the difference through Oak Park. The VAC-U-Plate that pmspirito mentioned is on my Christmas list... I currently have my 895 attached to my table saw extension.
I agree with Aaron. Build your own simple one first, then find out what you want. My first router table was made with the sink cut out when I made my kitchen. My second table was a big cabinet, miter slots, the whole bit, but was just too big in my small garage. I'm on my third set up now, which is basically just the Oak-Park top on a steel frame. Simple works best sometimes.

Save some of the extra cash you might spend on the "ultimate router table system" and buy a couple of books and videos. I always like to recommend a trip to the library to check out Patrick Speilman's New Router Handbook, which is a great resource for the router novice.

I also use an 890 series router now, and you got yourself a great tool.
I agree with making a simple top also. I am in the process of making one from scraps and cut-offs from a local cabinet shop. So far there is only one piece of wood included that I paid for :), which is the 1/2" Baltic Birch top.

There are a number of things that will change when I build my next table (or modify this one), but it gave me some ideas just building this one.

If you have any cabinet shops near you, they can be an excellent source of scraps for smaller projects like this.
Looks very good to me. How did you do the cut out. Is there an edge to support the plate? Are you going to use a fence and miter? Thanks for posting the photos.
I'll fourth, or fifth, the making a simple table first, my first table made with scraps of wood for the base and a small 18" x 20" scrap of countertop I found in a shed after we purchased our house. Now I am building a big fancy-schmancy Norm-like table that I will be keeping in my Dad's shop. There is nothing like trying to route long pieces, form tenons, cut grooves and mortices, etc. to show you exactly where your current table is lacking or not. Good luck.
The cut-out was done with a jigsaw, cut the top piece of 1/2" Baltic birch first, then used that as an edge guide with a trim bit to match the second layer of 1/2" MDF. The bottom layer is 3/4" ply and the hole was cut slightly smaller to create a 1/2" lip for the plate leveling screws.

Again, this project was done using cabinet shop cut-offs and 'found' items, with the exception being the piece of BB ply. The 3/4" plexiglass was an experience to work with, but I just found a local source for 3/8" Phenolic and will be making another top in the next couple days.

The first table built works much better than what I had before, but as mentioned above, a lot is learned from making a 'first' table, which will make the second and any following tables that much more 'personalized'.

Eventually I'll be purchasing a Vacu-Plate system, but I think this table and the next one will get me by for now.
I like what you've done with mostly "found" material. You've given me an idea that I'd never considered before........checking with local cabinet shops for their scraps. The guy who built our kitchen cabinets 18yrs. ago used all his scraps to heat his shop by burning them in an old heavy metal mail box he made into a wood burning stove.
Agree, cabinet shops can be quite handy for a variety of stock. From one -- I've gotten quite a bit of Baltic Birch ply, another has laminated chip-board (which is where I picked up some tossed stuff that will make my next router table).

I'm now making a list of all the cabinet shops in the area so I can do 'drive-bys' on a regular basis to see what's available. :cool:

Don't overlook your local contractors either. I have a friend that works as a secretary for a contractor, she has gotten permission for me to 'dumpster-dive' the large haul-away dumpsters. She has my list of times when I'd like to go see what has been tossed and calls me when various construction sites reach that stage.

(Note: Do not go right after the drywall has been installed ;). You'll come out looking like a ghost and it's hard to get to the good stuff which will be buried under layers of drywall).

I recently built a corner shelf unit that needed a 2-1/2"X2-1/2" post for the back corner. Lacking any other 'goodies', I ran a bunch of oak trim cutoffs through the thicknesser making them 48" long by 1/2" X 1/2". 25 of these glued together made a nice post of just the right size, which was then faced and routed to receive the side panels.

The neat thing about this is my sister (who the corner shelf was made for) can let people know that part of the shelf "came out of the dumpster". :D
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Subject? What Table to build???

You may want to consider building a table with TWO router plate holes. I find mine invaluable. I have an Oak's Park size hole in one end and another more standard (really no such thing...) size in the other end.

To make it even more useful, I made a top to cover the table when I'm not routing, from plywood and scrap oak flooring. It makes a great assembly table with the top in place. The auxilary top has a lip around the edge and just sits in place without any fasteners.

I used one of the commercial metal router tables and single ended top from Woodpeckers as a start. Then I cut the hole for the Oaks Park plates in the empty end and boxed the whole thing in with 1/2" plywood. I made one long shelf in the bottom and three compartments in the upper level. The two end compartments serve as "dust collection boxes" for the two routers and the center section has slide-out shelves for bits, collars, and misc.

I'll try to take some pictures but my schedule is full right now, with the Woodworking Show in town this weekend and such...

Keep your fingers on your hands!
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Congrats on your 890-series router! I have two 690s and I'm a bit jealous :p :'( Wanna Swap?? :eek:

:eek: DON'T <as in Do NOT> buy the Porter Cable Router Table! :eek:

See how I turned that "sow's ear into a silk purse" at this link --

The PC router table has a surface that's quite small (too small in most opinions) and the fence "system" is a very kludgey joke. As if those aren't enough reason to avoid the PC table, the way the router mounts in it is enough to make any experience user scream in shock and terror.

Being penurous at the time, I had to use the PC mounting method when I made a new table top...

Oh yeah, and unless you manage to find one heck of a deal at a huge retailer, you're going to pay way too much and get way too little for that PC table.

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Rockler makes a nice one for $70.00 bucks
Thanks Learning Herb
Pc 895

With the PC 895 you will find a CD-Rom, on this there are detailed instructions on making a router table. For a fraction of the price you can make a very good router table at the same time get to know how to use your router and build with it.
FancyPant said:
Also, are there any other items I should purchase now,
Yes. Make sure you have proper eye and ear protection.
If you want to see the extreme in complexity and cost in router tables, go to and get their catalog of Incra products. Its all way over the top for me. It sure looks nice, but seems very complicated.

I picked up a sheet of MDF and some Formica this week and will probably get a start on my Router Workshop table this weekend.
I cut out and dry clamped my router table today. I stayed closer to Bob and Rick's table than I originally planed. I cut back on the extra large size and went with 1/2 inch birch plywood instead of the 3/4 inch that I originally planned. It was clear it would be way too heavy to shuffle around the shop. I used 3/4 MDF for the top and will cover it with Formica. It was my first shot at MDF and it was nice to work with.
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