Router tables are useful in many ways. They can used to make straighter cuts and the depth of cut is more accurate too. If you do a lot of routing especially with longer boards it’s worth spending the money on one. It also free’s up both hands so you can concentrate more on what your doing at that particular time.
Using a router table makes dovetail jointing easier and faster. Here you’ll find out what is a good size table and what the thickness of the table should be before you make the decision on what one to buy.
Do I Need A Router Table?
No, you don’t necessarily need a router table but it does make life a lot easier in many circumstances. Using a router table makes sure that all of your cuts are straight, precise and the correct depth. You can get even finer depth adjustments with a router lift.
It’s a great time saving tool to have in your workshop. Sure you could probably get away without owning one. The problem is you’ll have to do certain things to make sure that your cuts are what you want them to be.
Such as setting up a straight edge for the router to ride along to make sure the cut is even all the way down the edge of the board. Hitting knots in wood without the stability of a router table can throw your cut off which is another reason for needing a table.
If you work with large router bits where more than one pass is needed to get to the required depth, you need a router table. This allows you to keep your depth consistent across multiple boards that have to be fitted together such as paneling for a door.
Is A Router Table Worth It?
A router table is worth the money if your main focus of routing isn’t just on scroll work. The table itself can make things a lot easier other than routing long pieces.
- It’s useful for routing edges of thinner and narrower pieces.
- You can slot the frames of kitchen cabinet doors to fit a panel.
- Cutting your own decorative molding and trim.
- Easier to make dovetail joints.
- Better control of feed rate.
Reasons For Not Buying A Router Table
A router table is only worth the money if you’re going to use it a lot. If you find that you’ll only use it a handful times a year, then I would say don’t invest the money in one because a decent one will cost a couple hundred dollars.
Another option if you find the need for the rare precision cut is to ask a friend to borrow there’s. Keep an eye open at garage sales that sell woodworking tools, you may be able to pick one up for dirt cheap.
What is A Good Size For A Router Table?
Router table top dimensions range from 22” long by 16” wide to 32” long by 24” wide or somewhere in between . The 22” length table can handle boards up to six feet long. The 32” long can handle lengths up to eight feet long.
Keep in mind that the 24” wide version makes it a lot easier to work with boards that are much wider than the 16” wide router top.
The weight of the router table is important. You want to purchase one that has a nice deal of weight so that it won’t move as you’re pushing material over the table top.
There’s nothing wrong with the bench top router tables but you need to figure out a way to secure them so they don’t move. The floor standing types are heavier than those and have a stable feel to it.
How thick should a router table be?
If the table top is made from MDF it should be at least one inch thick. This is a pretty good table for the beginner and weekend woodworker. This type of table top is sufficient for small to medium projects. The coating on the top should be smooth enough to allow for easy feeding of the material.
The MDF tops will stay flat for a very long time and won’t warp as long as it’s not abused in any way. Just make sure that the surface of the top has been finished with something like melamine. This gives the surface its slickness and protection from warping.
A step up from the MDF router tops is the high pressure laminate or HPL for short. This kind of surface is considerably stronger because the thickness is more than one inch. It also stands up better to surface impact.
The coating that’s used keeps it from warping over time and gives a good smooth surface for feed rate.
A step up from the MDF but more expensive are the phenolic resin router tops. This material is thinner and won’t warp if it comes in contact with moisture. It’ll stay flat throughout its lifetime.
If you feel that that isn’t sturdy enough you can go with the old cast iron type. These do take a lot more punishment but will cost more.
Router Table Height
The ideal height of your router table should be three to five inches from your elbow as it’s bent at a ninety degree angle.
One of the nice features of a router table is you can set it up to YOUR HEIGHT. This keeps you from working too high so that you won’t have shoulder pain or too low where you’ll develop back pain.
Is A Plunge Router Suitable for Router Table Work?
The quick answer is yes, it’s suitable. Some people prefer to use a plunge router in the router table. Probably the main reason is the plunge router is the only one that they have. A plunge router can do anything a fixed one can and more.
However if you happen to have both styles of routers, the fixed base is a better option. If you do scroll work you’ll find yourself taking the router out of the table to do that and back into the table when something needs to be done on the router table.
The switching back and forth can get pretty aggravating but it does beat having to spend money especially if you can’t justify the cost.
Can A Router Table be Used as A Jointer?
It’s possible to join edges of boards with a table as long as the edges of the boards aren’t really wide. It does take some time to get the fence offset in relation to the router bit at the right measurement.
There’s some router table systems on the market that offer router table jointing shims to make this a lot easier.
Buying A Router Table
One major thing to keep in mind when buying a router table is you can’t mix and match router table accessories from one brand to another. They have to be bought from the same brand as the router table.
There’s some other things to keep in mind when buying a router table.
- Make sure that the quality is good. Don’t just buy the cheapest one on the market.
- Buy one that has all of the features that you want now and maybe in the future.
- Make sure that the dust collection system is of good quality. Having a good dust collection system will cut down on the mess.
- Ensure the base plate that comes with the router will work with the router insert plate of the table that you plan to buy. Some router tables come with more than one insert plate which is the ideal way to go.