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Router Tables Router Tables Document Transcript

  • Plans N O W ® TOOLS & TECHNIQUES SERIES w w w. p l a n s n o w. c o m RKBEN September 2001 WO Router Tables CH ® AWA D Y R OF IT Q UAL ED IT OR ’S CH OICE router is probably the most versatile and to get the job done. It can be as simple as a A accurate woodworking machine in your shop.To make the most of it, however, you need the right router table.This indispen- piece of plywood with a notched board for a fence. In fact, many woodworkers build their own.The reason to buy a commercial table is sible shop fixture opens up a world of possibil- for the accuracy and conveniences manufac- ities for joinery, grooves, rabbets, panel raising turers build into them. In this tool review, we and edge-forming operations. A router table tested nine router tables for the budget-minded doesn’t have to be expensive or overly fancy woodworker — all priced under $300. Nine router tables compete for top honors. Which one is best for you? From Workbench Magazine page 1 © August Home Publishing Co.
  • WHAT’S IMPORTANT baseplate that fits into a rabbeted to keep air circulating through it. All router tables aren’t created equal. recess in the top. Baseplates make bit- FEATURES. Many router table We found some significant differences changing easier, especially if you’re manufacturers offer quite an array of in several key aspects.We’ll talk about using a plunge router in your table. optional accessories that you can use those in a minute when we get to the They also make it easier to mount to customize your table. If the models individual table reviews. But overall, and remove the router. shown here don’t have every feature here are a few things to consider when Most of the baseplates on our test you want, check with the manufac- buying a router table. models came with concentric inserts turer for available options. TOP. A router table top needs to for added support close to the bit. be very flat for the most demanding Phenolic baseplates resist sagging work, where slight variations could better than acrylic ones, but you can’t change the angle of the workpiece or see through them. the depth of cut. Overall, the tables in BENCHTOP/FLOOR-MODEL. this test scored high in flatness. The word “benchtop” is a bit mis- The size of top is also important. leading. For safety and comfort, a Larger tops provide more support, benchtop table should be mounted on but for most operations, smaller tops a stand with the top surface at work- work just fine. bench height.Benchtop tables are more FENCE. A good router table will portable than floor-models, but they have an easily adjustable fence with don’t have the unlimited router height features such as a dust collection port, clearance that full-height tables do. If a bit guard,and an array of hold-downs, you plan to use a large plunge router jointing shims, and stops. in your table,make sure there’s enough We prefer fences that clamp to the headroom. edges of the table top rather than attach Some of the benchtop tables had by bolts through slots. They’re easier enclosed stands.These cut the noise to remove, and there aren’t any sharp by a few decibels, but the enclosed edges to “catch” a workpiece. space can lead to overheating prob- BASEPLATE. Many commercial lems. We suggest installing an addi- router tables have a drop-in router tional dust port in the enclosed stand TWO INNOVATIONS THAT BREAK THE MOLD Router tables have come a long way Veritas router table. Underneath the table JOINTING. Although several of the since they first started to appear in is a unique clamping mechanism that router tables could be set up to joint the woodworking shops. With two of the lets you mount the router (or remove it edge of a board, one model in particular models tested, we found features that from the table) in a matter of seconds had a terrific new twist. But before get- definitely broke the mold. (Photo a. below). And don’t worry if you ting to that, here’s a quick overview of MOUNTING THE ROUTER. One of the have a router with an irregular-shaped jointing on a router table. most innovative ideas is the method base. This quick-change clamp can be The idea is to mount a straight bit in that’s used to mount the router to the adjusted to fit any router base. the router and then, with the edge of the board riding against the fence, make a pass. To provide support for the workpiece after the mate- rial has been removed, the outfeed part of the fence has to be shimmed out a bit. To accomplish this, the fence on the Bench Dog router table has two aluminum bars that are used a. b. to shim the fence (Photo b.). By placing the bars in a different pair A unique, quick-clamp mechanism on the Veritas router For jointing, two aluminum bars are of fence slots, you can change the table lets you mount or remove the router in seconds. used to shim the Bench Dog fence. amount of offset. From Workbench Magazine page 2 © August Home Publishing Co.
  • VERITAS At A Glance: Everything about this table is intelli- router.Three cam-shaped table inserts Price: $269 gently designed. A unique router- drop easily into the table opening and Table Size: 24" x 16" mounting clamp system makes it easy are tightened with a spanner wrench. Under Table to mount any There isn’t a miter gauge slot. Clearance: 16" router The double-decker split fences are Top: Steel quickly and movable and feature a micrometer- Weight: 40 lbs. firmly style gauge to set positions within Virtues: Sturdy and accurate; without .001". You’ll need some tools to make unique router mount; micrometer removing the adjustments, but Veritas has included a positioner; instructional video. baseplate. The nifty 4-in-1 tool to help. Vices: Blade guard and dust smooth steel Options include hold-downs, a chute not included; fence top tilts up for right-angle fence for cross-feed requires tools to adjust. bit changing routing, a magnetic dust collection Verdict: An innovative, very and flips over chute, a pin router attachment, and user-friendly table; our unani- mous choice for best in test. to mount the blade guards. WOODHAVEN BENCHTOP At A Glance: Woodhaven’s design expertise and atten- You can have the plate pre-drilled for Price: $290 tion to detail are evident in this slick almost any router at no additional Table Size: 237/8" x 19" benchtop router table.Although it took charge. Under Table 21/2 hours to assemble, The fence clamps comfortably to Clearance: 147/16" it was worth the the table top. This makes it easy to Top: Laminate on MDF time.The table is remove, and it’s free of slots. Extruded Weight: 52 lbs. solid as a rock, fence channels accept Woodhaven’s Virtues: Excellent fit and finish; with a great fence, many optional accessories. unique snap-in insert rings; slick a dead-flat table,a On the minus side, the top vibrates fence system. phenolic baseplate when the router is running,although not Vices: Need screwdriver to with snap-in insert enough to affect accuracy.We also would adjust fence; top vibrates; no dust port in cabinet. rings, and a supe- have preferred to see a dust collection Verdict: A solid, well-made rior plate-leveling port in the enclosed base, but it’s easy product with all the bases cov- system. enough to install one yourself. ered; plenty of add-ons available. BENCHDOG RT100 At A Glance: Compact and solid, this benchtop Our test model had a 3/8"-thick, table comes with a lot of standard clear acrylic baseplate with a 2" hole. Price: $199 Table Size: 22" x 153/4" bells and whistles. Some of these Interchangeable insert rings aren’t Under Table include a beefy T-slot/miter-gauge available. For different-sized openings, Clearance: 123/4" extrusion, a dead- you’ll need separate baseplates. Top: Laminate on MDF flat fence that’s The split-fence adjustment knobs Weight: 35 lbs. perfectly square, were cramped,but the main knobs that and an enclosed secure the fence to the table were Virtues: Flat, solid and nicely made; excellent fence and miter stand. The miter accessible and comfortable. gauge extrusions. gauge slot is Besides the solid construction and Vices: Minimal router headroom; adjustable with set the full-featured fence, we were espe- fence knobs crowded; no dust port screws that take up cially impressed with the clever alu- in cabinet. any slop in the fit minum jointing shims. These offset Verdict: Best value in test, with of the miter the outfeed fence quickly and posi- all the features needed in a com- gauge’s bar. tively for jointing. pact and affordable package. From Workbench Magazine page 3 © August Home Publishing Co.
  • ROCKLER At A Glance: Price: $273 This floor-model table has a full-size for a blade shield and an optional Table Size: 313/4" x 24" top and all the important features.We featherboard and Under Table tested it with a solid oak stand.A pine stop block. Clearance: 351/2" stand and a metal leg set are also avail- A drop-in alu- Top: Laminate on MDF able.The top has an aluminum miter minum baseplate is Weight: 42 lbs. (w/stand) gauge slot that accepts a standard 3/8" flat and rigid, but it Virtues: Full-height; large table x 3/4" miter gauge bar. Rockler offers vibrates and whines. surface; sturdy base, convenient an optional wooden featherboard that The hole in the fence adjustments. locks in the slot with a twist of a plastic plastic template- Vices: Featherboard hold-down knob. guide insert ring was only works for material up to 3/4" The fence — a simple, straight alu- off-center by about thick. minum angle extrusion — attaches to 1/ ." This was a big 32 Verdict: A sturdy, full-featured the top with carriage bolts and large, drawback for tem- and workman-like table that is comfortable knobs. It has two mov- plate routing accuracy. nicely designed and easy to use. able subfences with T-slots in the front At A Glance: EAGLE RT2000 Price: $220 Eagle America’s entry-level table The fence clamps to the sides of the Table Size: 24" x 191/8" includes all the basic features you need. table for fast removal. Under Table It also has the longest fence of the The extruded aluminum fence is Clearance: 13" benchtop models tested. fitted with MDF subfences and a dust Top: Laminate on MDF The edges of the RT 2000’s top are collection port. The subfences are Weight: 41 lbs. edge-banded with laminate, so they slotted to accept Virtues: Solid cabinet with weren’t as user-friendly as others with Eagle’s wide enclosed base that cuts noise; vinyl T-molding.Apart from a dip near selection of long fence. the miter gauge slot, the top was flat featherboards, stops Vices: Sharp edges and corners and solid. A $20 baseplate with four and guards. High- on top; limited router headroom. insert rings is available. rise subfences are also Verdict: A solid, compact router The enclosed cabinet can be fitted available for panel- table with a square, straight fence with an optional dust-collection raising and edge- and a catalog full of options. pickup.You also have to drill the exit grooving operations. hole for your router’s power cord. CRAFTSMAN 26464 At A Glance: This latest router table from Craftsman model version. Reversing the out- Price: $299 Table Size: 27" x 18" is a full-featured benchtop model.We feed fence offsets it 1/16" for jointing Under Table tested it with an optional steel floor operations. Clearance: 141/8" stand.The cast aluminum top is coated The heavy-duty, clear, Top: Die-Cast Aluminum with a clear anti-friction finish to pre- plastic bit guard enhances dust Weight: 52 lbs. vent marring. A drop-in baseplate, collection and keeps hands drilled to fit all 1997 and later away from the bit. It can be Virtues: Sturdy; good plate-lev- eling system; versatile fence; Craftsman routers, comes with three flipped out of the way for safety switch. plastic insert rings. For other routers, miter-gauge operations and Vices: Ribbed table surface isn’t you’ll need the optional universal base- taller workpieces. user-friendly; insert rings don’t sit plate. This table comes with a flush. Accuracy could be better. The three-piece aluminum fence standard two-outlet safety Verdict: A solid, feature-packed is easy to adjust and has T-tracks for switch, so you can turn on table that can serve as a mounting a large, plastic featherboard, the router and a shop vacuum benchtop or floor model. which comes standard with the floor- simultaneously. From Workbench Magazine page 4 © August Home Publishing Co.
  • WOODSTOCK REBEL At A Glance: The Rebel is a lightweight aluminum suggest a one-piece subfence to solve benchtop router table with a sturdy, this problem. Price: $188 bolt-together, cast aluminum stand. We had to drill the holes in the Table Size: 24" x 18" Under Table The table is flat, the split fences are aluminum baseplate to mount our Clearance: 17" square to it, and router, but Woodstock offers custom- Top: Cast Aluminum the lock-down drilled plates for an extra charge.We Weight: 35 lbs. knobs can be had to remove about 1/32" from the accessed easily. plastic insert ring’s flange so it would Virtues: Rock-solid yet light- weight; flat table surface; rigid But it’s tedious sit flush with the table. aluminum baseplate. to adjust both The overarm blade guard doubles Vices: Separate fences tedious fence sections for dust pick-up.But it isn’t very effec- to adjust, blade guard not always each time we tive for either purpose when the fences usable. changed the are close to the bit.It also requires a 3"- Verdict: A solid and accurately position of the dia. flexible hose and clamp to con- machined table, without many fence. So we’d nect to the opening. frills or accessories. JESADA This is Jesada’s only router table for The leg set included consists of two At A Glance: under $300. It’s a floor-model table rather flimsy sheet-metal leg units that Price: $240 with a full-size top, a simple extruded require a plywood shelf and rails for Table Size: 315/8" x 24" aluminum fence, and stability.Once braced,the table is quite Under Table a sturdy drop-in rigid. Clearance: 2211/16" Top:Laminate on MDF baseplate that must You’ll need to rout slots in the table Weight: 46 lbs. be drilled to accom- top to attach the fence.This isn’t diffi- modate your router. cult, but you’ll need a 3/8" straight bit Virtues: Large, floor-model The baseplate comes and edge guide (no instructions or table with a straight fence. standard with two dimensions included). Vices: Top has no slots; legs must be braced; no provision for nested insert rings, We had mixed feelings about the split fence. but the outer ring cam-lock levers that held the fence in Verdict: A full-size, no-frills stands about .010" place.They hold securely enough, but router table with a large top. But proud of the plate their sharp edges and corners make few accessories are available. surface. them uncomfortable to operate. PORTER-CABLE 698 This small benchtop table has some routers unless you mount the table At A Glance: good features — easy assembly and a on a stand or cutout table. Price: $149 remote router switch. But overall, we The flat table top came equipped Table Size: 193/4" x 163/4" were disappointed with a miter gauge, but the sharp Under Table with its design and grooves are intrusive. Also, the steel Clearance: 133/8" operation. insert ring sits about .025" below Top: Cast Aluminum Weight: 26 lbs. The cast alu- the table surface, so your work tends minum top is to catch on the edge of the opening. Virtues: Light and portable; pre-drilled to The two-piece fence design easy to assemble; has remote accept all Porter- means you have to adjust each fence router switch. Cable routers,but independently every time.The fences Vices: Fence not square to table; blade guard and dual there isn’t enough were straight but weren’t square to fences awkward. clearance under- the table. And the blade guard on Verdict: The least-expensive neath for their the right fence casting was awkward and least-impressive table tested. 31/4 HP plunge to use and remove. From Workbench Magazine page 5 © August Home Publishing Co.
  • Final Recommendations Most of our test models excelled in plate, the router clamp is more con- some areas and fell short in others. venient and sturdier.One thing missing That’s why we suggest you base your on the standard Veritas model was a final decision on the features that are dust chute, but they offer a great one most important to you. with a magnetic base that can be used VERITAS ROUTER The first thing to consider is the on other machines, too. TABLE SYSTEM router you plan to use in your table. If Close behind the Veritas were the your only router is a 3 HP plunge Woodhaven and Bench Dog tables, router, you may find that it won’t fit with their enclosed stands and wide comfortably in a short benchtop table range of optional fence accessories. such as the Bench Dog or the Eagle. The Woodhaven scored slightly The Porter Cable table accepts only higher because of its more ample Porter Cable routers. If you want to headroom, snap-in ring system and RKBEN be able to stow your router table under unbroken table surface. The Bench WO CH ® a bench or toss it in the truck, choose Dog won our Top Value award because AWA a benchtop model. of its excellent performance at a very D Y R OF IT Accuracy, ease-of-use and optional reasonable price. Q UAL ED IT OR accessories are also important. With ’S CH OICE only minor exceptions (noted in the GOOD TABLES THAT FELL SHORT individual write-ups), all the tables The Rockler, Eagle America, and were accurate enough for normal Craftsman tables also earned routing chores.We liked the drop-in respectable ratings. Of the three, the baseplates of the Woodhaven, Bench Craftsman had the most standard fea- BENCH DOG PRO TOP Dog, Eagle, Jesada, and Rockler tables. tures, including the only dual-outlet PORTABLE RT100 We also preferred the easy-to-remove switch in the test. But the Eagle fences of the Woodhaven, Eagle, and America and Rockler tables offer Veritas models. The Bench Dog had more optional accessories. the most comfortable fence knobs. We liked Rockler’s larger table,open Because these are entry-level stand and sturdy aluminum baseplate. tables, it pays to look ahead to other The Craftsman’s ribbed aluminum table RKBEN accessories you might want to add surface wasn’t as user-friendly as a lam- WO CH later. It’s hard to beat Veritas’ extensive inate-surfaced top. ® AWA line of nifty add-ons; although Eagle, D Y R Woodhaven and Bench Dog also offer ROUNDING OUT OUR LIST OF IT Q UAL plenty of options. The Woodstock Rebel and the Porter TO P VA LUE Cable table both lost points for their E R TOP PICKS independently adjustable fences. The Veritas table earned our Editor’s The Jesada model we tested had Choice award because of its innovative the virtue of being a floor model, but features: the solid-steel tilting top, the it didn’t offer as many features as our unique router clamp, the clever insert top picks. The uneven baseplate was rings, and the slick fence system. also a drawback. Though it didn’t have a drop-in base- HOW TO CONTACT THE MANUFACTURERS Veritas ………………800-871-8158 Rockler ………………800-279-4441 Woodstock Int. …… 800-840-8420 Woodhaven …………800-344-6657 Eagle America ………800-872-2511 Jesada …………………800-531-5559 Bench Dog …………800-786-8902 Craftsman ……………800-349-4358 Porter Cable …………800-487-8665 From Workbench Magazine page 6 © August Home Publishing Co.