Router Tables: basics on the accessory for mounting wood routers - Part 3

When it comes to router tables, wood workers differ in the features and capabilities that are useful to them personally. Thus, understanding the options and what YOU may need is always a good idea. It will help you feel happy with the solution you chose. It will also help you to maximize your hard earned money. For me, there's nothing better than that happy feeling I get when I make a purchase with full confidence that I did my homework and got the best deal for the least money. To assist you with that, let's review a few common attributes of quality router tables that should be bourn in mind when considering purchasing or building one:

3-categories of attributes to consider about a wood working router table.

Construction

  • Stability is vital, so any system you consider needs to be capable of handling large pieces of wood without shifting around or flexing.
  • Many units use aluminum for free movement across the surface, but melamine or plastic surfaces on either MDF or plywood if you construct your own table can also work well. Just be certain there is not too much friction between your work piece that the table top. Too much friction makes it difficult to feed stock through your cuts.
  • Make sure that the router table top surface area is large enough for the type of work you do. You want to run you stock through the router without the concern of having the piece tip up should you press down on a part of it that lies off the table.

Fence Considerations

  • Fences guide your stock and thus need to be stable and accurate.
  • A fence needs to be capable of moving in at least as large a range as the largest bits you will place into your wood router plus the width of the widest stock you will use with it.
  • Ideally a fence will have a dust control mechanism built into it to clear particles away from the work area. This is a huge benefit! Wood routers remove A LOT of wood, even when used with a simple round over bit. The first time I used a router, I could not believe the amount of sawdust produced.

Control Accessibility

  • Many woodworkers will dedicate a wood router that stays mounted on their router table. If you aren't going to have a permanently mounted router, then be sure to consider how easy it will be to remove and reinstall your router. This can be a very tedious and time consuming task that takes away from your enjoyment. Other control features to look at include:
  • The location of the power switch: it needs to be easily accessible at all times preferably on the front of the table itself or via foot controls.
  • Height adjustment of the router: preferably some form of router lift or stabilizing feature to allow easy adjustment without having to go under the table.
  • Visibility under the table: consider how well you can see what's going on down there. Good lighting makes all the difference in keeping a simple task simple. Poor lighting promotes adjustment errors, knuckle buster events, cursing, frustration, etc.
  • Fence Adjustments: Clearly marked settings and ease of locking the fence into position are vital attributes of a useful router table system.
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