I am unsure of whether I need a router table.
I mainly do small projects, boxes etc. and I don't know if it really
justifies a place in my 14 square foot garage space..
Please try to persuade me either way,
for small parts a router table is a necessity. If you don't have much space
make a small benchtop model. I made a simple box for a router table and
store it on a shelf when not in use. Its just big enough to put the
router's storage box inside as well so it doesn't take up much more space.
A router is a very valuable tool for a small shop. It is able to do many
types of jobs and a good investment for a small shop like yours. I would
recommend in my opinion to build a small router table that would accommodate
your needs. Since you do mainly small projects, a large work surface is not
needed. A router table definitely makes some procedures easier than trying
to use your router by hand on a small, awkward cut. Jigs and fixtures are
available to help you hold small pieces when machining them. Have fun and
watch your fingers!
Do you already have a router? If so, it is extremely easy to mount it under
a piece of plywood or MDF and then clamp the board to some sawhorses or
something and then clamp a straight edge or board to that as a fence. A
pretty easy make-shift router table. It really depends on how robust and
how often you'll use it. I find the router table, with the proper jigs and
safety precautions, to be a very good tool for making small moldings and
other routing operations. To use a handheld router on small parts requires
some effort (more than the router table, IMO) in order to make it safe and
accurate. The router table was one of my first projects for the shop and it
is one of the most used stations - coming into play on just about every
try this link to give you an idea:
Basically, you countersink some screws through the top of the board and
screw into the router baseplate. This allows you to release the router
motor from below and then change the bits with the motor out of the housing.
You then adjust the height in various ways after replacing the router in the
router base (different routers do this differently). At any rate, that
article I linked to has a pretty good description of a simple router table
that should get you thinking.
What router do you have? If you're looking at purchasing one, and it will
be your only one, I'd get the DeWalt 618PK with the fixed and plunge bases
(and possibly the kit with the d-handle, too, which I find useful). For
this router and the Porter-Cable 690 (which I also have) (and every other
router that I've seen, for that matter) you can take the mouter out of the
base. I can't envision any reason why a router would not be able to do
this, and can't really see how it would function properly in terms of
accessing the collet and changing bits if you couldn't.
No - very rarely.
Remember that on the interweb everyone is an American. Routers in the
USA are still largely "fixed base" designs, which are pretty much
unheard of in the UK. They don't plunge and (rather bizarrely for a
"fixed base") they come apart easily into two halves.
If you want a router table with a plunge router, you really need one
with a good depth adjust. Sadly these are still rare, especially in
the mid range. The better ones have them (I use a Freud 2000) and
oddly so do the cheapies.
Another factor in choosing a router for a table is to have one with a
switch you can leave turned on, and a separate switch that you can
work from above (ideally this is a "no volt release" switch). Some
recent cheap routers have "trigger" switches that need to be tied down
with an elastic band to be used in a table - hardly convenient.
I just took a look at the Freud FT2000E and it definitely doesn't come apart
as the routers I'm used to. To be honest, I think this is a very big
negative, not a positive.
the only thing the word "fixed" refers to is that the routers don't plunge.
being able to take the motor out of the base greatly improves the ease of
putting a bit in the collet and then tightening it down. Of course, there
are times when the bit will be too big for the base opening, and you'll have
to insert it with the motor in the base. Since I have a table with a big
3.25 HP router and a router lift, it is easy for me to forget about those
difficulties as I never have to deal with them anymore.
At any rate, having multiple bases with one motor that can be exchanged
between them makes an infinite amount of sense. There are a LOT of
operations where I prefer a fixed base router instead of a plunge. I
actually keep a tear-drop baseplate on the fixed base all the time, and have
a big clear circular base on the plunge base. You can never have enough
routers or router accessories.
No, but if you get a plunge router, you can change bits when it is
still in the table by unlocking the plunge lock. Just make sure
you're careful with the router- with the space you've described, it's
an awful tight squeeze to keep control of the board.
Two choices Sam - either install a router insert which you can remove to
change bits with the router laid up on the tabletop, and then place the
whole thing back into the table... or just reach under the table top with
your wrench and loosen the collet to change bits. You can get a wrench in
under the table top to loosen collets. Worst case - take the three screws
out that hold the router to the underside of the table and haul the router
up to the table top. That's kind of an extreme method, but you don't change
bits that often that it's a real killer. Just remember to unplug your
router before changing anything. That part added to appease the catastrophe
if you turn your router upside down you'll see that the surface that
touches the wood is removeable. this is called the sub-base. what
you're gonna do is unscrew the sub-base and replace it with another
one a little thicker and a good 6 or 8 inches longer and wider. (make
it a couple of inches larger than the overall footprint of the tool)
this plate in turn will be let into the surface of the router table so
that the "top" of it (what was the bottom before you turned it upside
down) is flush with the top of the router table.
now to change bits, make fiddly adjustments, etc you lift the router
and plate right out of the table.
Yes, you need one. I'd be lost without mine. You don't need a big one and
it can be stored under the bench (or the bottom of your bedroom closet) if
you get a small setup. Take a look at the small Benchdog
(www.routerbits.com) and see if it fits your space and either buy or build a
Simple chores like a groove or roundover are just so fast and easy with a
If you have a router, you will increase its capacity immensely by
having one. However commercial ones are very expensive and most of
the UK ones aren't much good.
You can make one cheaply. I'll try hard to post photos of my own in
the next few days, something I've been meaning to write up for months.
So yes, they're useful. They're easy and cheap to make. Don't spend
money on buying a commercial one.
Yes. *Much* easier, much safer for small projects. Take the tool to
the material for large projects. amke oyur own from scrap material :
4 legs with small ply squares fastened to the bottoms to fasten to the
benchtop. 3/4" particle board or whatever for the top. hole cut to
accommodate the router bits and then some. Two more or less parallel
slots. One piece of hardwood for the guide, with two hole in it to
run bolts through for fastening to the tabletop through the two slots,
and one cutout to allow chips to fly.
If happy, then invest in a better metal one ASAP.
Yes... in your space, this would be a valuable addition:
It takes a screaming maniac of a tool and puts it in a
much more controlled situation that will allow you to
do MUCH more with the router. A hand held router is a
disaster waiting to happen on most days.
Sam Berlyn wrote:
I actually prefer a table for small parts. Small parts are much
easier to rout when the router is steady and the part is held with a
hand screw or push block.
On large items, like table edges, I'll use a handheld router.
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