material and source for router table top?


Hi folks, I'm getting ready to make a new router table. I've been shopping around looking at wha the commercial units have for features, and one thing I really like is the "phenolic" tops. I'm not sure what that *is*, but I'm assuming its some sort of plastic type resin. so here's the questions:
what do you folks think of the phenolic tops? especially if you have one....
and
where can I get phenolic sheets (I'm fiburing probably 3/4 to 1" thick, and probably about 24x36 or so....)
thanks
--JD
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Basically, a heat set laminated plastic. The first entry oln google supplied the following: "Phenolic sheet is a hard, dense material made by applying heat and pressure to layers of paper or glass cloth impregnated with synthetic resin. These layers of laminations are usually of cellulose paper, cotton fabrics, synthetic yarn fabrics, glass fabrics or unwoven fabrics. When heat and pressure are applied to the layers, a chemical reaction (polymerization) transforms the layers into a high-pressure thermosetting industrial laminated plastic."
It is great for a lot of workshop uses, jigs, tablesaw inserts, router tables, etc.
Check a commercial plywood or plastics outlet--let your fingers do the walking.
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Charles Self wrote:

I got two heavy duty copier tables for $3.00 at an auction. The tops are 1-1/2" thick particle board with Formica finish. One made a great router table and the other is a new table for my 24" band/meat cutting saw. These auctions go on almost everywhere and there are some great bargains if you use some common sense. I also got a 5' X 12 ft. folding table for $5 because the screws had pulled out of the particle board. I counter drilled the holes and glued in 5/16" dowels. It makes a super layout table that I can fold up out of the way. Bugs

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I have not seen any router table that had a top made entirely of phenolic. The mounting plates, yes, but not the entire top. The stuff is rather expensive. The price tag on a sheet the size you are talking about will be in the multi hundreds.

one....
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jd said:

One point to consider is that regardless of the material, except for perhaps steel or cast iron, the top is going to have a tendency to sag over time. Particle board in particular seems to be predisposed to this tendency. And a chunk of phenolic 24"x36"x1" is going to cost you pretty dearly, unless you luck up on a surplus/salvage deal. Generally the table INSERT is made of phenolic, or aluminum, or secret alloy XZQ. The router is attached to the insert and hung from the actual router-table top.
With this is mind, irrespective of the material you use, make certain that it is supported in order to prevent warping/sagging. Whether by internal panels integral to a router cabinet, or simple angle-steel sections supporting the insert opening.
Laminated, dual sheets of 3/4" MDF glued together are often used, and some use a piece of wood with a hold drilled in it as their router table. I've considered using a glued up assembly of one layer of 3/4" plywood, one layer of 3/4" MDF, topped with a laminate top. My current table 2 slabs of 3/4" MDF and laminate. But if you leave a 20 pound router hanging there long enough, they'll all sag eventually without proper support and sufficient thickness. Phenolic included, as it is a composite plastic.
These are the shortcomings of many commercially sold "router tables". They sell you with the flashy, colored do-dads, and leave you with a sagging top that is unusable, unless you prefer distorted moldings.
FWIW,
Greg G.
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If money were no object, I'd go with the bench dog cast iron top and router lift plate. It's made to be a table saw wing (which is how I have it installed), but you can also get an end-cap for it to make a dedicated router table top. It's not cheap.
I've heard also that harbor freight has a similar cast iron router table top for something like $60. IIRC, it won't take a standard size router table insert plate. It has only a hole for the router bit to pass through. You have to attach the router directly to the table. That may not be a big deal though if you have a plunge router with a router raiser attachment.
brian
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Fri, Dec 23, 2005, 8:12am snipped-for-privacy@comcast.net (jd) <snip> what do you folks think of the phenolic tops? <snip> where can I get phenolic sheets <snip>
Dunno, don't have one. If someone gave me some, I'd use it on my next router table. Otherwise, I'll just stick to a plywood top, like my old one.
Well, you might start by looking on your own, rather then asking on an international newsgroup. Personally, I'd start looking in my telephone book. Then I'd ask around, probaqbly starting at the local Ace Hardware. Then I'd look on-line. Then I'd ask my mother. Then I'd ask here.
JOAT You'll never get anywhere if you believe what you "hear". What do you "know"?. - Granny Weatherwax
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i did a search at mcmaster carr and found a 24"x36"x3/4" for $163.http://www.mcmaster.com / or you can get a router top from join tech with the insert hole already in it for$160.24"x32" and free shipping.http://www.jointech.com/routertops.htm
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If you have never worked with phenolic be thankfull and don't. The stuff is nasty, yellow dust everywhere, bad smell and taste even with dust mask even long after the cutting is done, and the dust is very abrasive on bearings. Joe
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Excellent material with the worst flatness and thickness specs . Can be machined to flatness, however. More on router table materials? Check the http://www.patwarner.com/router_table.html link.
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