Phenolic or Aluminum for router plate?

I made my last Plexiglass router plate yesterday... So now I need to buy a router plate, but what to get?
When I was at Rockler last week I checked out the router lift they had on display for my 690PC, I think it was this one: http://www.rockler.com/product.cfm?page 777&filter=router%20lift I know it was a demo but the inserts and the plate itself where chipped and cracked at the point where they interlock. Anyone have a phenolic plate with rings that lock-in and has the plate or inserts cracked?
The inserts that were in the aluminum plate right next to it did not sit flush to the top, not a lot but enough to catch a fingernail and also a piece of wood. I think it was this: http://www.rockler.com/product.cfm?page 002&filter=router%20lift Pretty cheesey for an accesory that costs $300
Anyone have either the phenolic or Al plates and had an issue with the inserts? Can they be filed or otherwise 'adjusted' to sit flush?
I don't necessarily need the lift but I want a decent plate with inserts that sit flush to the top. So is phenolic the way to go or anodized Al?
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How about steel? I've looked at their plates in the store and the inserts do fit flush. http://www.leevalley.com/wood/page.aspx?c=1&pA793&cat=1,43053,43885
Of course, if an insert plate is your future, then these ones fit flush also. http://www.leevalley.com/wood/page.aspx?c=1&cat=1,43053&pP264
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I went with aluminum after buying a phenolic (Rousseau plate) and it flexed under the weight of my router. I threw it away and bought a Woodpecker plate. No problems with inserts and has not sagged under the weight of my PC-7518. The woodpecker is more expensive, but hey, buy once cry once.
http://www.garagewoodworks.com/router_page.htm
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I first considered the LV steel table and then looked at the Woodpecker models, but I've now settled on a Jessem table. Only downside as you've stated, is that I certainly will be having a big cry, but it will only be once.
http://www.jessem.com /
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I've had a Rousseau for years, with no problems, but I should add the following:
1.) My router is a Bosch 1617EVS, which is lighter than Stoutman's.
2.) I take the motor out of the table when I'm not using it. I do this mainly because it's easier to change bits, not because I'm worried about the plate. Maybe I SHOULD worry about the plate! <G>
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Snip

May I ask, what advantage does a plate with "inserts" offer? I have had a router table set up since the 80's and have never seen the need. Having said that I do use 2 phenolic plates with 2 different sized holes. One I used for raised panels and large bits, the other for the smaller profile bits.
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See answer below in your question. :^)

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Actually, altho you did just answer your own question, I'll flesh out the details...
....insert rings get you exactly what you have with using two different plate, but ask yourself if you think it'll be easier to store a couple of rings that are 1/4" thick and perhaps 3" in diameter or storing 2 or 3 plates that are the size of a sheet of paper AND you either have to have a router for each plate or you have to change out the router from plate to plate.
YMMV
Mike
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OK, yeah, I get that part but I guess my question is more, why? It seems that most posts concerning using the rings indicate or point out problematic situations, as indicated by the OP. What happens if the ring comes in contact with the spinning router bit? Having asked that last question, the rings that I have seen fit very closely to the router bits and there are several different sizes so that the ring fits closely to the bit.
Now if we are only talking about rings that afford 2 sizes and fit well with no chance of accidentally coming out I can see the point. ;~)
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A couple of reasons for using them as close to the size of your cutter as possible:
1) reduces how much dust and chip-age that you will get under the table. If you aren't using a closed, box-type table, like the bench dog, this may be less of a concern. For me, it means less chance of burying my start pin or wrenches in the dust and chips.
2) Close to zero clearance...for many of the same reasons that you want that on a table saw, namely, more support for the workpiece as close to the point of cut as possible.
If the rings are too close the the cutter, as soon as you turn the cutter by hand, BEFORE turning on the power, will tell you if things are going to hit and if they don't fit well, then there needs to be some adjusting or replacement-ing going on!
Mike
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Snip

Yeah, I am using the Bench Dog. ;~)

I guess that may come in handy but I have not missed this feature.

Some of the rings that I have seen were thin and would come out easily. If the rings are secure I would be happier.
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RayV wrote:

When I made mine almost 15 years ago I used 3/8" Lexan (polycarbonate). NP with flexing. Made 3 rings of the same material, NP making flush. I also made a couple of extra inserts sans bit hole. Haven't used them yet.
I never saw - and still do not - any need for the rings to lock in place. The hole(s) have to be slightly larger than the bit being used so the bit isn't going to move them. The all around rabbet on the bottom of the insert fits snugly in the matching rabbet of the plate so there is no tendency for one side or the other to lift; even if there were said tendency, the wood you are pushing through would prevent it.
The thing I *don't* like is the way the plate fits in the table - an all around rabbet in the table top the thickness of the plate. The reason I dislike it is that some sawdust inevitably filters down onto the rabbet and it is a nuisance to get out of the corners. One of these days I am going to remake the top and when I do there will be a system of cross pieces both ways (no rabbet) to support the plate. Those support pieces will be set in maybe 1/4" from the edges of the table hole so that saw dust is easily removeable.
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<snip>

The cross braces sound like a great idea, I wonder why nobody makes them that way?
I may try it myself...
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"RayV" wrote in

With a 690 you will be OK with phenolic, but don't leave the router mounted in the table in any event.
I have a phenolic "Bulldog" insert which measurably bends under the weight of my PC 7518 ( it has never been stored that way for obvious reasons).
Bottom line, if you ever plan on upgrading to a heavier router, and you have the cash now, go with AL ... you won't be sorry.
... one of these day's I'm planning on doing just that.
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Sun, Jan 6, 2008, 6:45am (EST-3) snipped-for-privacy@comcast.net (RayV) doth wonter: I made my last Plexiglass router plate yesterday... So now I need to buy a router plate, but what to get? <snip>
Mine is one I made out of 1/2" plywood. Not had any problems whatsoever with it. I've got four more, 1/2" plywood also, but they're for the other four routers - with different bits. Sure speeds up changing to a new type bit..
JOAT You can't always judge by appearances, the early bird may have been up all night.
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(RayV) doth

time you buy a bit, you should buy a router also. It certainly does speed up changing bits... Jim
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