Plexiglass for router table - Where to get? Really necessary?

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I've searched the Rockler and a couple of other places and cannot find small sheets of plexiglass for sale.
One place online has what I need in eight foot sheets. All I need is enough to make a table insert to fasten the router to.
On the other hand, how important is transparency anyway? What problem would I run into if the whole table top were opaque?
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Unless you are deep in the boondocks, there should be a plastics store in your area. Try looking in the phonebook. Typically, they'll cut any size piece you want (and tell you the best material to use.) Another option would be a glass company.
Ed
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http://www.woodcraft.com/family.aspx?FamilyID=1410
http://www.routertabledepot.com/acinwiprho.html
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KIMOSABE wrote:

Transparency is unimportant. What *is* important is having a thin, stiff material for the plate.
Stiff for obvious reasons.
Thin because the router is hanging under it and a thick plate may limit how close you can get the router to the table surface of the plate.
"Plexiglass" is sort of a generic term for a "transparent, thermoplastic" material (used to be a brand name IIRC). There are various plastics fitting that description: acrylic is one, I wouldn't suggest it as it breaks rather easily; poly carbonate (brand name, Lexan) is another and does NOT break easily. In fact, it is what is used for bullet proof glass. It works well, my plate is 3/8" polycarbonate.
Other possibilities include aluminum, steel and phenolic plastic. Any of those would be OK 1/4" thick.
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dadiOH wrote:

Yes.
Yes. You don't want to limit the travel of the bit by having an unnecessarily thick plate.
I'd save myself the trouble and just spend a few extra bucks and get one of the 1/4" aluminum plates from Rockler.
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I have the Rockler plate. If I were to buy another one, it would be a different brand. The corners of the plate have a 1/2" radius. Try to find a 1" pattern bit (specially a short one). Rather hard to come by. Cant use a bushing as there is not one big enough to to pass a 1" bit. The tempate that they sell for this thing takes care of the radius problem but the hole comes out to big. I checked a couple of router tables in the Rockler store. They had a fair bit of shake too. The plastic inserts in the plate are held in by three tiny screws. Real easy to loose and the insert needs shiming to sit flush.
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CW wrote:

Ok, fair enough. I bought a Rockler plate 8 or 10 years ago and it was fine (except that the opening wasn't big enough to run some of my bigger panel raisers, so I wound up making my own plate from 1/4 aluminum); I don't remember running into the 1/2" radius problem that you described...
There are plenty of other 1/4" aluminum plates out there though; in my experience that would be a better solution than the thicker plastic or phenolic plates simply because of the bit travel problem.
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Steve Turner wrote:

FWIW, Woodcraft has the Jessem is about 3 bucks more than the Rockler, it's drilled to fit just about any rotuer made, and has a nice adjustment system to get it flush. They sell a template for 25 bucks but making one to fit out of a piece of scrap plywood isn't that hard--at least I managed it.
Nice thing about the Jessem is that if you decide later that you want a lift, pop out the plate and drop in one of their lifts and you're done.
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CW wrote:

Use a 1/2" Fostner bit to do the corners...
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That would give me a 1/4" radius.
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CW wrote:

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dadiOH wrote:

You can get the best of both worlds by using transparent aluminum, if you can wait until it's invented, sometime in the 2140's.
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-MIKE- wrote:

http://www.surmet.com/alon.html
What the heck, send 'em a drawing, ask for quantity 1/10/100/1000 pricing, see what they say.
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dadiOH skreiv:

This is a good one made of steel: http://www.leevalley.com/wood/page.aspx?c=2&cat=1,43053&pP264
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eBay. Search string: router table insert You'll find blanks and factory-made inserts. The mfg. inserts are nice as they have pop-out rings to accommodate larger bits, and they're cheap enough. You don't need to see through the insert.
R
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KIMOSABE wrote:

Transparency is a non-issue.
As for a source, if all else fails try McMaster http://www.mcmaster.com . They've got all sorts of plastics in many thicknesses and in small sheets. Grade XX Garolite (phenolic laminate) would probably be a good choice from what they carry.
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Kimosabe, IF that's your real name..<G>... go to a local solid surface countertop fabricator and ask for a sink cut-out. Just make sure it is acrylic, such as Corian, Staron, Meganite and such. 1/2" thick. You can work that stuff easily with carbide tools, drill with HSS bits. A Much better choice than plexiglass IMHO.. A piece of phenolic would be nice too, but much harder to come by.
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Checked any local plastics dealers? Some, but not all, will cut to size for you, and charge you only for what you take.
Sign companies use a *lot* of plexiglas, and frequently have small pieces left over. In my experience, they don't charge very much at all, and occasionally will simply give you small pieces just for the asking.

Put it differently: what problems do you think you might be avoiding by making it transparent?
Transparency is irrelevant. A router table needs to be flat and stiff. Melamine particle-core board, MDF with a Formica laminate, or Baltic birch plywood in 3/4" thickness, or 1/4" aluminum plate, would do the job just fine. You'd need to use at least 1/2" plexiglas, I think, to get sufficient stiffness for it to remain flat when you hang a router from it.
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I went the plastic route and the results were dissapointing. You can buy it cheap enough at the Borg or most HW stores. IIRC I used 1/4" and it sagged. Also if you need more than a 1" hole for a bigger bit you either need another plate or make the existing hole bigger.
Keep an I on Rockler I think they are the ones clearing out their inventory of one model of Aluminum plate.
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Go here: http://www.ptreeusa.com/routerPlates.htm
KIMOSABE wrote:

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