router table top - buy or build?

I'm halfway done with building a mobile saw/router station, TS is now mounted on the mobile platform.
I need to buy or make a router table top. My plan is currently to use two layers of 3/4" MDF wrapped in Maple with formica on both sides. I'm undecided if the top of the Maple frame should be laminated or not, I'm a little worried that expansion/contraction will cause the laminate to break loose. My current top that came with my TS is just laminated MDF with no edging so maybe I could skip the edging.
Anyway,
Looked at the Borg and formica is sold in 4x8 sheets, that plus the contact cement will cost me over $100. Has anyone gone to a custom countertop place and asked them to laminate something? $.$$?
I have also searched online and can't find a premade top big enough since I want it 27" (depth of TS) by ~36". Does anyone know of a pre- made top that is that big?
Last option is the pre-laminated chipboard sold at the Borgs in 4x8 sheets that I could double up and band with Maple. Probably quick to do but will leave me with a crummy end-product.
signed dazed and confused
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I made a horizontal router fixture with the router coming in from the back.
The table is made from the white laminated chipboard in 8 foot by 12 in" pieces for shelving.
I think the Orange Box has it.
I cut two pieces to the length I needed and then put a 5/8" gap between them which I filled with an old piece of scrap that was about 1/4".
This left me with a nice straight groove for the miter guide.
I built it to do raised panels with but found I like the horizontal layout better and use it more than the vertical.
The rear height adjustment is kind of kludgy but it works for me.
I think a company called MDS has one they sell.

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Works well and have no problems. A friend went to a local cabnet shop and got a used counter top taken from a job and made his out of it, once again no problem with it at all. The cost of both router tables was under 50 bucks ( not including inserts) and both work as well as commercial ones.
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Limp Arbor wrote:

You might want to take a look at the "UV" plywood that the Borg sells. Nice shiny smooth slick factory finish. Don't know how durable it is though.
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--John
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On Wed, 23 Jul 2008 11:45:25 -0700 (PDT), Limp Arbor wrote:

I did the same thing ... but with three layers of MDF.

I applied the laminate to the MDF, then added the maple edge band.
BTW, I put laminate on both sides of the top. Not sure it was necessary.

You might also try obtaining scrap laminate from a cabinet shop.

Woodpecker will make a custom top. Dunno about cost.
http://www.woodpeck.com

I don't think that will be as stiff as the MDF, and it might be more difficult to work with, especially when you make a cutout for a router plate (if that's how you're going to mount the router). And the melamine surface is not as readily glued together without glue made for the purpose.
--
Art Greenberg
artg at eclipse dot net
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I just bought a 4x8 sheet of formica from the borg for $35. Try looking at the price of different colors/textures. They're priced accordingly. I like textured formica for jigs and table tops because wood slides better over it. Less friction. My router table is 3/4" birch ply with 3/4" MDF and then formica on top. It's over 6 years old and hasn't warped. Formica is great stuff to have laying around for jigs and such. My router table fence is faced with it also.
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Interesting, less friction.
I built a jig years ago and was able to buy either a 1/2 or 1/4 sheet of laminate but can't remember where I got it.
I was just looking at the prices for the white, I'll have to go back and recheck the other colors.
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On Fri, 25 Jul 2008 08:08:14 -0700 (PDT), Limp Arbor

In Dobsonian telescopes, the lowest-friction surface used by most builders is a WilsonArts laminate with a "Premium #50 finish" (most commonly Ebony star). The equivalent Formica surface is called "Mist". Teflon will slide on these surfaces with very little stiction.
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and another in the middle but out of the way of the plate. I was concerned with the weight factor as it hung on the aluminum fence ways. If you really want a white top just use melamine from the orange borg.
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Build, & keep it simple. See notes on the whole megillah at the http://patwarner.com/router_table.html link. *************************************************************

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Phenolic Tops on sale at http://www.jointech.com/routertops.htm . I use the 27 x 36 from them and added a lift and smart fence and love the set up.
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It is really dependent on your desire to make that specific size. My old table was 2 pieces of 3/4 MDF glued and screwed with a piece of white laminate on it and edged with thin strips of maple. I installed this as a table extension on my old Delta Contractor saw. Wehn I upgraded to my new Steel City, I already knew that my table sxtension took up too much room in my small shop, so, I went with a much smaller extension. To compensate, I made a router table using the "Rockler's #1 Router Table Package". At $129.00 with an ok fence and a nice aluminium plate, it was a steal. 1 1/4" thick, melamine on both sides with a nice aluminium T track and edged in plastic T moulding. The problem for you would be that it is only 24" X 32". Hope this helps a little.
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definately make you own.
I use 2 pieces of 3/4 mdf glued up - no edging
the frame of the table itself is 2x4's
some extra notes: - 1. make sure the frame is level (DAMHIKT) 2. put the hole for the plate in 3/4 the way back, towards the left side... be sure that the plate can be lifted out when a fence is in place (DAMHIKT either) 3.after cutting the hole for the plate, , I flipped the table onto a flat surface, placed the plate in the hole, and used some 1/4 scraps glued into place to hold the plate - it works great (okay, this you can ask!) 4. put some thought into how the fence will be mounted... I used t- track 5. don't bother witt the t-track slot in the front - i never used mine
good luck shelly
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I think I have a solution.
As I was leaving the building for lunch the maintenance guys were trying to dissamble a huge desk for the dumpster. I stopped by and looked.
About 3' x 6', 1" thick top made of MDF with a genuine imitation wood top (veneered). Perfect. I had them through it in the back of my truck. I'll cut it down to size sand & poly the top glue a piece of 3/4" mdf under neath for an 1 1/4" thick top
Too bad I didn't get there before they destroyed the heavy duty full extension roller-bearing drawer slides. :-(
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Damn!
Turns out the top is 1 1/8" particle board (not the MDF I thought it was) with laminate on top and a thin layer of what appears to be MDF on the bottom. This particular particle board seems to be denser than what you find at the Borg for shelves. The desk it came from is ~40 years old.
What are the opinions about putting a router plate into this particle board that has plastic laminate on the top?
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I think one of the best answers you've received was from Pat Warner and one that will serve you well.
Also, while looking at his web site, pay special attention to the micro-precision router fence he makes and offers on his site. A few years back Pat did an article for FWW that featured an earlier version of that fence. I made one from the article and a few emails to Pat and have used it considerably (for a weekend warrior) and that is one solid design. I just finished another set of doors and drawer fronts for a kitchen rehab and that router fence got another good workout.... Thanks Pat.
Pat will be the first to tell you that all you need is a 2by4 and a nail to make a router fence but if you want repeatable setups and precison cuts - that is one helluva design he came up with. A lot of years of practicle experience and good ole common-sense. The fact that he also knows what he's doing helps a bit.....
Bob S.
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