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....
where can I get phenolic sheets (I'm fiburing probably 3/4 to 1" thick, and
probably about 24x36 or so....)
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
Check a commercial plywood or plastics outlet--let your fingers do the
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.
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 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.
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.
Fri, Dec 23, 2005, 8:12am email@example.com (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
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
You'll never get anywhere if you believe what you "hear". What do you
- Granny Weatherwax
i did a search at mcmaster carr and found a 24"x36"x3/4" for
or you can get a router top from join tech with the insert hole already
in it for$160.24"x32" and free
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.
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