The local TV station was running a series of The Router Workshop every
night in a row for a couple weeks. This is the first I've seen it.
What really impressed me was the dead simple table/fence, etc. these
guys used. It really makes one wonder why people spend money on router
lifts and fancy fences unless they are just gadget freaks (I'm a bit of
one, myself, but I'm also cheep).
Seems that skill mixed with equipment that performs its basic function
well is what gets the job done. The bells and whistles may be fun, but
they don't make quality pcs of wood.
I absolutely agree. My router table that has served me well for years
is a PC router, bolted to a piece of 1/4" steel plate, set into a home
made table, with a simple one piece pine fence that clamps down with a
couple bolts and wing nuts. It's a very simple setup but gets the job
The various additions do serve a purpose.
Consider the lift. If I want to raise the bit a hair, I need to crouch
down, unlock the motor mount, turn the adjuster, lock the motor mount,
stand back up. With the lift, you just turn it. If you've got a bad
back, that could be useful.
The extruded aluminum fences are nice since they have built-in slots for
t-bolts to slide in. This allows for the placement of stop blocks, hold
downs, bit covers, etc. You can add t-slot to a shop-built fence and
make the other stuff, but it takes time.
Like most things, it's a tradeoff between time and money. I built my
router table/fence when I had time--it's got sliding sacrificial
sub-fences, built-in dust collection, etc. But it took some time to
build--time that others might have preferred to spend building furniture
rather than shop fixtures.
I agree on the lift. It always a nice feature. I am just in the final;
satges of my home made router table. I used a 1.4 : Plexiglass base. I
have a craftsman router that has a lift on it, you just put in a
extended allen wrench and turn it, works great. I am going to build my
own fence as well. I made mine BIG. 22 X 48 long. I like a area that I
can put a large piece of board on and not worry about it tipping off. I
bought a miter gauge channel from Mikes tools, Great price once again,
and will have that there as well for support in some projects.
Exactly. It all depends on what you want to get out of the table.
Now that I'm building another router table, there are all kinds of
add-ons that I'm including, simply because at one time or another, I
kept telling myself "there's got to be a better/easier/safer way to do
this". Now I'm incorporating all the better/easier/safer elements
into the new table that will ultimately make it perform better and
make it a joy to use, rather than just a tool that I can do the job
on, if I fight with it enough.
Care to elaborate on what add-ons you feel are useful? Sounds like you
are picking these based on experience. Since sometines features (or
tools) seem good, but you later find you never or seldom actually use
them, I'd be interested in your thoughts.
Of course, people have been building stuff well made for years with a
minimum of equipment. It's just that man as a species has a tendency to
try to improve the functions of the tools he uses, it's just a natural
Whether you want your router table to produce a minimum of dust, make
it extraordinarily easy to make a fine adjustment, or even just to have
it look good for when your buddies are over, doesn't matter, it's your
satisfaction with the tool that counts.
I guess it's a question of whether you like the
"nudge and bump" fence and bit height method
and making four or five "test cuts" before
getting the thing done you went to the router table
to do. Also depends on what you're expectations
of what a router table "system" will enable you
to do, or do more easily.
There are router table cuts that require fairly
precise fence adjustments - case in point -
lock mitered corners. If you want clean, sharp
corners you must be able to move the bit and
or the fence in very small, controlled increments.
If you just want to cut dadoes, rabbets/rebates
or T-slots a "nudge and bump" set up is probably
fine. But if you want to cut finger joints, half
blind or through dovetails - that fit, then a
precision positionable fence system fits the
bill. If a loose, or overly tight fit of ply in
a dado is ok - you probably don't need an Incra
or JoinTech fence system.
There's also the question of where you're going
to put all the router table related stuff -
collets, wrenches, rabbet bit bearings, set
up blocks etc. . Having a router cabinet with
drawers - and maybe a pull out shelf or two
are nice to have. Homeless stuff has a tendency
to wander off and hide. But if they have a nice
drawer to live in, or a dedicated space in a
cabinet they tend to be easier to find - and use.
"Like With Like" makes for a good filing
system - and the stuff seems more comfortable
hanging out with relatives.
Try watching the show that the OP talked about. Better still, come to my
(home) shop and I will give you a demonstration. Even better, come to my
place of employment and I will show you how to line up fixtures within
.0001" with a mallet. Or adjust the settings of hand screw machines to
similar accuracy...with a mallet. It is a skill that has to be learned but
is very do able. A router lift and micro adjustable fence will allow you to
get good results without as much practice but is not at all needed to do
good work. Just depends on how much you want to put into it. For me, bumping
my fence into alignment is just natural. Others will have to make up their
own mind as to what they want.
There is absolutely no reason to buy the fanciest router table/lifter if you
have mediocre skills and quality is unimportant to you. The flip side is
that even if you have abounding talent and precision is your middle name,
this high end equipment will not make you any better, just faster.
My router table is the right side extension of my unisaw and I have the
Rockler master lifter. It saves me from bending over to makes small height
adjustments and bit changes. My fence is a self-made unit that serves me
I had a "nudge and bump" two piece fence. I spent ages nudging and bumping
with trial cuts to get the edge cut I needed. Every now and again I went
onto the next stage and then found out I had to re-do some piece for one
reason or another. What a pain to get the "same" settings.
I now have a router lift and Incra fence. Setting up is fast and avoids my
old frustrations. When I have to repeat an operation I can get back to
exactly the same dimensions.
I know I could make my old simple "nudge and bump" system work. For my
workshop "I pays the money and makes my choice". My choice may not be for
others, but I am happy I invested the money. I like the results and it
makes the hobby more fun for me.
On 9 Feb 2006 12:57:27 -0800, email@example.com wrote:
When I go my first router 30 yrs ago, I thought this is the ulimate in
expensive tools. Then I found out that the real value is in the bits.
Then I found out that the true value lies in using the router and bits
effectively for things other than opening paint cans.
When you watch the show, pay attention to the fixtures and the way
they get used. You don't 'see' any other shop tools on a regular
day. It's all about using the router for more that making a stylized
edge on mostly straight wood. Best of all, the jigs that Bob
Rosendahl (and son) make to preform the various cuts is the most
valuable part of the show.
If you get impressed with tools, watch New Yankee Workshop then buy
the plans. If you want to be impressed with tool use, watch Router
Workshop and get ideas. Don't get hung up on the simplicity of their
setups or what they make.
Having said that; there are some things that I make or do
differently, but only because I go the ideas from them and others.
I hear you need special bits that are long and flat on one end...
Seriously, Thanks to all for the comments.
Sounds like "to each his own", just remember that you don't NEED fancy
equipment to do good work. I think the best part of The Router
Workshop, as someone mentioned, stimulates you thinking about new ways
of doing things.
Y'all take care, now.
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