Finding the best router table for your woodworking needs need not be a lengthy and drawn out process. Yes, there are different aspects that need to be considered from table size, base plate rigidity, Mitter and T-slot configurations, fence adjustability to dust collection and more. However, we guarantee that through our concise router table reviews you will face the least trouble in choosing a top rated router table for your needs.
If you’re looking for the top of the line Professional Router table with superior performance and the best jigs, we recommend the Kreg PRS1045 Precision Router Table System. This Pro Router table system has everything a craftsman could want. Also with the latest upgrades, customers get the newer true PRS 1015 T-styel fence with built in micro-adjustment, 3 level loc reducing rings and a brass starting pin as well as several other useful accerssories.
However, If you’re on a budget, and you’re looking for a great product to complete your DIY home projects, we recommend the Bosch RA1181 Benchtop Router Table. It’s no wonder that this powerful Router table is a Best Seller. Not only is it compatible with several routers, it also provides a wide and stable work surface (27 in by 18 in), 2 featherboards, an aluminum fence with MDF face plates , dust colletction and lot more bang for the buck.
We’ve been in the industry for a while now; well over 20 years and our professionals have had their work cut out for them. We’ve used all the top rated professional router tables as well as several home use products for our various projects. So, regardless of whether you’re looking for the top of the line Professional table or a nifty top rated router table for the home, you can be rest assured that our reviews will offer you the Top picks and give you an at-a-glance breakdown of the best features.
Top 3 Router Tables for Professionals
After years of experience with different router tables, we decided to showcase these two router tables under our top 2 picks for Professional use. These router tables offer perfection, precision, safety features along with incredible workflow. So, let’s take a closer look at these two shortlisted router tables.
Kreg PRS1040 Precision Router Table System
It’s an amazing router table with all the safety features and worth your money. It’s well constructed, and you can do whatever you wish on this router table. It has got the aluminum fence for an incredible finish and has three independent lock down screws with perfect dust collection system. It also has thick phenolic insert plates that work efficiently with any router along with an edge banded MDF top that absorbs noise and vibration. To know more about this powerful Router Table System, read our Kreg PRS1040 Precision Router Table Review.
Bench Dog 40-001 ProTop Contractor Bench Top Router Table
The Bench Dog 40-001 ProTop Contractor Bench Top Router Table is the best router table for anyone who is a novice in terms of woodworking experience. It has got the benefit of easy assembly, maintenance, accessories and is worth every penny money you spend on it. It has got an extruded aluminum fence with T-slots and its acrylic insert easily accepts all routers. For more information on this product, read our Bench Dog 40-001 Router Table Review.
Bench Dog 40-102 ProMax Cast Iron
This router table is known as the well-built table that is completely worth your money. It’s made of cast iron and comes with router top, fence and mounting hardware. It easily fits on all the contractor grade table saws along with all the right tilt grade table saws. For more information on this product, read our Bench Dog 40-102 ProMax Cast Iron Review.
Top 3 Picks of Router Tables for DIY Hobbyists
If you desire to create a wooden masterpiece with only the formative information about router tables, then check out this list of the best router tables for all the hobbyists.
Bosch RA1181 Bench Top Router Table
The Bosch RA1181 Bench Top Router Table is highly compatible with different routers; its workspace is 27 inches by 18 inches and has got the Aluminum fence with MDF face plates and aluminum router mounting plate. It includes a 6-foot power cord; two adjustable feather boards, dual outlet switch, and dust collection port. This Bosch router table is available at a discounted price along with a benefit of free shipping. Read our complete Bosch RA1181 Bench Top Router Table Review to learn more about this best selling Router table for the home.
Porter – Cable 698 Bench Top Router Table
The Porter- Cable 698 Bench Top Router Table is ideally suitable for beginners as it’s quite easy to operate and comes with table and miter gauge. It has got 19-3/4 inch and 16-3/4 inch machined aluminum top to support the table extensions through the cast-in lip and Multiple starting pin locations. Read our Porter – Cable 698 Router Table review for more information on features, assembly, and accessories.
Craftsman Router and Router Table
The Craftsman Router and Router Table is also an amazing router table for all those people who prefer to improve their woodworking skills as it incorporates the sturdy table along with a reliable router. This tablet provides the double outlet power switch along with a safety lock. It’s available with free shipping. Read our Craftsman Router and Router Table review for more information on features, assembly, and accessories
What’s in a Router Table (Including Types)
Quite simply, a routing table is a special table designed to accommodate a router for woodworking. And, a wood router is a machine that can be used to rout out/ hollow out pieces of wood; to trim wood and cut or to create slots, edges, and molds in wood. While hand-held routers are not uncommon and get the job done, the router table offers a much sturdier workstation and base to work out of. Not only that, a router table offers greater safety and convenience, over and above making your job a whole lot easier.
Types of Router Tables:
There are two types of router tables:
- Routers with Plunge Bases: With these routers, the sole or the base of the router is placed flat onto the surface of the wood. With these, one can preset the depth of the cut before lowering or plunging the bit into the cut.
- Routers with Fixed Bases: With a fixed base router, the position of the router bit is fixed or constant. Every time you want to change the depth of the cut, you will have to do so manually.
Even if you’re a novice user, and you’re only planning on doing only a few home improvement projects, you’re still better off getting a kit that has both the fixed base and the plunge base router. If in the future you do expand your woodworking projects, you’ll have a versatile tool in the shed prepped and ready to go. By the way, both these router types fit into the router table with no hassles. Check out these
Router Table: Parts & Accessories
The Router Bit: This is the most important part of the router because it the part that will cut, shape and trim the wood. There are two common sizes of router bits: 1/4″ shank and 1/2″ shank. Most routers come with both 1/4″ shank and1/2″ collets so you can help us bits of both sizes. However, some models only use the 1/4″ collet size.
When deciding between the two-bit sizes, it is always better to choose wood routers that have collets for the 1/2 ” bit over the 1/4″ bit. This 1/2″ bit is more durable, vibrates less and so provides greater stability while cutting and also helps create a smoother cut and finish.
Click here for more information on wood router bits quality, shapes and prices.
Table Top: This is the top of the table onto which the base plate fits. Flatness and rigidity are key qualities to look for in good quality router table top.
Base Plate and Ring Set: The base plate fits onto the router table top over the opening and attaches to the router. The best router systems offer a wide range of base plates that are pre-drilled for 1-2 router makes and they also provide blank plates that can be drilled to fit. It goes without saying that the base plate should be suited to your router.
The Fence: The fence acts as the guide by keeping your working wood piece steady and in place as you run it by. The fence can be detached in case you want to work a cut around your wood piece.
Mitter Gauge: The Mitter gauge is a useful accessory that helps to stabilize wood and create accurate, angles cuts on wood. Although, they are not always used, the miter gauge can make cutting precise angles on much wood tidier and easier.
The Featherboard: The feather board is a truly invaluable routing table accessory that fortunately doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. It serves two purposes. Firstly, it holds the wood in place by pressing it up against the fence as you run it through. Secondly and more importantly it applies constant, consistent and even pressure to the wood regardless of the feed rate. As a mechanical hold down device, the feather board is practically indispensable. They contain a row of flexible angled “fingers” that help to keep the block in place. Although one might be tempted to use one’s hand on certain occasions, it’s never a good idea to get your fingers that close to the board; leave it to the feather board to get the job done.
Table Stand/Base: This is perhaps the most important aspect of the wood routing table. The base is the foundation of the table. Without a stable, durable and solid base, even the best router table features and accessories won’t be of any utility.
Dust Collection: A dust collection port acts as a vacuum cleaner, sucking up all the dust and debris that accumulates on your table router while you work. It’s a small price to pay to keep your workstation tidy and clean so that you can work with greater efficiency and less clutter.
The Benefits of WoodWorking with a Router Table
Just as a cutting table for vegetables and meat is an indispensable kitchen tool, so too are router tables an indispensable woodworking platform. Even if you have years of experience as a skilled woodworker with the handheld router, the routing table will enhance your skill and increase your efficiency as well as the success of your projects. Here are few reasons why you shouldn’t ignore the utility of a wood router table.
- Router tables offer a complete workstation to create all types of woodworking projects.
- They offer great levels of stability and durability.
- They provide superior tools to achieve higher levels of precision and accuracy with the router such as the fence, feather board, and miter gauge.
- By freeing both your hands to guide your work piece better, they offer you greater control over your project and your workstation, so you achieve greater levels of craftsmanship.
- Finally, they provide greater safety as opposed to working freehand.
A Router Table Buying Guide
As mentioned above, the router table has huge utility in any woodworkers shed. It provides a superior control that simply would not be possible with the handheld router. It also offers the unique opportunity to create certain special cuts and grooves with care and safety such as dados and cope-and-stick joinery cuts that would otherwise be risky to create even with high levels of skill on the handheld router.
In the following guide, we have delineated and explained the most important aspects of what makes a top quality router table. Regardless of whether you’re a Professional, a serious DIY home improvement enthusiast or a novice looking to take your first shot, a top rated router table with good specs should be your main priority. You might not need all the various accessories that come on the side, but you should not gamble with the stability and solidity of a top rated router table.
All in all, there are 4-5 different aspects you need to consider when buying the best router table.
A Flat and Rigid Table Top is a must: A flat surface is a must since even the tiniest discrepancies in smoothness can cause major issues with the shape and cut off your incisions in the wood. Rigidity is also equally important. For starters, your table top must be able to support the weight of the router and router lift without swerving if it’s to be of any practical use. Second, if the table top bends even slightly with the pressure of feeding in wood, you won’t be able to produce accurate and precise cuts.
So, what materials make for the best router table tops? These days MDF has become a hugely popular material for an in-house as well as commercial routing tables. While the low cost of MDF plays a role, the stability that it provides has made it one of the most reliable materials for all types of wood router tables.
If you’re buying a router table top made using MDF, you should check to see that table top is at least 1″ thick. Anything less than an inch, and the MDF won’t lend optimal rigidity to the table top for feeding stock. Also, if you want your stock to slide in smoothly, you should consider MDF that is surfaced with melamine, since MDF is inherently a rougher material. For even greater impact resistance and a sturdier table top, choose MDF that is surfaced with HPL (or high-pressure laminate). Not only will your table be smoother, but it’ll also remain flattered for years longer.
Although MDF made routing tables are sufficient for most home users and DIY experts, a considerable upgrade for those who plan on using their router tables more regularly is Phenolic resin. This sturdy material offers superior rigidity, durability and moisture proofing that is guaranteed to maintain the dimensional and structural integrity of your table top for seasons to come.
Now, let’s get to the creme de la creme of routing table top materials: cast iron. When it comes to stability, rigidity, and sheer solidarity, nothing even comes close to casting iron. If you’re a professional, and your livelihood depends on using your router on a daily basis, investing in a cast iron router table top will undoubtedly be the best decision you can make.
The Base Plate should be Rigid: Like the router table top, the base plate is also responsible for supporting the weight of the router and the stock. Therefore, it should be of substantial quality and make. As far as materials go, aluminum or phenolic are great options for the base plate.
Besides supporting the router and stock, the base plate also serves the crucial purpose of housing the router’s bit. So it must be flexible to adjust to bits of varying sizes. Another, crucial point, you need to be aware of is compatibility. Some companies advertise one-seize plates that fit all, which are complete bogus. The best products offer plates that are designed to fit 1-2 router makes or models while providing blank plates that you can drill to fit into your table top.
You also need to make sure that base plate fits perfectly level with the routers table top. Most systems make provisions for four leveling screws that can be adjusted from underneath the plate, but some better models provide several points of contact for added benefit. Lastly, don’t forget to check for easy removal and installation of the router, in case you plan on using the router separately as well.
An adjustable Fence goes a long way: The fence is essential since it guides your cut into the stock, by acting as the support against which the stock rests as you pass it through. You want a solid and durable fence which won’t buckle under high pressure.
Quite simply, even a square cut piece of wood can act as a fence for your table, but it won’t do much good. What you need is a fence that contains the following qualities: it should be straight as an arrow, flat, rigid and easily adjustable as well as stable when locked down. Here’s a great tutorial on building a router table fence, if you’re up to it.
As far as types of fences go, there are twp types of fences:
- The Split Fence or the two-piece fence: This type of fence system comes with two separately adjustable parts: one on the infeed side and the other on the outfeed side. This fence setup allows work to be done closer to the bit since the fences can be adjusted which provides better support on the workpiece, even zero-clearance support. However, one of the major drawbacks of this type of fence is the alignment problem. All successful router operations require the fence to be perfectly aligned to avoid any discrepancies in the cut of the workpiece. In most cases perfect alignment can be extremely difficult to achieve unless one is using the top of the line split fence model.
- One-piece fence: The classic one-piece fence consists of a single rigid and solid piece that serves as both the infeed and the outfeed. One of the big advantages of this fence is that the alignment problem does not exist since the fence is comprised of a single piece. However, this setup also has its problems. For starters, since the fence can’t be adjusted and moved closer to the workpiece, gaps can exist between the router bit and the fence that can leave your workpiece unsupported. Secondly, since the infeed and the outfeed sides of your fence can’t be offset, the possibility of zero-clearance support doesn’t arise unless you add additional fence faces.
To solve the discrepancies between the two fences, one can use solid one-piece fence along with split sub-fences. The setup would solve the issue of alignment as well as allow the possibility of offset needed to achieve zero-clearance support.
Choose the Mitter Gauge: To perform various other operation such as cutting dadoes, you’ll need a mitter gauge. Some routing table models come built-in with T-slots that so that the featherboard and other valuable attachments can be secured. It’s worthwhile to consider a router table that does provide these slots. More more information on the best router tables read our router table reviews.
A Stable Base lends good Support: A sturdy base is essential to achieving good, clean cuts and for ensuring safety during operation. A flimsy base that wobbles under pressure can be extremely hazardous. It doesn’t a vivid imagination to picture the damage that a router bit spinning thousand of time per minute would cause to the surrounding workshop, not to mention the worker. Therefore, a stable and durable base are crucial to the success of your woodworking projects and your workshop.
Whether the base is built using metal, steel or plywood is secondary. The most important point is that it should be properly secured to minimize any shifting or vibrations that could compromise your operations and our safety. Although some high-end models come fitted with castors for portability, it is best to avoid these and establish a dedicated base for your router table. This will ensure your safety and help you achieve greater success with your operations.
Accessories: Attachments such as featherboards, mitter gauge tracks, and slots are invaluable tools that make the job of routing much easier as well as more convenient. Dust collection is another useful accessory that helps keep your router table top clean and tidy as you work so that you can focus on the job at hand without the distraction of a messy workplace. Plus, you don’t even have to clean up afterward since all the dust gets collected into a bag just like a vacuum cleaner.
Router Table Safety
Working on a router table is no joke. It is important to bear in mind that the router bit is a serious piece of machinery that is not only sharp but designed to spin several hundred times per minute to deliver the most precise and accurate cuts. Even the tiniest infraction or lapse in concentration can cost your big time if you don’t take proper precautions while working with the router.
Here are some effective safety tips to follow whenever your use the router table:
- The bit spins in a clockwise direction from right to left. So, when routing the outside edges of your workpiece make sure to move the router counter-clockwise or from left to right for the best control. And, for routing the inner edges of your workpiece, the rout in the clockwise direction.
- In a handheld router, the bit spins clockwise with a great deal of speed and force. For maximum safety and control, move the router in a counter-clockwise direction when routing the outside edges of your stock. If you’re routing the inside edges of a frame, move the router in a clockwise direction. That way, the rotation of the bit helps keep it against the stock.
- Changing bits can often go horribly wrong. In our experience, we’ve seen people get injured simply because they were in too much of a hurry to let the router power down before they went ahead to change the bit. Always, remember to turn off the router and wait a few seconds before changing bits.
- Any part of the body that comes into direct contact with the router during operation needs protection. That includes your hands, eyes, mouth and ear. So, remember to wear goggles, gloves, a dust mask and protection for the ears as well. Debris can fly around at high speed, and you don’t want to risk getting cut.
- Keep your hands and fingers at a safe distance from the router bits even with gloves on. Use a featherboard for better control of your workpiece.
- Make sure that the base of your router table is properly secured before beginning work.
- Check to see if the fence is aligned properly and secured.
- Use a bit guard just in case.
- Finally, always power on the router before feeding in your stock. Never power on with the stock in contact with the router bit.
TOP PICKS: The Best Router Tables 2016
Here is the list of the best router tables for the year 2016. We have already recommended you the best ones as per your experience, but if we sum up everything, then the mentioned below router tables are the best choice. You can read a brief review about them and buy them.
#1 Bosch RA1181 Bench Top
If you are a professional woodworker, and you need to craft the spectacular wood works, then to buy a router table that particularly suits your requirements is an intelligent option. In fact, it won’t be amiss to state that any professional who desires to make wood stuff, then to buy the Bosch RA1181 Bench top is certainly a great choice for him. As this router table comes with all the efficiency features of a router table along with the added accessories to enable you to make your wooden pieces perfectly excellent. The tabletop of this Bosch router table is 27-inches long and 18-inches wide which provide ample scope to work on the table top. The cast aluminum is used to make the table top that enables to move the wooden stuff quietly, smoothly into the cutter to get optimum results. There is the accessibility of two medium density fiberboard plates of this Bosch model that help to adjust as per the different sizes of the cutter, and you can replace it if broken. The Bosch RA1181 Router Table comes with the aluminum fence that provides complete control over the wooden pieces as when these pieces pass onto the cutter. It also comes with an accessory slot to add the various feather boards, cutter guard, and outer shims to aid in the smooth cutting off the wooden pieces. There is also the 6-inch long inbuilt cord used for storage and portability along with the system of dust extraction that aids in managing the leftover dust quite effectively.
#2 Bench Top Router Table with 1-1/3 HP Router
If you are a novice who would prefer to make wooden stuff and desire to buy your router table, then go for Bench top Router Table with 1-1/3 HP Router is certainly a fantastic option. This router table is ideally suitable for amateurs who prefer to try out their craftsmanship and create something new and exciting. The key benefits of using this router table by a beginner are that it provides the smooth and straight cuts with being extremely easy to assemble, set up and use. In fact, its design is amazingly sleek as it has been constructed with 19 gauge steel to provide the smooth and straight cuts. It has got the quick stop electric brake and a safety guard to ensure the additional safety features for beginners. The key benefit of using this router table is that it’s extremely portable, and you can place it either in your workshop or your garage quite quickly and operate it. Moreover, you can easily buy it online by paying $146.36 along with free shipping. The additional benefit of using this machine is that you can buy it by paying the affordable price. It implies that you can pursue your woodworking ambitions by opting for this router table and that too without putting a strain on your financial resources.
It helps to think of your router table as a one-time investment. This way you can put the cost into perspective. Granted that at a couple of hundred bucks, a high-quality router table is on the expensive side, but what you have to remember is that it’s going to last you for years to come. Also, yes new technology is always on the horizon, but router tables aren’t like mobile phones or laptops that are upgraded every couple months. You can be sure that a good solid router table will last you for quite a few years. Even if you’re a beginner and don’t plan on using your table all that often, it’s still worth the investment to get a good standard router table with good features.
We understand that different people are looking for different products, and the professional obviously has different needs and requirements compared to the novice or the DIY enthusiast. Which is why we have covered a wide range of router table products that have something to offer for people with a range of different skill sets and desires. However, whether you’re a professional or a novice, it’s still equally important to invest in a table that is sturdy, and durable while offering great precision and accuracy. We hope our router table reviews serve you well in your search for the best router table for your needs, and we hope to continue to be of service for your routing operations.
Keep routing and building because there’s no feeling like decorating your home or your office with your unique creations!