Advice on DIY Router Table
Issue: Issue 3.21
Posted Date: 11/5/2002
He's getting a new router, now he needs the right table. With his Bosch 1617EVSPK package ordered and on its way, this woodworker faced his next challenge ? building a decent table to go with it! To this end, he posed three questions to his fellow router table DIYers:
- What's the best mounting plate material? He'd seen aluminum (from $50 to $99 from Rockler and McFeely), and synthetic (acrylic and phenolic from $25 to $50). He wasn't sure if aluminum warranted the higher cost and was leaning toward McFeely RM-3509 for $33.
- Since he's planning to use 3/4" MDF (and Formica) for the top and fence, should he double the thickness for the top? He's thinking that reinforcing the edges with 3/4" oak might be good enough.
- Does he need both a round and an offset sub-base? He's planning to order a clear acrylic sub-base from Pat Warner and wonders if he can't get by with the offset base ? and just use the round side when following an edge guide.
Rousseau phenolic plate
Question 1: This one got the most response. A couple of woodworkers thought an aluminum plate would stand up better to a big, heavy 3-1/2 hp router. One mentioned getting Rockler's on sale and how well it worked for his DW746. Another poster, however, declared his aluminum plate was plenty sturdy for a 1617 ? since it was the same model he owned. He also liked its detachable rings that allowed collar guides or larger bits and its $30 price! But according to a couple of other Rousseau users, the rings could be some trouble. Even though he liked the plate overall, a woodworker noted that the rings were hard to remove and re-install. Another cautioned that the center ring was slightly raised and, once installed, prevented the plate from being perfectly flat.
For something completely different, a thrifty woodworker suggested picking up a $5 plastic cutting board from Wal-Mart and using it as material for an insert. Or, if you're feeling extravagant, a post suggested looking at power lift models that allow you to keep both bases out of the table for hand use.
Question 2: It was suggested, as a rule of thumb, that whatever the top was it should not flex under normal operations. And MDF laminated on both sides should meet this standard for table and fence. If there's still some flexing, he thought a couple of cleats on the underside would stiffen the top. Why both sides? Aside from adding more strength, laminating both surfaces evens out the moisture absorption and minimizes warping. Someone also suggested checking with Bosch to see if they offered an optional plate.
Question 3: Another 1617EVSPK owner explained that he ordered both sub-bases from Pat Warner -- the offset for his fixed base and the round for the plunger. He liked having the different setups and not having any extra material sticking out from his plunger.
With all the advice in mind, the original poster declared his intention to order the Rousseau insert and use a single thickness of his MDF reinforced with oak strips (laminated on top and bottom). The oak strips would also provide a little more "grab-on" for clamps and rails used to lock the fence into position. No decision was provided for Question 3, but he promised he'd be back with more questions.