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Router tables?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Tim Barber, Jan 13, 2004.


  1. Tim Barber

    Tim Barber Commercial User

    Apr 28, 2003
    Serenity Valley
    Owner: Barber Music
    I'm looking at getting a router table. I plan to use it for roundovers, truss rod channels and neck and body shaping (with templates). Before I plunk down my $$$, does anyone have any advice as to what are good and bad features, brands, etc.? I appeal to your collective experience and wisdom :)
     
  2. mslatter

    mslatter

    Apr 8, 2003
    Features to look at:

    size of table- the biggah, the bettah

    quality of insert/mount/lift - above-table height adjustment is the great feature to look for, but certainly not a requirement.

    quality of fence - should be easily and precisely adjustable, have no flex, and have bells and whistles for hold-downs, sacrificial fences, featherboards, etc.

    enclosed cabinet - if you're going to eat up this much shop floor space, might as well get some storage out the deal.

    dust collection - 4" or 2 1/2" ports depending on whether you have a DCS or a shopvac.

    There are some outstanding lifts on the market (e.g. Jointech) and excellent fences (e.g. Incra.) I'd recommend designing and building the cabinet yourself, or building it into the wing of a tablesaw for space efficiency (and you can share the fence in a lot of cases.)

    I haven't been a big fan of most benchtop tables I've come across, because my experience with the cheap flimsy metal consumer-level ones has been so bad, but several of these look nice. http://www.workbenchmagazine.com/main/routertable.html Note they seem to lack some of the features I mention above, but they are more affordable than an expensive lift and fence. All depends on your priorities.
     
  3. I would advise to simply build your own and use a good fixed base router in it. That way you can have all of the features you've heard about without the ridiculous cost the storebought ones cost.

    Another thing to consider is the use of a pin router - especially for your body shapes. This is the preferred method of pattern routing in manufacturing if it is to be done by hand in a production scale.
     
  4. As always, very good advice from Hambone.
    (I was going to suggest the same thing ;) )
     
  5. Woodboy

    Woodboy

    Jun 9, 2003
    St. Louis, MO
    Their router table was the one I settled on and I am happy with it. Unlike other tables, there is no insert that the router is mounted to. You keep your router on it's base and mount the whole tool under the all-steel router table. Veritas stuff is very well thought out and absolutely top notch. Available thru Woodcraft Supply and direct from Lee Valley Tools.
     
  6. Tim Barber

    Tim Barber Commercial User

    Apr 28, 2003
    Serenity Valley
    Owner: Barber Music
    Thanks for the replies everyone. After hitting the hardware stores and seeing what my $$ will get me, I'm leaning towards building my own.

    Hambone, some of the ones I looked at had a short steel pin sticking out of the table near the bit hole. Is that what you mean by a pin router?
     
  7. mslatter

    mslatter

    Apr 8, 2003
    No, that's just a safety mechanism. It allows you to brace the wood against something so it doesn't get yanked toward the bit when starting your cut.

    A pin router has an arm that holds a pin over the router bit. The pin is (usually) the same diameter as the bit and directly centered over it. It allows you to attach a template to your wood, and trace the template with the pin while the bit does the cutting.

    You can do the same thing with a flush cutting pattern matching bit, but to do guitar bodies, you either need a 2" bit (which is what I have) or do the work in two passes, with a top bearing and bottom bearing bit, then clean up the little seam that's sure to happen. The problems with a 2" bit is chatter and deflection. Also, sooner or later, the bearing will jam up, fly off, or otherwise cause some trouble. A pin router lets you use spiral cutting bits for pattern matching, greatly reducing the problem of chatter and deflection.
     
  8. mslatter

    mslatter

    Apr 8, 2003
    After I posted that, I did a little search on shop built pin routers (I'm really enjoying the DIY tools of late.) Here's a starter link:

    http://www.popularmechanics.com/home_improvement/workshop/1997/2/pin_router/index.phtml

    That's a pretty cool overhead router. There's a router table accessory available to create an under-the-table router (with the pin on top like I described.) But there's some Scotch calling to me, so you're on your own for Googling it.

    Good luck!
     
  9. Rockler and at least one other source - I forget for the moment - have a neat bolt-on overhead pin system to add to any router table. They were running in the $80 range but looked pretty neat.
     
  10. Tim Barber

    Tim Barber Commercial User

    Apr 28, 2003
    Serenity Valley
    Owner: Barber Music
    Well, after all my high and lofty intentions to build a kick-a$$ router table and avoid the cheap metal stuff, I walked into Home Depot yesterday and walked out with...










    ...a cheap metal router table. :eek: I know, I know, but for someone on a budget like me it was too good a deal to pass up: a table that's actually sturdy and decently-made, AND a 1.5hp router for $99. The fence is not bad at all, and will be perfectly usable once I mount some longer face boards on it. I have already added some oak edging to widen the work surface, and once I get it built into a cabinet I think it will be perfectly serviceable for a hack such as I. :D

    [​IMG]
     
  11. mslatter

    mslatter

    Apr 8, 2003
    Don't apologize! We all work under our own budgets. It occurred to me after recommending JointTech and Incra that you could drop $500 or $600 on just the hardware. That was my wishlist, not my experience, talking.

    But what you've bought will do the trick. The fence looks better than either of my tables, and those extensions will help a lot! You can add a guide pin easily enough if it doesn't have the option. Just use a 1/2 bolt, nuts and washers. I had to grind the nut a little bit to fit the hole I drilled through the miter slot. It's a little farther from the bit than I'd like, and makes me start my cuts at an undesirable angle (front to back, instead of left to right, which limits the amount of table under my workpiece) but it's ok.

    And don't even get me started on what I had to do to get my tablesaw workable. Arrrrgh! ;) Good luck, have fun, and be safe!
     
  12. mslatter

    mslatter

    Apr 8, 2003
    Oh, one little thing. You may want to extend the miter slot through the extension table in both directions, or at least on the outfeed side. It appears that the extension table has limited the travel distance of the miter gauge.