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Thread: Router Table Quest

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Peachtree City, GA

    Exclamation Router Table Quest

    Ok, heres the dilemma: I need a router table. I also only will have a shop space of about 12 x 24. In this space, I will house a TS, floor DP, work bench, a dust collector, and (hopefully) a BS. In other words, space is a premium. The questions that come into play are: 1) should I purchase/manufacture a router table extension wing for my TS?; 2) purchase/manufacture a table top version that can be stowed out of the way?, or 3) go for a full sized router table, knowing that it too will also be used to accumulate stuff just like every other horizontal surface I come in contact with? Peeling off further layers of the onion, Ive viewed some pretty nice products from Lee Valley, and Bench Dog, and have toyed with everything from getting the cast iron Bench Dog extension wing to getting the whole set up from Lee Valley and building a cabinet. Suggestions anyone (as if wed have a shortage of those here)?

    BTW, I have a Makita 1100 (right #?), which like the PC, has two bases, but....
    Tool Crib has the Hitachi M12V on sale for $159, and it comes with some extras.....should I go ahead and get one as a dedicated router table machine?

    Last edited by Maurice Ungaro; 09-08-2004 at 2:25 PM. Reason: Added info

  2. #2

    If space is at a premuim and you need an extension on the TS, go for putting it into there, chances are, you won't be using them both at the same time.

    At that price, I am ordering one of those to be dedicated to the table. - Not a bad idea.
    Wood is Good!
    Greetings from The Green Mountain State!


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Clermont County, OH
    In my old was at a premium for me, too. I had a router mounted to a wing on my table saw. I was pleased with this....though dust collection was not all that great nor was storage. In my new shop, I am building a dedicated router station. I think that a "stow away" system would be a unstable...but then again I have no experience with one.

  4. #4
    If the budget allows it, I would recommend you have a dedicated router in the router table. It's a pain to take it out for hand routing and then you have to put it back for router table use. If space is at a premium it makes sense to use one of the sides of your TS for routing, but you still have the issue of maintaining the setup if you have to use that horizontal space for the TS.

    On making your own extension vs buying... it depends on your how much your time is worth in the shop, and if you have the inclination to build it completely or buy something off the rack and get to making stuff in the shop
    Last edited by Ken Salisbury; 09-09-2004 at 11:04 AM.
    I can pay retail anywhere, so how's your service?
    Grabbing defeat from the jaws of victory one project at a time
    Maker of precision cut firewood

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Clermont County, OH
    What I have done to elimanate the router issue is this: I bought the PC kit with the fixed base and plunge base. I mounted the fixed base to my table and the plunge base is used for hand held routing. All you do is remove the motor...which you do any how to switch out bits(unless you use a lift or use the kit that allows to switch bits from the top...which i do not do). It will save you a few bucks from neededing two routers.

    ...that is a great price however....

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Ipswich, Ma
    Quote Originally Posted by Maurice Ungaro
    Ok, here’s the dilemma: I need a router table. I also only will have a shop space of about 12’ x 24’. In this space, I will house a TS, floor DP, work bench, a dust collector, and (hopefully) a BS. In other words, space is a premium.

    Though this isn't really specific to the Veritas (Lee Valley) system, their manual has a plan for a cantilevered frame you can hang on a wall and clamp to a surface to support their steel table top. I considered building it but wound up moving and building a base instead.

    - Ed

  7. #7
    I have gone through having my router in a the table saw extention, a smaller benchtop table and finally went ahead and built a stand-along router table the way I liked it. I'm not long on space but the router table wheels around so I can pout it somewhere I'm not when I don't need it.
    No matter what you do, it is a compromise in some regard, the stand-along router table was by far my best compromise.
    "Because There Is Always More To Learn"

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    I also prefer a stand-alone router table, but if you make it the same height as your TS, you can also use it as additional infeed/outfeed surface as well as for additional assembly space. Use sturdy double locking casters (l like the grey ones from Lee Valley) and you can move it around the shop very handily. If you do decide to utilize your TS, I really like the new BenchDog wingie-thingie...they make great products.

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Conway, Arkansas
    Here is what I did. I have about 1/2 the space tha you do. I have a Jet LT cabinet saw. I put a jessem Rout-r-lift with Hitachi 3hp vs in the end of them extension table. i have a 52" fence. I was able to get a used Exata fence only through the woodcenteral classifieds. i made an attachment for the fence with removable faces and dust collection. the fence also has micro adjustment, it is the one made by htc for jet. This set up works pretty well as i can make fine adjustment on the fence and router height. I can leave the router set up and still rip to about 36-40 inches. for me a stand alone RT is not an option. I also used the Rockler router switch. If I would just get a camera I wouldn't have to type so much. Maybe my typing will get better. we probally aen't making the choice any easier.
    Last edited by Joe Meazle; 09-08-2004 at 10:54 PM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Peachtree City, GA
    Guys: Thanks for all the good comments! I'll probably go for some kind of "wingie-thingie" extension for the space saving properties, as well as the "bolt on & go" aspect of things. I have to admit, the cantilevered idea is interesting, and I may put that into play with regards to a drafting table.

    When I get my garage built next month, and get to move everything into the shop, I'll post some pics (oh, of course I'll post the "in-progress" shots as well)

    Thanks again.


  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Tampa, FL
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Becker
    ... if you make it the same height as your TS, you can also use it as additional infeed/outfeed surface as well as for additional assembly space.
    Great idea, Jim!

    No wonder you get the big bucks around here.
    James Krenov says that "the craftsman lives in a
    condition where the size of his public is almost in
    inverse proportion to the quality of his work."
    (James Krenov, A Cabinetmaker's Notebook, 1976.)

    I guess my public must be pretty huge then.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    St. Louis

    Router Table Advice


    The whole router table issue seems to have more options than any other set-up in woodworking. All of your ideas and the replies are excellent possibilities. It's just a matter of preference, pros and cons, budget and your needs. Having built and bought a variety of systems and looked at the new things available as I build a new system for myself, I'll throw my ideas at your wall and see if anything sticks.

    1) Use your Makita in an extension table (built or bought) Dedicate the fixed base to the table. You can mount the base directly to the table or use a plate system. Pros: cheap, quick and easy, space saving. Cons: Having to make adjustments and possibly bit changes under the table, having to remove the motor for freehand operations, needing to lower the router set up if you need the width for a TS operation. Those things in mind it will work just fine.

    1 a) As above but get the Hitachi and dedicate it to the router table. Basically you'll pay $159 in order not to have to remove and switch routers and you'll have an addition HP. In my opinion moving your router to the other base isn't too big a deal. You'll have other set up to do anyway; change bits, height etc. You would, however, be able to leave both routers set up, so if you have to go back and forth there's no fuss. That to me is the real advantage. The extra HP may be important to you if you'll be spinning any big bits or will want to take fewer passes in heavy removal. So Pros: Seperate routers and more power in your table. Cons: $159

    2) Starting from scratch I would think about the Porter-Cable 890 combo series. Same as above, where you would dedicate the fixed base to your router table. The difference being they designed this thing with that in mind. There's a quick release on the motor housing to make switching easier than ever. The height adjustment is straight up and down, no more twisting so the cord and controls are not a problem. Best of all, you can release the motor lock(no it won't fall out, they've installed a break), adjust the bit depth, and change bits from above the table. Check out their "virtual tour" on their website if you haven't already. If 2 1/4 HP suits you, I think this is better than the option above. If you've done it both ways, nothing beats working above the table. The P-C kits are $245 on Amazon (Tool Crib) with their current $25 discount (incidentally, it includes a CD-ROM with step by step video instructions for building a router table). One has the D handle with dust collection running through it. This might work great under the table and if you use a fence with dust collection as well you may have pretty clean air. For the $86 difference (Hitachi vs. P-C) I would definitely work up top. (For that matter if you don't need two routers sell your Makita to help pay for your new set-up). Pros: Everything conveniently above the table. Cons: $86

    3) The Router Lift Option. This gives you the above the table convenience above along with precise control. You've probably looked at them all, and the differences are minor. They're all great; probably more than most of us need. We're talking metal working precision. I currently have the Woodpecker Lift with a P-C 7518 in an extension table that I built. 3HP with .001 precision? You couldn't ask for more. And yet we've got it. The new Bench Dog Cast Iron Extension and the new JessEm Mast-r-lift Excel. The Bench Dog extension (which I think is great) $300 and their Prolift, $320 on sale. The Jessem $550 plus $200 for their fence, another $275 if you want the Mast-r-slide. So we've got folks spending $500-$1000. Add $300 for a router and it's easily more than I paid for my cabinet saw. Now, I'm no exception. I've got a good $500 into my current set up, but it seems to be getting a bit much. If money is not an object and there is no other tool that you would like to put some of that money into, go for it. But: Pros: All of the above. Cons: $400-500 more than you need to spend.

    I think you need to answer three questions:

    1) Extension vs. Seperate table. My opinion, with your space go with an extension table. I haven't had any difficulty so I'm going that way again. I like it there. Lots of surface. I can use my table saw fence on both machines. Dust collection is handy. Some will say that the router set up get in the way of their TS needs and that may be true for them. For me, by the time I'm routing I'm pretty much done cutting. Rarely have I had to switch and if I do it's easy any way.

    2) With either type of table: Build or Buy? To me it's a toss up. Do it yourself and make it suit you. There are a thousand plans available. Modify them to your needs and I'll bet you can make a beter table for you than is commercially available. More money than time? Buy one. Plenty of great choices. It's the top that matters. Two words Flat and tough.

    3)Router and/or Mechanism. Not long ago, I would've said get a router lift. Now Router Manufacturer's have wised up and seen what people are willing to do to turn their router upside down. The new table friendly routers are plenty good. Nothing against lifts, they're wonderfully engineered, but they were first invented when you had to stand on your head and twist a 20 pound motor in a helix, then go up and measure and maybe back down again etc. Today I would get the P-C mentioned or the Milwaukee 5625 if you want 3 1/2 hp. It also has above the table features similar to the P-C. I would mount it right to the underside of the table if you don't mind carefully routing a recess for adapter rings. You may be able to get your collet above the table for bit changes, if not get one of the new extensions. In fact get one anyway because all you have to do is tighten an allen screw to snug the bit. No wrenches.

    Mark my words,some smart manufacturer will soon market a dedicated router built into a precision cast iron table with a solid lift system, much like shapers are today. It'll cost less than the rest of this monkey business.

    My plan for what it's worth: I bought a 20"x27" Cast Iron Top ($172 on sale)which I plan to mount to my right extension wing fence rails and legs. It clamps the router base right to the underside of the table and only has a hole for aperture rings, no plate. I may get the big Milwaukee or make my own lift system for my P-C. The woodpecker (and P-C) will go on the auction block and I may come out money ahead for a few bits.

    This got longer than I intended. I hope something in here may have helped you. E-mail me if there's anything I can clarify. And, please let me (us) know what you do. Have fun!
    Ken Waag

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Southern MD

    I'm backwards, as usual

    Faced with the same dilema in a similar sized shop, I went against what you'd think and built a monster router table. It is 28"x48" and set at the same height as my TS so it could act as infeed support or outfeed extension.
    I also mounted a small vice on it. It was used as my assembly table, finishing table, parts cart, and light handwork bench. It was perfect for my small shop and kept against the left of my TS when not in use. In fact, it was put into use so quickly that I never really completed it.
    Now that I have a larger shop and use it only as a router table, it's a little too big. But, I finally built the drawers for it last weekend anyway.

    Jay St. Peter

  14. #14
    I'm going to add my voice to the chourus on the TS extension side. When I was living in a town house I built the Router Table from Shop Notes issue 1. It lived in the living room for several months and with a table cloth over it, looked just fine (if a little big). It now lives in my 15 x 27 shop, and I often wish I had that space back. I'm toying with the idea of using it to build the TS/RT mobile station from Shop Notes issue 50, then selling it.

    My TS is now on a Shop Fox mobile base and the right end of the 52 inch fence now sits past the back of the router table, so to rip anything over, say 25 inches, I have to roll the saw out away from the wall to clear the RT. (Because the RT is several inches higher than the TS, IF you DO build/buy a RT, follow the advice you got above and make it low enough that you can use it as an outfeed table.) I can't imagine that droping the router to make a wide rip would be a bigger pain than moving the whole saw. If the bit height setting is that difficult, pull the router and the insert out of the top and put it elsewhere.

    I looked at the Shop Notes website and naturally, issues 1 and 50 are no longer available, but if you are interested I do have them and can make copies. While I was poking around on the site, I did find this -

    Glen Smith

    It's good to be back at the creek.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Baltimore, Md
    I have a dedicated router table, which is on wheels. I purchased a jointech fence and top. I remove the fence and placed a piece of hardboard on it and it gives me a temporary place to put chisels and stuff when I'm working. I have been looking into a extension wing on my table saw but I never have.

    if you go to they have a router table like mine if you want to look at it. It's a good size and EASY to move out of the way.

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