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Thread: Router use, tables, accessories?

  1. #1
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    Router use, tables, accessories?

    I came across a good deal on a Bosch 1617 dual base router package, so I bought it and a set of 1/4" bits. I've never used a router until now, but they seem to be called for in a lot of projects so I went for it. I've now made a couple table saw inserts with it and realized I'm not a huge fan of using it handheld or the huge amounts of dust (was flush trimming MDF).
    I've began researching router tables,bits, plates, lifts, fences, bushings and it has almost become nauseating, wayy to much to digest starting off.

    Hoping you fine people can give me some good advice

    1) router table - I'm interested in a low cost / low space router table (diy) or finding a used one. From all the videos I've watched it seems like you could literally just drill a hole in sheet goods clamp a 2x4 as a fence and you have a router table... Is it really this simple? What confuses the issue Is I read/ see talk about plates, lifts, bases, etc? Which of those things are needed? A plate seems like it is just to make it more convenient to lift the router out of the table, but you would still have to unscrew your router base from the plate to use it freehand correct?
    What about a lift? Those dang things are expensive, does it just make adjustments easier?

    Back on the topic of plates, it appears Bosch has a optional body for the 1617 designed to be mounted to a table, that 1) allows quick release of the router from beneath and 2) allows above table adjustments.

    This base is about $55, but seems to take the place of a plate and a lift. Is my thinking correct on that.

    Also if I wanted to make a router table. My thinking is to just use a old kitchen cabinet base (or build my own) and add a melamine top ( maybe 2 layers), anything else as a must have?

    2) Bosch also offers a edge guide for routing grooves / dadoes and such. Is this a must have type of accessory or would a regular clamped straight edge do the trick as well, or is this all together negated by having a table?

    3) bushings - the router came with a bag of brass threaded bushings, but no plate to use the bushings. From my research it appears the bushings are supposed to be used when you want a specific offset from the bit? Should I look into buying a sub base to use the bushings or is this not a commonly done activity?

    4) dust collection - Bosch offers a couple accessory kits for dust collection in handheld mode. Does anyone have experience with these? Online reviews seem mixed.

    5) actual good YouTube series on routing basics, bit setup,and such? As we all know there's a crap ton of people on the tube teaching about stuff they don't know to well. I don't know anything about routing so I don't want to fall prey to them.

    That should give me some good reading. Thanks in advance
    Michael

  2. #2
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    Comments on a few of your questions...I've got a few 1617 kits, i really like that router. The "table base" sold by Bosch is effectively the fixed base you got in your kit, but without the maple handles. In some tables, the handles might get in the way--so they are easily removed. I've got a fixed base mounted in a table, and keeping the plunge base free for handheld work.
    Regarding the bushings--threaded bushings (often referred to as "PC style bushings", with PC standing for Porter Cable--it was their standard) need a sub-base with a shallow recess and there should be a collar that screws on to the threads to hold them. Removing black plastic sub-base (4 screws) from the fixed base reveals a second second set of screw holes in a triangle that will accept sub-base plates drilled for the PC-690 router or the PC-780 router--making it really easy to mount aftermarket plates like the ones designed for guide bushings. Bosch make a different style bushing and adapter--i've come to prefer that. I attached a photo that shows the two sets of holes--along with the location of the adjustment for "above the table" height adjustment in a table.
    Sometimes an edge guide is needed, and the Bosch edge guide is a very good one--not cheap. MPower makes an outstanding edge guide as well--but i couldn't justify the additional cost over the Bosch guide. No need to buy that before you need it.
    Dust collection--tough on routers. The Bosch DC adapters work all right--not great but a lot better than nothing. If you do end up with a router table--dust collection is often done in combination between a box below the table and then through the fence. A gazillion methods can be found--most are good, none are perfect. It's a subject that is deeply discussed--rightfully so--sometimes passionately.
    Videos/education--Bill Hylton's book "Router Magic" is an excellent starting point, or any other book by Hylton. Pictures are older and there's newer aftermarket stuff available--but the concepts are still solid. Plenty on YouTube--but watch enough to be able to kind of ferret out the dangerous folks from those who get the job done right.
    Table routing--yep, can be as simple as hole in plywood with a 2 x 4 fence. Or...incredible accuracy and slickness for a few thousand $$ more. And everywhere in between. I don't do a lot of router work, but still have 2 tables (one dedicated to router and a second that doubles as a work surface). Stuff like table saw inserts are much easier on a table, routing flutes in 84" long trim is easier hand-held with an edge guide. When i look at a project one of the first steps is to determine if the parts are better taken to the tool, or will it be better to take the tool to the part--whether with router or saw.

    Do get some dust collection going--especially with MDF!!
    earl
    1617 Base Plate Off.jpg1617 Base Plate On.jpg

  3. #3
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    Not going to address all your questions but talk about using a router table.

    My current router table is one I built, following the plans of Norm From New Yankee Workshop. It is heavy and does not move during use. It does have a router lift that allows extremely fine height adjustments that are made easily. This table was built after using a small aluminum Craftsman router table that would be clamped to the workshop . The router was mounted directly to the aluminum table; changing depths involved reaching under the table, loosing the clamp on the motor and adjusting the depth. The adjustment was hit or miss, often requiring several adjustment to get close to what was desired. The table was frequently too small allowing boards to be tipped during operation. Some of this was certainly operator inexperience. The router table was used frequently enough that the adjustment process became tiresome very quickly. Then decided to build my own and have never looked back.

    So, what is the purpose of this? You can simply screw the router to a sheet of plywood. There are several routers today that enable above the table (or plywood) height adjustment, so that would be easier than my initial experience with the Craftsman table. Consider how a fence might be added to the plywood. You will most likely want to use a fence as a guide. Same consideration for a channel for hold downs or finger boards. Think about dust collection.

    A home built or commercial table/lift/fence system offers a lot of advantages. Are they absolutely required? No, not required. It simply comes down to what you want your woodworking experience to be.

  4. #4
    I am on about my fourth home made router table if we don't count the arrangement I used to have in my table saw extension table. I see no need for a commercially made table unless you have money to waste or not enough time to build one. I think my current one will be my last. It is shaped like Norm's but I incorporated a lift based upon plans in an old American Woodworker magazine. The router motor (PC 7518) is in a carriage that rides on two 1 inch machined steel bars. The top tilts up for bit changes.

    My first router table was about what the OP suggested, a piece of plywood with a hole for the bit to come out and a fixed base screwed to it for the router motor. It worked but a fence where you can change the opening is certainly nice and dust collection is also very possible on a router table and does not get in the way like it does hand held. So a bigger fancier table is where I moved but a simple table can still do things.

    I've never seen a need for a router plate - never purchased or made one. My simple tables just had the top thinned in the shape of the router base and the base screwed directly to the top. I have 4 bases for my two mid sized PC routers so I can afford to leave one on a router table (now I do not have to).

    I have a few 1/4 bits but 1/2 inch bits work better for most things. Even with a good collet 1/4 inch shank bits tend to slip in the collet on a heavy cut. MLCS is a good tradeoff between price and quality in my opinion. I use higher priced brands for some things but in general I find a MLCS bit works just fine. They have some sets that would be a great way to get started.

  5. #5
    Lifts are a game changer in my mind. I had a homemade one that I had to adjust from underneath and then joined a shop with a lift table. Lovin the lift! I know what you mean about expensive though, I keep thinking about one for my garage, but can’t get the wallet open!

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Earl McLain View Post
    Comments on a few of your questions...I've got a few 1617 kits, i really like that router. The "table base" sold by Bosch is effectively the fixed base you got in your kit, but without the maple handles. In some tables, the handles might get in the way--so they are easily removed. I've got a fixed base mounted in a table, and keeping the plunge base free for handheld work.
    Regarding the bushings--threaded bushings (often referred to as "PC style bushings", with PC standing for Porter Cable--it was their standard) need a sub-base with a shallow recess and there should be a collar that screws on to the threads to hold them. Removing black plastic sub-base (4 screws) from the fixed base reveals a second second set of screw holes in a triangle that will accept sub-base plates drilled for the PC-690 router or the PC-780 router--making it really easy to mount aftermarket plates like the ones designed for guide bushings. Bosch make a different style bushing and adapter--i've come to prefer that. I attached a photo that shows the two sets of holes--along with the location of the adjustment for "above the table" height adjustment in a table.
    Sometimes an edge guide is needed, and the Bosch edge guide is a very good one--not cheap. MPower makes an outstanding edge guide as well--but i couldn't justify the additional cost over the Bosch guide. No need to buy that before you need it.
    Dust collection--tough on routers. The Bosch DC adapters work all right--not great but a lot better than nothing. If you do end up with a router table--dust collection is often done in combination between a box below the table and then through the fence. A gazillion methods can be found--most are good, none are perfect. It's a subject that is deeply discussed--rightfully so--sometimes passionately.
    Videos/education--Bill Hylton's book "Router Magic" is an excellent starting point, or any other book by Hylton. Pictures are older and there's newer aftermarket stuff available--but the concepts are still solid. Plenty on YouTube--but watch enough to be able to kind of ferret out the dangerous folks from those who get the job done right.
    Table routing--yep, can be as simple as hole in plywood with a 2 x 4 fence. Or...incredible accuracy and slickness for a few thousand $$ more. And everywhere in between. I don't do a lot of router work, but still have 2 tables (one dedicated to router and a second that doubles as a work surface). Stuff like table saw inserts are much easier on a table, routing flutes in 84" long trim is easier hand-held with an edge guide. When i look at a project one of the first steps is to determine if the parts are better taken to the tool, or will it be better to take the tool to the part--whether with router or saw.

    Do get some dust collection going--especially with MDF!!
    earl
    1617 Base Plate Off.jpg1617 Base Plate On.jpg
    Earl,
    Thank you for the detailed reply. I think I will eventually by the PC router base plate adapter, since I already have that style of bushing. Need to do more research on what situations the bushings are even needed first. I will also look up Bill's book. Definitely going to work on getting some type of dust collection going, I think for now I'll try the Bosch kit for handheld until I can build a table with better DC. I don't often work with MDF and like I said had never routed it before. Man was I in for a suprise, ended up having to leave the garage that night I flush trimmed the inserts. Just huge plums of dust coming off the router. May also invest in a respirator at some point.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Dwight View Post
    I am on about my fourth home made router table if we don't count the arrangement I used to have in my table saw extension table. I see no need for a commercially made table unless you have money to waste or not enough time to build one. I think my current one will be my last. It is shaped like Norm's but I incorporated a lift based upon plans in an old American Woodworker magazine. The router motor (PC 7518) is in a carriage that rides on two 1 inch machined steel bars. The top tilts up for bit changes.

    My first router table was about what the OP suggested, a piece of plywood with a hole for the bit to come out and a fixed base screwed to it for the router motor. It worked but a fence where you can change the opening is certainly nice and dust collection is also very possible on a router table and does not get in the way like it does hand held. So a bigger fancier table is where I moved but a simple table can still do things.

    I've never seen a need for a router plate - never purchased or made one. My simple tables just had the top thinned in the shape of the router base and the base screwed directly to the top. I have 4 bases for my two mid sized PC routers so I can afford to leave one on a router table (now I do not have to).

    I have a few 1/4 bits but 1/2 inch bits work better for most things. Even with a good collet 1/4 inch shank bits tend to slip in the collet on a heavy cut. MLCS is a good tradeoff between price and quality in my opinion. I use higher priced brands for some things but in general I find a MLCS bit works just fine. They have some sets that would be a great way to get started.
    Jim my first thought was to put the router in my table saw extension table. I would need to beef up the extension table somehow first. I have a unisaw / fence and the extension table is just 3/4" melamine for now. Another issue is my mobile base does not lift everything level when raised up, so I'd have to figure out a way to keep eveything flat / level when moved.

    I will check out MLCS as well when new bits are needed.

    Thanks!

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Earl McLain View Post
    The "table base" sold by Bosch is effectively the fixed base you got in your kit, but without the maple handles. In some tables, the handles might get in the way--so they are easily removed. I've got a fixed base mounted in a table, and keeping the plunge base free for handheld work.
    Earl do you think this base is worth the $55 dollars?

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael J Evans View Post
    Earl do you think this base is worth the $55 dollars?
    For hand-held routing, i pretty much use the plunge base. So...one router table has my Bosch fixed base mounted, and i've only used one of my other fixed bases for one project in the past 8-10 years. Plunge base can do pretty much everything a fixed base can do hand-held. So...for me the "table base" was not needed. (the other table has a Jessem/Incra lift with a 1617 motor in it--i'd agree with calling that a game changer for me. Expensive--but once i did it, i had no regrets at all. If you start with your current fixed base in a router table, then later switch to a lift--you'll free up the fixed base again)
    By the way, i did buy a Bosch "table base" not long after my first 1617 kit, in my mind to not tie up my fixed base if i needed it. By the time i wanted to use a fixed base hand-held, i had acquired 2 more 1617 kits. So if i'd never bought the table base, i'd have never missed it. For me, that money should have been a down payment on a Jessem/Incra lift. Your mileage may vary.
    earl

  10. #10
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    Michael

    I'll give your questions a whirl, but I have a different perspective than a lot of people

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael J Evans View Post

    1) router table - I'm interested in a low cost / low space router table (diy) or finding a used one.
    The two don't go hand in hand, unless you alrady have a lot of spare materials lying about the shop.

    From all the videos I've watched it seems like you could literally just drill a hole in sheet goods clamp a 2x4 as a fence and you have a router table... Is it really this simple?
    It can be this simple, but it would be very limiting due to the loss of height, which essentially translates to loss of depth of cut.

    What confuses the issue Is I read/ see talk about plates, lifts, bases, etc? Which of those things are needed? A plate seems like it is just to make it more convenient to lift the router out of the table, but you would still have to unscrew your router base from the plate to use it freehand correct?

    A metal plate, steel or aluminum,plate will have a much higher modulus than plywood, or melamine. Additionally, it will be much thinner and give you back depth of cut,
    What about a lift? Those dang things are expensive, does it just make adjustments easier?

    Depending on the type of projects you gravitate towards, a lift can be a godsend. Used in conjunction with a digital height gauge, a bit can be reset to a known height, or depth, of cut within thousandth's of an inch.Test cuts become a thing of the past.

    Back on the topic of plates, it appears Bosch has a optional body for the 1617 designed to be mounted to a table, that 1) allows quick release of the router from beneath and 2) allows above table adjustments.

    This base is about $55, but seems to take the place of a plate and a lift. Is my thinking correct on that?
    Your thinking is kind of correct on this, but that setup will be limiting from a production point of view. It would be very hard tedious to reset the setup if you needed to replicate a cut.
    Also if I wanted to make a router table. My thinking is to just use a old kitchen cabinet base (or build my own) and add a melamine top ( maybe 2 layers), anything else as a must have?
    Nothing at all wrong with repurposing a kitchen cabinet. I personally would not use melamine. All the meamine tops I have ever made through the years all ended up in the burn dumpster at the transfer station.

    2) Bosch also offers a edge guide for routing grooves / dadoes and such. Is this a must have type of accessory or would a regular clamped straight edge do the trick as well, or is this all together negated by having a table?

    Edge guides can be used for dados and grooves, but their bread and butter purpose is to apply a profile edge.

    3) bushings - the router came with a bag of brass threaded bushings, but no plate to use the bushings. From my research it appears the bushings are supposed to be used when you want a specific offset from the bit? Should I look into buying a sub base to use the bushings or is this not a commonly done activity?

    Thoise are probably PC bushings, and if they're the solid brass version, SWEET!!! Some are aluminum and they're not as good in my opinion. Just about any base plate made for your router, will accompdate those bushings. There is a "centering tool" for use with those bushings to ensure that the bushing is perfectly aligned with center of the collet. A nice tool to have .

    4) dust collection - Bosch offers a couple accessory kits for dust collection in handheld mode. Does anyone have experience with these? Online reviews seem mixed.

    Dust collection with a handheld router is compromising at best. Routers can really sling dust and debris and it's coming off that bit at a high speed. I have all Festool routers, with their dust collection, and still wear a mask and have a portable air filter at the bench to back up the Fein Turbo II vac.

    5) actual good YouTube series on routing basics, bit setup,and such? As we all know there's a crap ton of people on the tube teaching about stuff they don't know to well. I don't know anything about routing so I don't want to fall prey to them.
    There are many, many, fine books and videos available. Look into the ones presented by Fine Woodworking. Bill Hyltons book on the router, though dated, is an excellent reference to have available. Lonnie Bord also had one that was very good.

    That should give me some good reading. Thanks in advance
    Michael
    All this being said, I no longer have a router in a table. I moved onto a shaper many years ago. Th eold router table is now a gardening bench
    If I were to go the router in a table again, it would be a Bench Dog extension wing, with a lift. Big bucks? Yep. I hate wasting time doing test cut, after test cut.
    Watch some videos on shaper operation. There are many similarities between the two when mounted in a table. The techniques are transferable.
    Overcome your trepidation about using a router handheld. That was it's actual purpose, and there are many things you can do with one handheld that cannot be done by the router mounted in the table.
    "The first thing you need to know, will likely be the last thing you learn." (Unknown)

  11. #11
    I think you should mount your router to a sheet of plywood with a 2x4 fence. It will work. You can make a ton of projects with this set up. Eventually, you will WANT - not NEED - the convenience that a lift, a second router, more precise fence adjustment, etc offer and you may want to build or buy one then.

    Imho you will appreciate those features more if you use a table without them first. And when you choose to upgrade, donít believe the hype that building is always superior to buying.

  12. #12
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    Thanks Earl

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prashun Patel View Post
    I think you should mount your router to a sheet of plywood with a 2x4 fence. It will work. You can make a ton of projects with this set up. Eventually, you will WANT - not NEED - the convenience that a lift, a second router, more precise fence adjustment, etc offer and you may want to build or buy one then.

    Imho you will appreciate those features more if you use a table without them first. And when you choose to upgrade, donít believe the hype that building is always superior to buying.
    Hi prashun,
    Looking at the costs of t-slots, hardware, wood, inserts, misc, it's easy to get up to the price of the little bench top tables real fast.
    I think for now I'll go for the hole in melamine and 2x4 fence and see how that goes.

  14. #14
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    I'm a buy once / cry once guy now, after years of starting out cheap, throwing things out, and buying quality equipment that lasts.

    I built my own router table, modified from Norm Abram's plans, and it works great. But I do think in the long run it cost quite a bit more than just buying one.

    My setup is unique, and not one you can do (for good reasons). I have a discontinued Ready2Rout and Ready2Lift router system, so I have digital precision on mine. It is really nice for fine tuning of setups and repeatability, but is not something you should be considering. I just mention it as repeatability and fine tuning are real goals here. It makes your work flow much easier. And good router lifts help with that tremendously.

    I used to have mine in a table saw extension, and I still think that's a very good, viable option. You really need to make the extension very stout. I reinforced mine multiple times, as sag was an issue.

    As everyone has said, dust collection is an issue. Especially with a handheld router. But even with a router table, and dust collection in the fence and table with a 5HP cyclone, it's still an issue to some degree.

    Lots of information regarding using lifts. Search on here. Many different opinions, but you will learn a ton.

    Good luck. You're starting on a nice journey.
    - When God closes a door, he opens a window. Our heating bill is outrageous & six raccoons got in last night. Please God, this has to stop!
    - Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael J Evans View Post
    I think for now I'll go for the hole in melamine and 2x4 fence and see how that goes.
    If you're looking for simplicity to get started, it's still worth the $45 to get an adapter plate and insert rings. Cut a recess (using your router), then shim in level with some masking tape. Nothing fancy, but you'll already be well-ahead of a simple hole in a melamine top.

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B082PLG1QS...4MZ2F6GT53X3YX
    Last edited by Patrick Varley; 04-13-2021 at 8:52 AM.

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