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Thread: What do you use your router table for?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    N. Idaho
    Posts
    1,368

    What do you use your router table for?

    Hi all,

    I've a hybrid workshop and am heavy on the hand-tool side. But have an itch to upgrade my router table set up and have some cabinet projects looming. I don't use my current one all that much because it's a pain. I have an older 2 1/4 Bosch plunge router mounted to a plate that adjusts from underneath and don't trust it to keep depth at this stage.

    So I'm wondering if it is worth it to me to upgrade with a heavier router and/or a lift (i.e., 3HP with Incra Master Lift). Some perspectives on how folks use their tables, thoughts on lifts, and how much difference an upgrade to 3 HP makes would help me spend (or save!) my money.

    I did have an incra ts system with wonder fence that I sold/am selling. I liked it a lot but got a new table saw and rearranged the shop. And am shifting to metric. Will almost certainly end up with a dedicated router station.

    Many thanks,
    Chris
    "You can observe a lot just by watching."
    --Yogi Berra

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2021
    Location
    Portland, OR
    Posts
    225
    I don't use mine a ton. Pretty much just T&G cutting for cabinet doors and shelves.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2021
    Location
    Redmond, OR
    Posts
    324
    I find I use my shapers much more than my router table. I paid considerably less for both of my used shapers than a new top of the line fancy lift router table would have cost. After I added a power feeder to my bigger shaper I hardly use my router table at all.

    PICT4063.jpg
    I paid $100 for this Walker Turner shaper 20+ years ago and have gotten a lot of use out of it. To me it is easier to use a shaper than a router table and I usually get better results.
    Last edited by Michael Schuch; 01-19-2022 at 3:31 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2021
    Location
    Southwest WI
    Posts
    245
    I had a older frued router table that was always a pain to use. I found that when I upgraded to a jessem set up I used it much more since it was more user-friendly. I haven't really had a issue with power on my medium sized router but if you are running large bits such as a panel raising bit a larger router may be more useful. I have since purchased a nice shaper so I don't use the router table as much as I used to. As to the shaper vs router table I believe a shaper is more useful but the cutters can get quite expensive. If you plan to do a lot of repetitive work I would highly recommend you look into a small power feeder for the router table. I have gotten much better results after installing the power feeder on my router table when it come to things like t&g or cabinet doors.

  5. #5
    Raised panels and cope and stick joints for cabinet doors. I used to make beaded face frames with a molding cutter on a table saw. I can’t use the molding head on my SawStop so I bought a set of Kreg beaded face frame bits for future projects. I make most of my cabinet molding (nothing complicated) on the router table usually.

    I sometimes use the router table for dadoes and rabbets but mostly those are easier on the table saw.

    I use it a lot.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Indianapolis
    Posts
    760
    I have a Kreg and love the under mount and ease of adjusting the fence and height compared to manually adjusting from below. Brian
    Brian

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Perth, Australia
    Posts
    8,391
    Quote Originally Posted by Christopher Charles View Post
    Hi all,

    I've a hybrid workshop and am heavy on the hand-tool side. But have an itch to upgrade my router table set up and have some cabinet projects looming. I don't use my current one all that much because it's a pain. I have an older 2 1/4 Bosch plunge router mounted to a plate that adjusts from underneath and don't trust it to keep depth at this stage.

    So I'm wondering if it is worth it to me to upgrade with a heavier router and/or a lift (i.e., 3HP with Incra Master Lift). Some perspectives on how folks use their tables, thoughts on lifts, and how much difference an upgrade to 3 HP makes would help me spend (or save!) my money.

    I did have an incra ts system with wonder fence that I sold/am selling. I liked it a lot but got a new table saw and rearranged the shop. And am shifting to metric. Will almost certainly end up with a dedicated router station.

    Many thanks,
    Chris
    Chris, my methods are close to yours - good use of power tools, but defer to hand tools by preference.

    My router table use is small in comparison to other power tools. I would rather use a plough plane when grooving, or a saw and chisels when dadoing. All my dovetailing is by hand. Tenons get done either on a bandsaw or tenon saw, while mortices are either a router table fixture or mortice chisel.

    This does not leave a lot of need for a router table. Yet I took the time to re-build mine. Partly because it does get used - in the main, for edge work where a hand plane is not the best choice, or bevels where the work piece does not suit a table saw. Since my furniture pieces are one-offs, and time is not a big factor, rebates are usually made with a hand plane. However, where the work piece is awkward to grip in a vise, or the wood grain does not have accommodating direction, a router table is there to be used.

    I built my router table to a fairly high level but using parts which made it economical:

    http://www.inthewoodshop.com/Powered%20Tools%20and%20Machinery/RouterTableAdventure.html


    The build was enjoyable, however I could not justify spending more than I did.

    Regards from Perth

    Derek

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Gold Coast, Australia
    Posts
    153
    I used my router table for far more than I should have*. Now that I have a shaper it sits unloved in the corner. You can buy a used shaper, often with some tooling, often with a power feeder, for less than a good router table set-up. Mine cost $1000.00

    I will keep my router table for little chores like round-overs etc, but really probably just reach for a hand plane.

    *I built a new old house using just the router table…25 doors, 32 shutters, wainscoting, some mouldings. I used the shaper for all the baseboards, handrails, stair nosings etc. The difference is night and day better than a router table for speed and quality of finish.

  9. #9
    I put my coffee on it when I had one. Top was laminate and it didnt leave a ring like cast iron.

    there will always be things routers can do that shapers cant, like work into small radius things where a shaper cutter head cant go. I like using routers and trimmers hand held so I can climb cut. Table is good as it helps stop you from tilting at times when there is not lots of part for router support.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Peoria, IL
    Posts
    2,893
    What don't I do on a router table would be a better question. The only reason not to use a router table over hand held is when it becomes a task to lift and move the stock on the router table.

  11. #11
    or climb cutting cause you want to be close to 100 percent sure no blow out

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2019
    Location
    Lafayette, CA
    Posts
    717
    I see I'm in the minority here. I use the router table for most routing applications. An exception is making mortises: for that I use a jig after Young Je's design (YouTube), with a 1-3/4 HP plunge router.

    I find the precision and safety of the table convenient. I upgraded a couple of years ago from the Porter-Cable 690 that had been in my table for ~18 years (with no lift) to the monstrous and now archaic Porter-Cable 7518 3-1/4 HP. I think I found the last one, haha. It's a beast and greatly enhances the process. Nothing I throw at it bogs it down. (Maybe it's not that much of a difference if you already have the midsized router.)

    The star of the setup is the Mast-R-Lift II. Mine is the JessEm branded version (also available with Incra's imprimatur, identical innards but fancier throat plates). I can adjust the bit height within about 0.001" with confidence (the lift's markings are 0.002" apart, but they're spaced almost 2 mm from each other). Before installing the lift, adjusting height was a primitive trial-and-error affair, emphasis on error. The z dimension is now a breeze!

    Both the lift precision and the hog power are a joy every time I fire it up, which is nearly every time I want an edge profile. I'll grab one of the much lighter 690s and hand-hold it only if I need to profile something too large to fit on the table.

  13. #13
    ive had really good luck with those large porter cables, several worked very hard for years and still work nice.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    SoCal
    Posts
    21,699
    Blog Entries
    1
    My router table is probably the second or third most important (and used) power tool in the shop. Joinery and edge treatments are the main focus for me in that order.

    Kit-Hut-(94).jpg . bb-ply-drawer-2.jpg

    Deb Bath Cab (12).jpg . Deb Bath Cab (15).jpg

    e-NWC Top profile 3.jpg . 19-GUS-long mort-1.jpg

    Mine is colocated with the tablesaw station and the additional table area is shared by both.

    New Shop (459).jpgNew Shop (451).jpg

    Router tables, like a bandsaw or a jointer . . . there are folks out there who never use them or drastically under-use them. I wouldn't be without one and someone else may wonder what all the fuss is about. What you do and your approach to doing it will define the importance of any tool or technique.
    Last edited by glenn bradley; 01-20-2022 at 6:53 AM.
    Take me to the hotel - Baggage gone, oh well . . .

  15. #15
    I use it for all routing unless it can only be done with a router by hand. Never felt I needed a shaper for what
    I build. I have a nice table with the PC 7518 and while the setup was stupid expensive I like it. Before this table I had a couple cheapies for 25 years with a mid power Bosch plunge router in it, still got the router and it still works,
    I always liked the micro adjust on the plunge in the table.

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