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best material to build a router table top ?

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  • best material to build a router table top ?

    Iv'e been checking video's and the woodworking websites and checked whats out there to buy (over-priced) . I want to build something that will last..... should I laminate 2-3/4" MDF or finished plywood, or I could buy counter-top and laminate/glue underneath a sheet give it more girth, is 1-1/2" thickness overkill ???? just wondering if any of you ever built one and the materials you used. Thanks Scott

  • #2
    Lots of choices here.

    Woodpeckers makes some great router tables but they are expensive. But sometimes they
    have sales on blems or returns. I bought one of those about a year ago, great table top but
    it had a couple minor scuffs in the surface. Not gouges or scrapes that dug into the surface,
    but something that had discolored the white laminate surface and just wouldn't come clean.
    So I bought it for less than half what they normally go for, and it's been great.

    You can see the scuff marks here if you look close. Really that's all that was wrong with it.
    Here it is on Woodpeckers website, I got the smaller one. I already had a router plate and
    a fence so the table was all I needed.

    You can build you own from MDF and laminate it and install t-track. One way to do that with
    out routing the channels for the track is to use 1/2" MDF for the build. Glue two layers together
    for the base of the table then rip the third piece into strips that will be placed around the T-track.
    This also saves routing out the opening for the router mounting plate.

    You can get T-track that is 1/2" thick from a number of places. As you are building up the table
    top use a pattern bit to trim the edges flush with the first layer.

    1-1/2 thick is a good, stable table top. You could go 1 inch IF you were going to build a cabinet
    under it that would support it all around and be fastened in such a way that it would keep it from
    flexing or warping over time. You could also do a 1/2" Baltic birch plywood core with a layer of
    1/2" MDF top and bottom.

    WoodSmith TV has built a few router tables over the years. You can probably find their videos
    online but you said you've looked at a few videos already I think.

    But if you search YouTube and you'll find lots of ideas on building your own.
    Last edited by Bob D.; 12-19-2019, 09:04 PM.
    "It's a table saw, do you know where your fingers are?" ? Bob D. 2006
    "?ǝɹɐ sɹǝƃuıɟ ɹnoʎ ǝɹǝɥʍ ʍouʞ noʎ op `ʍɐs ǝlqɐʇ ɐ s,ʇı"


    • #3
      I will certainly keep my eye out for something you got from woodpeckers, I will be building a cabinet that tilts ( Izzy made one ) with storage for my router bits and accessories and will be needing a fixed base router nothing overkill since mostly will be using pine an poplar.... I like the Ridgid r2901 it has soft start, electronic speed control and a t handle for micro adjustments but haven't checked out others with the same specs.


      • #4
        "It's a table saw, do you know where your fingers are?" ? Bob D. 2006
        "?ǝɹɐ sɹǝƃuıɟ ɹnoʎ ǝɹǝɥʍ ʍouʞ noʎ op `ʍɐs ǝlqɐʇ ɐ s,ʇı"


        • #5
          Several years ago, I bought a Rockler router table top which included a fence. Both fence and table had T-track installed and the fence included a plexiglass guard. I think that totaled to about $120. I spent another $30 or so to add their four-piece safety kit (feather boards for the fence and table as well as a dust port for the fence. The table top is about one-inch think MDF with a melamine layer on both top and bottom. As I recall, I also had to buy an aluminum mounting plate which was at the time around $50. All told, around $200 in total.

          I built my own temporary leg set from 2 x 4 stock, using tenon and wedges so I could take it apart to move it.

          I don't particularly like MDF because it sags all too much, but this has held up well and I don't leave the router and its weight sitting in the table when not in use. I've had this now for about 15 years and it works well for me.

          I see the prices are considerably higher today and there is certainly more variety. I had a Ryobi aluminum table, but it was small and not well designed with an aluminum table that sagged easily. Since the included router was bolted in, it was easier to just turn the table upside down rather than remove the router after each use. Still, a PIA.

          So, you want to use something that isn't going to sag, even a little bit. OR, build your base in a manner that will fully support the top. From my perspective at the time, I felt I couldn't build the top for nearly the cost of buying the Rockler.... even the materials would have cost me more, much less the time and tooling it would take. But to each his own, as they say.

          Here's a link to a very inexpensive Rockler table (I hate those legs, but the top is similar to what I purchased. Also near the bottom of the page are accessories.

          Hope this helps,



          • Bob D.
            Bob D. commented
            Editing a comment
            I think that Rockler table is overpriced even at $169. It really is something you can build yourself with basic tools. Just have to invest the time. The one item you should buy is the mounting plate, and get a standard size one not some odd ball size. I made that mistake once years ago with the first router table insert I put on my RIDGID TS-3650. When I wanted to upgrade to a larger router the mounting plate couldn't accommodate it so I let it go with the saw when I sold it.

          • CWSmith
            CWSmith commented
            Editing a comment
            Looking back at some pictures I had taken at the time, it looks like I bought the Rockler table top back in early 2008, and paid about $130 for the top with fence and guard. I added the aluminum plate, 4-piece accessory, a paddle switch, and made my own leg set shortly after. Total payout was probably about $230 or so.

            AT the time, I just wanted a larger router table as my small Ryobi just wasn't doing the job that I wanted. I didn't see a lot of choices at the time, and I was more interested in starting my project than I was diverting my attention toward building my own top, The mounting plate from Rockler was smaller than the plates that are available today. I had to remove one handle from my Ridgid fixed-base router in order to remove it through the plate-matched opening in the table top. It works, but is small.

            It all works for me, though I can see that today I may want something better and of course a larger plate would be a better choice.


        • #6
          You may want to visit Harbor Freight Tools
          They used to carry a router table under $125.00

          Cactus Man


          • #7
            Steve Ramsey built a nice, New Yankee style router table/cabinet a few years back. You could do the same just don't build the cabinet, but the table and the fence and make a more basic stand for it. Then later on you could build the cabinet and mount the table top on it.

            But I wouldn't go to the trouble of making the template out of MDF for installing the insert plate. You can do the same by using four pieces of MDF about 4 or more inches wide and just place them around the insert. Fix them to the table top using double stick tape. Rockler has a web page explaining how to do it. But, in place of the Bondo trick just use a forstner bit of the same radius as the corner of your router plate and drill a hole with the forstner bit after you've placed the guide strips around the edge of the plate.

            Or a bare basics version by Izzy.
            Last edited by Bob D.; 12-20-2019, 02:33 PM.
            "It's a table saw, do you know where your fingers are?" ? Bob D. 2006
            "?ǝɹɐ sɹǝƃuıɟ ɹnoʎ ǝɹǝɥʍ ʍouʞ noʎ op `ʍɐs ǝlqɐʇ ɐ s,ʇı"



            • #8
              My table is incorporated into my tablesaw. It's 2 layers of 1/2" MDO, glued together. It works wonderfully. I do not have a router plate nor a router lift. Personally, I don't find a need for either. Regardless of material, if you decide to glue 2 layers together, make sure everything is as flat as possible. I checked and rechecked mine before glue up. I learned that if I adjusted things a little, I got a flatter surface.

              Good luck and let us know what you decide on.


              • #9
                Thanks guys for your input, I did own a Craftsman tabletop that came as a combo with a router but it wasn't very accurate. I'll probably build something like what Steve Ramsey built in Bob's posted video. I can get 3/4" melamine stock at the local big box stores and I already have enough 3/4" birch plywood to sandwich them together and to build a fence... I have also considered PVC...... it comes in a variety of thicknesses and sizes. I'll take your advice Bob and buy a full size mounting plate. Right know I'm on the fence to what router to use. I have 2 one ( fixed base ) that came with my Craftsman router table no micro adjustment and not accurate and a late 80's Makita a (plunge) router 3612br that has a micro adjustment and I believe around 3HP ...... I bought new and never had a problem .

                I had also considered a router lift from Woodpeckers ... oh I mean Jessem but decided against . I will probably end up buying a new router around 2-2.5 hp ( fixed base) with a micro adjustment, variable speed, and t handle adjustment from the top only because the age of the Makita. Thanks Again Scott


                • #10
                  Lowes has a Kobalt aluminum table & router that is adjustable from the top for $129. I have one and it works great.


                  • #11
                    I have a cast iron router table top, and would never go back to laminate again. I have had three or four router tables in my time, from commercial to DIY. All of them worked, but I use a Jessem Router lift, and a massive router, so the weight was just too much for most man made materials. The CI is perfect: stays flat, is heavy, and was not overly expensive.


                    • #12
                      Bob D., nice videos, thanks for sharing.


                      • #13
                        An MDF router table top surfaced on both sides with HPL is also more likely to remain flat throughout its life. A step up from MDF is solid phenolic resin. Naturally rigid and tough, solid phenolic sheet material is an excellent choice for a router table surface.


                        • #14
                          You may consider following router tables as per your need.

                          1. BOSCH CABINET STYLE ROUTER TABLE RA1171

                          The Bosch RA1171 Cabinet design Router Table provides versatility and trustworthiness in a well-built outline. It comes with a set of three mounting plates embed rings, a high aluminum hedge estimating 4 7/8 and 25 1/8 inches, and movable MDF plates for simple working and durable support. The two flexible feather boards can be fixed to make it simpler to work with distinctive sorts of pieces. The table estimates 25.5 inches broad, 14.5 inches high and 15 7/8 inches in-depth. Its total weight is 42 lbs. The hedge can be revealed to 3 3/16 inches, and the most throat opening is 3 5/8 inches.

                          2. KREG PRS 2100 BENCHTOP ROUTER TABLE

                          What makes this Benchtop Router Table by the Kreg among the driving is its portability, reasonable advancement, and has so much ease. Other than its movability, another thing that captured my attention around this machine is its pricing as well as the reliable design.

                          3. WOODRIVER BENCHTOP ROUTER TABLE

                          Tabletop comfort with full-size highlights – WoodRiver Bench Router Table conveys strong execution in a smaller impression. Enclosed cabinet, completely flexible hedge, both with dirt collection ports, detachable fitted plate makes mounting your router a basic assignment.

                          For more details you can visit this site:


                          • #15
                            You may need to visit Skil ras900. They used an aluminum tabletop and carried a router table for $169.00. The experienced or professional woodworker will find this route table fascinating.