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Routers and Router Tables

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  • Routers and Router Tables

    I have this dream someday of building myself a nice homemade router table like the one on Norm Abram's Website.

    I have a question about this. Do the same things that make a good handheld router make a good router for a router table?

    I assume, if you want to get a decent handheld router, you are going to need to spend a little bit more then the bottom of the line - say $150- $200. This one might have all the useful features one looks for in a handheld router.

    Well, how does that router stack up when you decide to turn around and stick the thing in a router table? Have we suddenly gone from reasonable to way overboard?

    And I am going to want, in the long run, to own two routers - one for the table and one for handheld use.

    I don't know how hard it would be to take the thing in and out of the router table. That obviously depends a lot on the design of the router table, but I would guess it would be pretty trivial.

    One nice thing about the two router bit is that you might be able to buy a less expensive, simpler router for the router table then you need for hand use. So that brings cost down if someone decided they needed seperate devices.

    Of course, considering space, inside the router table is a great place to store your router if you only have one.

    Last question: what are people's recommendations for routers, with consideration toward the fact that I am going to want to be able to strap this into a router table as well as use it for hand use.

    What features are there that should be considered? What brands do people recommend and not recommend? How much does one REALLY need to spend to get something worth his money?

    Thanks for your time and patience...

  • #2
    Captain, these are all good questions. In order for people to give you good advice, some more info about yourself may be helpful because choices for router setups are unlimited and range drastically in prices (often the router itself is the cheapest part of a router setup).

    How serious are you (or plan to be) about WW, what projects do you like to do, and how often do you get a chance to do them

    What do you imagine your eventual budget to be for a router setup?

    Do you have space for a dedicated router table or do you need to put it in a wing of the tablesaw?

    To give you an example, $150 for a router, $100 for bits, and $100-$150 for a self-made router table and fence could give you a good setup to start with. In my opinion 2 routers is the way to go eventually which ups that price. Getting a combo plunge/fixed base router the first time helps reduce that price. If you want an incra fence or router lift add a few hundred for each.


    • #3
      Hey Captain..... Here's my 2 cents worth.... Make sure that one of your routers has some horse power behind it, especially if you are going to be getting into WW on a fairly regular basis. If you are going to be doing raised panels, go for 3-1/4 HP and don't limit yourself with a router that won't accept half inch shanked bits. Some bits come with a warning that they should not be used with a hand held router and if you are leaning toward the use of such bits, definately build yourself a table. I built a 36 x 26 inch table with fence and dust pick-up, stops, sacrifical fences, vertical work support and a sliding jig; used metal "T" strips for mounting the jigs and featherboards (don't forget featherboards!) and put an external on/off switch on it. See the March, 2003 issue of American Woodworker magazine for a decent plan for building one. That's what I built and it wasn't difficult to build either!

      Chris in Canada.
      Chris Berg


      • #4
        As Macmec said 2 routers are deinetly a must. I prefer the 1/2" 3+ hp in the table, and a 1/4" smaller one for handheld. Gettin that router in and out of the table could be a royal pain, depending on your setup. Startup cost are higher, but you won't regret it if you use them a lot. Oh, and get carbide bits,that you can interchange as much as possible, and don't waste your money on hs steel. They will burn out first time around :-(

        have fun
        <a href=\"\" target=\"_blank\"></a><br /><br />I can fix anything......where\'s the duct tape ?? :-)


        • #5

          Some of the features you will want on a table mounted router are soft start, adjustable speed, 1/2" & 1/4" collets, a large bit opening and at least 3HP. These features are not normally found on cheap routers.

          After you are in woodworking a while, it seems like one router is just not enough (although Norm's collection may be overkill). I have 3 routers. I have a PC7518 and a Makita (1101 I believe) that I use mainly in the table. I use the PC with the 1/2" collet and the Makita with a 1/4" collet. I also have the PC693PK that I use for handheld routing. It has both a fixed and plunge base and it seems like I use the plunge base for much of my hand routing.

          I wouldn't be too concerned about the cost of the router, since you can easily spend more on the bits than most of the routers cost. If this will be your first router, I would get one of the kits. PC, Bosch, Makita and DeWalt all offer them and you need to try to get your hands on some of the different brands to see which one you prefer. Happy hunting!

          Bob R