Handheld routers are good and can accomplish various tasks, but a router table will help increase your speed, consistency, and accuracy. It allows you to mount a wood router and get a secure hold while using both hands to work. The best router table is more flexible than a table saw and can be portable or benchtop depending on the size of your workspace.
Woodworkers use routers to hollow out or shape pieces of wood or other hard materials such as fiberglass, Kevlar, and graphite. Routers are generally power tools nowadays using electricity to spin a spindle at high rates. This spindle creates a groove in the wood by drilling through it. The size of the bit, or cutting element, determines the width of this groove.
Factors to Consider When Buying the Best Router Table
- Miter and T-Slots
Most router table operations include maintaining the stock pushed against the table’s fence to guide it past the cutter. But, sooner or later, you’ll be faced with a task that requires the use of a miter gauge, such as cutting a dado across a long, thin piece of stock. So, you need a router table with a miter slot.
T-slots are also available in various positions on specific tables for securing feather boards, stops, and other typical router table accessories. They’re usually machined into the fence’s front surface, although they might also be used in other places. When the need arises, a slit across the top of the fence, for example, will allow for the quick connection of a flip stop or a couple of hold-down clamps.
- Flat, Rigid Base Plate
The router is connected to a base plate on most router tables, which fits into a rabbeted aperture in the tabletop. The quality and arrangement of the base plate can significantly influence how well the table works. The base plate must be solid and robust since it must remain flat while bearing the router’s weight. Machined metal and solid phenolic are both acceptable choices.
- Flat, Solid Top
It’s critical that the tabletop be sturdy and as near to utterly flat as possible. Precision is essential in many router table tasks, such as cutting joinery or treating the edge of a board. Minor surface imperfections can cause skewed joints, uneven edge profiles, and other issues.
There are two reasons why rigidity is essential: For starters, a router table that bends when it comes into contact with the downward pressure required for feeding wood will not consistently make accurate cuts. Routing a profile on the edge of a board or molding might be disastrous. Second, without deflecting, the table must withstand the weight of the router, plate, or router lift.
- Sturdy, Stable Base
Keep the workpiece in constant touch with the cutter and move it at a steady, fluid rate if you want clean, crisp cuts. That’s difficult to do if the table is swaying or moving. More importantly, operating on a shaky foundation is dangerous. If the table were to toss, a router spinning a razor-sharp bit tens of thousands of times per minute might do a lot of harm.
Whether you build a plywood cabinet, incorporate a router table into a table saw extension, or purchase a specialized metal stand or cabinet, make sure the table is firmly connected and supported to avoid movement and vibration. Locking casters may be added to some steel supports to allow portability without losing stability.
- Accurate, Easy-to-Position Fence
A Fence that is Accurate and Simple to Position In most router table operations, you’ll maintain your workpiece pressed against the fence as you move it through the bit to regulate the cut. Therefore, you need a fence that can handle the task.
Router table fences come in a wide range of quality and usefulness. The most basic fence might be nothing more than a piece of timber fastened to the table’s surface. Precision aftermarket fence systems with incremental positioning mechanisms and other complex features are on the opposite end of the range. Between the two, there are various excellent fences, all of which possess the following key characteristics: They’re straight, square, and stiff; they’re simple to place and adjust; and once locked down, they won’t move.
Best Benchtop Router Tables
These kinds of router tables are suited for small to medium-sized tasks and workshops due to their compact size and limited capabilities for significant projects. A benchtop router is usually mounted on another surface.
Bosch RA1141 Portable Benchtop Router Table
If you’ve been looking for the best router table, this is the first option you can choose. The Bosch RA1141 Portable Jobsite Router Table has an ultra-portable design, and you can fold and unfold the legs for fast setup and easy storage. It has a laminated MDF (medium-density fibreboard) top to help you make smooth and precise cuts. Additionally, it has adequate onboard storage where you can put your router bits and other spare parts.
This is one of the few routers that come pre-assembled and ready for use. Therefore, it is ideal for beginners who don’t have experience assembling and disassembling a router table. It is one of the best router tables due to its affordability and easy assembly.
It also has a tall fence with more elevated boards and a pair of feather boards that provide extra control while pushing wood across the table. When routing any curved workpieces, the table guard and starter pin support your workpiece, allowing you more control.
- It is adjustable with foldable legs for easy portability
- It is lightweight and weighs 33 pounds. This makes it easy to move from one point to another.
- It comes with adjustable features such as dual feather boards and a clear guard.
- It is corded and doesn’t accommodate any battery
KREG Precision Router Table System, Kreg# PRS1045
It is a 24 by 34-inch tabletop with a router insert plate and three molded level-loc reducing rings. Its table fence features a micro-adjustable wheel to make your setups more precise. Moreover, this router table is easy to set up and comes with many great additional features. It also has a router insert plate designed to be used universally on almost any router.
The fence receives zero-clearance support from an L-shaped aluminum extrusion with two fully independent fence faces. It has a router table made from MDF and covered in high-pressure lamination. It also includes an aluminum miter channel that can be merged with various router table accessories.
The stands are powder coated to enhance durability and improve the overall look. They are also adjustable from 31 inches to 39 inches in height to get you in the correct position to perform your tasks. It weighs approximately 70 pounds which helps in improving stability and reducing noise from vibrations.
- It has an extendable outfeed anchor
- It is heavy improving stability and minimizing vibrations
- It is expensive
Bosch Cabinet Style Router Table RA1171, Blue
This benchtop router features a cabinet-style structure which has several advantages over open-structured router tables. It is ideal for dust storage as it comes with two dedicated dust ports: one at the cabinet and one at the fence for extreme dust removal. It also has a router plate made of rigid aluminum pre-drilled to be compatible with various routers.
It has tall fences allowing you to use more elevated stock and feather boards to help you maximize your accuracy and versatility. The cabinet structure makes it stable and provides you with adequate accessory storage space.
If you are looking for an easy and safe tool to use, the Bosch Cabinet Style Router Table has kickback protection and additional board guidance. The two feather boards that fit the fence are fully adjustable to fit different workpieces. There are extra slots that accept more feather boards and other accessories, such as a ¾ inch optional miter gauge.
- Easy installation and use even for beginner woodworkers
- It has a cabinet structure that is good for stability and storage
- Most of its features and parts are suited for the U.S. market. For example, the switch only supports power of 110V.
Kreg PRS2100 Bench Top Router Table
Suppose you are looking for a router table that features advanced technology to perform better. In that case, the Kreg PRS2100 Bench Top Router Table is made using a unique MDF edge banded and vibration and noise-resistant. This makes it one of the quietest enclosed router tables.
It also features an Easy-Slide Micro-Dot skin made from highly pressurized laminate to allow you to slide your workpieces easily across the surface. The insert plate is wide enough to accommodate even big routers and features Kreg Level Loc Reduced Rings. The three rings twist and lock into place with the plate surface.
This router table has a heavy-duty aluminum fence with quarter-turn locking levers for easy adjustment and secure locking. The levers are big and easy to use but stay out of your way behind the fence. Besides, the fence has independent sliding faces to increase the support provided to the workpiece around the bit. Thanks to the jointing rods, you can also use the router table as a vertical jointer.
- It is extremely quiet due to the noise and vibration-resistant MDF
- It is compact and occupies less space in your workshop
- Most of the parts are only replaceable by the manufacturer
Free Standing Router Tables
These types of router tables are suited for medium or large workshops. Freestanding router tables are generally robust and meant to work on significant projects. They occupy a large area in your workshop.
Best Freestanding Router Tables
SKIL RAS900 Router Table
It is a preassembled router table with a laminated MDF top and an integrated accessories storage bag. It has a self-contained structure that provides the operator with the storage parts for features like router bits and the fence. The SKIL RAS900 Router Table has two containers and an instant clamp system for a firm grip and faster working time.
This freestanding router also features a bit height gauge to help simplify your setup and increase your accuracy when cutting. When working on curved edges, the starter pin and guard provides support to the workpiece. It is one of the best router tables that come with two feather-boards that guide your workpiece, enhancing your level of accuracy.
If you are looking for a router that is easy to operate, the SKIL RAS900 Router Table allows router mounting with easy bit changes and zero leveling. The legs are foldable into a design that requires minimal setup and provides excellent stability ideal for any woodworker.
- It comes with two containers
- It features an in-built accessory storage space
- It is lightweight, therefore, easy to move around
- Some spare parts such as the inserts may be hard to come by
KREG Precision Router Table System, Kreg# PRS1045
If you are looking for a freestanding router that merges with most spare parts in the market, the KREG Precision Router Table System, Kreg# PRS1045, has an insert plate that can be designed to mount any router. Therefore, you get to utilize your tool’s base plate and easily acquire another one whenever necessary.
Its fence has an L-shaped aluminum extrusion with two independent fence faces that offer zero-clearance support. This router weighs approximately 70 pounds, an ideal height to provide adequate stability. The stand, which is 31 inches long but adjustable to 39 inches and made of multi-purpose steel coated with powder for durability, contributes to the weight.
The top is made from MDF and covered with Easy-Slide-Micro-Dot high-pressure laminate to make it easy for you to pass your pieces of wood across the surface. The top consists of a router insert plate with three Level-Lov reduce rings.
- It has adjustable steel leg stands.
- The tabletop has an additional high-pressure laminate for easy sliding of workpieces across the surface.
- It is heavy and therefore challenging to move around
What is a Router Table?
Some routers are meant to be handheld, while others are designed to be attached to immovable objects. A router table, as you might expect, is the item that holds the router in place. Woodworkers invented their own ways to secure hand-held routers, but manufacturers eventually caught up and began producing tables with inbuilt routers. The router is attached to the table’s underside, with its bit protruding through a hole towards the surface.
Parts and Accessories of a Router Table
The essential components of most router tables will be the same, while the specific placement of the components may vary between models. The manufacturer should provide you with the details of every part of the router table and how to assemble it. The accessories of most router tables also vary between models, but you can buy them separately if not included.
It is the simple plastic cover passing directly over the router bit. It keeps you safe by preventing your hands from getting close to the cutter. Most models have a port where a dust extractor is fitted. The router table guard directs dust and wood chippings toward the port.
It is a thin straight board that works as a guide for the workpiece as it moves through the cutter to maintain the shape and position of your cut. Fences are flexible, and you can move them and clamp them in different positions across the table.
- Insert Plate
It is a device fixed to the base of your router table to hold the router in place. It is usually mounted on the center of your table with a hole where the cutter protrudes. Some insert plates can accommodate different types of routers.
- No-Volt Release Switch
A no-volt release (NVR) switch is a power button that has grown in popularity among the most recent power tools. It works as a safety mechanism that cuts all power to the device in case of a temporary power loss. When power comes back, the machine does not turn on unattended.
- Dust Extraction Port
A router table has a port behind the guard and fence where you can fit an extraction hose.
Uses of a Router Table
A router table simply allows you to use your router in ways that would be difficult if you were using a handheld router. The following are applications best suited for a router:
- Routing Stopped Cuts
Stopped cuts are those that don’t go all the way through a piece of material. They can be attractive, like a bevel on a chair leg that begins and finishes at a certain point, or functional, such as a half-blind dovetail pin or a mortise. The router table fence can be rapidly set up with stops, allowing you to make repeated halted cuts with ease.
- Routing the Same Cut Several Times
A router table is usually the best choice for applications that require a high number of identical cuts. This is because, rather than having to set up a hand-held router and any other accessories for each new piece of material, you can simply feed it numerous pieces of material, one after another. Your workpieces move along the router table once set up with its fence and other accessories or spares. They are preferably meant for cutting multiple slots, dadoes, grooves, and sliding dovetails.
- Routing With Large Diameter Router Cutters
When working with bigger cutters or bits, router tables come in handy. More significant router bits (those with a diameter more than 38mm or 1 ½ inch in diameter) are more challenging to manage with a hand-held router, especially when working on edges.
Most manufacturers advise against using any cutter larger than 38mm in diameter in hand-held routers. As a result, more significant pieces like these should be utilized in a router table to provide you greater control. Some of the available cutters can only be used with a table-mounted router and will be unstable when used with a hand-held router.
- Constructing Raised Panel Doors
The parts needed to make a panel door can’t be constructed using a hand-held router, but they can be made with a router table. For the door to come together correctly, the stiles and coped ends of the rails for the door’s frame must be machined exceptionally precisely. This would be practically hard to achieve with a hand-held router. Raised panel router cutters with rather large cutter diameters are also required, but these are not necessary for hand-held routing.
What Can a Router Table Do?
Wood router tables are essential tools for the majority of woodworkers. Some of the benefits they enjoy include:
- Dado Cuts
A router table can make a perfect dado cut which is also referred to as a trench cut. It’s a flat-bottomed, square-sided recess used for the ends of shelves and drawer runners, and it runs either across or perpendicular to the grain of the wood you’re cutting.
- Designed Edges
A wood router table is ideal for adding your own personal touch to your lumber’s edges or perhaps designs you’ve always wanted to copy. They concentrate on the slightest nuances and complexities to create gorgeous and attractive edges.
- Rabbet Cuts
It is a two-sided, open-ended recess that most people refer to as a groove cut because of its form. This cut is usually parallel to the grain of the wood and goes across the edge of the timber you’re working on. This specific cut is most commonly used to join two shelves together.
Tips on Using a Router Table
- Avoid Removing too Much Material Per Pass
Router tables are pretty flexible, but they can’t remove a large amount of material in a single pass. Pushing the boundaries leads to kickback and poor cut quality. A safer alternative is to make many passes, change bit height or fence location, or remove the majority of the waste with another machine.
- Using a Solid Fence
Any movement in the fence of a router table will destroy a workpiece or bit at best and cause bodily injury at worst. Ensure that your fence is bombproof, meaning that even extreme pressure will not cause it to shift. When in doubt, add a clamp at either end of the fence.
- Use Featherboards
When routing profiles on lengthy pieces, a feather board not only provides a smooth and uniform profile but also keeps pressure near the bit, allowing you to keep your hands away from the cutter. A feather board also reduces the chance of kickback.
- Use Ear, Eye, and Lung Protection
Aside from the obvious safety considerations, wearing ear protection is especially helpful when working on a noisy router table since it helps you concentrate on the task at hand rather than being distracted by a noisy router engine.
- Ensure the Router Table Does Not Move During a Cut
When utilizing a router table, the workpiece is usually small to medium in size; but, when working with more significant workpieces, you may find yourself pressing more forcefully on the router table’s fence. The last thing you want at such a moment is for the router table to start moving. You can fasten it to anything immobile if it’s not heavy enough to remain in place.
Hopefully, our review helps you get the best router table. Among the router tables I have reviewed above, I highly recommend the KREG Precision Router Table System, Kreg# PRS1045 which is freestanding with adjustable leg stands. It’s also heavy, which ensures stability to prevent the router table from moving while cutting. Although it occupies a significant area in your workspace, it’s ideal for medium to large-sized projects