Basic router questions

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18 Jan 2022
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I am starting to do more work with the router and am making my way through a "Woodworking with the Router" book by Bill Hylton. I've got a DeWalt palm router which is absolutely fine (and useful) but I've decided to purchase a table top router. I only do carpentry for myself, part of a large home renovation, so don't need anything high end. It will be mostly used for cutting grooves for shaker panel doors as well as adding detail to face frames etc. The below seems to be "good enough" but just wondering if I was to spend up to 500, what it make a huge difference and what would you recommend?

From what I've read, it seems best off going the 1/2 shank for a router table. What I am unclear about is in what scenario is a straight bit vs groove bit preferred, is it just depth? For shaker panels I've only made my first mock up this week but as I was doing it I realised I had no idea what is the right depth of groove in the rails/stiles to seat the panel?

Thanks in advance!
More money will get you nice things such as more sophisticated soft-start and speed control, better ergonomics (though that’s a personal thing; no Mafell tool that I own is friendly to my left-handedness), through-table height adjustment, and so on…
The below seems to be "good enough" but just wondering if I was to spend up to 500, what it make a huge difference and what would you recommend?
That sounds like a journey some of us have taken, good enough often falls short at some point and you wish you had something more capable. There are a load of threads about router tables on the forum and you will find that you need power, it allows you to make decent cuts without burning. Cutters are easy, Wealdons or Infinity but the rest is very budget dependant, your cheapest option would be to make the table / legs and buy a top and a fence along with a router plate which then brings you onto routers, if not wanting to spend a fortune then you can stick a Triton Tra001 into the table, I used one for years along with the above table winder until putting it into a Jessem prestige lift, again search these forums.

When looking at router plates bear in mind that you have two camps, the imperial sized ones like Kreg etc etc and then the metric ones from UJk, I would stick with imperial as you get a lot more options.

What I am unclear about is in what scenario is a straight bit vs groove bit preferred, is it just depth?

For groves I like these Groovers

They clear the waste much better than having your work face down on the table with the cutter coming up.
As Spectric describes, there are items such as the legs or base of a router table that are easy and cheap to make, in a way that is tailored to your needs, allowing you to spend more elsewhere, such as tooling.

Secondhand is often a good option, but of course, if you have a list of jobs awaiting this equipment, you may need to be flexible.

I’d look for a big Makita, secondhand; in terms of (big) routers, it’s a brand that’s often overlooked, but they are very good!
Thanks both. I rarely do the "buy cheap" option, in fact with tools I did that with a plunge saw and ended up paying up for a decent one within 12 months so definitely get the merit of getting something that does the job.

However with a full DIY renovation, my tool arsenal is rather substantial and there comes a point where I need to perhaps not look at it as buying cheap but buying something that will do everything I need to do to finish the house rather than one that enables me to do wonderful things not currently on the horizon. In the grand scheme of woodworking and tools, £200 Vs £500 isn't a giant leap but only seems to be worth it from a quality perspective if it's a self build table. with the time constraints I'm currently under, I need an out the box solution which seems to edge closer to the £1000 mark.

I think as you suggest I'll scan the second hand listings but with a need for this by the end of next week I need to try and find something that is good to go on delivery etc
I have the Fox version of that Excel table, the things I have noticed are that there are only two insert rings, so some cutters are 'floating in mid air', and any adjustments tend to be fiddly, measure 12 times and cut once.
It's a step up from the piece of MDF with a router screwed to it that I used to use, but it would get frustrating on a large project with repetitive pieces as I wouldn't trust it to hold settings that long
£185 is not a lot of money for what you get, looks the same as the Lumberjack one, here's a vid of real life use, up to you to work out if it's going to do what you want it to do, if it lasts 12 months and you get work done it's a bargain

LOL, it does indeed, but I bet you would have loved one, all them decades back when you first started
It's definitely taken a few design tips from Fisher Price but I suspect very intentional, for the amateur/DIYer the router table seems to come with a bit of trepidation so I do understand trying to make it look more welcoming (plus the ABS plastic will certainly keep the costs down). Thank you for the video link, just finished watching all of it and I think confirms my suspicions... it will actually be good enough for what I am currently trying to achieve but if I do buy it AND do continue with woodworking beyond this renovation, then I have to accept a replacement would be on the cards but as you say, at 185 quid I shouldn't lose much sleep.

What I don't want to do is buy a middle-ground option and have regrets, would rather save up for the proper stuff and know exactly what I need. I've had a look around FB marketplace, ebay and classifieds on here and there are a handful of interesting options, but I've been ruling them out as not right for different reasons (product, condition, location, price and so forth). There's one on here (For Sale - Pro router table for sale) that looks a great bit of kit but I'm on fence due to needing to take a day out to collect plus if I'm going above the "throwaway" budget I think I'm fine with the table etc being used but would want to purchase the router new (like the Trend T14 or Triton TRA001 as mentioned above).

This (Router, Kreg table fence and table top | eBay) also looked quite good but again, ruled it out as the router doesn't have above table adjustment and after an 500 mile round trip diesel prices these days makes the total price a lot less appealing.

Blurghh. I'll keep browsing but think from the above suggestions coupled with my own OCD (about wanting the router to be new), it feels more like a £185 vs £1000 decision than £185 vs £500.

Thanks all for your advice, given me a lot more points for consideration.
Until you experience a £185 one for 6 months you will never know what to look for in a £1000 one, bit like buying a Ferrari before you pass your test then finding out you cant get your shopping in it
It actually reminds me of one of those kids play builder things.
I've had one of these for the past 4½ years and it has been an absolute boon. I don't think I've ever spent a better £158. (that was the cost in 2018)

I had one small issue with it simply not starting which (after a call to LumberJack) turned out to be a motor brush being stuck, a 10 minute job to sort out.

Of course I would prefer to have a more precise Tee-slot but I use it with an Axminster Clamping Cutting Guide which allows me all the flexability that I need.
It looks like it will do everything badly and nothing well. The table is way too small for projects needing a 1/2 " router and the cross cut miter fence is positively dangerous. For making cabinet doors most people will graduate to a profile and style cutter and that needs a proper crosscut sled riding in a channel or on the fence if you have an upmarket product. I would look at some of the better tables and dedicate your first purchase to a 1/4 " router with a 1400 W motor or so and invest in a bigger 1/2" unit down the line if you are still interested in cabinetmaking.

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