Router and Router Table advice

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24 Jan 2021
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I am looking for advice about buying a router and table to do some simple template routing, I don’t really know anything about routing although I am researching on the internet, it’s not something I ever thought I’d need to know about. I did look at spindle moulders but sadly my workshop isn’t big enough to accommodate one. Really I need something with either a small footprint or that can be packed away easily after use.

I realise this question has been asked before but my use for a router and table are quite specific and I'm not envisaging expanding my use of the tool unless for an unforeseen or unexpected diy job.

I’m looking at making sides/cheeks for bellows that will be used for musical instruments. I’ll be using woods like Tulip, Walnut, Maple, Sycamore and various other suitable woods, some may be harder woods.

The sides are about 14mm thick, 170mm wide and 270mm long. My initial thoughts are to cut the initial blanks to approx size and then finish with the router.

I’d only be making 2-5 pairs of sides per week max at the moment though that may change in the future.

I’m considering either the TREND T8EK with either the CRT or WRT router table. I could possibly stretch financially to a T14EK but would the T14 be overkill.

Not set on the Trend packages but they seem a reasonable price and within my price range.

I know something could be made easily but time to do so is a factor.

Space is at a premium so the CRT table appeals though I’m aware I’ll probably find other things to do with the router.

Many Thanks
If it's just templating you're doing I wouldn't think you need anything fancy. Not even a fence. Just a surface big enough for the job and some dust extraction.

You can get routers specific to fitting under a table. They have switches that don't need holding. Though you can use a normal (hand held) router with a cable tie and extension (preferably with an NVR switch)

Making a table I doubt would take much time. It's just a board with a hole in and some sturdy legs. - It's the fence that requires accuracy and finesse to make and fit
Making a table I doubt would take much time. It's just a board with a hole in and some sturdy legs. - It's the fence that requires accuracy and finesse to make and fit
I made a 'router table' from a big sheet of 6mm aluminium with some channel on both edges to keep it straight. Simple hole in the middle and bolt the router(Elu 177E) on.
No need for legs, the channel is clamped down to the front of the workbench with the router overhanging. The front is supported by the front jaw bench vice at full opening (Record 52) and clamped on.
Not pretty or techy, but works really well. When not in use it's easy to store in a corner of the workshop.
A length of 50mm right angle channel pivoted at one end also makes a usable fence too.

Not a solution for day to day production use, but does fine for my occasional requirements.
As the others have said, fundamentally a router table is nothing more than a sheet with a hole in it, which you could clamp to a workmate or equivalent, it doesn't need to be any more complicated than that really unless you want it to be.

I have a very small workshop so made a compact table (photos attached) to house my dewalt trim router and it has turned out to be one of the most useful things I have in my workshop. When folded up it measures about W35cm x D25cm x H30cm, so really doesn't take up much room at all. It was a bit of a project to make but enjoyable. I think you could knock up a much less 'pretty' version rather quickly in half a day or less.

If you are only making trim and things then you won't have a need for anything larger. I later found myself wanting a 1/2" table but I am very space limited so I just made the top for it (photos attached) and mount it on saw-horses for use. It is very simple in construction just an 18mm sheet of ply with the router plate and some T-Track set into it and some bracing underneath. The advantage of making just the table is that for storage it can lie flat against the wall, although ovbiously the downside is it takes 15 minutes or so to set the thing up and attach the router etc etc which is a bit of a nuisance.

If you are planning to use it on 2-5 occasions per week as you mention, then it is probably worth sourcing or making something decent and substantial rather than flimsy. With my workshop size constraints I don't like the systems like the Trend CraftPro Table (this) which have no built in storage as the whole 3d space is consumed by the table and legs, however if you have more room then that might be most convenien for you.


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I'd say a spindlemoulder is overkill for your work so don't stress that.

What I dislike about my router table (a Triton multipurpose table thing) is that the insert plate is not completely flush (<1mm) with the table top but when the work piece passes over this it causes a step in the finished piece.

The insert plates can also be expensive as they enable different sized bits to be used and the router to be adjusted through the plate etc.

As you have a very specific repetitive task then you can design the table for that job, to make it efficient and accurate with out other bells and whistles. As MarkAW said a stiff flat board with a hole for a top bearing mounted router bit and the router mounted below. Ideally a guard with dust extraction for the bit.

Instead of a router table, Google "overarm pin router".
These are much used by musical instrument makers and can be a large traditional machine or a handheld router supported the correct way up, just above a table.
They are used for template routing and I think would be ideal for your application.

Advantages in your application :
The table becomes a simple flat with a smooth surface. No need for cutouts and a router plate.
The router is used the right way up so you don't have to worry about hanging it upside down with only 1 leg clamped.
The cutter is between the router baseplate and the table, much less exposed than sticking up out of a table so you're less likely to lose fingers.
The overarm support for the router is easily made. As simple as two lengths of heavy aluminium angle making a wide "sled" that the router can be fixed to and secured at each end on blocks so that there is just room to slide the 14mm workpiece and say a 6mm template between that and the table.
Thanks everyone for the advice, and I think I will make something myself as suggested.

I dug out an old Bosch POF50 that had been languishing in drawer, it didn't work but does now - still needs a bit of tic but will be good enough to experiment with.

Keep any ideas and suggestions coming, it helps give me an idea of possibilities.

Many Thanks
There's quite a few different designs about on a quick google search. My 'compact box' version is based on one I saw on the 'woodsmith' website. The simplest thing to do would be to find some plans online, there are loads around, a couple of options below:

Some things to think about if you are planning to make something for long-term use rather than just a rough and ready quick fix:

  • If you are using a router not designed for above-table adjustment (the overwhelming majority of routers), then have a think about how you will adjust it from below the table and how you will change the cutter. Usually the simplest way is to keep the underside open so you have easy physical access to the router to make the adjustments. I am not familiar with the POF50 - I use a dewalt trim router in my 1/4" table which adjusts via a twisting collar, and therefore is easy to make adjustments from any angle. On my 1/2" I use the Triton TRA001 which is more fussy about what side you access it from, and so it makes sense to mount it in a certain orientation so you can get to the switch and adjustment knobs easily (although actually the TRA001 is one of the few routers made specifically with above table adjustment in mind and includes an above table mechanism for both changing the cutter and height adjustment, however it is still best to make the initial larger height adjustment using the main knobs under the table, and then the final adjustments with the 'above table' mechanism). There are a few forum members here using TRA001 routers in their tables and it makes a really good choice for this purpose at a reasonable price.

  • Have a think about how you will keep the top flat (if it is going to be something you will be using for a while rather than just a quick temporary thing). The simplest way is to use two laminated pieces of birch ply, but there are plenty of alternative ways.

  • I would reccomend mounting some T-track in the top in case you decide you want a posher fence than just a bit of wood clamped to the top. Of course this can be done later but it is easier if you've already put the T-track in there. It can be bought on amazon very cheaply and you don't need a lot.

  • I didn't feel the need to add a mitre gauge slot in either of mine when I made them, but when I was doing a bit of tenoning work for rail and stile doors I wish I did have a mitre slot. If I were to re-build them then I would add this.

  • I did spend a bit of time designing the fence to have a micro-adjust feature which actually has come in incredibly handy for dialling things in when accuracy really matters. I did this firstly on the smaller 1/4" table and it was so useful that when I came to make the larger one for the 1/2" table top I used the same design principle. It is based loosely on this and you can see the principle in the images I have attached showing my versions. Basically you have a bottom plate which tightens down onto the T-track, and then a floating top plate which pivots on a bolt at one end, then you dial it forwards and backwards until you are happy before clamping it in place with another knob. Although it is a bit more work I would highly reccomend this type of construction.


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