Updated: October 5, 2015
Router Table Reviews:Few things convey both beauty and strength at the same time as well as superbly-crafted woodwork. Whether a table or molding, if woodwork is well-done, it will last more than a lifetime. To get the quality and durability that you want, you need the best tools. A router is one of the most useful for precision work; in fact, author Jeremy Broun, in his book, "The Incredible Router," called it the most versatile tool in the world. But it can also be one of the more dangerous if you are not alert and careful. A router table will make using your router not only easier, but also exponentially safer. As with anything, there is an incredible variety of router tables on the market. Which will be the best and most effective for you? Which will help you make those pieces that will last through lifetimes? This guide will discuss some of the top router tables to help you decide.
What to Look for in a Router Table? - Because a router table will be helping keep you safe, it is essential that you get the best quality that you can. That, and you want your finished products to look as good as they can. To do both, you'll need a rigid, flat table top. If your table is either uneven or has even minor irregularities, precision goes out the window. The table needs to be able to remain flat and rigid even when you are exerting downward pressure on it. What material should your router table top be constructed of? That depends on your usage. Though it's not the most popular or commercial choice, cast iron is arguably the best material. It is flat, stable, durable, and can withstand vibration from the router. If you've ever handled a cast iron pan, for instance, you'll know that it is also very heavy so your tool will stay in place, making your cuts more precise and safe. The flipside is that cast iron router tables are more expensive. This is really only worth consideration if you do a great deal of woodworking and/or need a router table for your job. More common are router tables made of MDF (medium-density fiberboard) or solid phenolic. As long as these are of high quality and are thick enough to withstand heavy vibration, these will be great choices for your shop. If you need an MDF table for more serious use, try one that is covered on both sides by HPL (high pressure laminate). This will help keep the table flat and stable over the years. If you are going to be using your router table less frequently and for less intensive jobs, make sure that your MDF table is at least an inch thick. Solid phenolic is another good, strong, durable choice. It is moisture-proof, resistant to extremely high impact, and able to retain its shape and stability over years of use. If your router table is going to receive heavy use, solid phenolic is an excellent choice. It is also lighter and more portable than cast iron. Now let's get into specifics and see which router tables will meet your needs. Router Table Reviews - We found some excellent reviews for router tables online. The most comprehensive was that done by Workbench Magazine. Although the review is not the most current, it gave crucial requirements on "how to buy the right router table" such as top, fence, baseplate, and benchtop vs floor model. They looked at top brands like Veritas, Rockler, Porter Cable, Jesada, Bench Dog, and Craftsman. Thisoldworkshop.com and Routertabledepot.com also offer up individual product reviews worth viewing. The Routermaniac.com has good tool comparisons including router tables. You can browse the best selling router tables online here,
Best Router Tables:Whether you need a lightweight, portable router table or you need a table that won't break your budget, look to Bench Dog. This company makes a line of stellar, and relatively inexpensive, router tables. Among their best is the Bench Dog 40-001 ProTop Contractor Benchtop Router Table, which has earned Popular Woodworking's seal of approval, 2002 American Woodworker Editor's Choice, Workbench Award of Quality Top Value and Editor's Choice. It also earns high marks from Amazon reviewers, one of whom said he should have bought this router table years ago. The 40-001 offers a 16- x 22-inch table top constructed of durable phenolic and covered in laminate for extra rigidity and stability. It includes miter track, fence, top, cabinet, and a router insert plate with pre-drilled holes. The fence is made of precision machined aluminum and features sub-fences that are easily adjustable. The fence converts to a vertical jointer. This Bench Dog router table is compatible with all routers and Bench Dog ProLift and all Bench Dog accessories. This is a versatile router table that will provide years of good, and on-the-go, use. The 40-001 lists for $300, but you can find it for $255 on Amazon. You can check out other Bench Dog tables and accessories here.
When searching for power tools or appliances, it is inevitable that you will run into the name Bosch. It's inescapable: and that's good because they offer some of the best router tables on the market. Another great bench top router table is the Bosch RA1181. NewWoodWorker.com says it is very "capable, well-built, and nicely sized," and its price allows you to work within a smaller budget. NewWoodWorker also mentioned that this router table is very close in size to a non-portable router table and will give you ample room to work. The RA1181, which you can see in this YouTube video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=22HM-k9Yha4), will attach to any workbench. The 27- x 18-inch table top is made of cast aluminum, and the router table includes two adjustable feather-boards, dust collection port, power cord measuring six feet, aluminum fence with MDF face plates, aluminum router mounting plate, outlet switch, starter pin and guard, out-feed fence shims, and three insert rings. This Bosch router table also carries a one-year warranty and will cost you just over $200. This is a great deal and a great addition to your workshop. Bosch also makes several stationary router tables. For a stationary router table, try the Complete Router Table with Rout-R-Lift FX and Steel Stand from JessEm. JessEm also makes a line of router table stands and tops so you can assemble what you want or replace only what you need. This Complete Router Table includes the Rout-R-Plate, phenolic router table top, Mast-R-Fence, and steel router table stand. It is easy to assemble and will provide an excellent, stable work place. You can find it for about $600 from online vendors like Woodcraft.com.
RECOMMENDED - After looking at dozens of options, the Kreg PRS1040 Precision Router Table System is our pick for the 'best router table' on the market. Owners agree that the table is accurate and well built. Most say the single piece fence is good, but some also recommend that you purchase the micro-adjuster for the fence. Avid woodworkers will find this table offers smooth operation and it's easy to assemble. Check out the Youtube video of the Kreg PRS1040 down below: