One of the most useful items you can add to your shop or garage for woodworking is a router table. As you may know, a router table is a specialized tool with a spindle and machine that allows the user to mold a profile into a piece of wood quickly and easily. The best router tables will allow both of your hands to be free. This gives you much more control during the cutting process since you can adjust the wood as needed and don’t have to keep a single hand steady on the wood, which can be dangerous. This also means it is a lot easier to perform certain advanced tasks, such as creating an edge profile or installing some grooves.
Because a router table is one of the most popular pieces of specialized woodworking equipment, there are naturally tons of options currently on the market. Each one has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to do a little research before investing your money in any one of them. Here’s how you can find the best option for your woodworking needs today.
Best Router Table Reviews
This precision routing system will provide users with a fully enclosed aluminum fence that provides a superior level of precision. Dust is also minimized with this table’s design, meaning less coughing and fewer safety worries for you. The MDF top isn’t the best in the world, but it does absorb vibration very well, which improves the accuracy of each cutting pass. Individual fence faces can also work as a vertical jointer if preferred by the user. It’s strong, sturdy, and gets the job done – that’s why it earns our recommendation.
If you’re looking to step up your routing skills, then this is the complete table system that will help to make it happen. It fits most cylinder router motors and supports your working piece with a phenolic table and an aluminum extruded miter track and T-track. The fence is also aluminum and features fully adjustable fence faces. The stand is made from steel and has upper and lower stretchers, offering strength that is virtually beyond compare in this category. The stability of this router table is also unmatched, especially because the steel stand helps absorb pressure and creates a flat cutting surface. The only downside is it tends to be pricier than many other models currently on the market. Once you try this model, you’ll never want to go back to an entry-level model ever again.
3. Kreg PRS2100
This benchtop router provides you the precision of a full router table, as well as the flexibility of being able to mount it to your bench. It has a full-size router insert plate with precision levelers so you don’t have to worry about making an inferior cut. The table, made from MDF, is 16×24 in. and has an easy-slide surface that contributes to the quality of your work. The fence features adjustable faces, allowing for vertical jointing. New cam clamps are also included, as is a dust collection system, and it’s a recipe for woodworking success. When you purchase the KREG PRS2100, you are getting the best of many worlds since you have stability, affordability, and portability through the product’s design, size, and reliable materials.
This work table, which features a routing system in addition to multiple other uses, is a great entry-level option for those who haven’t tried using a router before. The working surface holds up to 1,000 pounds, so it can handle your working piece with relative ease. It’s also lightweight and folds down to just 4.4 inches, so you can even toss it into the trunk of your commuter car if you wish. It’s not a traditional routing table, however, so keep that in mind before finalizing your purchase to make sure it meets your needs. Instead, it’s designed to be a sort of jack of all trades workbench, with several beneficial aspects but also no usable fence.
This precision system effectively meets a woodworker’s needs for a surprisingly fair price. It’s a high performance system that offers a self-squaring table fence. This allows for each pass to be extremely accurate, even if you are focused on extreme precision. The stand, made from steel, is heavy duty and performs well even under the toughest pressure. The ability to withstand pressure is especially important for amateur and professional woodworkers alike since it means the KREG PRS 1045 will maintain an even cutting surface and won’t warp from the weight of wood. We especially appreciated the precision insert-plate system, which boosts the final quality of each task you complete. We loved it and think you will too.
The assembly of this model is remarkably simple. The instructions are thorough and everything lined up as it should. We did find it necessary to avoid tightening the fasteners all of the way until most of the assembly work was done since some of the pieces need to be adjusted and reset occasionally during construction and installation. The mounting plate was also quite easy to level out. The dust port can be somewhat difficult to work with because it can interfere with the guard adjustment. It should be noted that there are two different configurations that are available to the user. One does interfere with the guard adjustment, but the other does not. This seems to be a side effect of the simple construction, which prioritizes cost-cutting measures over efficiency. However, the low price of the Bosch Cabinet is important for individuals who want to save some money when buying a router table.
The Skil router table is a simple and efficient model designed to be used by amateurs or professionals who are trying to save some money. This design also includes a quick-release router mount. Switching between bits is a fast and simple process, since you can attach or detach the router in literally seconds. We found the table to be quite functional, especially at this price point. The fence guard is clearly the key feature, but there are various measuring devices included that allow you to get to work pretty quickly. The cuts are accurate, but your router does need to have a height adjustment feature to maximize the use of this table. If it doesn’t, this router table might not work well for you. Pair this router table with a beginner bandsaw.
8. Bench Dog
One of the best things about this particular model is that the dual fence design is actually useful. You can flip the fence around so that the table can accept larger panels without having to completely disassemble the router table. Twin steel rails support the router for added strength at the same time, giving you a consistent surface with the laminate flattop that will let keep each piece in place when you track and cut with precision. This table also supports a full range of router applications. There are slots to help you craft a precision joint. You can be cutting dadoes with relative ease. With the T-slots on the table, you can also mount your featherboards, risers, switches, or stops without much difficulty. For all of these reasons, the Bench Dog is a reliable if semi-expensive table router for the average individual.
We appreciated the fact that the router in this combo kit has been permanently lubricated with sealed ball bearings. Although the router is somewhat underpowered compared to other models that are available right now, the construction of the tool makes it possible for it to provide several years of cutting power when used for light-to-medium tasks. The fence of the table also adjusts so that you have the proper but clearance. Both the infeed and the outfeed are able to extend for up to 2 inches to support your working piece. The jointing fence also offsets by up to 9/16 of an inch. Although individuals who just need a router table might not be interested in this combo kit, those who are just getting into the field of woodworking might appreciate not only having a table, but also a router that is guaranteed to work well with it. For this reason, we recommend the Craftsman router table to amateurs and beginners.
10. Bosch Benchtop
All of the essentials that you need from this table come with it. There’s even a 15-amp dual outlet switch with overload protection and a lockout key. You receive the start pin and guard, giving you the opportunity for routing work on curved working pieces. It also features a dust collection port that fits a standard 2.5-inch hose so you can use one of the best shop vacs to keep your working space clean. One of the best features of this router table is that it has an aluminum fence with MDF face plates and an aluminum router mounting plate. Aluminum is a good choice because it is strong but flexible and difficult to break.
Our Favorite Router Tables
A router table gives you specific advantages over a handheld router. You can make specific joinery cuts on the rails and stiles, cut raised panels, or even start routing your narrow stock. A router table also cuts quickly and more easily and leaves your hands free for minute adjustments, something not as easily done when one hand must be firmly wrapped around a router at all times. The chart below offers the opportunity to review the top-rated router tables that are available right now.
|Working Surface (Sq. Inches)
|Kreg PRS 1045
What Is the Most Important Feature of the Best Router Tables?
If you’re looking for the best router table today, then you’re looking for a table surface that is as flat and rigid as possible. Using a router often means creating cuts with extreme precision. If the table surface is not flat and rigid, then you can create an uneven joint, a poor edge profile, and encounter numerous other issues with your project. While many manufacturers claim their router tables are as flat as possible, you can’t take such claims at face value. Some research and trial and error is always necessary to find the best area for woodworking.
There are several additional reasons why having a rigid table surface is important and can affect your regular woodworking.
One of the most important reasons is that a rigid table surface resists downward pressure. When you’re making a cut, you’re doing so by placing downward pressure on the table. Added rigidity on the table’s surface will counter this pressure so that you receive a cut that is more accurate. Your table should not shift when you place your working piece on top of it or if you’re adding pressure during a pass. Such shifts naturally lead to mistakes, which can destroy any work you’ve done with your piece of wood.
Another detail of importance for having a rigid table surface for a router table is that it must support the weight of the tool. Extra rigidity on the table’s surface will enable it to be able to support the full weight of the tool and the materials needed to complete your woodworking project. The last thing you need to have happen is the table’s surface bending underneath the weight of your router before you proceed through a pass. If you need something more portable then try a corded angle grinder.
A rigid table surface also limits surface irregularities. Even a minor irregularity on the table’s surface has the potential to interfere with your woodworking project. Added rigidity will allow this to occur without any deflection, but it will not completely eliminate it if the table has not been manufactured correctly. This is why it’s important to do some research before a purchase and completely investigate the options available to you.
To keep costs down, many models today have been created with an MDF surface. MDF stands for medium density fiberboard and refers to an engineered wood product. Instead of being composed of a single type of wood, most MDF is a combination of hardwood and softwood fibers that have been pressed together using wax and a resin binder. It is better than particleboard and often performs better than solid wood thanks to its combination of resin and wood fibers. It is a practical choice, but one that is typically designed for medium-duty woodworking at best. The MDF simply cannot handle heavy duty woodworking and is likely to rupture or crack under too much pressure.
The best router tables that remain affordable will add a high-pressure laminate to the MDF table surface. Although there may be additional materials that are available at a higher cost, it is difficult to find a better value on the modern router table. It is vitally important, however, that the MDF table is completely level. You will need to check on this before you begin the setup process after purchase.Whether or not the surface is even is easy to check with the standard level tool, bought from any hardware store. Just make sure you place the table on a flat surface before checking.
If your plans entail heavy duty work, then a better option for you is a phenolic resin table. A phenol formaldehyde resins (PF) or phenolic resins is a polymer that resembles modern synthetic plastics and is made using formaldehyde. You might recognize this material as one of the most common synthetics used in pool tables and laboratory countertops. Phenolics are tough, naturally rigid, and won’t be impacted by changes in temperature or humidity like MDF or wooden tables tend to be. They maintain their flatness while remaining lightweight, but come with an added cost, so the beginner craftsman or woman benefits more from the laminated MDF surface.
In general, a table router that uses a phenolic resin instead of MDF tends to be more expensive but also more durable. Whether or not you want to and are willing to invest a little extra money to get the phenolic resin largely depends on how much woodworking you plan on doing. If you are someone who only does it occasionally as a hobby, then you should be fine with MDF. If you do a lot of heavy duty woodworking on an almost daily basis, then take the extra step and spring for the phenolic resin. Your pieces and wallet will thank you later.
How to Find the Best Router Table for Me
Most designs have the router attached to a base plate. This plate will then fit into an opening on the table itself. Without a high quality base plate, it becomes much more difficult to complete your woodworking tasks. This is because the plate must be able to remain flat at all times while still supporting the entire weight of the router.
The best router tables tend to have a base plate made from machined aluminum. A solid phenolic plate is another good option to consider. And it is necessary to make sure that your base plate is compatible with the router you currently own. The one-size-fits-all base plates with pre-drilled holes don’t actually fit every router, which can be a problem when you attempt to fit your router… and it doesn’t fit. In general, we advise against buying these one-size-fits-all options since there is usually a better alternative on the market.
Once you’ve found the right base plate, here are the other options you’ll want to look at when taking a look at the best router table reviews.
- T-Slots and Miter Gauges. Most of the work that your router table is going to perform is a form of guidance. You’ll be moving your stock past the cutter with firm pressure on the table’s fence. You’ll also need to be cutting a dado across a narrow piece of stock, so having a high quality miter slot is essential for more advanced router work. T-Slots can help you secure other table attachments, such as a featherboard, for additional woodworking options.
- The fence on your router table will help you be able to control the cut. You can make your own fence by clamping a piece of lumber to your table, but the best fences tend to be the “split fence.” Split fences offer two sections that are independently adjustable from one another. If you don’t want to make your own fence, it’s a good idea to invest in a router table that already has one.
- To get a nice cut from a router, you need to have a table that is nice and sturdy. Look for stability with a base, look for steel stands with locking casters as your best option. This way you can still have a somewhat portable unit while getting the stable cutting surface that is needed.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A ROUTER TABLE AND A SPINDLE MOULDER?
If you have any experience with woodworking, you might have heard the great debate between a router table and a spindle moulder. Both devices are pieces of hardworking equipment designed to shape and mold individual pieces of wood to create intricate designs and control cuts. However, there are a couple of differences between the devices that you need to know about.
A router table tends to be smaller and more versatile than the spindle moulder, which only recently started to leave professional workshops a few years ago. Router tables are lighter, easier for the average individual to navigate, and allows for finer cuts in wood. A spindle moulder, on the other hand, is heavy and difficult to use but works exceptionally well when trying to cut through large chunks of material.
In general, you’re going to want to invest in a router table because it will be easier for the average individual to use. A router table is also less expensive than a spindle moulder but will have significantly less power. However, you most likely don’t need and won’t be able to use the sheer voltage of a spindle moulder, so this shouldn’t be a problem.
What will it cost me to buy the Best Router Tables?
Router tables are a bit of an investment for many who are first getting started with woodworking. A professional quality model can be several thousand dollars and that doesn’t include any of the additional accessories you may want to have. Most people do not need to start with a model of professional quality, though. Instead, they can begin their woodworking career with an entry level model.
Entry level models tend to be priced between $300-$750. You can also find a couple of table routers that cost less than $200, although these models tend to be smaller and more malleable than their more expensive cousins. These tables are usually foldable, portable, and have a reasonable level off stability. You’ll have access to several different accessories at this point, but you may be given 1-2 options instead of 3-5 as with premium units. While these options are less expensive, you will be trading general stability for affordability. Keep this in mind if you know that you will be using your woodworking table often.
The bottom line is: if you plan to generate hobby money from your woodworking efforts or have contracts to fulfill, plan on spending around $1,000 minimum for your router table. If you’re looking to build up your skills, then the entry-level models can meet your needs.
After some careful consideration and doing a significant amount of research, we think we’ve found the greatest product for the average woodworker. If you’re searching for the best router table, you need look no further than the KREG PRS2100, a versatile yet affordable model.
ARE SOME MANUFACTURERS BETTER THAN OTHERS?
One thing you’re going to notice when you shop for a table router is that a lot of products are made by the same manufacturers. While there are some advantages to purchasing from a brand name company, there are also quite a few disadvantages. The names you are probably going to see often while searching are hardware manufacturers like Bosch, Skil, Kreg, and Craftsman.
When you purchase from a brand name, you are getting a product that has been tested numerous times and has been approved for sale in the United States and similar countries. Many of these businesses are housed in North America and Europe, where there are strict standards in place for the creation of hardware and power tools. This means you can rest assured that the tool you are buying from an online retailer or hardware store will work and have some safety in place. However, you also have to realize that a well-known name like Bosch and Kreg doesn’t necessarily make the best tools. In many cases, products in their table router lines will be average, or something designed to please as many people as possible without needing to invest extra money in design.
So, be sure to do your research before automatically springing for something brand name. If you are a novice or amateur to table routing, it can be tempting to just buy something you hear about from friends and see online all the time. However, you shouldn’t invest in a tool just because it has the Skil or Craftsman label.
Luckily for you, we did a lot of the preliminary research for you during the composition of this buying guide, and made sure you wouldn’t end up with a shoddy, secondhand product. Read on to find out which brand names truly live up to their standards and which should be avoided because of low quality.
The Bosch Cabinet Style Router Table RA1171 is a cabinet style router designed to be easy to use and to create precise cuts when working with wood of all types. This particular model has two dust collection ports, an aluminum fence measuring 4-7/8 in. x 25-1/8 in. to handle large pieces of wood, and a 6 ft. power cord. The dust collection ports connect to a 2.5 in. hose and can be cleaned easily. This has a rigid aluminum router and functions well with router bits up to 3.5 in. in diameter. The mounting plate is also exceptionally rigid and includes adjustable featherboards. We recommend the Bosch Cabinet Style Router Table RA1171 to individuals who want the convenience of a cabinet style router, the ease of dust ports, and who are willing to spend between $180 and $200.
These best router table reviews will help you to discover the inner craftsman that lives inside of you right now. Each of the router tables on this list has been carefully analyzed and vetted to find the best ones for every woodworker, whether they be a novice or someone with decades of experience in the industry. Embrace your creativity, join Woodwork Nation, and you will enjoy creating more sawdust every single day.