Wood routing allows you to create elaborate edges and designs in your wood. However, if the wood piece you’re working with is a certain size or shape, a router table might be handier than a handheld router (Source). The best router tables allow you to safely and securely route small to medium-sized pieces of wood with ease.
A router table consists of a router with a motorized spindle that protrudes through a table. When operational, the spindle can achieve 3000-24,000 RPM. Router tables often come with cutter heads known as router bits that can be affixed to the spindle based on the project. They also typically come with a fence that allows you to guide the wood piece through the spindle (Source).
A router table can be used with a fence to create straight lines, or without a fence to trace more elaborate designs. They are often used for a variety of woodworking projects like cabinetry, furniture and doors.
Whether you’re a professional carpenter or a woodworking hobbyist, a router table can offer you extra leverage and stability when routing a smaller workpiece. The work surface itself, as well as the router, are a great addition to any workshop.
Prior to purchasing a router table, you’ll need to consider its maximum RPM. You’ll also want to consider if the table is adjustable, as well as the size and weight capacity of the table. A dust collection system is another feature to consider.
Don’t start your next woodworking project without one of these top-rated router tables.
What is a Router Table?
Table of Contents
- 1 What is a Router Table?
- 2 What Does a Router Table Do?
- 3 Comparing The Best Router Tables
- 4 1. Bosch Benchtop Router Table RA1181 – Best Overall
- 5 2. KREG Precision Router Table System – Best Precision Table
- 6 3. Kreg PRS2100 Bench Top Router Table – Best Small Router Table
- 7 4. Skil RAS900 Router Table – Best on Budget
- 8 5. Router Table Craftsman – Best Semi Pro Router Table
- 9 How a Router Table Works
- 10 Features of the Best Router Tables
- 11 Most Common Issues People Have with Router Tables?
- 12 What You Need To Know Before Buying a Router Table
- 13 Should I Choose a Shaper or Router Table?
- 14 What is a Fixed Base Router?
- 15 Maintaining a Router Table – Quick Tips
Using a router for professional woodworking isn’t always an easy task. There are many instances where the user might need to use their router upside down or at angles which they simply cannot handle.
To counter issues such as these, many people prefer to use a router table while handling routing jobs. Router tables are designed to mount your router underneath the table, making it easy to do precise cuts at tough angles.
What Does a Router Table Do?
When using a router table, the user has much greater control as they guide the material against the fixed router bit, rather than trying to guide the somewhat cumbersome tool against the material.
Most router tables hold the tool vertically, but there are some tables that mount the router horizontally for specialty applications.
Comparing The Best Router Tables
|Bosch Benchtop Router Table RA1181|
|KREG Precision Router Table System|
|Kreg PRS2100 Bench Top Router Table|
|Skil RAS900 Router Table|
|Router Table Craftsman|
1. Bosch Benchtop Router Table RA1181 – Best Overall
As if its top woodworking features weren’t enough, it also offers a dust-collection system. This permits owners to easily clean up any wood residue after each use.
The surface of the router table is almost entirely made of aluminum, and offers great fence and throat opening measures. Most importantly though, the mounting plate that comes with this table is absolutely solid, giving owners the ability to create proper cuts and work their wood as good as possible.
Both the surface and the mounting plate make a great combination and allow professional work to be crafted from this table.
The router table’s features can be adjusted to suit any woodworker’s needs. As if it wasn’t enough, the product is extremely easy to use – you don’t need to be a professional to take full advantage of this table. It’s super intuitive and its features aren’t complicated at all.
2. KREG Precision Router Table System – Best Precision Table
KREG’s precision table offers a top-quality system which allows woodworkers to produce incredibly precise work. This is possible thanks to the product’s professional setup. The brand is known for such precise power tools, including their precision miter gauge, considered one of the greatest miter gauges on the market today.
The most important thing to note about this router table is that the product itself can indeed make a difference. To be more precise, you might be able to do a good job with a cheaper table, but it might turn out even better if you use a precision router table such as this one.
Although the router table is made for professional use, that doesn’t mean that amateurs aren’t welcome to buying this product. It’s very easy to use; setting everything up isn’t difficult by any means and work can get done very quickly by fully utilizing all of the features included with this router table.
The guides slide easily into the fence, assembling everything is pretty easy and every steel part feels heavy and well manufactured. This gadget can easily improve most woodworking setups. If you feel like spending good money on a product might improve your overall work, take a look at this table – you’re likely not going to regret it,
3. Kreg PRS2100 Bench Top Router Table – Best Small Router Table
This router table is smaller than your average gadget, but just as effective as other bigger products. You might need to own a router with height adjustment to get the best out of this product, though. If you already have one, the PRS2100 might be the ideal tool for you to improve your woodworking station.
This table can be assembled in less than an hour as well, which is a huge plus if the process of putting everything together is tedious for you. In any case, take your time when assembling it; if you finish doing it and the fences seem a bit off or the plate setup didn’t turn out as you expected, you might have missed a couple of steps.
Another good thing about the PRS2100 is that Kreg provides buyers with a video instruction manual which can guide you through the setup. All you need to do is follow along!
4. Skil RAS900 Router Table – Best on Budget
This foldable router table is in fact a very good option for those owners who don’t intend to give the product constant use. It can be easily stored away thanks to its folding mechanism and the table doesn’t take up much space.
You can actually see which routers work well with this table as the product includes a list with all of their names on it, which is definitely a cool feature. If you don’t want to buy a new router, make sure to check this list first before buying the table to make sure yours fits this table’s measures.
The product’s legs aren’t as sturdy, though. You might need to work around this issue by manually adding extra weight, otherwise the board might clamp to the top of the table.
5. Router Table Craftsman – Best Semi Pro Router Table
Although the parts aren’t of the lowest quality, most are held together using a variety of different screws. These screws can wear down very quickly, causing the product to deteriorate faster than it should. These issues can be fixed by manually adjusting each support, but be warned: it can be a bit tedious.
In any case, the router table does its job as intended. All you need to do is make sure that your router fits at the top, and you’re all set to start woodworking.
How a Router Table Works
A router table increases the versatility of a hand-held router by allowing the use of various accessories suited to specific cutting and shaping tasks which would not be practical or effective when using the router by hand.
A fence, or guide, exposes only a portion of the router bit to ensure a consistently accurate depth of cut. The material is then moved along the fence and the router bit removes material in the desired shape or depth along the length of the piece.
In place of a fence, a template can be attached to a piece of material, so that when guided against the router bit, the bit will remove enough material to make the workpiece identical in shape to the template.
Router tables also allow very small workpieces to be shaped with the aid of push tool accessories, as these pieces would be too small for a hand-held router.
Features of the Best Router Tables
Getting a nice router table is easy once you understand the many features and variables to consider. To help you get the best router table for your needs, we have compiled the features that we find on the premium models.
Large Enough Workspace
Perhaps the most important thing to look at right away while shopping for a router table is the size of the workspace. If you need more space for larger pieces of wood, you might consider getting a shaper table instead of a router table.
Strong Materials & Parts
If you get one of the best router tables on the market, part of how you can confirm this is by examining the materials and parts. If there are weak materials used, the stability and durability of the table as a whole will be impacted.
For best results, make sure that the router table you purchase uses strong materials like steel. This will help you ensure that the table lasts a long period of time.
Extra Accessories and Special Features
One of the great aspects we find with router tables is that different manufacturers and models can have their own benefits. Look for accessories like extra storage space, power outlets, miro adjust wheels, and so on. As you consider different models, determine what unique feature(s) stand out the most.
Works with Different Router Types
Remember that there are different types of routers. Plunge base routers, for example, operate differently than fixed-base routers. If you want your router table to be as versatile as possible, make sure that it supports many different types of routers.
At the very minimum, the router table you choose should support the type of router that you use.
Simple and Straightforward Setup Process
More than likely, when you get your new router table it will come in a box with all the parts and pieces that you need for home installation. For this reason, it’s a good idea to read up on the installation process for your top router table choices before deciding which one to purchase.
The more information provided to you by the manufacturer, the easier it will be for you to set up your new router table. Make sure that there are clear instructions, guides, or even videos to guide you through the home installation.
Most Common Issues People Have with Router Tables?
- Large Wood Pieces: Router tables are designed to help you easily continue a particular cutting pattern across multiple separate pieces of wood. However, the limits of the routing table can easily be breached if you try to cut large pieces of wood. For splitting a really huge chunk of wood, you might want to look for the greatest kinetic log splitter.
- Installation Process: Router tables usually come with all the parts and pieces stuffed into a box. In other words, you will likely need to put the table together by yourself. Certain models don’t come with clear instructions, which can turn the installation process a complete nightmare.
- Lots of Maintenance: The maintenance requirements of a router table can start to take a toll on your patience if you don’t understand the steps involved. As we explore in our “Maintaining a Router Table Section,” there are various steps which are necessary to keep your router table in tip-top shape for years to come.
What You Need To Know Before Buying a Router Table
As you can see, all of these router tables offer their owners an array of different benefits.
It’s up to you to decide which features you like the most, and if the price that you have to pay for them will be worth it for you. With these devices, price is often a good indicator of quality, but you can still find cheaper options that might be able to suit your needs.
In this list we’ve provided you both with cheap and expensive options. Now, we’ll guide you through a router table’s most important features so you can further improve your knowledge before making a final decision.
Overall Upper Table Quality
A router table has a lot of different features at the top. All of these features are basically responsible for determining just how good and effective the table is.
If the features of a product that you like are made from top quality material and if they’re well manufactured, you’re likely going to be happy with your purchase.
Some of these products tend to have a lot of issues with the quality of the fences (some are made of cheap plastic, which is far from ideal). A quality router table should also fit a wide variety of router models, and they should be able to perform as smoothly as possible.
If the quality of the materials used to manufacture one of these router tables isn’t good, you’ll be stuck with a product that will very likely break down in a matter of months. Top brands, such as Bosch and KREG, make their tables from very high-quality steel and plastics. This shouldn’t be overlooked when buying a new table.
Although the top of the table is the most important part of a product for a woodworker, the rest of the build should be sturdily made as well. This mostly applies to its supports; some brands tend to overlook the quality of the table legs, which causes the product to become unable to even hold a small amount of wood. This also applies to other saw support products, including best saw horses, so you have to watch out for that.
Some of these tables can get incredibly price and we know it. That’s why we’ve provided you with many different options for you to choose from.
If you’d like to purchase an expensive but everlasting table, you might want to take a look at the KREG Precision Router Table System. The Bosch Benchtop Router might be the best option for you if you’re looking for a mix of everything for a cheaper price.
Should I Choose a Shaper or Router Table?
A shaper table is very different from a router table. This being said, a shaper is designed to cut and shape large pieces or long pieces of wood. A shaper is best at maintaining the same cut for many pieces of wood.
Meanwhile, a router table is also designed to cut pieces and maintain the same cut for many pieces of wood. However, often these pieces are meant to be smaller in size than a shaper table.
This means that a shaper is ideal if you plan on cutting many, larger pieces of wood in the same shape, very quickly. However, if you plan on cutting smaller pieces, possibly not as fast, a router is ideal.
Before purchasing either table, take into consideration precisely what activities you will partake in the most.
What is a Fixed Base Router?
A fixed base router is another router table option. The second option is a top plunge base router. A fixed base router essentially forces the router bit to stay at a certain depth for the length of the project. Meanwhile, a plunge based router allows the bit to be lowered to the correct depth.
There are routers which come with both types of base. This is a good option for anyone unsure of what they will use their router table for. If you are unsure of the projects you are going to do, consider this option.
If you are mainly enjoying small, home projects, purchase a plunge based router. This router is a little easier to manipulate and also allows for mistakes to be fixed more easily.
Additionally, a plunge based router is best for design projects. If you are completing many design-oriented tasks, definitely consider the plunge based router. This router allows you to move the blade as you work, providing perfect detailing.
However, the fixed base router is best for larger projects or more consistent projects. While the fixed base router is trickier to use, it also allows you to work more quickly and efficiently. However, you must be confident in what you are doing when using this router option.
Maintaining a Router Table – Quick Tips
If you make a purchase like a router table, you also want to ensure that the router table will last you a significant amount of time. In order to do this, you must take some very specific steps in order to keep the table maintained and long-lasting.
First, every time you use a router table, remove the wood, power off the router, and then use a vacuum to remove all sawdust from the router table. This preserves the tabletop while also cleaning your work area for your next project. This is applicable to top-rated hybrid table saws too.
Next, clean, oil, and check the bit and router base plate for any damage. This will ensure that your bit and plate does not get clogged with sawdust and will let you know if the bit or base plate is wearing down. If either show signs of damage, immediately stop work and replace them.
Finally, remove the fence, clean each part, and then oil the parts as well. Allow them to dry and then replace these parts. This is an important step, as it controls the way the wood slides along your router table.
Use these steps to ensure that your table remains clean so that you can work safely. If you do not regularly clean and oil your table, it can be incredibly dangerous for you. If your router table becomes clogged in any way, your wood can easily get stuck. This can cause you to slip and injure your hand on the router bit.
Ready To Buy The Best Router Table For Your Needs?
If you’re a seasoned woodworker, you probably already knew which router table you were going to get before reading this part of our review.
If you weren’t, and you’re still unsure which table to get, just be sure to prioritize which features matter the most to you. Once you’ve done that, simply select a table based on those features.
Remember that purchasing a good router table might end up being one of the best investments of your professional life – particularly if you make a living out of woodworking.
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