The fence on a router table is a vertical structure that you press the workpiece against in order to control the cut. Fences need to be adjustable so you can work with a variety of workpiece sizes and shapes, but also sturdy, so you can keep the pieces straight. Fences usually include cam clamps that you can unclamp to make adjustments on the fence, and then clamp in place to secure the fence back in place. There are two kinds of fence designs: one-piece and split-fence. One-piece fences consist of one solid piece of metal (like aluminum) that is built across the table. Split-fences are made with pieces that move independently from each other, so you can work with smaller pieces. One-piece fences are more secure than splits, because you have to be sure that the two parts of the split-fence are aligned when you are using the whole fence. A benefit of a split-fence is that you save on space and can work with smaller wood pieces. A durable fence will be made of durable metal like aluminum.
Router table bit
Router bits emerge from the fence, and are what actually cuts the wood. There are a variety of bits out there, but not all work with router tables. There are three types of bits designed exclusively for router tables: lock miters, drawer locks, and finger joints. Lock miter bits are intended for making joints between two workpieces at a 90-degree angle. Drawer lock bits are for drawer box joints, and are more effective and easier than dovetail joints. Finger joint bits make edge and end grain joints. Router tables will typically include a bit guard, which protects your fingers from coming into contact with the bit.
Using a router table and router to work with wood generates a lot of dust. Router tables include dust collection ports, where the dust collects as you work. They look like a slice of a pipe, or vacuum hose. You can come back later and use a standard 2.5-inch vacuum hose to vacuum up the dust from the port. Most router tables include two ports along the fence and/or below the table. The size of the dust port depends on the size of the table; it is assumed that bigger projects will create more dust. You can also get ball joint fittings specifically for the hose-port connection, so the hose doesn’t kink up.
Feather boards are sections of the table that apply pressure to the workpiece so it stays flat against the fence. They are boards with a series of stopped cuts on one end, so the cuts resemble “feathers.” Feather boards move with you as you move the workpiece. Most are are adjustable so you can work with a variety of wood piece sizes and shapes. Featherboards themselves come in different sizes, and can be used for edge jointing and moulding. They also prevent your fingers from slipping in the router bit as you work.
Router mounting plate
Router table plates are where you mount the router tool. They resemble plates with a circular cut in the middle, where the bit comes up into the table. Insert plate construction is very important, because it needs to support a power tool and stay secure as well as durable. Cast-iron or phenolic are good materials for router plates, since they strong and decrease vibrations so your cuts are more exact. They have holes where you fit the router bit, and different hole sizes mean different routers work with the table. Smaller plates fit fewer routers, while the full-size router plates work with just about any router tool.
Router tables come in a few styles. Benchtop tables are convenient because they just sit on top of a workbench or other surface where you can fit a router tool. These smaller tables can be moved around in your workshop or garage, or to a worksite, so they are known for their portability. Sturdy benchtop tables can weigh around 40 pounds. Some router tables can even be adjusted from a bench top to a free-standing table. This allows you to work in areas where you do not have access to an additional work bench. They have folding legs, and are lightweight enough so you can transport it around when it is in its table top form. Router tables with legs often include rubberized feet for security, or locking casters.
Kreg began in 1986 when one man – Craig Sommerfeld – began creating homemade pocket-hole technology and other tools designed for woodworking joint-making. He brought his products to hundreds of trade shows and expanded to clamps, router tables, routers, and more. His products were enthusiastically-received and his company took off. Since those early days, Kreg creations are sold and distributed in the US, Canada, Australia, and the UK. Kreg sells both table-top and free-standing router tables, and individual pieces, like fences.
Bench Dog, which is named after a woodworking accessory, began in 1995. The company focuses nearly exclusively on woodworking equipment like router tables and anything else designed for professionals and hobbyists. Because of this, you can find very affordable products as well as ones priced higher and that have more advanced features. Their products include the ProFence, which is a superior fence that fits with many Bench Dog router tables, and the ProMax, one of Bench Dog’s flagship tables.
Craftsman has been around since 1927 and has thousands of products meant for builders, woodworkers, and more. They sell power tools, hand tools like screwdrivers and wrenches, as well as larger pieces of equipment like pressure washers and tillers. Craftsman is known for their power tools like their routers, as well as their router tables. They even sell a router table that comes with its own router tool, which is perfect for beginners who want an all-in-one workshop.
The Bosch division that makes power tools (known as Bosch Power Tool) appeared in 2003 when parent company’s Bosch’s power tool, accessory, and lawn and garden groups joined forces. The Bosch brand (originally from Germany) has been around for over a hundred years, so strong engineering is in the company’s blood. Bosch Power Tool makes power tools, rotaries, routers, and router tables
More expensive router tables have very impressive fences with unique designs or extra features. T-slot fences are designed so you can add in more featherboards or lock in other tools like miter gauges. This allows you to expand your workspace without needing to purchase a larger, more expensive router table. It also allows you to work in smaller spaces and remove your extra fences if necessary. Sub-fences are useful for extra support and more precise measuring for detail-oriented tasks. Some other extra fence features include dual-fence slot configuration, which means you can remove the fence and put it back into the table at the other side. You get more versatility and flexibility with a fence like this.
Included router tool
Many brands, like Craftsman, sell router tools with their router tables. Craftsman sells a set with a 9-amp router tool, so you get an all-in-one workshop at once. While this router tool is not especially powerful, it is a good option for those who have never used a router tool (or table) before. It saves them the trouble of trying to choose a router tool or figuring out what router bits will fit with the table.
Instead of using aluminum, many expensive router tables use MDF, which is a material made from recycled wood fibers and resin. They are machine-dried and pressed hard for more durability. MDF table tops are often laminated with an additional top surface, like Easy-Slide, for smoothness. MDF is useful because it resists noise and vibration, so your table is sturdier, steadier, and less loud.
Works with all router tools
Not all router tools work with all router table, so you often have to go the store and figure out which router tool works for your table. Larger, more advanced tables have full-size router insert plates where most routers fit, even those with large bits. Tables with Level-Loc rings are also compatible with most routers, and you can buy more Level-Loc rings if you want even more router options. The benefit of having a table that works with most (or all routers) is that you are not limited to only certain projects.
Router tables are designed for precision, but not every table is created equal. Advanced router tables have special features that result in exceptional control, like very small router bit height-adjustments. Adjustable cutting depths with microfine changes are a sign of a very advanced router table. You get tiny adjustments instead of larger, less specific ones, so you can be more detailed with your projects. Starting pins are also extremely useful when you are working with freehand edging. These pins guide every cut. For straighter alignments, a T-square fence provides automatic squaring. Getting that superior precision is crucial for projects like wood engraving, detailing, or building small objects like boxes.
Working with a router table can be very loud, considering you are working with a power tool. Tables with an MDF surface are often less noisy because the material absorbs vibrations, and router tables with an open design are also known to be quieter. This allows you to work with your table at all hours, even mornings or at night.