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No woodworking shop is complete without a sturdy router table. Once you have a table in place, you can tackle some of the bigger projects that wouldn’t otherwise be open to you. But there are a few features to consider when you’re looking for a router table, including sturdiness and compatibility.
If you already have a router, you’ll first want to make sure the table you buy will work with it. Not all tables will work with all routers. You’ll need to pay close attention to the base plate, which usually will only work with a specific router model. Some tables come with plates that you can drill to fit, but don’t buy into router tables that promise to fit every router.
The build of the table plays an important role in how much control you’ll have over your cuts. A flimsy table may not offer the stability you’ll need. However, extra sturdy construction can sometimes make a piece of furniture difficult to move, so weigh your need for portability against user experience. If you plan to set your table up and never move it, this may not be a consideration.
If you’ve worked with a router in the past, you likely already realize the importance of a good fence. For precise cuts, you’ll need a solid fence that helps you complete the job. Some fences are built to move easily across the table’s surface, making it easier for you to focus on the task at hand.
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Although it might not be the first thing you consider, you’ll wish you had a dust collection bin after you start working. Some router tables have collection bins, and some use a shield to protect you from flying dust while you’re working. More advanced dust collection systems hook up to a device like a shop vac to contain dust so you don’t even have to deal with it.
Before you start shopping, make sure you know the type of router you have. You’ll need to check to see if the table you buy is compatible. The Bosch Benchtop Router Table has predrilled plates that will fit a range of routers. With the Chicago Electric Power Tools, the router is included so you won’t have to worry about matching it.Most of your contact with the table will be with the surface, so it’s important to find one that creates a pleasant experience. It needs to be smooth to ensure that nothing gets in the way of creating accurate cuts. The Bosch Benchtop Router Table has a laminated top to provide that smooth surface, but the lamination means it also scratches fairly easily. The Skil Router Table is prone to warping over time, so make sure you regularly check the surface for irregularities. The table on Chicago Electric Power Tools is made from composite medium-density fiberboard, which not only promotes smoothness but also keeps vibrations to a minimum.The size of the workspace area on the tabletop is also worth considering. The Kreg True-Flex Router Table has a 24- by 32-inch surface area, while the Bosch Benchtop Router Table is limited to 27 inches by 18 inches. The Skil Router Table is 29 by 18.The steel stand on the Kreg True-Flex Router Table makes it sturdier than competing tables, which means you won’t have to worry about inaccuracy due to wobbling or slipping.When it comes to price, you’ll be able to find a table that fits within your budget, depending on the accessories and type of table you need.Controlling your cuts is all about the fence. You should pay as much attention to the fence on the table you’re buying as the overall construction of the table itself. The Kreg True-Flex Router Table and Skil Router Table both have easy-to-move fence systems with adjustable clamps. You’ll find the Bosch Benchtop Router Table doesn’t move quite as smoothly, making it a bit tougher to control.If you plan to store your table when not in use or take it to various job sites, you’ll want to consider the weight. Although the Kreg True-Flex Router Table’s sturdy construction boosts stability, the fact that it weighs 85 pounds makes it far tougher to transport. The good news is, it comes with casters, so you can roll it around your workshop. The Bosch Benchtop Router Table only weighs 30 pounds, while the Chicago Electric Power Tools is a lightweight 28 pounds. One handy feature of the Skil Router Table is that the legs fold to make it easy to move and store.If you deal with a messy workshop, you’ll love the fact that the Skil Router Table has accessory storage compartments where you can keep all your tools and parts.Any time you’re working with wood, dust is an inevitability. The Kreg True-Flex Router Table has a built-in dust collection port, as well as a shield that protects your face from flying sawdust while you’re working. The dust collection port on the Bosch Benchtop Router Table can connect to a 2.5-inch hose, allowing you to hook up a shop vac to capture all the dust. The Skil Router Table is designed to keep dust to a minimum from the start.If you’re new to woodworking, the Skil Router Table or Chicago Electric Power Tools will be more your speed. Those with more experience will likely find that the Kreg True-Flex Router Table and Bosch Benchtop Router Table can handle the more advanced challenges they want to tackle.