The power tool industry seems to be in a constant state of expansion. Every year new innovations sweep through the market and the race to create more powerful and durable tools appears to be endless. Needless to say, router tables have not escaped this trend. Just a couple of years ago, finding an option that satisfies all your needs and requirements was akin to looking for a needle in a haystack. Lately however, the number of tremendous products across all price ranges has more than tripled. To help you keep it with this rapid market growth, we have crafted a comprehensive guide that will delve into everything that you need to know about these tools and will help you find the best router table on the market.
The essential factors that you should keep in mind before making a purchase decision
When buying a router table, you need to have a firm grasp of how these machines operate before committing to a purchase. To avoid any potential confusion, we have omitted all the superficial features that manufacturers are marketing to customers these days and focused solely on the baseline attributes that a decent product should have. Here are the main ones that you should keep in mind when you are looking for a router table:
The work surface
This is an extremely essential factor that you should never ignore. The work surface is what creates the necessary conditions for a smooth and efficient work. If you settle for a router table that has a poorly-made surface, you will be compromising your entire project before it has even started. The two main requirements that the work surface should satisfy is to be perfectly flat and feel sturdy to the touch. You also need to make sure that there no bumps or small imperfections that could obstruct woodworking. If your budget allows it, go with surfaces that have high-pressure laminate, they tend to be highly durable and can withstand any type of work.
The quality of the fence
After the surface, the fence is without a doubt the most important aspect of router tables. The main qualities that it should boast are durability and adjustability. It has to be strong enough to handle the constant pressure that is generated by woodworking projects but at the same time, it should have the flexibility that can allow it to be quickly adjusted in accordance with the requirements of a specific application. A well-made heavy-duty fence ensures more accuracy when you are handling boards and gives the table the precision that is needed for a multitude of woodworking projects.
Stability is a key factor that is dependent upon several variables. The first thing that contributes to the stability of the machine is the overall sturdiness of the unit. Tables that boast a solid construction are inherently more stable than other alternatives and are equipped with the properties that allow them to remain steady and diffuse vibrations while operating at full capacity. The second contributing factor is the sturdiness of the base that the table is mounted on. A solid base that can absorb a tremendous amount of pressure is required even if the router table itself is extremely durable. It is worth noting that some models come with a heavy duty stand that serves this very purpose.
Dust collection system
Woodworking generates a sizable amount of dust. This results in a messy workshop, poor visibility, and an increased risk of respiratory diseases and allergic reactions. To avoid all of this, you simply need an effective dust collection mechanism that gets rid of the dust particles as you are working on a project. Go over the specs of router tables and read some user reviews to get a firsthand account of what to expect.
Most beginners make the mistake of getting a router table without checking if it is compatible with their routers. Compatibility is not an issue if you are planning to buy the table first, but if you already have a set of routers that you intend to use with a new table, it is imperative that you check if the model that you are going for has the capacity to accommodate them.
While it is true that you get what you pay for with most power tools, it is also important to mention that a lot of manufacturers inflate their prices by overhyping some features that add little to the intrinsic value of the machine and are of no use to you. Always compare the price to the essential features and avoid anything that seems unreasonably priced. On the other hand, avoid the models that come at prices that sound too good to be true. These machines are often made from cheap materials and are outsourced to manufacturers with questionable business practices.
A good warranty lets you operate the machine in a stress-free manner and without constantly worrying over minor functionality issues. A generous warranty is also a sign of the manufacturer’s trust and confidence in the quality of their product and is, therefore, a strong indicator of the router table’s quality and durability. Some companies are even offering lifetime warranties on top of 24/7 customer support.
Most router tables come with a number of accessories that enhance the functionality of the machine. While some of them are entirely disposable, some accessories can be quite valuable. Here are the main ones that you should keep an eye one:
- Feather boards: They have the capacity to hold the board down against the fence which allows for a hands-free operation during your project.
- Fence clamps: The clamps of the fence will allow you to secure the fence to the table in a tight manner and at the perfect spot
- Miter gauge: Its main purpose is to hold the board at different angles of your own choice. This is extremely valuable when dealing with complex projects.
- Storage compartments: Having some compartments where you can store some essential accessories is a huge plus.
The benefits of using a router table rather than a hand router
Router tables are simply the most effective tools when it comes to woodworking. Besides relieving you from the tiring chore of holding a router for hours, they often come equipped with their own set of features that enhance both stability and accuracy. Regardless of how adept you are in working with a hand router, it is essential for you to know you will never be able to match the performance and precision that is delivered by a router table. Below is a brief look at some of the benefits that you can expect from this impressive tool:
Consistency: The problem with using a hand router is the fact that you can never guarantee a consistent level of performance. Whether it is speed or cutting accuracy, there is bound to be a drop-off in quality and productivity from project to project. A router table ensures consistent results since the speed and accuracy of the work is always the same and is not as affected by tiredness or human error.
Complex cuts: Working with a hand router restricts you to simple and straight cuts. This is mostly due to its inability to provide the stability that is required for more complex cuts. On the other hand, router tables provide a stable base that enables you to adjust the angle of the board rather than the router itself.
Easier control: Router tables give you more control over the depth of the cuts regardless of the piece that you are working on. This is especially valuable when you are dealing with a complex project that consists of unusual patterns with different angles and cuts of various depths.
Low maintenance requirements: In stark contrast with the majority of power tools, router tables don’t require any specific and complex maintenance process. Just make sure to clean dust from the surface from time to time in order to keep the machine clean and ready to go at any time.
Distinguishing Features of a Great Router Table
This is one of the best machines that you can have in your workshop to make your work easier and produce the quality you want in your outputs. The importance of having a router table in your workshop as a woodworker cannot be emphasized. With this machine, your hands are free and you will have the capacity to work effectively. Because of this control that you have over your work, the work becomes simple and easier to do.
Of course, not all router tables are the same and they don’t come with the same quality. Although we have given you the guide and the factors you can follow to get a great router table, there are other critical features you can check out that distinguishes a good router table from the rest. Here are some of the traits:
- They have a flat and very solid top
Without having a flat top, your work will be difficult and you might end up delivering very low-quality work to your customers. When it comes to router tables and woodwork, precision is a fact that cannot be overemphasized. Having irregularities in your top surface can cause uneven joints and other problems that are found in many inexperienced woodworkers.
- They are stable and rigid
If you are using something that flexes whenever you place a piece of wood on top of it, then you should be careful else you will not like the outcome. Your table must in a position where it can comfortably support the weight of your router, plate and the wood that will be placed on it. To ensure flatness and stability, most of the router tables are nowadays made using MDF material.
- It is basically durable
The last thing you want to see is going back to the market after some months in search of a router table. This is where looking for certain features is very important like the material that has been used in making the material. It must be durable.
- It has accurate fences
The fence must be easy to position and up to the task that you are doing. Your wood should always be pressed to the fence to produce the expected result. A fence comes in all manner of quality and features that range from one machine to another. It is your duty as a woodworker to choose the most appropriate router table that matches the expected results. Decide whether to get one-piece, two-piece or split fences.
Best Router table reviews
1 – Bosch Benchtop Router Table RA1181
- Benchtop router table; attaches to any workbench
- 2 Adjustable feather boards; dust collection port; dual outlet switch; 6 Feet...
- Aluminum fence with MDF face plates; aluminum router mounting plate
- Includes router table, 3 mounting plate insert rings, mounting hardware for most...
When it comes to high-performing router tables, there are few that can match the level of performance and overall quality of the Bosch RA1181 benchtop router table. This industrial grade unit was primarily designed to satisfy the needs of qualified professionals who know their way around advanced power tools. This table offers an unparalleled wide range of compatibility with most routers on the market and it can be attached to any workbench in a completely effortless way.
One of this model’s strongest points is the well-made fence that it is equipped with. It is made from top grade aluminum and is easy to set, which contributes a lot to boosting to the stability and precision of the tool. As far as comfort and convenience are concerned, the Bosch provides all the necessary conditions for a hassle-free operation; a very spacious work area that offers ample room for any type of project, a pair of feather boards that are easily adjustable, and an intuitive and straightforward assembly process that only takes a couple of minutes.
Some other features that come with the Bosch router table include the generous warranty that is offered by the manufacturer, the immensely effective dust collection system, and the wide assortment of extra accessories that are included in the package. The features makes it one of the best benchtop router table.
- The table is compatible with the vast majority of routers on the market
- The fence is made from durable aluminum
- The work area is quite spacious
- A number of practical accessories such as feather boards and safety shields are included in the package
- The assembly process is not complicated
- It has an amazing dust collection system
- The fence adjustment could use some improvement
- The mounting plate is difficult to level with the table
2 – Skil RAS900 Router Table
- Accessory storage containers protect and store accessories with router table
- RAS900 comes with 2 containers and includes quick clamp system
- Two featherboards help guide workpiece for more accurate routing
- Bit height gauge helps simplify set-up and improves accuracy of cuts
Of all the options that we tested and all from all the router table reviews, we can safely state that this is the best model for a hobbyist. Everything about this unit is beginner- friendly, from the fact that it arrives pre-assembled to the convenient features that it is equipped with. Moreover, it is extremely easy to use and does not come with the learning curve that tends to come with advanced power tools. In fact, the machine is ready for use the moment you receive it and you won’t have to do any leveling when mounting the router.
Since it is not destined for heavy work, the work surface of the Skil RAS900 is not exactly the most spacious on the market. However, it is more than enough to handle the small home projects that hobbyists undertake. As for storage space, the table includes two containers that can hold a sizable amount of accessories. It’s really one of the best router and table combo.
When it comes to the build quality and durability, this is as good as it gets in this price range. The fence is quite tall and features adjustable laminated MDF faces for more stability and accuracy. This machine is robust and sturdy enough to handle any type of routing that you throw at it.
- This router table offers a tremendous amount of value for the money
- The fence comes with laminated MDF faces
- It is equipped with 2 compartments for extra storage space
- The table has the capacity to handle any kind of routing
- The router table comes preassembled and ready for use
- The included miter gauge fits perfectly in the table
- Removing the fence can be very difficult and unpractical
- The work surface is not large enough for heavy applications
3 – Bench Dog Tools 40-102 ProMax Cast Iron Router Table Extension
- Fits all contractor-grade table saws and all right-tilt cabinet-grade table saws...
- Included ProFence quickly dismounts and hangs on provided j-hooks while you use...
- Perfect for small shops.
- Includes router top, fence, and mounting hardware. ProPlate is sold separately....
This is a fairly decent option considering the relatively low price. The Bench Dog Tools 40-102 ProMax features several professional-grade attributes and is characterized by a heavy-duty build that enables it to operate in a smooth and hassle-free manner. More importantly, it is remarkably flexible and would be an ideal tool for most of your projects. It has a dual slot fence design that gives you the possibility to utilize either side of the table and includes a T-slot for storing essential accessories.
The secret to this power tool’s accuracy is without a doubt its immense stability. While working with the Bench Dog, you will notice a complete absence of vibrations and lateral movement. This is mostly owed to the strong build that allows it to remain steady regardless of the routing application that you are working on. The table also includes a dust collection mechanism that helps maintain the cleanness of your work area.
While most manufacturers claim that their products are durable and built to last for a long time, Bench Dog Tools backs that assertion by offering a lifetime warranty for the 40-102 ProMax Cast Iron router table.
- The table is designed to fit all contractor grade saws
- This table is easily one of the most stable units on the market
- Its versatility enables it to handle a wide array of projects
- The router table includes an effective dust collection mechanism
- It is designed in a way that reduces the amount of vibrations
- It comes with a lifetime limited warranty
- Assembling this unit might be too difficult for novice users
- The machine produces a lot more noise than its immediate competitors
4 – Kreg PRS2100 Bench Top Router Table
- Industrial-quality fence containing adjustable faces, dust collection, vertical...
- Full-size router insert plate with precision plate levelers and new Level-Loc...
- Extra-large 16" x 24" MDF table top with an Easy-Slide surface
- Wide stance heavy-duty steel stand for increased stability
When it comes to the power tool industry, Kreg has been one of the market leaders for years. This impressive router table delivers a high performance at a low price and is tailored for the needs for a hobbyist or a small workshop owner. It has a compact and efficient design that will fit in any area and includes everything that is needed for small and medium sized projects. Despite its somewhat light construction, the Kreg PRS2100 is quite stable and sturdy and the level of accuracy that it offers is more than adequate. Furthermore, it comes with a solid steel stand that enhances the steadiness of the table while you are working on it.
While this unit is mostly designed for light projects, this does not make it ill-suited for professional work. In fact, most professionals would appreciate having a compact and minimalistic power tool that can breeze through small wood-rooting projects in a quick and effective fashion. This high level of performance is owed in part to the great fence that it is equipped with; it is simply one of the best among all the models that we reviewed. Unlike most fences in this price range, the Kreg’s is made from top grade aluminum and is very easy to adjust.
- The table is equipped with one of the best industrial grade fences on the market
- It comes with a decent dust collection system
- The steel stand adds a lot of stability to the table
- The table has an easy-slide surface
- It is designed to accommodate the needs of hobbyists and professionals alike
- The quality of the MDF’s coverings is questionable
- The assembly instructions are not detailed enough for a novice user
5 – Trim Router Table
The final spot in our list is held by what could possibly be the most affordable option on the market – the best router table for the money. This model constitutes a perfect entry to router tables for anyone with no prior experience with these power tools. As the low price suggests, you should not expect the highest level of performance from this unit. However, if your main aim is to familiarize yourself with these machines and work on small wood-rooting projects, the trim router table will not disappoint you.
The frame of the unit is made from high-quality frame and the constructions feels surprisingly durable for the price point. The design is rather minimalistic and does not incorporate any of the cutting-edge features that we have to expect from modern router tables. On the other hand, it is significantly lighter and more compact than other models, which makes it easy to store and use on-the-go. Furthermore, it comes with pre-drilled holes that are put in place in order to facilitate mounting the unit on larger tables.
It is worth reiterating that the Trim router table is exclusively tailored to the needs and abilities of complete beginners. If you are a professional who is looking for a unit that can handle sizable projects in your workshop, this is not the ideal option for you.
- This router tables offers a decent level of performance considering the low price
- The Trim has an MDF surface
- It comes with pre-drilled holes for more convenient mounting
- Its lightweight construction makes it more portable than other models
- It is easy to assemble and use
- The router table is not suited for any type of application beyond small DIY projects
- Some parts of the table are made from cheap plastic
When you are in the market for a new router table, you will need to ask yourself these three important questions; what is your level of familiarity with these power tools? What kind of project are you planning to use the router table for? And how much are you willing to spend on a particular model? Having a clear and concise answer to each of these questions will allow you to narrow your options down to the one that perfectly suits you. Since the models that we reviewed cover the full spectrum of budget and applications needs, you are bound to find the best router table for you among those five options.
Last update on 2020-01-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API