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Best Router Tables

Updated July 2018
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 11 Models Considered
  • 68 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 129 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best router tables

    Last Updated July 2018

    A router is already a versatile woodworking tool, and the addition of a good router table gives you even greater flexibility. It can help you make everything from small projects and useful workshop jigs to full-size furniture. There are thousands of free plans online to inspire you.

    At BestReviews we strive to provide you with the information you need to make the best product purchases. The recommendations above offer a variety of solutions for every skill level and budget. They will help you decide the right router table for your particular needs.

    We’ve also created the following router table buying guide, to provide further information.

    Planing end grain is notoriously difficult. Using a router table and guide block you can do the job faster and just as accurately.

    Why buy a router table?

    A router can perform a multitude of tasks, but in essence, it’s a freehand tool. With a parallel guide or bearing-guided cutter, you can be quite accurate – provided the workpiece is fixed securely to your bench – but operator skill has a lot to do with how good the finished job is.

    A router table turns everything around. The router is now a fixed cutting tool, and you present the work to it. Fences can be set for accurate depth of cut. Featherboards guide the wood into the cutter precisely. You have great repeatability. T-slots and angle guides allow you to make all manner of cuts. Creating decorative moldings or attractive mortise and tenon joints is a breeze.

    Almost every routing job can be completed faster and more accurately, and you can accomplish tasks that would be almost impossible otherwise. For the DIY fan or keen home woodworker they’re a tremendous bonus. For the professional carpenter or furniture maker they’re a must.

    So how do you choose the right one?

    Precision performance for the professional

    From the sturdy 3” casters, through the heavy steel frame, to the big, 24” x 32” table surface, everything about this router table suggest serious working capacities. As you would expect from Kreg, it also offers tremendous versatility and great accuracy. This is an investment for the serious amateur or full-time professional who demands high throughput and repeatable accuracy.

    Choosing a router table – size first

    The big decision is which of the two basic types of router table you need:

    • Benchtop

    • Floor-standing
       

    Benchtop router tables range from compact, and even folding models, to those that offer a substantial working area.

    • Folding router tables can be convenient for storage if you’re really short of space, and they offer easy portability. However, they do tend to be small, and the leg structure doesn’t offer the greatest rigidity we’ve seen. Usually a low-cost DIY tool, they aren’t robust enough for job-site work.

    • Small benchtop router tables are valuable for those who only have occasional need, or who will be working on projects of limited size. You can still make all manner of jigs, fancy boxes, trays and other household and garden items, but these tables fall short of the capacity for making large items. One of the main reasons is that you’re just not going to get a very powerful router in there.

    • Large benchtop router tables give you increased capacity. More table area means larger workpieces can be comfortably supported, so bigger projects can be made. However, size can begin to be a challenge. You need to think carefully about the space you have available, and where it will be stored when not in use.
       

    Floor-standing router tables are larger, offering extensive working surfaces, but take up considerable space. Some have wheels, so they can be moved into an open workspace when needed, and stored against a wall or in a corner.

    They are something for the serious woodwork enthusiast, or professional. If you have the budget, and the space, we thoroughly recommend one, but don’t underestimate the room they require.

    If you already have a big, powerful router, you need a substantial table for it. Small tables won’t have a strong enough frame to support it, and will be damaged by the forces generated when it’s working.

    EXPERT TIP

    A biscuit cutter is a great tool for your arsenal. Using a biscuit cutter with a router table gives you a fast, easy, repeatable way to edge-joint boards.


    Staff  | BestReviews
    EXPERT TIP

    Always use a push stick. They’re cheap to buy or simple to make from scrap. If you damage one, they’re easy to replace. Your fingers are not.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Router table components

    Once you have a good idea of the size table you want, look closely at the structure, and the components that make up the router table kit.

    The supporting framework of a router table is usually steel, although some can be plastic. We have no problem with plastic moldings per se – if well made, they can offer equal or greater rigidity than thin steel sheet. However, a substantial steel section offers better durability and stability.

    A table must be flat, and free of flex (another reason for a rigid undercarriage). It should also be smooth, so the workpiece glides across it without snagging. You have a choice of surface: aluminum, phenolic, or MDF with a low-friction laminate.

    • Aluminum is light, and can offer good resistant to flex. The appearance of thickness can be deceptive – deep sides often concealing quite a thin top. However, as long as there’s sufficient bracing it’s not a problem. It’s not the smoothest surface, and it’s difficult to modify. Usually found on benchtop router tables, it’s a good general-purpose, relatively low-cost solution.

    • Phenolic resin tables are extremely rigid, tough and super-slippery. They’re also heavy, usually expensive, and difficult to work.

    • MDF is also structurally rigid, and the laminate offers a smooth surface. It’s also quite heavy. The advantage it offers is that many experienced woodworkers like to modify the table for their own jigs and fixtures. MDF allows this, whereas other surfaces don’t. Though technically phenolic is smoother and harder, high-quality router tables often use MDF.
       

    Fences are usually aluminum. Good ones are drilled so you can attach replaceable faceplates, which you can make yourself. Tall fences offer more support to the workpieces. Some high-end router table kits include quick-set guides. Precision adjustment may be available. Quick clamping makes for fast, easy setting.

    A removable plate provides mounting for your router. Some are pre-drilled, and only fit a specific range of routers. Some you need to drill yourself, making them virtually universal.

    A round insert allows easy access to cutters for changing. On some tables, a selection of different diameter or customizable rings are included, allowing clearance appropriate to a variety of cutter sizes.

    Feather boards are almost indispensable, though not supplied on some cheap router tables. If you have a table saw, it’s not difficult to make your own.

    Routers can generate a lot of waste, so a dust extraction port is an important addition.

    A front-mounted on/off switch gives the option of wiring the router through the table, so you don’t have to reach under the table to use the switch on the router itself.

    Some free-standing router tables have self-leveling feet – a bonus if your workshop floor isn’t quite even.

    FOR YOUR SAFETY

    Always allow the router to reach full speed before beginning to cut. When finished, let it come to a stop naturally. Never be tempted to use a piece of scrap to slow it more quickly.

    What does a good router table cost?

    The cheapest router tables tend to be made of flimsy plastics, or thin steel plate. They don’t have the strength, rigidity or durability you need for accurate woodworking. The low price certainly reflects the low quality.

    Any decent router table is an investment. Prices start at around $150, for a benchtop router table that will satisfy many model makers and hobby woodworkers. That kind of budget ought to get you a pretty comprehensive kit: the router table itself, guards, guides, fences, and featherboards.

    If you want to take things to the pro level, there are several very good bundles available. Benchtop models cost in the region of $300, and floor-standing router tables run from $700 upwards.

    It’s possible to spend $1,000 or more for very large, high-precision router tables, though in our opinion you would need to be a full-time carpenter/machinist to need the capabilities of a tool like that.

    The difference is in the detail

    At first glance, the Bosch looks like a lot of router tables aimed at the DIY / home woodworker market. You might even be put off by the plastic support structure and legs. Don’t be. A lot of thought has gone into producing a high-quality tool. Tall fences and a supplementary guard for routing curves are two of a host of valuable features. It’s remarkable value too.

    Router table tips

    • Most tables will fit a wide range of routers – but it’s vital to check that yours is included. Some routers come with an insert plate that can be custom-drilled, but by no means all.

    • Usual safety rules for woodworking should be applied. Always wear goggles and a dust mask. Routers can be noisy, so ear protection is advised. Always use the guards provided, and keep your hands well clear of the cutter when running. Unplug the router when changing cutters.

    • Fences and featherboards help keep the workpiece in place. They make routing safer, and allow you to cut smoothly and accurately. They are particularly useful when doing repetitive jobs. Learning to use them properly will save a lot of time in the long run.

    Routers cut in a clockwise direction, so always feed work in from the right.

    FAQ

    Q. Which is better in a router table, a fixed-base or plunge router?

    A. A fixed-base router is the most popular choice. Most of the time there’s no benefit in using a plunge router. They’re more expensive, and can be difficult to adjust when inverted. Router lifts are available that overcome the problem, but that means additional cost.

    Of course, plunge routers offer much greater versatility off the table. One solution favored by some woodworkers is to buy a router with an interchangeable base. You can then leave the fixed base attached to the table, and change the router to the plunge base when away from it.

    Q. What’s the maximum cut I take on a router table?

    A. There’s no easy answer to this; it depends on the combination of router table size, cutter, and the power of the router itself. If you need to work with large pieces of wood, and take big cuts, you need a large, sturdy router table for safety and accuracy. A 1/2” router is going to be able to take much bigger cuts than a 1/4” model. Most large router bits won’t fit in a 1/4” router, anyway.

    As a general rule, you’ll get a better finish if you take several small cuts rather than one large one. You won’t risk stalling the router, either. While that doesn’t answer the question of the maximum cut in one pass, using multiple passes you can cut as much as you need to.

    Q. What is the difference between a router table and a shaper?

    A. The router tables reviewed here cover pretty much the full range, from small benchtop and foldable models, to fairly substantial mobile router tables for the larger workshop. You need to fit a router to them.

    A shaper is a larger workshop/industrial tool. It has a motor built in, so there’s no need to attach a router. Rather than changing the router bit, there’s often a cutter block that has removable blades (actually called knives). A shaper is a much larger, stand-alone machine, and much more expensive.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Bob
      Bob
      Writer
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Jeff
      Jeff
      Editor
    • Jennifer
      Jennifer
      Writer