Best Router Tables: Make Precise Cuts
Take your woodworking to the next level with these top-rated router tables.
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BY Corrina Murdoch / LAST UPDATED ON March 11, 2021
Like wheat from the chaff, woodworkers stand out from other craftsmen through their precision technique and fine-tuned results. Sure, a lot of tasks can be done by hand, but when it comes to big tasks, you need a machine that can keep up with demand. To live up to the standards of even the most exacting artisan, a router table (and all the other equipment) needs to produce high-quality results. That iconic table, artfully crafted crown molding, and amazing sculpture stand out through their uniqueness — and that comes from a balance of quality tools and skilled workmanship.
It’s no secret that every woodworker needs a router table to make the precise cuts required of furniture and custom projects. And, if those pieces are to truly make the cut, you need a worthy router table. We found the best router tables around so you can generate exemplary rabbets and exact joinery at a pace your competitors will rival. Check out the best router tables below.
A quality pick from a well-reputed brand, this table is a standalone item that is suitable for the vast majority of products. It’s supported by a tough steel frame and remains stable as you work.
- Comes at a friendly price for any budget
- High-quality construction base plate is universally compatible and includes a duo of inserts
- Plastic mounting place construction is not as sturdy as its aluminum counterparts (may need replacing)
Highly affordable for those on a budget, this product is equipped with a full range of standard router table features making it ideal for basic woodworking tasks.
- Offers a lot of value at a low cost
- Portable benchtop structure
- Able to craft joinery with ease while remaining stable
- Build’s quality restricts more advanced woodworking tasks
- Only suitable as a learning tool for beginners
Made out of high-grade materials and designed for advanced projects, this router table meets professional standards. It is machined to offer the precise results demanded by serious woodworkers.
- Both the design and materials are high quality
- Base plates are compatible with replacements if they wear down
- Lets you adjust both the height and the fence for versatility
- Comes at a fairly high price relative to other, more basic models
- Adjusting wheel is constructed out of plastic that can break under pressure
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Benefits of Router Tables
- Keeps you safe while you work. All tools pose a bit of risk and need safety equipment to be used correctly. A quality router table brings along a lot of those safety features including fences, height settings, and fixed positioning of the router. This reduces the odds of your hurting yourself during a woodworking task (even if you are new to the field).
- Simplifies the routing process. When you pop your router in a secure and fixed spot, you would be surprised how much easier things become. Especially if you’re handling a small enough chunk of wood, you can move the piece instead of the cutting edge. This is particularly useful for custom work.
- Lets you perform more tasks. A standalone router is impressive, but when you toss a table into the mix, it completely overhauls the utility. Sure, it can restrict your angles in some ways, but it adds stability while you work. This lets you tackle trim, fencing, and joinery at impressive speeds, upping your overall efficiency.
- Gives you a professional edge. Since you can use a routing table from all different perspectives, it lets you see a project from new angles. This frees you up to work on innovative new tasks. Whether you are an artisan working on a wood sculptor or just want to experiment, the ability to work upside down and backwards gives you an extra claim to fame.
- Completes your workshop. A router table is one of those essential pieces of equipment to truly flesh out your woodworking zone. Along with your jigsaw and radial arm saw (and wood, of course), it makes up a critical part of effective craftsmanship when handling wood.
- Reduces cleanup demands. A lot of models come with a dust capturing system. Not only does this prevent the risk of fire, but it also slows damage to your tools. Plus, it saves you the inconvenience of clearing out the (often shocking) amount of sawdust that kicks up on your woodworking project.
Types of Router Tables
This is a relatively uncommon type of router table with an entirely flat surface. It’s built for placement atop a flat and stable space in your workshop. Extremely stable, this type of router table is well-suited to those who are newer to woodworking. Because it lacks legs, it optimizes the surface you get to work with. Be sure that the base you use to place this router table is flat and secured to the ground. Use a level if needed. These models install efficiently and let you get to work faster. Keep in mind that these tables may lack some of the more advanced features found on other types.
Especially if you are tackling a larger-scale woodworking project, this type is worth looking into. More sizable than than those which rest on a bench, this type comes with legs that you can adjust to control the height. Often, this lets you switch it into a benchtop structure if you need more space to work. Though there’s more bulk to them, since the legs fold in, they are pretty portable. While the legs on most are sturdy, to stay safe it is better to clamp them onto the work surface to prevent slips while there’s a sharp blade spinning.
Extendable Router Table
If you’ve got a workshop in place that you want to take to the next level, look for this type of router table. Broken into two categories, you can find these as standalone or tabletop models. These are popular thanks to the ability to stretch the sides of the router table. Per the namesake, the expandable component drastically enhances the space you can work with. Since there are more moving parts, this type of router table will need a bit more attention and upkeep. It folds to a compact structure, though the hinging parts will require cleaning to slow the wear and tear process.
Opening its doors in the early 1980s, this company remains a manufacturer of a whole host of industrial gear and tools for craftsmen. Focused on making products accessible to all budgets, it usually has affordable options for every product category, whether that’s routers or motors. For woodworking enthusiasts, one of its go-to offerings for every shop is the Grizzly Industrial Scrubs in a Bucket.
With roots in the west, this California brand is under the Costway umbrella. It remains a popular company due to its diverse product line that ranges from workout gear to industrial supplies. Among its leading selections for woodworkers is the Goplus Wood Router Tool Combo Kit.
Since 1989, this brand started operations with a single high-quality product: the humble jig. Over the decades, it evolved into a leading name on the international market. A go-to for woodworkers seeking high-grade, reliable tools, it touts products like the Kreg Multi-Purpose Router Table Switch and the Kreg Tool Precision Router Table Insert Plate.
Router Table Pricing
- Under $200: The majority of router tables fall in this category; you can find them in all types in this range. Usually, models on the lower end of this scale are tabletop models, gaining features and versatility as the price goes up.
- $200 and up: If you’re willing to invest a bit more, you can find some truly long-lasting router tables. This is where you’ll get a host of special features like dust vacuums, extensions, and some heavy-duty construction. It’s worth it if you woodwork often.
Critical to the function of the router table, the fence quality will determine how useful the whole setup actually is. It’s the component that serves as a backing for the wood you’re working with. Because of this essential role, it must be able to withstand force and hold up under pressure. It needs to align evenly, and not warp, crack, or otherwise lose its ability to perform. The fence has to be movable enough to let you work from different angles and make the most out of the table.
Type and Compatibility of Base Plate
When you assess the base plate, you’re looking at convenience. For starters, it should be flat and stable. It’s there to let you move the router around to do maintenance and is structurally useful to the whole table set up. Now, if your router is going to stay in one place, it is far from essential. Because it isn’t critical, there are some made out of plastic (more likely to warp and crack). Metal options are a better choice since they are more resilient overall. Check for compatibility in terms of size if you’re getting a replacement.
Working Surface Area
If you’ve ever tried to get furniture through a doorway and missed clearance by an inch, you’ll understand why surface area is so important. It needs to fit in your workshop. It needs to accommodate the size of the wood you’re going to use on it (without smacking into the car in your garage). After you’ve thought about size, consider if it is honestly flat — try the marble test or a level. If it holds up to both standards, you can check it off your list of features to investigate.
Drilled Slots on Table
Miter saws are fantastic tools that cut efficiently and powerfully. However, if you don’t have pre-drilled slots on your router table, you can’t use them. You’ll be plenty irritated when you’ve got to lob a couple of inches off your fence post and can’t use your table to do it. Avoid this by checking for drilled slots on the table. T-slots are next on the list — the more the better. It lets you get more use out of your table and truly get innovative with your work. You can place your flip stop anywhere and optimize the function of your new table.
- Location. The last thing you want is a router table that won’t fit in your workshop. The amount of space you’ve got to work with will play a big role in choosing the router table. Sure, a standalone sounds impressive, but if you can’t park your car because of it, there’s a lot less benefit. Be realistic, and if a benchtop is more likely to fit your space, opt for those instead.
- Portability. If you travel to a worksite or have a side hustle in construction, you’re going to need a table that can join you on-site. Now, a model that’s lighter might be easier to tow, but it could also wear out sooner. Conversely, a heavy option can be clunky to haul. Weigh the benefits of sturdiness against the ability to actually transport it.
- Maintenance. Everything under the sun needs some form of upkeep. You’ll have to keep it free of sawdust, clean, the blades sharp, and the hinges working smoothly (and free of rust). Higher-end options tend to show wear a lot more slowly; and if you’re putting in the work, you want the table to hold up its end.
- Extra features. If you want to really get some bang for your buck, keep an eye out for convenience features. Think built-in dust solutions, holes to accommodate a vacuum hose, and a hook that lets you keep the power cord out of the way. Some come with extra storage or a protective cover. It won’t play into the utility of the router table itself, but it’s definitely nice to have.
Best Router Tables Reviews & Recommendations 2021
- Always keep safety in mind. Especially if you’re new to woodworking, treat it like you would your chainsaw and ensure that you’ve got protective gear on at all times.
- You wouldn’t try a reciprocating saw for the first time without reading the instructions. Whether it’s a scroll saw, router table, or a tile saw, always know what you’re dealing with.
- Stick to flat surfaces. If you don’t have a level on hand, try the marble test. Should the marble roll, the table might not be as flat as you thought.
- Anything with dust is a fire risk, and sawdust is the worst culprit. If the area is too dry, it can cause issues. Consider a moisture meter and clean up when you’re done work.
- Make the most out of your router table by using all its features. When handling smaller wood parts, keep it straight by employing both feather boards.
- Always keep your router table indoors and away from moisture or things that could impact it (including your vehicle in reverse).
- Just like with your band saw, you don’t want it unplugging mid-task. Ensure that your power cord isn’t overextended to avoid interruptions while you work.
Q: What does a table router do?
A router is a sharp, spinning bit that is used to make custom cuts on wood. The table to which it mounts is called a router table. Meant to allow woodworking hobbyists and pros to make cuts at angles and curves, it lets you move around the blade with less effort. Provided you get the best-suited router table for your plans, you can enhance your craftsmanship or tackle professional woodworking jobs.
Q: What makes a good router table?
A good router table will have user-friendly fences, and a sturdy, flat top. The surface needs to be firm and solid. Look for slots for your miter saw and T-slots in relevant places. Make sure that the base can remain stable on your workbench. So long as it has these features, it will be able to perform all the necessary functions.
Q: Will any router fit any router table?
Though most router tables are standard in size, it’s definitely worth checking compatibility. Universal compatibility doesn’t always live up to its promise. Make sure that your router will work with the table you’re considering. You can check this in the specs on the router table by comparing it to the router. If all else fails, you can order a base plate and drill your own holes.
Q: Can you make a router table?
Technically, you can make a router table. You could probably also make your own belt sander. But when you factor in time and supplies (along with the frustration you’re likely to face along the way), it’s usually better to opt for an off-the-shelf model. There’s a ton of options at friendly prices which are less likely to cave out under you than a DIY counterpart.
Q: Can a router table be used as a jointer?
Joinery tasks are fairly demanding; so, while you can use a router table as a jointer, you can only do so if it’s a more advanced model. As a result, most standard router tables only work for edge jointing. Dovetail and mortise and tenon joints may require another tool. So, be sure you know the type of joinery you’re going to do and find a router table that will accommodate.
Q: What is the best material for a router table?
You can find router tables made out of plastic, and if it’s high-density enough, that can definitely work. However, if you can find an aluminum alloy model in your price range, it’s better to go with the metal. It resists both corrosion and temperature due to the natural elemental properties of aluminum (preventing warping). It’s light to carry but tough enough to withstand heavy items, making it better as a workshop tool.
Q: What is a router table lift?
The lift is a way to control the height of the router table itself. Basically a mounting plate that connects to the router itself via a carriage. Pop on the crank and you can control the height of the router. It can make extensive woodworking tasks a whole lot easier on your back by preventing strain from reaching. A worthy example is the KREG Precision Router Lift.
As images of dados and rabbets fly through your head, it comes time to choose the best router table for your shop. Could it be the Grizzly Industrial T10432 - Router Table with Stand for its high utility or the cost-effectiveness of the XtremepowerUS Deluxe Bench Top Router Table? Every craftsman needs a router table, so take your pick.
Have some wisdom on the topic? Share your thoughts in the comments below. Happy woodworking!