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Woodworking Router Table: 3 Types of One of the Most Useful Woodworking Tools Available

Woodworking Router Table

In the world of woodworking, having a reliable and versatile tool is crucial to bringing your creative visions to life. That’s where the woodworking router table comes in. This essential piece of equipment provides stability and precision when working with a router, allowing you to tackle a wide range of tasks with ease. Whether you’re a seasoned craftsman or just starting out, the woodworking router table is a game-changer that will enhance your woodworking experience and take your projects to the next level.

What is a Woodworking Router Table?

A woodworking router table is a specialized tool that is used in woodworking to hold and support a handheld router. It provides a stable and stationary platform for the router, allowing for more precise and controlled cuts. The router is mounted to the table, with its bit protruding through the table’s surface. This setup enables woodworkers to guide the wood across the table, while the router cuts into it, creating various shapes, profiles, and joinery.

Router tables are extremely versatile and can be used for a wide range of woodworking tasks. Whether you are crafting intricate details, creating decorative edges, or joining wood pieces together, a router table is an essential tool in any woodworking workshop.

Types of Woodworking Router Tables

Benchtop Router Tables

Benchtop router tables are compact and portable, making them ideal for woodworkers with limited space or those who need to bring their tools to different job sites. These tables are designed to be mounted onto an existing workbench or table, providing a stable platform for routing operations. Despite their smaller size, benchtop router tables can still accommodate most routing tasks and are a popular choice for hobbyists and DIY enthusiasts.

Cabinet Router Tables

Cabinet router tables are larger and more robust than benchtop models. They are standalone units that include a built-in cabinet or storage space, offering a convenient solution for keeping router bits, accessories, and other tools within reach. Cabinet router tables are designed for professional woodworkers who require a more substantial and durable setup for complex woodworking projects. The added storage space can help keep the workshop organized and minimize clutter.

Stand-alone Router Tables

Stand-alone router tables are the largest and most versatile type of woodworking router tables. These tables come with their own legs and can be placed anywhere in the workshop. Stand-alone router tables offer ample space, stability, and adjustability, making them suitable for handling larger and more demanding woodworking tasks. They often come equipped with additional features, such as built-in dust collection systems and enhanced fence designs, to assist in achieving precise and professional results.

Woodworking Router Table

Choosing the Right Woodworking Router Table

Selecting the right woodworking router table is crucial to ensure that it meets your specific needs and requirements. Here are some factors to consider when making your decision:

Workspace and Size

Evaluate the available space in your workshop and determine the size of the router table that will fit comfortably. Consider the dimensions of the tabletop as well as the overall footprint, especially if you have limited room. Ensure that there is enough space around the table to maneuver the wood and work comfortably.

Router Compatibility

Check the router compatibility of the table you are considering. Most router tables are designed to accommodate standard-sized routers, but it is essential to confirm that your specific router will fit securely and work seamlessly with the table. Look for adjustable mounting plates or inserts that allow for compatibility with different router models.

Tabletop Material

The material of the tabletop can significantly impact the performance and durability of the router table. Common tabletop materials include aluminum, phenolic, laminated MDF, and cast iron. Aluminum and phenolic tabletops offer lightweight stability and smoothness, while cast iron provides exceptional stability and vibration-dampening properties. Laminated MDF is a more budget-friendly option that still offers decent performance.

Fence Design

The fence on a router table helps guide the wood and ensures precise cuts. Look for a router table with a sturdy and adjustable fence that can be easily positioned and locked into place. A split-fence design allows for more versatility and flexibility when working with different bit sizes and depths.

Dust Collection

Woodworking can generate a significant amount of dust and debris, which can affect visibility and cleanliness in the workshop. Choose a router table that offers a built-in dust collection system or has the option to attach an external dust collector. Keeping your workspace clean not only promotes better working conditions but also extends the lifespan of your router and other tools.

Mobility and Stability

Consider the mobility and stability features of the router table. If you anticipate needing to move the table frequently or want the ability to tuck it away when not in use, look for models with built-in wheels or a folding design. On the other hand, if stability is a priority, prioritize router tables with robust legs and a solid base that can withstand the pressure and vibration generated during routing operations.

Key Features and Components of Woodworking Router Tables

Understanding the key features and components of a woodworking router table will help you make an informed decision when purchasing and using one.


The tabletop is the main working surface of the router table. It needs to be flat, smooth, and rigid to ensure accurate and consistent routing results. As mentioned earlier, router table tabletops are typically made from materials such as aluminum, phenolic, laminated MDF, or cast iron. Choose a tabletop material that suits your preferences and budget, considering factors such as stability, durability, and vibration absorption.


The fence is an essential component of a router table. It functions as a guide to keep the wood aligned and provides support during routing. A well-designed fence should be adjustable to accommodate different sizes of wood and router bits. Look for a fence that offers precise micro-adjustment capabilities and sturdy locking mechanisms to ensure stability during cuts. Some advanced router tables may even have dual split-fences for improved versatility.

Router Mounting Plate

The router mounting plate is the platform on which the router is attached to the table. It needs to be compatible with your specific router model and have pre-drilled holes or an adjustable design to accommodate different routers. The mounting plate should be robust and provide a secure and level surface to hold the router firmly in place. Look for mounting plates made from durable materials, such as aluminum or phenolic, that can withstand the pressure and vibration generated during routing.

Miter Gauge

A miter gauge is a guide that helps make accurate crosscuts and angled cuts on the router table. It provides support and control while guiding the wood along the fence. Look for a router table that includes a miter gauge or has the option to attach a compatible one. Ensure that the miter gauge is easy to adjust and locks securely in place to maintain accuracy during the routing process.

Dust Collection System

A dust collection system is an important feature to consider, as it helps keep your workshop clean and protects your health by minimizing exposure to airborne particles. Look for a router table that includes a built-in dust collection system or has provisions for connecting an external dust collector or vacuum. Ensure that the dust collection system is efficient and easy to clean, as clogged dust ports can affect performance.

Setting Up and Using a Woodworking Router Table

Proper setup and usage of a woodworking router table are key to achieving accurate and safe results. Follow these steps to set up and use your router table effectively:

Assembly and Installation

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to assemble the router table accurately. Ensure that all components are securely fastened and that the table is stable. If necessary, adjust the legs or leveling mechanisms to ensure the table is level and balanced. Once assembled, mount your router securely onto the table using the designated mounting plate or inserts. Ensure that the router is aligned with the fence and that the collet and bit are properly installed.

Adjusting the Fence

Align the fence parallel to the router bit to ensure accurate cuts. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for specific methods of adjusting the fence on your router table. Use a square or a straightedge to verify that the fence is perfectly parallel to the miter gauge slot or miter track. Make any necessary adjustments and lock the fence into position. Double-check the alignment before proceeding with any routing operations.

Leveling the Tabletop

Ensure that the tabletop is level and flat to achieve precise results. Use a straightedge or a level to check for any unevenness or dips in the tabletop. Adjust the leveling mechanisms or legs accordingly to achieve a level surface. A level tabletop reduces the risk of inaccuracies and promotes even distribution of the wood’s weight during routing.

Safety Precautions

When using a woodworking router table, it is essential to prioritize safety. Always wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), including safety glasses or goggles to protect your eyes from flying debris, and ear protection to minimize noise exposure. Familiarize yourself with the router table’s safety features, such as emergency stop buttons or switches. Ensure that the router guard is in place and functioning correctly. If necessary, use push sticks or featherboards to maintain control and keep your hands away from the bit. Finally, always disconnect the power supply when changing router bits or making adjustments to the router table.

Essential Router Bits for Woodworking Router Tables

Router bits are the cutting tools used with a woodworking router table to shape and create various profiles and joinery. Here are some essential types of router bits commonly used on router tables:

Straight Bits

Straight bits, also known as edge bits, are the most basic and versatile router bits. They have a cutting edge that runs along the entire length of the bit, allowing for precise and clean cuts. Straight bits are ideal for cutting grooves, dadoes, and rabbets, as well as for creating straight edges and profiles.

Flush Trim Bits

Flush trim bits are designed to help trim the edges of one material so that they are flush with another surface. They feature a bottom-bearing pilot that follows the outline of an existing piece, while the cutting edges trim the excess material. Flush trim bits are commonly used for pattern routing or when you need to match the contour of multiple pieces.

Rabbeting Bits

Rabbeting bits are used to cut rabbets, which are recessed areas along the edge or face of a workpiece. These bits often come with interchangeable bearings that allow for different rabbet depths and widths. Rabbeting bits are useful for creating joints, such as dadoes or tongue-and-groove connections, as well as for making decorative profiles.

Chamfer Bits

Chamfer bits are used to create angled or beveled edges on wood. They can be used to soften sharp edges, create decorative edges, or prepare edges for joinery. Chamfer bits come in various angles, allowing you to achieve different bevel degrees. These bits are versatile and can add depth and visual interest to your woodworking projects.

Cove Bits

Cove bits are used to create concave or rounded profiles on the edges of wood. They are often used for decorative purposes, giving a project a more elegant and refined appearance. Cove bits can be used to create simple rounded edges or to add more intricate profiles when used in conjunction with other router bits.

Roundover Bits

Roundover bits are similar to cove bits but create a rounded edge with a larger radius. These bits are commonly used to soften sharp edges or to give tabletops, shelves, or furniture pieces a more finished and polished look. Roundover bits are available in various sizes, allowing you to achieve different degrees of rounding on your workpieces.

When selecting router bits, consider the specific profile or type of cut you want to achieve. Start with a few essential bits, and gradually expand your collection based on your woodworking needs and projects.

Basic Woodworking Techniques with a Router Table

A woodworking router table opens up a world of possibilities for creating various joinery and decorative profiles. Here are some basic woodworking techniques you can achieve with a router table:

Edge Profiling

One of the most common uses of a router table is to create decorative edges or profiles on workpieces. By using router bits, such as roundover bits or chamfer bits, you can add style and elegance to your projects. Secure the workpiece against the fence and guide it along the router table, keeping a firm grip on the wood and maintaining an even feed rate to achieve consistent results.

Dado and Groove Cutting

Dadoes and grooves are used to create joints or provide channels for attaching shelves, panels, or other wood components. A router table combined with a dado bit allows for precise and clean dado and groove cutting. Set the desired width and depth on the router table and use a miter gauge or a fence to guide the wood, maintaining a steady feed rate as you move the material across the bit.

Box Joints and Dovetail Joints

Box joints and dovetail joints are commonly used for joining corners or creating strong and aesthetically pleasing connections. Router tables equipped with specialized box joint or dovetail jigs make it easier to achieve precise and consistent results. These jigs guide the wood along the router bit, creating the necessary pins and tails for a tight and interlocking fit.

Raised Panel Cutting

Raised panels are often used for cabinet doors or other decorative woodworking applications. A router table with a specialized panel-raising bit allows you to shape the edges of a flat panel, creating a raised profile. Be sure to secure the workpiece firmly against the fence and follow the appropriate safety precautions to avoid kickback.


Mortising involves creating a cavity or slot in a workpiece to receive a tenon or another piece of wood. Using a router table with a dedicated mortising or plunge router bit allows for precise and efficient mortise cutting. Secure the workpiece using clamps or a router table fence, adjust the depth and width of the bit to match your desired mortise, and guide the wood along the bit in multiple passes to achieve the desired depth.

Always practice proper safety techniques when performing these woodworking techniques. Work slowly and steadily, using the appropriate safety equipment, such as push sticks or featherboards, to maintain control and protect yourself from potential hazards.

Maintenance and Care for Woodworking Router Tables

Proper maintenance and care for your woodworking router table are essential to keep it in good working condition and ensure optimal performance. Follow these guidelines to maintain your router table:

Cleaning the Tabletop and Fence

Regularly clean the tabletop and fence to remove sawdust, debris, or residue from finished projects. Use a brush or compressed air to dislodge any particles, and wipe the surface with a slightly damp cloth to remove stubborn dirt. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners, as they can damage the finish or the material of your router table.

Lubricating Moving Parts

Keep the moving parts of your router table well-lubricated to reduce friction and ensure smooth operation. Apply a lightweight lubricant or silicone spray to areas such as the fence tracks, miter gauge channels, or any other points where metal parts come into contact. Regular lubrication helps prevent rust and preserves the longevity of your router table.

Periodic Inspection and Adjustment

Regularly inspect your router table for any signs of wear, loose components, or misalignment. Check the stability of the legs or base, tighten any loose screws or bolts, and make necessary adjustments to ensure everything is securely fastened. Ensure that the router mounting plate is level and flat, as any tilt or imbalance can affect the accuracy of your cuts.

Advanced Techniques and Accessories for Woodworking Router Tables

As you become more experienced with using a woodworking router table, you may want to explore advanced techniques and accessories to enhance your woodworking capabilities:

Router Table Fences

If the existing fence on your router table does not meet your specific needs, consider upgrading to an aftermarket or custom fence system. These fences often offer enhanced adjustability, increased stability, and better dust collection capabilities. Choose a fence that suits your woodworking style and the types of projects you frequently undertake.

Router Lifts

A router lift is a device that allows for easy and precise height adjustment of the router bit from above the table. This eliminates the need to reach beneath the table to make adjustments, saving time and effort. Router lifts make it easier to change bits, set precise cutting depths, and maintain accuracy during routing operations.


Featherboards are adjustable devices that apply pressure to the workpiece, keeping it firmly against the fence or table surface during routing. They help prevent kickback and ensure a consistent feed rate, resulting in cleaner and safer cuts. Featherboards are especially useful when working with narrow or irregularly shaped pieces.

Insert Plates

Insert plates are removable plates that fit into the router table’s tabletop, providing a level, support surface for different router models. They allow for quick and easy router changes without the need to readjust the leveling or alignment of the table. Insert plates often feature pre-drilled holes and leveling screws for precise router mounting.

Router Table Extensions

Router table extensions are added sections that can be attached to existing table saws or workbenches, effectively expanding the work area and providing a dedicated space for routing operations. These extensions help maximize workspace utilization and offer a seamless transition between table saw and router table tasks.

Consider these advanced techniques and accessories as your woodworking skills progress and your projects become more complex. Each accessory adds a new level of precision and convenience, allowing you to take on more challenging woodworking tasks.

Safety Tips for Using a Woodworking Router Table

While woodworking router tables are versatile and powerful tools, it is crucial to prioritize safety when using them. Here are some essential safety tips to keep in mind:

Eye and Ear Protection

Always wear safety glasses or goggles to protect your eyes from flying debris and wood particles. Additionally, use ear protection, such as earmuffs or earplugs, to minimize exposure to loud noises produced by the router or other power tools in your workspace.

Using a Router Guard

A router guard is a protective cover that encloses the router bit while allowing the wood to pass through. It helps prevent accidental contact with the spinning bit and reduces the risk of injuries. Ensure that the guard is in place and functioning properly before starting any routing operations.

Router Table Push Sticks

When working with small or narrow workpieces, use push sticks to guide the wood through the router table. Push sticks allow you to maintain control and keep your hands safely away from the router bit. Use different types of push sticks depending on the shape and size of the workpiece, ensuring a secure grip and smooth feeding.

Using Featherboards

Featherboards are useful accessories for maintaining control and preventing kickback. Secure featherboards on the router table fence or tabletop to apply pressure against the wood, keeping it firmly in place during routing. Featherboards help maintain a steady feed rate and reduce the risk of kickback, leading to safer and more accurate cuts.

Disconnecting Power when Changing Bits

Whenever you need to change router bits or perform any adjustments to the router table, disconnect the power supply first. Unplugging the router or switching off the power ensures that there is no accidental startup or engagement of the router bit, protecting you from potential injuries.

By following these safety guidelines and using common sense when operating a woodworking router table, you can enjoy the benefits and versatility of this essential woodworking tool while minimizing the risks associated with woodworking operations.


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