Back then, people often used hand routers to deal with woodworking projects. They gained popularity for the afforable price and the ease of use until the introduction of router table.
This machine provides a stable and sturdy space to accommodate small to large wood pieces and slide them through the router for precious cuts.
But there is no one size fits all router tables for everyone.
That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the top 5 best router tables for specific uses, along with a detailed buying guide for your reference.
Table of Contents
- Top Rated Router Tables Comparison
- Why Should You Invest In A Router Table?
- Types of Router Tables
- 5 Best Router Tables – Reviews
- Things To Consider When Choosing The Best Router Table
- Safety Tips When Using A Router Table
- Frequently Asked Questions About Router Table
- Can I Fix My Router Table To A Taller Stand?
- How Do I Lift My Router?
- Can Any Router Be Used In A Router Table?
- What If The Router Fails to Fit The Mounting Plate?
- What Are Reliable Brands of Router Tables?
- Can You Use The Router Table As a Jointer?
- Why Are Feather Boards Important?
- Does The Router Table Create A Lot Of Dust?
Top Rated Router Tables Comparison
Why Should You Invest In A Router Table?
Imagine this stationary machine where an oriented spindle of the router vertically protrudes from the table at a high speed of 3000 or even 24,000 rpm. Chuck lie cutter heads on top of the spindle to mold a profile and cut the workpiece.
Compared to the hand-held machines, the router table can help handle small and large stationary items.
The stable flat bottom helps reduce the vibration, resulting in accurate cuts.
It would also be more secure and labor-saving as your hands are free of the pieces while cutting.
Also, you can focus on object while you routing because the router table keep your router in stable position and suitable.
There are multiple applications of the best router tables that make them worth it, such as:
Routing decorative moldings
When it comes to cutting several hundred feet of wood consistently, and in a time-sensitive schedule, the router table does it quickly with sharp blades and quick rotating motors.
Once you set up the bits and move the wood across, the tool takes care of the rest. The cuts are smooth and uniform for decorative purposes.
It is a common misconception that the big and bulky router table cannot cut small pieces.
The machine has a fence and height-adjusting parts of setting up as small dimensions as possible. You can cut narrow items quickly and under fewer injury risks.
- Cutting dovetails
Dovetail joints have a vast number of applications, and you can make these joints manually. It takes lots of time and effort, though. A router table facilitates this task with only two bits and two sleds, cutting the dovetails in various spaces.
Moreover, the router table can use to cut more applications as dados, rabbets, moldings, tenon, etc…
Types of Router Tables
Free-standing router tables are often bulky standalone units having a rigid base, massive worktop, and removable legs.
We would recommend them if you have a large workspace and frequent big projects. The tables can accommodate wide and long wood pieces.
Mobility, however, is a downside. Fortunately, many versions such as the Kreg PRS1045 we would introduce later here support the casters and caster locks to ensure transport and stability at a time.
Otherwise, go for the benchtop router tables if you want a smaller and portable tool for DIY or small cutting projects.
They are often just half of the free-standing versions’ sizes and with shorter legs. Cutting power is often more limited but acceptable.
Despite being less popular, extendable router tables are in-between. They normally work as a benchtop model, yet you can stretch the two sides to enhance the working space.
The drawback is that extendable versions are often less sturdy and easy to wear if you adjust the sides frequently.
5 Best Router Tables – Reviews
1. Bosch Benchtop Router Table RA1181
The Bosch RA1181 is a benchtop router whose working space is quite large so that you can handle almost all projects.
It also saves more room space and money than the free-standing models. Quality is another plus.
Our first impression is the generous tabletop. Its dimensions are 27 inches long and 18 inches wide without considering the height of legs, allowing it to work comfortably with wide wood planks and even wood sheets.
When closely looking, we even love this router table more, figuring out its machined aluminum surface. You can expect the top to be durable with little resistance to your wood pieces.
Other parts are also quality, such as the stiff molded table base, laminated MDF fence, and solid plastic adjustment knobs.
It is also worth mentioning that the table has a high-quality construction and features thoughtful parts.
For example, there are adjustable faceplates to customize the cut as you wish. Or, there is pre-drilled to fit almost all router models in the market.
You can find the adjustable feather boards, clear guards, sacrificial fencing face, dust collection port, keyed lock, etc. as well.
Its full accessories are a blessing for versatility yet a curse for installation. You will find it hard to understand at first. Moreover, adjusting the fence or leveling the baseplate can be a challenging task.
2. KREG Precision Router Table System, Kreg# PRS1045
At a glance, the KREG PRS1045 is far easier to install than the Bosch Benchtop Router Table RA1181.
This router table set includes a tabletop, router table, and sturdy steel legs with lockable casters. All are stable and durable.
The tabletop is made of 1-inch thick MDF rather than aluminum as the Bosch RA1181. It also has high-pressure laminated skin, though. Together, the top is durable and easily slides when you cut the wood.
The sizes of the tabletop are 24 inches wide and 32 inches long – the largest on our list. A larger top means more space to entail massive pieces for large projects.
In addition, you can adjust the height of stands from 31 to 39 inches.
Talking of the durable performance, you cannot ignore the heavy-gauge steel. Once you adjust the desired size and lock the casters, the table will support its stance and stability under such a high amount of weight.
We also appreciate other safety features of this Kreg machine. The independent fence is an instance. It features a T-square-like design to maintain the parallelism between the miter slot and fence for great measurements.
There are also two feather boards to prevent your careless fingers from slipping them into the tool. Thanks to those boards, pieces can stay straight for a very long time.
So far, so good, but the high price prevents the router table to the public. Many DIY or woodworking projects cannot afford it.
3. Bosch Cabinet Style Router Table RA1171
The Bosch RA1171 shares many features with its sibling – the Bosch RA1181 – but having a smaller size and some differences in building quality.
Although it is 5 pounds heavier than the RA1181, the RA1171’s tabletop is smaller. The dimensions are 25.5 inches long and 15.88 inches wide. And the maximum fence opening is 25 1/8 inches handle tall stock.
The machine is convenient for DIYers to deal with small tasks in a spare room.
You will not have an all-metal construction like the RA1181 because the top is made of laminated MDF to lower the overall cost. It still rivals the aluminum in longevity and allows cutting woodwork accurately.
Most noticeably, the RA1171 has a cabinet style that benefits storage and stability. The cabinet is quite large, so you can put a lot of stuff inside to save more working space in your room. There is also two dust port to collect dust more effectively.
DIYers usually work at home, so these features are really the icing on the cake to save space and improve the air quality for the whole family.
The mounting plates of the Bosch RA1171 are a downgrade, though. Although they are still pre-drilled aluminum plates, woodworkers find that their assembly and setting are more challenging than the RA1181.
4. Kreg PRS2100 Bench Top Router Table
The features of Kreg PRS2100, such as its extensive MDF tabletop or the four sturdy legs, allow cutting, sanding, and trimming large wood pieces quickly and accurately.
Like its brother – the KREG PRS1045, Kreg PRS2100 features a thick and durable MDF tabletop, having an easy-slide laminated coating.
The size is a bit smaller – 16 x 24 inches compared with 24x 32 inches. However, it can still accommodate large pieces with ease.
The Kreg PRS2100 professional router table has a full-size insert plate (9-¼ x 11-¾ x 3/8 inches) and three available Level-Loc rings despite its more compact size.
Thanks to that, the router table can support big routers in large projects. You just need to insert the router, twist and lock the rings in place and flush with the place’s surface.
You may think that working with large pieces will generate a lot of noise, but this is not the case for Kreg PRS2100.
The thick MDF top helps dampen vibration and reduce the noise significantly. This router table is among the quietest machines in its category.
We also appreciate that the router table is stable enough to improve the precise accuracy of large detailed work. It is due to the wide-stance stand made out of premium steel.
The plastic parts on the fence, such as the flip-down tabs, are our least fancy, though. They are prone to breakage when you work with heavy-duty tasks.
5. SKIL RAS900 Benchtop Router Table
When you do not use the router table much frequently and need to store, the Bosch and Kreg versions are necessarily expensive and space-wasting.
Instead, the SKIL RAS900 is among the best router tables for your pocket.
The SKIL RAS900 Table is the cheapest model on this list, considering that the manufacturer narrows down the features yet still gets the job done.
You will have a laminated MDF cutting surface, a guard, a starter pin, a fence, and a clamp system in the package.
We like the Quick Clamp to attach different routers with no use of the inserts. You can also change bits quickly and start the job.
The starter pin and guard are also useful to support curves cutting accurately and precisely.
Excitingly enough, this good router table comes pre-assembly. You just need to insert the router and adjust the eight with fine adjustment to start working right away.
When not using it, you can find the legs and set them aside until the next cutting. Then store all the guides, accessories, and guide rail stores in the leg-based compartments.
Overall, the table features good dimensions of 17.72 x 27.87 x 9.17 inches and thoughtful accessories as mentioned for the DIYers.
You should not try large wood pieces, though. Some parts of the SKIL RAS900 Table are plastic, and they are bent easily.
Things To Consider When Choosing The Best Router Table
Since the router tables are often bulky, you will want to carefully consider your available working space and the woodworking tasks’ requirements to pick up suitable machines.
Most tabletops we know feature sizes of 22-36 inches long and 16-24 inches wide. They can handle wood pieces ranging from 6 and 8 feet long.
The wider the table is, the greater support it can offer to your wide boards. However, it also means the machines are harder to stay within your workshop and move around.
The cutting tabletop must be flat. While cutting, even a small irregularity on the surface results in uneven edge profiles and skewed joints. Some materials provide a better flatness than others.
Moreover, the tabletop needs to be rigid enough to handle the downward pressure in feeding the wood and support the router’s weight from deflecting.
- Medium-Density Fiberboard (MDF)
MDF is the most practical choice since it balances the affordability and the durability of the tabletop.
The acceptable thickness of the MDF router is 1 inch. It would be better if the surface comes with additional high-pressure laminate or melamine to maintain the flatness from wear and facilitate the sliding.
- Solid Phenolic Resin
An upgrade from the MDF material is the solid phenolic resin. It has a natural toughness and integrity, mocking moisture away.
No matter how long of intense use, resin tables keep being flat, lightweight, and durable.
Unfortunately, the material is expensive, and not many router tables are made out of resin.
The best material for the router table is metal – mostly aluminum. It gives an extra stable, flat, and sturdy experience under heavy and large wood pieces.
It is also costly and heavy, for your information. The aluminum is worth your serious consideration when it is involved in pro or commercial cutting projects.
Table Router Compatibility
You must ensure that the chosen table is compatible with your current router. Otherwise, it leads to inaccurate and dangerous cuts.
Always check the types of routers recommended by the manufacturer and, when possible, buy the tables and routers from the same brand.
If you have multiple routers from different manufacturers, choosing the table with base insert places and pre-drilled holes is necessary to facilitate the assembly.
Now get a closer look at the base plate mentioned above. Its responsibility is to support the weight of the attached router.
Thus, the plate must be substantial. Those made out of machined aluminum are good choices.
Be carefully checking the pre-drilled holes as well. There are almost no “one-size-fits-all” plates, and you must stay away if they have too many screw holes. Those holes lessen the durability of the places and offer dust and debris to go in.
Rather than the flat base plate itself, you should look for the plate-leveling system. It often consists of leveling screws to adjust the fit and lock the plates down from the table underside.
The fence is another important part of the router table, with which you can control the cut by pressing the workpiece and past the bit securely. It comes in different qualities and functionalities.
Sometimes, the router table fence might be only a straight piece of lumber; meanwhile, it can feature incremental position mechanisms and advanced features.
- One-Piece Fence
In some budget models, the fence is only single lumber clamped into the tabletop. You do not need to shift the fence to lock down the wood, but it has only limited sizes of bits and holds.
You need to make sure that the clearance hole is big enough to fit the largest diameter you plan to use.
Nonetheless, when you use significantly smaller bits, there are gaps between the bit and the router table fence, leaving your wood unsupported.
- Split Fence
As the name suggests, the fence has two separate and adjustable parts. You easily set up the infeed size differently from the outside so that the table can be used as an edge jointer.
Miter and T-Slots
Besides routers, you might want to use a miter gauge to hold the wood at set angle and to cut it more efficiently.
However, you must first check the drilled slots and T-slots available on the table to avoid lobbing a couple of inches of the fence.
Bosch RA1181 and Kreg PRS1045 have those miter and T-slots ready to use for long and narrow pieces.
When you cut through wood, especially when using a powerful tool like a router, you would experience a lot of wood dust. It looks harmless.
However, too much dust can pose health risks, explosions, and decreased productivity.
It is still a big plus if there is a dust collection port for your router table. You can use an adapter to attach it to the collection system to suck the debris while working to easy cleanup.
Some other useful parts you might find on router tables nowadays.
For instance, there are router lifts to micro-adjust the bit height, easy change bits. You can purchase them separately as add-ons if the router table doesn’t have this feature.
You will also prefer having the storage bins/drawers built on the body of the tables such as those of Bosch Cabinet Style Table RA1171.
However, we recommend it if you hardly move your table around since the cabinet adds weight and takes up room spaces.
To make transport much easier in such cases, some brands install the locked wheels or carts under the legs. It is a nice addition.
It is also important to consider the price of router tables, which depends on their size, performance, quality build, additional accessories, and what require for your project.
You will not want to go for surprisingly cheap models since they might end up a scam and break quickly. Or an expensive model if you only use it for small projects or you use the table occasionally.
Some of the products have prices cheap and affordable, while other advanced ones with more features can be over $500.
We would suggest a full-package model like the Bosch RA1181. It has extra adjustable feather boards, fencing face, and dust collection, etc., so you can save a bunch of accessories.
This table also offers a suitable size for both small and large cutting projects with affordable price.
Safety Tips When Using A Router Table
You need to always read the user guide and safety features carefully before you turn on the router.
- Unplug the router whenever you are about to change its bit.
- Push the bit and tighten the nut about ¼ of the shank.
- Cover the bit with a guard when possible.
- Set up carefully table fence before start use
- Wear goggles and hearing protection gear.
- Always stay away from the bit.
- Move the pieces along the fence in the direction of right to left.
- Clamp the router and securely tighten all bolts.
Frequently Asked Questions About Router Table
Can I Fix My Router Table To A Taller Stand?
Only when you set up the table to have the desired height can you cut the wood comfortably and accurately. Some models allow you to adjust the stand; meanwhile, others require you to buy additional lifters.
How Do I Lift My Router?
There are two types of router plates: fixed and adjustable ones. If the table only has the fixed plate underneath the top, you find it awkward to grope the router bits.
At that time, you need to invest in a router lifter. It is easier if the table features adjustable plates. You will benefit from adjusting the height with several knobs and tights.
Can Any Router Be Used In A Router Table?
No, it is based on the compatibility of the insert plate. Fortunately, some models are designed to work with various types of routers, for example, Bosch Benchtop Router Table RA1181.
What If The Router Fails to Fit The Mounting Plate?
You will want to consider buying a blank router that allows drilling holes to accommodate your specific router.
What Are Reliable Brands of Router Tables?
Bosch and Kreg are the most famous brands in the industry.
The first one is the second largest German-based company that masters in making router tables.
The second stands out for its quality-built and easy-to-use router tables for both casual hobbyist and pro users.
Can You Use The Router Table As a Jointer?
Yes. Using the table as a jointer is a great idea to save money and room space spent for additional tools.
You can use the infeed table to offset the outfeed table, in combination with the inverted router to straighten narrow edges.
Why Are Feather Boards Important?
Featherboards help to hold the wood against the table’s fence and down on the cutting surface. That way, you are safer from kickbacks.
You can also improve the cutting’s accuracy and consistency when the wood lies flatly and securely in place.
Does The Router Table Create A Lot Of Dust?
Dust generation depends on the type of wood and the power of the cutting router.
However, tables often help cut the stocks quickly and in a large amount, it can produce mountains of chips in a short time. It is better to have a dust collection system or port available.
All of the machines reviewed above, the best router table title goes to the Bosch Benchtop Router Table RA1181.
This benchtop table has an extensive cutting space, along with powerful and secure features and accessories. More importantly, the price is not too high, considering its quality.
The runner-up is SKIL RAS900 Router Table – an affordable but quality package. It is pre-assembled and easy to operate with several parts.
However, the limited working space and adjustments make the table suitable for DIYers or small projects only.
If you want more advanced models, you can take a look at other router tables on the list as KREG PRS1045
The importance is to check your router carefully in advance to find a compatible table. Moreover, you must ensure that all parts are quality-built enough.
We hope you will pick the right product for your job. Enjoy it!