The essential components of every top quality Router Table (and why they are important)
To get the best out of a router table, you need to be familiar with its components and their functions. The diagram below shows the standard components that every router table should have. The model illustrated is the Bosch RA1171.
The most important component in any router table, it provides a flat, smooth surface to support the workpiece as you feed it into the router bit.
Almost as important as the table top itself, the fence guides the workpiece. By adjusting the position of the fence, moving it forwards or backwards in relation to the router bit, you can control the size and position of the cut on the stock.
Insert or Mounting Plate
The router is mounted (screwed) to the mounting plate and the mounting plate sits in a rebated cutout in the table top. Fixing the router to a mounting plate and not directly to the table makes it easy to remove for changing bits.
Encloses the router to reduce noise and improve dust extraction. Not all router tables feature an enclosed cabinet – some have an open design. There are advantages and disadvantages to both designs.
Miter Gauge Slot
Allows you to use a Miter Gauge to guide the workpiece when routing across the grain. Also accepts the hold-in featherboard.
All router tables have a dust collection through the fence via a port on the back of the fence to reduce mess and provide a less hazardous working environment. Cabinet style router tables may additionally have a dust collection port at the rear of the cabinet to collect dust and chipping that fall through the insert plate opening.
Adjustable Bit Guard
Operator safety is a primary concern at all times and every router table should have a clear, adjustable bit guard mounted on the fence above the router bit to keep fingers away from the spinning bit. In addition the bit guard prevents chips from being thrown upwards into your eyes.
Featherboards are adjustable for the width and thickness of the stock and apply pressure on the workpiece as you feed it onto the router bit to hold it down against the table top and tight against the fence. Their design only allows the workpiece to be fed in one way thus preventing the possibility of kickback.
A T-slot running along the top edge of the fence accepts the top, hold-down featherboard and any other accessories such as a fence stop. Some router tables also have a T-slot in the table top – usually a combination miter/T-slot.
The above components are standard on all router tables and enable you to perform all the basic functions that you need to easily and safely and depending on what you use your router table for, you may never need anything else.
For those of you who want to expand their capabilities and take on more advanced projects there is a huge choice of add-ons such as router lifts, advanced router table fences and many other router table accessories all of which are designed to make life easier and safer.