Router table: the concept is simple-- you stick a router in a table.
How complicated could that be?
Well... actually kind of complicated it turns out.
Lots of different companies out there are trying to sell lots of very similar tables.
We’re here to help you find the best router table for you.
We’ll give you some advice on what to look for, and then recommend a couple of our favorite options as well.
Bench Dog 40-001
Best for hobbyist
Kreg PRS1045 Precision
Best professional rotuer table
Best for the money
Craftsman Router and Router Table
Router and table combo
Best router and table combo
Kreg PRS 2100
Best benchtop router table
BUYING GUIDE FOR BEGINNER WOODWORKERS
Types Of Router Table And Which Is Best Fit For You:
Router tables come in three styles:
- And extension (typically between the front and rear rails of a table saw).
Bench-top and extension are going to be your space savers-- I personally don’t use a router table too often, and being able to store the unit under the workbench is a big plus.
If you’ve got the floorspace and don’t mind a little commitment, then a stationary router table will bring your routing game to the next level.
How To Find A Perfect Router Table?
Here are some of the features you should look for to get best router table:
Router Table Top:
Table top needs to be flat.
The simple fact is that if the surface is not flat enough, there will be irregularities and this will affect the output, resulting in uneven edges, skewed joints and other issues.
Anytime you make a list of features to look for in a router table, this will be near the top and deservedly so.
Flatness and rigidity are very important because your router table must not flex when there’s downward pressure as it will affect the accuracy of the cut.
In fact, a board that’s less than flat is going to damage the molding or a board’s edge. For these reasons, a flat router table top is of the essence.
Router Fence :
Router fence is very important, as it will guide the workpiece through the router bits, so it needs to be precise and easy to position. In the majority of router table projects you will manage the cut by having the work piece set on the fence as it advances on the bit.
Because the fence plays such a vital function you’ll want a high quality version.
On one end are the basic fences that are made up of a simple piece of lumber that’s attached on the table. At the high end are fences equipped with incremental positioning. In the end, it’s up to you, but make sure the fence is straight, rigid and square.
They must also be easy to position and with a wide adjustment range.
Steady base :
This one is self-explanatory because for precision woodworking, a stable base is essential.
A steady base is also paramount if your project requires crisp and clean cuts. Another benefit of a stable base is your work piece will be in constant contact with your cutter.
The end result of all these is you get smooth, fluid motion, and this is impossible if the base is wobbly or keeps on shifting. Most importantly, an unsteady base can be dangerous: if you’re using a router to spin a bit thousands of times a second and it topples over, it could have dangerous consequences.
In other words you need to be careful and make sure the router table is balanced.
Router insert plate :
Plate has to be flat and rigid because it’s going to affect the layout and the table’s functions. The insert plate also needs to be flat because the cutting portion of your workpiece will be going through that any unevenness will deter the quality of the cut.
It also goes without saying that the insert plate has to be compatible with your router.
The good part is this doesn’t have to be an issue with most router tables because most systems provide several types of plates that have been pre-drilled for at least a couple of router models and makes.
Dust collection port:
The dust collector needs to be of sufficient capacity so your workspace remains clean. This is one of the more neglected aspects of router tables, but it should not be ignored.
If you’re just starting out, saw dust may not be much of a problem, but the more you work the more it will become apparent that a generous dust collection port is essential.
Occupy less space:
The best router tables are not only powerful but space savers as well, and this is crucial if your workspace is limited.
A lot of today’s router tables put emphasis on space economy in response to the requests of customers, and if don’t have a lot of room, then this will really come in handy.
What it all boils down to is this: if space is limited, get a compact router table but make sure there’s no compromise when it comes to performance.
Fortunately this won’t be as big of a problem as it used to be thanks to the way new router tables are made, with emphasis on features and quality without occupying too much space.
Compatibility with your router:
A quick note: please make sure your router will fit with whichever table you end up buying.
The worst thing in the world is to buy a router table only to have your router be too big, short, etc.
Read more: Best Routers For Router Table
Quick and easy bit height adjustment:
In a routing setup, the bit sees most of the action.
Changing out bits, raising and lowering bits-- in short, you want your bits to be easy access.
If you mount the router on a base plate, you’ll be reaching under the tabletop to adjust the bit height.
You’ll have to lift the whole router and base plate out of the table just to change the bits.
Talk about a hassle.
Some routers can be adjusted above the table height, but I wouldn’t count on this for the majority.
There are alternatives:
Router lifts consist of a carriage, ratcheting mechanism, and base plate.
These allow you to raise and lower the router with the use of a crank.
Router lifts give you the most precise height adjustments around, and make for simple bit changing.
Why Should You Mount A Router On A Router Table?
Buying the Router Table vs. Building One
Any time you do research to find the best router table, you’re going to come across the build vs. buy debate.
Let’s look at the situation more closely to answer the question which is better.
The biggest advantage of building a router table is you can customize it to suit your needs.
You can buy and install other components, and you can add or remove the accessories as you see fit.
But you will only get to know your needs if you had worked on router table extensively.
The advantage of buying a router table is you don’t have to go through the complex process of creating a router table.
Unless you’re an expert, the DIY approach is going to take a lot of time. In addition, buying separate parts can be costly.
But more than anything else, today’s router tables are feature packed and come with virtually everything you need.
If you’re just starting out there’s a very good chance the features you need are already available in entry level router tables, and there are even advanced models if you’re a high end user.
As we’ll show in the reviews later, these router tables are fully functional. The bottom line is, there’s reason why more woodworkers prefer to buy router tables which are already made.
They’re simpler to use, won’t require any DIY knowledge on your part and as pointed out earlier, it’s cheaper in the long run.
Unless you’re experienced enough to build a router table, it’s more practical to simply buy one and get on with your woodworking activities.
Benchtop V/S Standalone
The benchtop is smaller and must be placed on tables, but they’re great for small tasks especially if properly built. If you’re just starting out and getting a feel for how a router table works, a benchtop will do nicely and should more than suffice for now.
They’re also less expensive and would do well for a start.
That being said there are benefits to using the larger standalone router tables: for one thing the larger workspace means you will be able to do more stuff without having to worry about the space.
As pointed out earlier, these router tables are designed to better handle vibrations without causing any distractions.
Even if you’re just starting out but serious about honing your craft and want to tackle complex projects in the future, it might be a good idea to invest in a quality standalone router table.
Regardless which you decide to buy, it is imperative you research the product thoroughly. Aside from checking the manufacturer’s website, it’s a good idea to get feedback from other users.
As you can see, both the benchtop and standalone have benefits, and it’s really dependent on your requirements.
Professional V/S Hobbyist
For professionals you will want only the top rated router table and those with the most number of features so you don’t have to purchase additional accessories.
If you’re a pro, a standalone router table or table and router combo will do fine and should be able to handle your needs.
Also keep the size and capacity of the router table in mind: as was mentioned before you can always buy an extension if necessary, but it’s always a good idea to provide an allowance when buying a router.
If you’re a hobbyist there’s no need to splurge on an expensive unit as there are entry level options sold online.
These are all ready to use and have enough features to get you started. Whether you’re a pro or a hobbyist, there’s something here that will satisfy your needs.
Router Table V/S Shaper:
The main difference between the two is in their RPMs.
Routers spin fast (20,000 RPMs), while shapers spin a bit slower (10,000 RPMs).
Their lower RPMs allow shapers to run for long periods of time without wearing down. You can run them every day for multiple hours, in a way that you simply can’t with routers.
Shapers and shaper bits are more expensive.
They’re more specialized, industrial scale machines.
Routers are more versatile as they can be taken out of a given table and used as a handheld machine.
We’ll focus on router tables in this article, but feel free to check out these links if you’d like to know more:
9 TOP ROUTER TABLE OF 2019 - REVIEWS
1. Bosch RA1181 - Best Overall
The Bosch RA1181 proves that a quality router doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. In spite of its low price, the Bosch RA1181 provides you with all the functionalities you need.
Bosch RA1181 is compatible with a wide range of routers and arguably the best router table at this price.
The table comes with a 2-1/2 inch dust collection port, which is ideal for keeping your environment tidy.
Balance is essential feature of any quality router table, and that’s what you get here thanks to the aluminum top. It doesn’t bend in, and the screws let you mount the plate properly.
When you buy the Bosch RA1181, it will be bundled with the required mounting hardware, so setting up the router won’t be a problem. It’s compact and takes very little space.
Last but not least, the router table comes with a built-in cord wrap, so it’s easy to transport and store. While this is a budget router table, that doesn’t change the fact that it’s effective and delivers results.
Read More: Router Table Duel: Bosch RA1181 VS RA1171
Compatible Routers with BoschRA1181:
2. KREG Precision RT System - Best For Professional
Good fundamentals with few flaws:
Probably the KREG Precision system is the best router table for a professional.
The KREG brings a lot to the table. We’ve got high expectations considering the price point!
A router table is only as good as its fence...
...and the KREG delivers. The fence is easy to adjust and easy to square.
Not only that:
The fence stays squared. Obviously not forever, but for a long time. Checking your fences for square is always important, but the KREG will have your back the times you forget to do it.
Easy assembly lets you get started quick:
We love that this table is easy to put together. Directions are clear and straightforward. That means we get to spend less time assembling, and more time doing.
Steel stand is adjustable...
...going from 31” to 39” in height. The more you can adjust the height, the more comfortable you can be, and working more comfortably often means working more safely.
A quick word on the materials of this table:
In general, we were pleasantly surprised with the construction quality and eye to detail. This table will cost you, but we’re happy to say its quality is reflected in the price.
The drill-your-own-holes feature is cool but...
...the actual insert plate is a bit flimsy. In theory you can fit any router in this table: it is completely customizable.
But if the insert plate is 1/16” of an inch off (which it was, in some cases), it could throw off your whole job.
The KREG is here to stay:
This is a great table, especially if you’ve got the money. Just make sure to double check that pesky insert plate.
3. Benchdog 40-001- Best For Hobbyist
Bench Dog 40-001 ProTop is one of the best benchtop router table on the market and probably the best router table for a hobbyist.
The Bench Dog may be compact in size, but it’s loaded with features that will satisfy the needs of any hobbyist.
If you’re working on a complex project where mobility is a must, the table’s portability will prove essential.
One of the distinct features of the Bench Dog is its forward offset router setting, and its dual-position ProFence provides an extensive work surface for handling various tasks and projects.
The Bench Dog ProTop was also designed to offer maximum stability without compromising durability. The ProTop was built with versatility in mind and should satisfy the needs of a serious DIY or a professional craftsman.
One of the best features on the ProTop is its high quality fence: it’s a one-piece aluminum frame built for heavy duty use, and it is connected to the bottom and front surfaces to ensure the table top stays flat.
The ProTop comes with adjustable sub-fences and a bit guard for zero tolerance. It also has an aluminum miter track, so you can use different miter gauges on the unit.
Compatible Routers with Benchdog 40-001:
4. Skil RAS900 - Best For The Money
The little runt of the bunch:
Though this Skil router table lacks some things in overall quality, its sheer charm can’t be beat.
One thing this table really has going for it is its compact size. The legs fold up underneath, and there are storage compartments for the fence and other accessories.
Here’s the thing:
As a DIYer, I’m not looking to spend too much money or take up too much space with bulky machines that I don’t use very often. This Skil table ticks both those boxes.
Included miter gauge for versatility...
Small touches like this go a long way. The folks at Skil realized that their customers would be looking for a cheap router table.
They didn’t need to include a miter gauge, hell they could’ve charged extra for it. But they did anyway, and it ain’t a bad one at that!
Mounting a router made easy:
The Skil RAS900 table features a quick-release router mount that lets you clip in in seconds.
Mounting may be quick, but...
...make sure your router will fit with this table. Some models (including some made by Skil, like the 1827) may be too big or too small. It’s never fun to find out after the fact.
Small promises, big personality:
This table isn’t going to change the world. But, if you’re looking for something cheap to use once in a blue moon, then look no further.
5. Best Router and Table Combo - Craftsman RT Combo
The duality of routers:
This Craftsman router table combo teaches us the highs and lows of what it means to be a router (or router table).
A combo? At that price?!
To be honest, when I first saw this I was a little shocked. The ability to buy both the router and table as a complete package is great for the DIYer looking to kill two birds with one stone.
Though the table seems light...
...it actually performs much better than we originally thought. You can always clamp it down to a bench for extra sturdiness, but I have a feeling you’d be surprised at how well it performs on its own.
24” x 17” x 10”:
This table is compact. At just under 30 pounds, you won’t be doing anything too crazy with this table, so keep that in mind.
The router itself is...
...not very strong, as you might expect. I would not recommend using any collets or bits bigger than 1/4”.
Overall, this router/table combo is cheap both in price but also feel. Mostly plastic parts. Craftsman and Sears are also on their way out, so replacement parts and collets, etc. are tough to find.
This router combo is kind of like a fast food combo:
It’s cheap, quick, and will do the job-- you just won’t feel that great about it.
6. Kreg PRS2100 - Best Benchtop Table
Like an expensive hired gun:
The Kreg is sleek, mature, and pulls no punches: like James Bond but without the suit.
Let’s talk stats right off the bat...
...starting with the fence. An industrial quality fence with cam clamps keep your pieces squarer for longer and locked in place. It’s made from anodized aluminum so you know it’s flat, and can be used as a vertical jointer.
Thick MDF table top dampens vibration:
The last thing you want when routing is the jitters. Routing can be extremely dangerous. The MDF tabletop is going to keep everything nice and cushiony relaxed.
It’s also nice and big: at 16” x 24”, you’ll be able to fit any number of workpieces on that tabletop.
We appreciate dust collection:
This Kreg table comes with a hole right in the fence for a shop vac. Keeping dust out of the way is important not only for your sight but for your lungs as well.
Add the wide steel legs and rubber feet, and you’re looking at one heck of a table here.
Just James Bond couldn’t be pinned down...
...similarly, it’s hard to pin this table down. As in, to assemble it. It’s a long process and requires some creative thinking. That’s what the internet is there for though!
If I told you anymore, I’d have to kill you:
Why not whip up a martini, dry-- shaken not stirred, and get down to some routing?
7. Best Cabinet Router Table - Bosch RA1171
If the Kreg PRS2100 is James Bond...
...then here I present to you the “terminator” of routing tables.
Dust collection overload:
This Bosch table features not just one dust collection port, but two. That’s just one bonus of it’s cabinet-style design.
Nice tall fence:
Having a tall fence is one of those things that I never thought I’d appreciate until I used a router table with a short fence. At nearly 5”, the aluminum fence on this Bosch will have you feeling like a baby kangaroo wrapped up in its mom’s pouch:
Cradled and warm.
It’s in the details for this table:
Goodies include adjustable featherboards, adjustable clear guard, outfeed shims, and other things. Some router tables feel very much like you’re buying a simple table.
The Bosch feels like you’re buying an entire routing experience.
One important drawback:
Leveling the center plate on this table is... difficult. There are four leveling screws, and then four additional mounting screws for mounting the actual router.
Only problem is, once you’ve leveled the the plate, mounting the router throws the plate out of level. This can be a frustrating paradox.
The “self destruct button” is like, right there.
This table would be a delight, if not for the glaring weakness smack dab in the center of it. Unfortunately, we cannot ignore just how annoying that center plate can be.
If you plan on mounting a router in this table permanently, you’ll probably be fine. But if you’re looking to switch out the router every so often to use on other things, be wary.
8. Best Table System - JESSEM Mast-R-Lift Excel II
This Jessem router table is as close to perfection as you can be:
There’s only one negative thing about this table: the price.
Hoo boy, this thing is huge:
Okay not like huge huge, but it’s a 24” x 32” table top and 98 pounds to boot. This is a big table, for the big boys doing the big jobs.
But that also means you’ll have to shell out big boy money for it too.
Sturdy yet adjustable fences...
...made from aluminum, which is pretty much the standard.
There really... aren’t any drawbacks to be found here:
It’s strange: it isn’t often that you come across an all-around solid product like this. There are no glaring weaknesses here. Not even really any mild annoyances.
Solid construction, great materials. It does what it’s supposed to and does it well. I suppose it is pretty darn expensive though.
In a perfect world...
...we would all own Jessem router tables. We would all make enough money to afford to buy one. We’d all have garages or workshops as big as airline hangars.
9. Benchdog 40-102 - Best For Table Saw Extension
Bench Dog Tools 40-102 ProMax is our best pick for extension tables.
This is an industrial grade extension which adds a great deal of functionality to your table saw without taking up too much space.
If you have the top-performing router table, with limited working space, it’s not going to produce the top-notch work you crave.
Thats why we recommend the ProMax as its enhances the functionality of your table saw and makes it easier to use.
The ProMax also comes with a miter gauge track, so if you need to make adjustments to your project, it will always be accurate.
The ProMax was created with space in mind. Thanks to its dual fence slot configuration, you can turn the fence and work from whatever table side you prefer, making it easy for you to adjust the surface area.
The ProMax also comes with an extra miter slot so your table saw can better handle crosscut sleds.
Finally, the unit comes with a dust collection port, so your work area remains clean.
With All The Cards On The Table...
...we’re going to crown the Bosch RA1181 as the winner. We love the high-quality aluminum top as well as the convenient dust collection port.
It’s also compatible with a wide variety of routers. To balance it out, the price point is great for this level of quality.
There are technically better tables on this list, like the unbeatable Jessem. If price and space weren’t part of our considerations, Jessem would take the number 1 spot in a heartbeat.
The Kreg PRS2100 also stands toe-to-toe with the Bosch RA1181 in terms of stats and features.
That just goes to show that this is a strong list, and just about every table on here should meet your need just fine.
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