Which is the best router for router table work?
A lot of experienced woodworkers would agree that mounting your router in a router table is the single biggest thing that you can do to increase your routing capabilities. A router table increases the range of jobs you can perform with your router and allows you to easily take on advanced projects such as raised panels, use larger cutters that are too big to control freehand as well as making it easier and safer to do things like putting edge moldings on narrow workpieces.
Things To Consider When Choosing A Router For Router Table Work
Since one of the reasons for using a router table is so that you can use larger router bits like raised panel cutters, you need to be looking at a router with
- A powerful motor that’s up to the job of removing large amounts of stock – a minimum of 2HP and preferably 3HP
- Variable speed – the golden rule is, the larger the router bit, the slower the speed, so you need a router that allows you to slow it right down for the largest cutters
- A 1/2-inch collet – large cutters only come on 1/2-inch shanks, which are stronger, more durable and vibrate less giving you a better quality cut
And since you’ll be mounting the router upside down under the router table there are a couple of other features that will make life easier
- The motor must be easy to remove from the base – you don’t want to be fiddling around under the router table to change bits. It’s much easier to completely remove the motor from the base, and you need a quick release mechanism to facilitate this.
- Even better – the facility to perform bit changes and make depth adjustments from above the table – some routers come with a bit wrench that you insert through a hole in the table to make depth adjustments or crank all the way up to change bits.
- A good range of depth travel – you’ve already lost the thickness of the router table top, so you want a good range to let you make deep cuts above the table.
Top 2 Choices For Router Table Work
Milwaukee 5625 Heavy Duty 3-1/2 HP Router
The Milwaukee 5625 is Milwaukee’s top-of-the-range, heavy-duty, fixed-base production router with a massive 3-1/2-hp motor which will eat anything you can throw at it. It has a number of features such as an integrated router lift that make it an excellent choice for router table work, and the large, angled D-handles are more comfortable and give you more control than conventional handles when routing freehand.
Porter Cable 7518 Heavy Duty 3-1/4 HP Router
The Porter Cable 7518 is a heavy-duty, five speed, 3-1/4 hp fixed base router designed to be primarily used in a router table, and has all of the important features that you need for heavy-duty router table work, such as a 1/2-inch collet, good range of depth adjustment and the motor unit is easy to remove from the base to enable quick and easy bit changes without skinning your knuckles.
Which One To Go For? And Why?
When it comes to choosing between them, we would go for the Milwaukee 5625. It’s a true production router and has a number of useful features for use in a table such as an industry standard bolt-hole pattern for maximum compatability, removable handles to allow for easier fitting into the table and the easy above-table height adjustment with the supplied T-wrench. Along with its powerful motor with soft start and variable speed it has all the key features you should be looking for if you’re planning on doing a lot of router table work.