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post #1 of 11 Old 01-02-2013, 10:30 PM Thread Starter
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Cheap router table insert

Any of you all ever made a cheap router table insert? I guess this might be cutting corners and might not even be a good idea but I'm wondering if there are any common materials out there that work well enough to get by as an insert.

I'll even embarrass myself and say that I saw some 3/8 inch thick, plastic cutting boards at Harbor Freight the other day, and remembered reading that these can make good template blanks for routing patterns to be used again and again, and then I wondered if they might not work as an insert. I figured they'd be too weak but since they felt so stiff I wasn't sure.

So now I want to make a router table from MDF and double up the top to be 1.5 inches thick. This would make bit changing below the table a chore so I figured I'd need an insert to let me lift it up. I could just do MDF. Is that good enough? Any swelling issues that might make getting it out a problem? Would taking it in and out wear the edges out and cause problems?

Last edited by Duane Bledsoe; 01-02-2013 at 10:34 PM.
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post #2 of 11 Old 01-02-2013, 11:00 PM Thread Starter
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I was looking at different inserts and ran across this.

http://www.grizzly.com/products/Rout...h-Stand/T10432

Now I'm wondering if this might be a better solution than making my own table. My needs are simple, and this would allow portability and outdoor use. I don't have much confidence in the stand, looks just like the rickety one on my job site table saw. The table itself is nice though, and the fence decent, and it has an insert.
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post #3 of 11 Old 01-03-2013, 02:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duane Bledsoe View Post
I was looking at different inserts and ran across this.

http://www.grizzly.com/products/Rout...h-Stand/T10432

Now I'm wondering if this might be a better solution than making my own table. My needs are simple, and this would allow portability and outdoor use. I don't have much confidence in the stand, looks just like the rickety one on my job site table saw. The table itself is nice though, and the fence decent, and it has an insert.
Hi Duane - That looks like the same table MLCS is selling for $170 without the stand. The price has jumped $10 in the last week though. They have had that table for $139 for the last few months. Not a bad price for a starter table though. For a cheap router plate, they used to sell the replacement plate as a part for that table for $13, not sure if that price is still good. You can get the part number for the plate by clicking the "Parts list pdf" button on the grizzly site and then calling them to get the price and check the availability.
Depending on the weight of your router, the plastic cutting board would also work. The main issue is you would also need to make inserts for the plate to choke the hole down for the smaller bits.
I wouldn't go the MDF route for a plate, by the time you get thick enough to support the router you would have given up a lot of depth of cut.

John

If I strive for perfection, I can generally achieve good'nuff, If I strive for good'nuff, I generally achieve firewood
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post #4 of 11 Old 01-03-2013, 07:56 AM
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1/2" ply works well. i have a table that holds 3 at the same time. i made my table out of 3/4" ply for the support with 1/2" ply for the top. i used the same 1/2" ply for the inserts.

just another option. while $13 is about as inexpensive as it gets, $13 buys me enough ply to make 4 of my own insert.
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Last edited by Chris Curl; 01-03-2013 at 07:59 AM.
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post #5 of 11 Old 01-03-2013, 08:35 AM Thread Starter
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Well if I went the cutting board route then I would just make a general sized hole of around an inch or so and let it be. I'm using a super cheap router table now that has no insert at all but it's not large enough. It has only a single sized opening though and the hole size hasn't caused me any issues. I made a fence for it since the original was junk and the opening in it has caused me more trouble than anything else has, it's too large. I made it 2 inches. Should have been smaller. So I want to make either a two piece fence, or have sacrificial fronts that I can attach for zero clearance fences on my next one.

I also want up to a 3.5 inch opening for a panel raising bit so I would make two plates and swap them out as needed.

Chris, what kind of plywood is that? I was thinking of MDF for its stability and flatness as opposed to the plywood I have to choose from here (Lowe's only) being prone to warp. I keep reading about Baltic birch plywood being very stable but no one here sells it.

Last edited by Duane Bledsoe; 01-03-2013 at 08:38 AM.
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post #6 of 11 Old 01-03-2013, 09:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duane Bledsoe View Post
Well if I went the cutting board route then I would just make a general sized hole of around an inch or so and let it be. I'm using a super cheap router table now that has no insert at all but it's not large enough. It has only a single sized opening though and the hole size hasn't caused me any issues. I made a fence for it since the original was junk and the opening in it has caused me more trouble than anything else has, it's too large. I made it 2 inches. Should have been smaller. So I want to make either a two piece fence, or have sacrificial fronts that I can attach for zero clearance fences on my next one.

I also want up to a 3.5 inch opening for a panel raising bit so I would make two plates and swap them out as needed.

Chris, what kind of plywood is that? I was thinking of MDF for its stability and flatness as opposed to the plywood I have to choose from here (Lowe's only) being prone to warp. I keep reading about Baltic birch plywood being very stable but no one here sells it.
Duane, my local big box HW store is home depot. There, it is called "SandePly". I cannot put my finger on exactly why, but do not like MDF at all.
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post #7 of 11 Old 01-03-2013, 09:15 AM
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Here is a closer up pic of a plate and the way I duplicate them. Once I have one that I like, I use a trim bit to copy it.

That is a 1/4" bolt countersunk to hold them together. Carpet tape works too.
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post #8 of 11 Old 01-03-2013, 10:17 AM
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I salvaged a couple of heavy chair pads from the office and I use that material to make quite a few jigs including inserts. The stuff is 3/8" thick and some type of plexiglass.
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post #9 of 11 Old 01-03-2013, 10:37 AM
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I like Chris' set up. You could use your MDF for the base and put 1/2" ply on top. Get a 4' x 4' piece and you have the top and several inserts. If you want to buy an insert MLCS has good value. http://www.mlcswoodworking.com/shops...ate_kit_anchor
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post #10 of 11 Old 01-03-2013, 11:00 AM
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I like Chris' set up. You could use your MDF for the base and put 1/2" ply on top. Get a 4' x 4' piece and you have the top and several inserts. If you want to buy an insert MLCS has good value. http://www.mlcswoodworking.com/shops...ate_kit_anchor
thanks. my top is 2' x 4', and wouldn't you know, the inserts are a little under 12" long and 10" wide.
it came from a full sheet of ply i cut into 4 equally sized 2'x4' pieces.
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post #11 of 11 Old 01-03-2013, 07:01 PM
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If you catch them on sale, the Rockler router plates are pretty cheap.

http://www.rockler.com/product.cfm?p...0&site=ROCKLER

I bought one last time it was on sale for somewhere around $35 I believe.
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