flat material for worktops - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 15 Old 07-04-2020, 01:46 PM Thread Starter
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flat material for worktops

Hi to all,

I was planing to make a router table but can't decide on the material for the top.

What is the best option: plywood, mdf or chipboard?

The plywood seems to be the strongest one(especially with laminate) but I have problems of it not being totally flat, it tends to warp a tiny bit. I'm afraid MDF will sag with time.

Maybe you have other contenders? Any suggestions are welcome.
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post #2 of 15 Old 07-04-2020, 02:12 PM
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If your going to cover in laminate then particle board works great..mdf isn't very ridgid...plywood can work or melamine if not covering with laminate.
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post #3 of 15 Old 07-04-2020, 03:25 PM
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I have learned over the years from making kitchen countertops
out of particle board is to varnish or paint the bottoms of the boards
to semi-waterproof them. I have removed kitchen countertops that
have been in place 10 or more years that were turning to sawdust underneath.
(this is in Florida and South Georgia where humidity is a real problem).
your project = your call.

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post #4 of 15 Old 07-04-2020, 05:50 PM
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My router table top is two pieces of 3/4" mdf glued together with plastic laminate on both sides and an oak edge band.
It has served me well for the last 25 years. It's flat and durable. I don't have any plans to replace it.
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post #5 of 15 Old 07-04-2020, 06:30 PM
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Since you are asking I'll assume this is your first router table. Hence, my suggestion is melamine. No, it will not last for ever, but you will fully understand how you want to make your next (more permanent) top long before it looks crappy. In fact, I've made my last 3 out of melamine over the last 12-15 years. I like that if I want to mount a specific or single purpose/use jig the holes don't bother me because I can make another for a few bucks.
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post #6 of 15 Old 07-05-2020, 02:02 AM
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My table is 2 pieces of 18 mm white melamine screwed and glued to make 36 mm. Edged in cherry to stop the particle board getting chipped. T track and mitre track inserted fine.

4 years and counting, still all good.
Its quite big at a metre square, I use it for laying out and gluing up.
I can scrape any dried glue straight off of it.

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post #7 of 15 Old 07-05-2020, 02:24 AM
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I've had a few out of plywood and melamine. I prefer plywood personally but the melamine ones always held up just fine.



-T
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post #8 of 15 Old 07-05-2020, 08:12 AM
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I prefer mdf for any jig or fixture that has to be as flat as possible. It is not very stiff by itself, so a table made of it will sag unless it is well supported. Framing under it is one way to do this. The other way is to glue plastic laminate to both top and bottom. Laminate has a surprisingly high modulus of elasticity, so a stress skin slab made this way will be very stiff and less prone to sagging. It has to be pressed flat to begin with, have full glue coverage of both faces with a non water based glue, and be pressed with as much pressure as you can manage while the glue cures. I've made plattens for my veneer presses this way.

If that's more complex than what you'd like to do, the suggestion from regesullivan is a good one. It's low cost and easy. You will learn what you like and don't like about it. You will be ready to make a better one the second time.
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post #9 of 15 Old 07-05-2020, 09:04 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you all for the suggestions, I think I'll do it a simple way, from melamine or plywood I have laying around, because as regesullivan said, I'll probably have a few improvements on the design in a few years.
Just like I have made another crosscut sled for my tablesaw and still I have some improvements for this second design :D
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post #10 of 15 Old 07-05-2020, 09:08 AM
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Laminate doesn't last forever either. If you catch an edge and chip it , it wil be a large sore in production. This happened on this saw. They were told not to but ran construction chip board but ran it on this saw anyway. Ruined the fence and the table if this saw...
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post #11 of 15 Old 07-05-2020, 11:35 AM
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all will work. i have melamine covered particle board, have used mdf before
my son has a chip board router table cuz that's what he had on hand when he made his
i often screw pivots into my router tables top for circular cutting, thus the need to replacing the top

check out my cheap a$$ router table
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post #12 of 15 Old 07-07-2020, 05:35 PM
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Few weeks ago I finished my third router table :) 1st one was ply only, 2nd melamine only, 3rd ply+melamine, glued both with epoxy, picts:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1_EP...ew?usp=sharing
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1PjM...ew?usp=sharing
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1SDo...ew?usp=sharing
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1bSc...ew?usp=sharing

Inserted in table saw wing, edge finished with walnut, coat of poly by edges.

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post #13 of 15 Old 07-08-2020, 11:41 AM
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three 1/2 MDF laminated together covered in PLAM edged is hardwood make a really strong and flat work surface
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post #14 of 15 Old 07-08-2020, 12:21 PM
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A quality cabinet grade plywood should not warp. but if that is you fear, here is a solution.
You will need a perfectly flat surface to work on. Make the top of 2 layers of 3/4 " ply.
Glue and screw them together. Apply glue to one surface lay the other piece on top of it. Clamp them down flat with the table and screw them together. That flat surface should never warp again.
I have always edge banded my router tables and assembly tables and then laminated the tops with Formica or Wilsonart brand of plastic laminate. The table should last a lifetime.
I have never used plastic laminate or a backing sheet on the bottom. If you go with MDF, use the same procedure except a bottom layer of backing sheet of plastic laminate will be required.
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post #15 of 15 Old 07-09-2020, 09:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pretender View Post
My router table top is two pieces of 3/4" mdf glued together with plastic laminate on both sides and an oak edge band.
It has served me well for the last 25 years. It's flat and durable. I don't have any plans to replace it.
That's the approach I used (based on the Norm Abrams Router Table Plan). It has served me well for more than 10 years and it's still dead flat.
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