Router Table Fence Question - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 22 Old 10-11-2019, 01:53 AM Thread Starter
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Router Table Fence Question

Ok, I'm new to woodworking and don't have a router table yet as I'm still researching and of course buying other things for my bare shop :-( I always thought though that a router table fence was used like a table saw fence, to guide the wood in a straight line past the router bit. However today I was talking with a very experienced woodworker that told me it doesn't matter if a fence is straight.
The other thing I'm confused about is I see most (all?) DIY router fences that are one piece but watching the dvd that came with my Freud starter set of router bits they use a 2 piece router table fence and seem concerned that each section is in a straight line with the bit.
Can some of you experienced folks shed some light on these things?
Thanks, BillF
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post #2 of 22 Old 10-11-2019, 03:07 AM
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Dont listen to any more advice from your "experienced" woodworker friend.

Some cutters have bearings on top of them, like roundover bits. for those, you dont need any fence at all because the wood rests against the bearing as you cut the underside of the wood.

Sometimes you might want to cut a side rebate along a piece of wood. The top of the wood does not get cut so that wood MUST run along a flat surface or the cut will be as wonky as the fence. This fence can be one piece.

Sometimes you might want to make your router table pretend to be a jointer, then you need a split fence, to make the outfeed fence stick proud of the infeed fence and keep the wood straight as the bit slices the edge off.

The most versatile fence is a split fence, completely straight and vertical to the table when closed up.

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post #3 of 22 Old 10-11-2019, 03:07 AM
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I have 2 router tables with fences. One fence is an Incra. The Incra is great except when the halves of the fence aren't in perfect alignment. The other table has a home built fence. I made it from Baltic Birch. IMO the fence must be square to the table and be able to secure it in place as necessary.
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post #4 of 22 Old 10-11-2019, 03:13 AM
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They should be straight, and right angle to the table. I think what your friend meant was that since the router but is round unlike a saw blade, it isn't parellel to it.
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post #5 of 22 Old 10-11-2019, 09:11 AM
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Yes, and more .....

Quote:
Originally Posted by KenZ View Post
They should be straight, and right angle to the table. I think what your friend meant was that since the router (bit) is round unlike a saw blade, it isn't parallel to it.

A table saw has a long fence that is aligned parallel to the plane of the blade. Any deviation of the workpiece from being fed parallel to the blade will result in a kickback.



A router bit has only a point of contact, so the fence can be at an angle and need NOT be parallel. The fence controls the "depth" of the cut, not the height of the bit. The further away the fence is from the cutter, the greater the amount of material that is removed. Whether the router table fence is one piece or two, it still operates the same. A two piece fence allows you to close up the gap around the cutter for safety reasons.



As mentioned, some bits have top or bottom bearings and do not need a fence. The bearings control the depth of cut. When using a pattern bit, the bearing duplicates the same shape on the workpiece because it's the same diameter as the cutter.



The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)

Last edited by woodnthings; 10-11-2019 at 09:20 AM.
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post #6 of 22 Old 10-12-2019, 12:00 PM
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The 2 piece fences have sliding components to adjust the gap to the width of the bit. FWIW I've built several of them and personally don't like them. If I were going that route I would buy a commercial fence.


I go with a one piece fence and attach a sacrificial fence which I cut out for the bit. Usually just a piece of 1/4 MDF screwed to the fence.

Something to consider is there are several very affordable commercially router fences that for the cost, won't be worth it for some people to build one.
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post #7 of 22 Old 10-12-2019, 01:31 PM
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My advice would be to start with a very basic router table, nothing much more than the router mounted to a router plate fitted into a MDF or plywood table.
Any straight board will work as a fence, bolt one end to the table top so you can swing it to adjust the position and clamp the other end.

As you use this you will be able to determine what you actually need in a router table, the type of fence you need and what bits you actually use.
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post #8 of 22 Old 10-13-2019, 02:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FrankC View Post
My advice would be to start with a very basic router table, nothing much more than the router mounted to a router plate fitted into a MDF or plywood table.
Any straight board will work as a fence, bolt one end to the table top so you can swing it to adjust the position and clamp the other end.

As you use this you will be able to determine what you actually need in a router table, the type of fence you need and what bits you actually use.
Probably the best advice yet!

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post #9 of 22 Old 10-13-2019, 07:06 PM
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I think Kenz is right about what your friend is probaply ment to say. I have a good router table for a year now and it became one of my most used tools in my workshop. Before I also had a solution that I could use as a router table but this kept me back from discovering all I could do and it took to much time to set it up. As a result I did not use it much and only if I really needed to.

Now I have a good router table I am more proactive in looking how I can use my router table in the projects I am making. And it increase the possibility's with your work projects. It makes it mostly nicer and better.

What I want to say is. Perhaps you should not invest all your money at first, but make it at least good enough that it will encourage you to work with it and discover what you can all do with it.

Best of luck

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post #10 of 22 Old 10-13-2019, 09:30 PM
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A good router table costs ......

A router table, router, lift and fence will cost about $1,000 all tricked out. I know, I have 2 of them. They are a joy to use, precise and they will accept all sizes or router bits.


The router lift is the heart of the table in my opinion. I use the Jess Em Mast R Lift 2, rock solid and the inserts are easy to change out. Inserts close out the opening around the bit, important for safety reasons. You will have a difficult time making your own "lock in" inserts. A commercial router plate typically comes with it own inserts, however.

A hole in a piece of plywood with a router screwed up from the bottom, is not ideal, nor very safe.



Feed direction on a router table is important. Routers spin CCW when upside down in a table, so feeding is from right to left:



Howevr, there are times when hand held routing, you will want to feed in the opposite direction:
http://www.waterfront-woods.com/Arti...p-Cutting.html

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)

Last edited by woodnthings; 10-13-2019 at 09:34 PM.
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post #11 of 22 Old 10-13-2019, 09:42 PM
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"A hole in a piece of plywood with a router screwed up from the bottom, is not ideal, nor very safe."


Sorry, but that's just not true at all. That is what I have been using for 27 years and there is no more safety issue with this system than with any other type of router table. The base is screwed to the bottom of the ply and is secure. The router is mounted into the base and clamped securely. Every router table is inherently dangerous because you have a spinning cutter sticking up out of it. Otherwise, this system works and is as safe as any other.
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post #12 of 22 Old 10-13-2019, 11:09 PM
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What size is the hole?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mmwood_1 View Post
"A hole in a piece of plywood with a router screwed up from the bottom, is not ideal, nor very safe."


Sorry, but that's just not true at all. That is what I have been using for 27 years and there is no more safety issue with this system than with any other type of router table. The base is screwed to the bottom of the ply and is secure. The router is mounted into the base and clamped securely. Every router table is inherently dangerous because you have a spinning cutter sticking up out of it. Otherwise, this system works and is as safe as any other.

You may have operated it safely, but we are recommending this to a novice. The hole should be close to the size of the bit. A 2" hole around a 1/4" bit is "not ideal" ..... just sayin'
How do you change bits? You would either have to unscrew the base, or rotate the motor out of the base to access the bits UNLESS your hole is large enough to get the wrenches down into it. Again .... "not ideal". Is the plywood attached to any supports, or is it just held by gravity? clamps maybe? ... not ideal or very safe in my opinion.


How do you attach feather boards and hold downs? Screw them into the plywood? A built in rail or slot works easier and faster in the case of a more refined table. Use what works for you, but there are some issues with just a basic approach...... again just my opinion.


Maybe overkill here:

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)

Last edited by woodnthings; 10-13-2019 at 11:29 PM.
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post #13 of 22 Old 10-14-2019, 04:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mmwood_1 View Post
"A hole in a piece of plywood with a router screwed up from the bottom, is not ideal, nor very safe."


Sorry, but that's just not true at all. That is what I have been using for 27 years and there is no more safety issue with this system than with any other type of router table. The base is screwed to the bottom of the ply and is secure. The router is mounted into the base and clamped securely. Every router table is inherently dangerous because you have a spinning cutter sticking up out of it. Otherwise, this system works and is as safe as any other.
Just browsed your site, looks like that router set up of yours didn't hold you back in getting some impressive work done.

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post #14 of 22 Old 10-14-2019, 03:32 PM
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My home made router table fence: a piece of aluminum extrusion from 8020, a steel alignment bar that can be used in the slots to keep the 2 fence halves in perfect alignment, aluminum mounting blocks with quick handles for side to side movement of the halves, 1 3/8" SS bars for front to back movement mounted in castings that I made in the back yard & machined at home. Top is a used cast iron shaper top that I machined the center out of and put an Incra (same as Jessem but better insert retention) router lift in. 3 14hp router. Not shown is the dust hood for the center of the fence.
Drag & drop apparently didn't work for photo?
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post #15 of 22 Old 10-14-2019, 07:25 PM
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Back in ancient times, (1974) I thought that I had invented the router table.

I had a piece of scrap inch aluminum about 14 inches square. After we rounded about inch off the corners we were able to swing it in Dad's (FIL) lathe. I milled a round depression about 1/8 deep and the size of the base. After finding the appropriate length screws (10-24) I made a box to hold the aluminum plate. This contraption was clamped to bench top and the edge guide for the Craftsman router served as the fence. There were holes in the sides of the box to access the base clamp, on/off switch, elevation/depth control and wrenches to change bits.

The shank of the bits was only inch so I didn't spin any large diameter bits. That router table served me for a good 10 years. The router itself probably went years between removal from the table for hand routing.

Was home made table safe? I would say so and as safe as either of my current big fat router tables.
Would I recommend my home made table for a novice? I was when I made it and I have since given it to a novice w/o repercussions.
The only unsafe part about a hole in a piece of plywood is the plywood may bend creating a concave surface. But that can be fixed by gluing some stiffening pieces of hardwood to the underside.

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post #16 of 22 Old 10-15-2019, 01:07 AM
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Well, woodnthings, I never claimed it was ideal, nor did I recommend it. I just disagreed with your statement about its safety. You are correct in that it is probably more hassle than a ready-made. I unscrew the router from the base (PC 7518 circa 1992) to change bits, that is not a problem. No, in 27 years I have never dropped it in the process. Nor have I ever dinged a bit when putting it in. That part is called "paying attention". I have a 3/4" top on it and 2" x 4"s on either side of the base, just like joists in a floor. The 3/4" top has a hole to accommodate my largest bits. (The largest bit I have is a 1 1/2" radius round over bit, which is 3 3/4" diameter) I have 2 plywood tops of 1/4" thickness which I screw onto the 3/4" top, and they both have smaller holes for smaller bits. Most of the time, one of these is in place. The same goes for my fence. Multiples for different bits. The fence is rigid and I can clamp feather boards to it to hold down wood as needed, although that need is not often. I have also rigged up a mount for my vac hose which works if I'm doing profiles or rabbets.



The truth is, I dug this table out of a dumpster 27 years ago when I was just starting my business. I made a new top and added the 2" x 4" supports, that was it. I've never had much money, and what I do have, I spend on essentials like bits and blades. Dropping cash or even a lot of time on a router table has never even made it onto the list of priorities for me. But you know, it has done the job for me and I have no complaint with it.
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post #17 of 22 Old 10-15-2019, 08:47 AM
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Table saw fence VS router table fence ....

The fences are NOT used in the same manner!
On a table saw the blade is rotating vertically down towards the table. On a router table, the cutter is rotating CCW parallel to the table surface, and this makes a huge difference .


On a table saw you run the workpiece between the blade and the fence. When the blade is cutting, it's pressing the work down towards the table. The off cut can be on either side of the blade, it doesn't matter except for size or thickness.

On a router table, the workpiece is only placed on the left side of the cutter, NEVER between the right side of the cutter and the fence. In this case the cutter is spinning parallel to the table surface, not downwards like the table saw. This means any material placed between the cutter and the fence will be ejected horizontally back towards the operator..... at about 100 MPH. This rule must be followed!

With the cutter exposed to the left, and the fence controlling the depth of exposure, thee workpiece can be pushed INTO the cutter's direction of rotation safely. As with the table saw, the workpiece is fed into the blade, against it's rotation and not from behind or with the blade's rotation.

See the diagram in post number 10!

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)

Last edited by woodnthings; 10-15-2019 at 08:52 AM.
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post #18 of 22 Old 10-15-2019, 02:55 PM
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Determining Router Direction

Easy way to determine router direction, spread hand with thumb touching edge, freehand with palm down, imagine holding router, fingers will point in direction of travel, palm up when using table, imagine supporting material.
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post #19 of 22 Old 10-17-2019, 08:22 PM
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If you are new then a simple Kreg router table with a straight solid fence would be best
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post #20 of 22 Old 10-18-2019, 12:58 PM
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I have been woodworking for over 40 years and have built too many items to mention. I always thought I needed a router table or a shaper.......but I still don't have one.
Hand held routers with bearing bits have done just fine for me.
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