Best router table: updated July 2018, hands on & reviews

Hey, my name is Jack I have been doing woodwork for almost three decades. I got into this industry summer of 1989 with a part-time job in a woodwork factory. Little did I know that it could lead to a career spanning over nearly half of my life. One day, my friends asked me what is the best router table he should buy since he’s retiring and want to be a good old handyman. Funnily enough, he could not decide what router table to buy at all after hours of research. So I promised him that I’ll give him the best advice as a gift for one of my best friends.

Today I would like to share my knowledge about buying a router table. This post has 2 parts, the first is going to address burning questions you might be having when it comes to router tables and in the second part, we will look at 9 of the most well-known router tables on the market to pick out the best router table for hobbyists, professionals and the best affordable table for the value.

To clarify, I am not going to list all the features of each table, you can find that easily on Amazon or any retail shop. In order to save your time, I have created a table where you easily identify the strength and weakness of each router tables, from my experience, features are only worth it if they have been putting to test by making your own projects with your own hands.

I was lucky to have the chance to get my hands on all of these tables on the list, and I got to say, some of these become the favorites that I can totally recommend to my best friends (hint: check out the Bench-Dog and those Bosch tables, I guarantee you will find what you like). Keep in mind, there is no perfect router table in the lower price range, however, we can choose the near perfect one to improve its weakness. For example, if you can spend a few minutes to work around the slightly warped top of these Bosch router table, then you will get yourself a damn near perfect tool for a very good price.

Router table basic

What is a router table used for?

Answer

A router is an essential tool in the workshop. I have used it as an all-purpose cutter, groove, moulder and shaper. The router has become a very essential part of any modern-day workshop. However, by mounting it upside down to a table many more benefits begin to arise. The table holds the router securely. This leaves both hands free to do the work. This is very useful when the workpieces are small or odd shaped which can be difficult to clamp. The table also provides a surface larger than the router base to support and reference your work.

Now that you know the uses of a router table the next step would be

How do I get a router table?

Answer

In the past, we used to make our own router tables. These days you can buy one in local hardware-store or on the web via Amazon etc.

What type of router fits a table?

Answer

Given that we have two types of routers the fixed-base and plunge routers. The most ideal router for mounting to a table is the fixed- base router. If you cannot afford to have a table dedicated router. I recommend that you buy a multi-base router kit. This has an adapter enabling you to switch between handheld and table routing with the same router.

A Cabinet router table or an Open-table Base?

Answer

Through my experience, the Cabinet style router tables come with extra storage space and noise reduction. An open legged table doesn’t provide the means for capturing any dirt below the table (you will have to use a broom or vacuum).

Now that I have addressed the burning questions. In my 30 years working with router tables. I have used both homemade and factory-made router tables. When buying a factory-made router table, you realize that they vary in prices and quality. I have seen manufacturers come up with clever designs to improve the quality of this essential woodwork tool. For instance, good dust collection has almost become a standard whereas in the past it was not the case.

This leads us to our FACTOR NUMBER 1:

  • DUST COLLECTION. Routers make dirt because most router cuts create handfuls of chips and lungful of fine dust. When buying a router table make sure that it has good dust collection.
  • 2. The top surface. Keep it flat and firm! This is the business end of the table if space is not an issue a large surface area is always ideal. I have seen on several occasions a router table warping and buckling under the strain of the router. The most preferred surfaces are the ones made of MDF. If you intended to use a heavy duty 5hp router, aluminium top is definitely a no go although an aluminium top is much more durable than MDF one. Old Jack recommends that you remove the router after use to prevent your tabletop from sagging.
  • 3. Easily Adjustable fence. You need to make sure you get this one right when purchasing a router table. In the past, we used to make our own fences even on purchased tables. I would also recommend that route if you are not satisfied with the one that comes with the table.
  • 4. The presence of an Auxiliary switch. From a practical point of view, you will be confronted by situations where you need abruptly stop the router. To avoid fumbling around make sure that the table has an auxiliary switch located in front.
  • 5. Compatibility with a wide range of routers. One size fits many scenarios is ideal from an economic and practical view.
  • 6. Durability. A stronger table is ideal since it can last longer so that you invest in other equipment to build a solid workshop.
  • 7. How easy is it to Assemble. We are living in the times of online shopping where the tables are now shipped piece by piece and the assembling is left to you as a consumer. Therefore, make sure that you get a table with clear assembling instructions. In the market, some router tables are good on paper. Yet putting them together becomes so hard. As a result, many end up “improvising” and compromising with the factory features.
  • 8. Height Adjustment. Having to reach down the table each time you want to adjust the bit is not ideal. Having a second hole in the base plate allows you to raise or lower the bit as you wish.

Now that we have established a framework for choosing a router table. Let’s take a closer look at 9 best router tables available in the market namely:

Best Router Table Reviews

  • Bosch router table ra1181.
  • Skil ras900 router table
  • Bosch router table ra1171
  • Bench dog tools 40-102
  • Promax cast iron router table extension
  • Kreg prs2100
  • Ryobi 32 in. x 16 in. intermediate router table
  • Portercable 698 router table
  • Grizzly t10432
  • Craftsman Router Table Combo

 

  1. Bosch router table ra1181 review ($$$)

Let us look at the measurements of this Germany piece before we engage in further discussions.

Height 14.5inch (36.83 cm) Width 27inch (68.58 cm) Length 22.75 inch (57.785cm) Working length 27inch(68.58cm).

Working surface: 27″ x 18″ aluminum

For storage purposes, I can tell from the numbers that it’s a fairly standard table.

Things I liked about this table

This table is idle for both professional and hobbyist woodworkers.

The ra1181 has an aluminium top, which might not slide as nicely as the Kreg, but it can be out in the weather a bit more, which make it a good deal if you want a more durability. However, there is a reason why there is a very few router table with metal tops in the market: it can get rusted easily, and you don’t want to deal with that. This is why I prefer the RA1171 over this “upgraded RA1181”.

The Ra1181 table top is 27” x 18”, larger than its sister 1171 and most average tables but some might prefer an even larger table top for professional use.

One thing I like about this router table is how easy it is to adjust lift, especially if used with my old 1617 router(An outstanding aspect of this table is that it can adapt several routers(especially these made by Bosch as well as other brands), as you can see the list of compatible router here) – Just insert a key through the top and turn the micro adjust, or adjust the height from below the table.

Its fence is adjustable. It has very good dust collection built into the table fence. Assembly instructions are very clear as well.

Another plus point is the switch has two plugs so it can control the router and a shop vac at the same time.

On the right side of the Bosch router table, I like how you can keep your tools conveniently in a small pocket. Pretty handy but you may need to get used to it since it pops quite easily. This is where you can keep a set of offset wrenches to change the bits without removing the router from the table.

I like how weighty this router table is, at 30 lbs., it is heavy enough to be fairly stable while remains portable. Many users love its ability to stay put and stiff.

 Things I did not like.

The biggest letdowns according to several carpenters are the plastic bottom and the soft aluminium top which warps. Also, its adjustable fence becomes lose easily so it needs to be reinforced. The dust collection is good but given that the bottom is open, we still need to manage dust flying out when in use.

 

SCORECARD OUT OF 59/80

ATTRIBUTETop SurfaceDust CollectionPrecisionAdjustable FenceCompatibilityDurabilityAssemblyAuxiliary
Switch
Special features
SCORE68769788
Aluminum Top surface warps through use2 ½ inch pot makes it top of the rangeStays put and stiff during useIt becomes lose easily and needs to be reinforcedExcellent it fits a wide range of routersCould be higher but some of its plastic bits are really uncoolClear and Easy instructionsIt has two switches so you can control a router plus a vacuum. The table has grooves, to enable mounting to the ground if need be.
  1. Skil ras900 table review (Price $)

Second to be reviewed is the Skil ras900 table let us look at the measurements

Height 9.5inch (24.13 cm) Width 17.7inch (44.958 cm) length 27.7inch (70.358cm). Small enough for hobbyists who need to save space.

Work Surface: 26” x 16.5”.

I have used this table before it is Idle for both professional and hobby woodworkers.

Things I liked.

It has a folding design for quick and easy setup. The top is made of Medium-density fiberboard (MDF) which does not warp over time. Its biggest selling points are its very easy to assemble, so easy that, it doesn’t have a manual. For easy movement and storage, it has foldable legs, an integrated storage bag for accessories, a self-contained structure and much more accessory storage compartments for storing useful parts such as router bits and fences. These make it ideal in places where space is a premium.

Things I did not like.

The Skil ras900’s biggest minus is durability. It has many plastic parts. Also very discouraging is that screws needed to attach a router to the base plate are made of cheap aluminium, they can break during assembly. Many users complain about its precision issue. The margin for error is high when doing a job with it. One wonders that, while trying to make the table easy to assemble, the manufactures compromised on precision.

 

SCORECARD OUT 50/80

ATTRIBUTETop SurfaceDust CollectionPrecisionAdjustable FenceCompatibilityDurabilityAssemblyAuxiliary
Switch
Special features
SCORE853754108
ReasonMDF surface maintains its shape over timeAverage features are thereVery high error rate. It’s unstable during use.Just AverageJust AverageToo much plasticClear and Easy no ManualLocated in front Foldable legs for easy storage
  1. Bosch ra1171 review $ THE BEST ROUTER TABLE FOR THE VALUE

Height 14.5inch (36.83 cm) Width 25.5 inch (64.77 cm) length 25.5inch (64.77 cm).

Work Surface: 25″ x 16″ – smaller than the a1181 (27”x18”).

At number three on the review list is Bosch router table Ra1171. Ideal for both professional and hobby woodworkers alike. A cheaper but not necessarily lesser option than the Ra1181. In fact, I consider this table a better choice for most hobbyist woodworkers.

Things I liked

The biggest positives on this model are its adjustable fence does not move once set. More so, the on/off switch comes with a safety lock so it won’t turn on while in use. Assembly is easy and straightforward. I was also impressed by its precision and firmness when in use, since the table is supported by its heavy base at 42 pounds to keep it stable. The closed cabinet at the bottom makes it an excellent choice when it comes to dust collection to prevent chipping and dust, keeping your working environment clean.

You can find the list of compatible routers for Ra1171 here.

Things I did not like

Even though it is an excellent product, there a few grey areas. The biggest issue being the base plate which is not flat. Another issue is that the top is warped in some rare case so you might need to check this table carefully when you first buy, Bosch does have excellent warranty services so you do not have to worry if you don’t like the product.

When doing a job on this router table one is assured to have few minor issues and one of those is that adjusting the fence can be difficult when you are using the table. However, it is the best value router table when it comes to features and price, an excellent choice for hobbyist woodworkers.

Let us look at the facts of this table

SCORECARD OUT 60/80

ATTRIBUTETop SurfaceDust CollectionPrecisionAdjustable FenceCompatibilityDurabilityAssemblyAuxiliary
Switch
Special features
SCORE489868108
ReasonThe top surface is slightly warped.(fixable)ExcellentVery highExcellent it does not move under useDecent ExceptionalstraightforwardLocated in front Cabinet for noise reduction.

Its low price makes ra1171 a serious choice for the money. The score of 59/80 shows that it’s a very good investment and value for money.

 

  1. Bench dog tools 40-102 Promax cast iron router table extension review. ($$$)THE BEST ROUTER TABLE – I would recommend this one to my best friend.

Measurements

Height 5.1 (12.954cm) Width 21.7 inch (55.118cm) length 32.2(81.788 cm)

Work Surface: 16″ x 22″, bigger than both Bosch table.

This is a chunky, borderline industrial router table based on old technology.

Things I liked

It’s good for shops where space is tight. Its dual fence slot configuration lets you rotate the fence and work from either side of the table to maximize surface area. Its frame is one solid piece. It’s a table of my time no plastic funny features of today. The quality is so good that it comes with a limited lifetime warranty.

Coming with the cabinet style, the Bench Dog Protop is an excellent choice if you are looking for a good dust control table as it is able to keep dust, chipping from flying out.

Things I did not like

Even though it’s an excellent product the Benchdog’s biggest blemish is that its surface is not flat some users have gone as far as saying it is almost curvy and it creates problems during use. The second fault is that one has to be prepared to drill into cast iron to fit many routers.

A minus point is that this table does not have a dust collection port for the cabinet, making you have to clean out the cabinet manually. Still, I consider this product to be the best router table on the market to its versatile, durability and precision. Check out the table below for more details.

 

SCORECARD OUT 63/80

ATTRIBUTETop SurfaceDust CollectionPrecisionAdjustable FenceCompatibilityDurabilityAssemblyAuxiliary
Switch
Special features
SCORE699106858
ReasonIn rare cases, there may be a slight warp to the surfaceHeavy dutyExcellent it stays put during useExcellentBe prepared to drill holesExcellent with its metal, iron and heavy structureCan be tricky though still very easy to do.Located in front Dual fence slot to rotate the fence and work on either side,

At $330 this is an old school proper workshop equipment and it surely has value for money.

 

  1. Kreg prs2100 Review ($$$)

Height 5.1 (12.954cm) Width 21.7 inch (55.118cm) length 32.2(81.788 cm)

Work Surface: 16” x 24”.

The Kreg prs2100 is a decent midrange router table it can work for both professional and hobbyist alike.

Things I liked about this table

A no-nonsense table, which is exactly what an old-school like me love, the light weight gives the table portability, while rubber-feet bring stability and ability to absorb vibration while routers are running.

The Kreg prs2100 includes an anodized-aluminium fence with independent sliding faces. It also has rugged steel stand with vibration-dampening rubber feet which keeps the workplace quiet. It also has unique bottom-up insert plate levellers for levelling accuracy. Tabletop is smooth as glass, and the miter slot is a great feature.

Things I did not like

Unfortunately, the manufacturer over innovated and messed up on the fence which does not stay put during work. Therefore, if you can make a custom fence the better. The other minus is that it’s difficult to assemble the instructions are not clear. The smaller Surface makes it a lesser choice than the other tables.

 

SCORECARD OUT 55/80

ATTRIBUTETop SurfaceDust CollectionPrecisionAdjustable FenceCompatibilityDurabilityAssemblyAuxiliary
Switch
Special features
SCORE98747848
ReasonThe top is exceptionalVery goodThe table stays put but the fence is an issueOver innovation cost accuracyNeeds some improvisationValue for money Quite hard to buildidealRubber for noise reduction

At $230 the kreg2100 is not cheap but the score of 55/80 shows that it’s a very good investment and value for money

  1. Ryobi 32 inch x 16 inch review ($)

Measurements

As the name suggests it is a 32inch X16 inch.

I encountered this table when l was giving a neighbour woodwork classes recently.

Things I liked.

It is Compatible with major router brands. It includes five throat plates and has an integrated vacuum port to simplify woodworking projects. Retailing and $97 to $129 it is definitely not a professional’s router table.

Things I did not like

I was disappointed by the overall quality of the product as whole plus the table has very limited scope for precision.

 

SCORECARD OUT 50/80

ATTRIBUTETop SurfaceDust CollectionPrecisionAdjustable FenceCompatibilityDurabilityAssemblyAuxiliary
Switch
Special features
SCORE88379258
ReasonLimited MDF ExcellentThe table does not stay put when router is onStandardExcellent Too much plastic which breaks.okayidealRubber for noise reduction
  1. Portercable 698 router table review

Height 12.78 (32.401cm) Width 19.75 inch (50.177) length 16.75 (42.545)

This table was unfortunately recently discontinued by the manufacturer. It can still be found on the retail market and the second-hand market. It is the appropriate model for learners and beginners.

Things I liked

The entire table is made out of metal, therefore, it can last for a very long time.

Things I did not like

The router table’s layout and outline seem to affect its stability during heavy work.

 

SCORECARD OUT 52/80

ATTRIBUTETop SurfaceDust CollectionPrecisionAdjustable FenceCompatibilityDurabilityAssemblyAuxiliary
Switch
Special features
SCORE104365879
ReasonExcellentThe port does not work well, it is poorly made.The table does not stay put under heavy workAverage Average GoodokayConvenient

As I mentioned before this is an ideal table for the occasional craftsmen, professionally it’s found wanting where it matters the most precision and durability are its biggest weaknesses. That is why it scored 50/80

  1. Grizzly T10432 Review

Height 34.58inch (87.83cm) Width 31.78inch (86.72cm) length 24inch (60.63cm)

Things I liked 

The grizzly T10432 has a sturdy frame, steel stand and large adjustable fence plus universal router mounting. These features do make the table a good one.

Things I did not like

The biggest minus is that the insert plate made of plastic sags over time. Therefore I would recommend that you insert an aluminium one.

SCORECARD OUT 58/80

ATTRIBUTETop SurfaceDust CollectionPrecisionAdjustable FenceCompatibilityDurabilityAssemblyAuxiliary
Switch
Special features
SCORE77789767
ReasonWarped but can be fixed by replacing the insert plate with an aluminum oneDecentThe table stays putExcellentExcellent Decent Doable ideal
  1. Craftsmen Router Combo 112 ($$)

Height 34.58inch (87.83cm) Width 31.78inch (86.72cm) length 24inch (60.63cm)

Things I Liked

Unlike all the tables under review, the Craftsmen comes with a router,

Things I did not like

While other features are acceptable for hobbyists, the small surface makes it cannot handle heavy work and it has precession shortcomings, I also dislike the fact that it has too much plastic.

SCORECARD OUT 50/80

ATTRIBUTETop SurfaceDust CollectionPrecisionAdjustable FenceCompatibilityDurabilityAssemblyAuxiliary
Switch
Special features
SCORE783863510
ReasonAdequateExcellentThe table lacks precisionExtendable as wellProblematic Too much plastic.okayTwo switches

The table scores a 50/80 rating.

 

Conclusion

The verdict is Bench dog tools 40-102 Promax is the best router table on offer. It scored 63/80 it’s a high-end table and can work for workshops. The worst router table position is the Ryobi 32 in X 16inch. It is also the cheapest. You may notice that we do not like product made of plastic as it has poor durability and has a feeling of cheaply built.

Yet, for a non-professional woodworker, spending over three hundred bucks for a router table that does not bring in money is unwise.

I recommend the Bosch ra1171 at $. It has the best router table for the value of money as well as features it scored 60/80, put it the second place only to the Bench-dog 40-102. It scores high on durability and even comes with a cabinet for noise reduction and storage. This is the best table for hobbyists. Some may prefer the Bosch ra1181 due to having an aluminium surface, which does offer excellent durability when working inside, it is a bit pricier than the ra1171 though.

On the contrary, the Ryobi though it is the most affordable one, however, it is found wanting in terms of precision.