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How to Set up a Router Table

Jack Gordon - February 23, 2019 - 0 comments

In woodworking, a router table is a handy machine that is efficient in cutting desired molds. A router table is quick, uncomplicated and provides high precision as compared to using a router alone. In the market, there are many different types of router table available but all of them operate on the same basic principles. This article focuses on key issues that are essential in setting up a router table.


A simple router table has a number of steps necessary for it to be set up. As technology advanced and industry progressed the initial models were improved and changes were made on the bases and mounting plates. There are basically three types of router tables to choose from. They are as follows:

  • Benchtop which sits on a workbench and put away when not in use.
  • Floor-standing has a cabinet as the workbench and requires quite some space.
  • Extension wing is easily attached to the table saw and is quite economical as far as space is concerned.

It is imperative for the user to ensure that the base of the router table is stable so that during cutting it does not wobble. Moreover, the wheels of the table should have a locking mechanism so that the table does not shift when it is being used. Some tables also have an adjustable fence at the ends to ensure the workpiece does not fall off. Also, a dust collection port is useful in making sure the wood shaves are gathered as the work goes on.

There are several accessories that are essential to a router table. The performance of these accessories determines the cutting quality of the machine. The following are the key tips to look into:


This feature is responsible for turning the router on and off. During setup, this feature is important to handle the workpiece and it is crucial to check that It is working perfectly. This prevents the workpiece from not going beyond the table. This feature is in addition to locking casters’ wheels as discussed above.

Insert Plate

The router insert plate is an important feature to look out for when setting it up. This plate is attached to the router base and it should be ensured that it sits flush when attaching it to the table surface. The removal of the plate allows the adjustment of height easier. The router lift further eases off the task of adjusting the table height.

A lot of insert plates available in the market are equipped with reducer rings. The reducer ring is helpful in choosing a ring that matches the diameter of the router. This features reduces the possibility of a chip out and ensure that the pieces being cut do not tipple down to the opening around the router bit.

Setting the Fence

In order to achieve high accuracy, the router table fence is a crucial component of the router table. It is basically a scale and guiding mechanism that allows the workpiece to move uniformly to the bit as required by the user. The fence moves forwards and backwards so that the user can easily adjust the scale according to the cut dimensions. Moreover, there is a lock mechanism that allows you to hold the fence in its position.

Sometimes the fence does not run perfectly parallel to the bit resulting the guiding platform can be askew of the bit and still produce accurate cuts. This is because the fence should always be adjusted according to the bit because of the circular nature of the bit.

As mentioned earlier, the fence also acts as a guarding rail and can be equipped with feather boards to accentuate the safety of the router table. The dust collection port is usually attached to the fence to collect chips of the workpiece.

Positioning the Featherboards

Safety should be the first priority while using the router table and therefore featherboards play a vital role in ensuring the safety of the user. They help keep the fingers at a safe distance from the cutter bit. They should be set up in order to make sure an even pressure is applied by the vertical and horizontal featherboards against the fence and down on the table. It is important to tighten them up sufficiently so that they are held at one place and allow the passage of workpiece with even pressure. Anti-kickback is another feature which makes the fingers safer and stable while working.

Adjusting the Level

The first step should be to tighten the bit into the router to ensure it does not come off during machine operation. This step should be followed by mounting the router in the base and modifying the height of the bit. After the assembly of the router, the insert plate should be fitted and checked whether it is level or not. An easy way to check is to pass a piece of timber and check whether it snags over the plate where it meets the table. In order to lower the plate, grub screws can be used to adjust the level. The user should tighten it to move the plate up and loosen it to move it down. If a bearing guided router cutter is used, the fence should be adjusted to align with the cutter.

Machining a Curved Workpiece

A router table’s tool kit is equipped to perform curvilinear motions for non-linear cuts on the workpiece. Sometimes the cut profile is round over, chamfer and even cove and requires adjustment of the right set of tools. The first things that need to be ensured are that the bit has a bearing which acts as a guide for the routing process. A pivot is clamped at some distance to the bearing guide. The distance is dependent on the shape that the user requires to be machined. The pivot can be a pointed stick or a pin or dowel mounted to the tabletop. The pressure against the pivot should be even throughout the cutting. Careful precision is required while cutting a non-linear profile since for large parts the machining is free-hand.


Setting up a router table requires knowledge of basic accessories of the machine. The process is simple and straight-forward and the router table itself is very effective and flexible in cutting multiple profiles. The above information is sufficient to set up any router table. Moreover, upgrading it to adjust to our needs is also very simple and therefore these tables play a significant role for workers involved with machining. Getting the best router bits also play an essential role in achieving the best result for woodworking with your router.

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