I want to build a router table for my first project in my new shop after I finish it sometime this summer. What would be best to use to make the top for the router table?
If you want to build a quality router table then choosing the right wood becomes very important. Two layers of oak plywood will make a strong frame, which will then be covered up with laminate.
Plywood works great. You can use birch or another speciies, , but be sure it's good cabinet-grade plywood, not a cheaper plywood meant for house sheeting, etc. Definitely use two layers.
MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) is another great substrate for a router table--it's what I lot of people use, and what we use for the substrate on Kreg Router Tables. MDF is stable and dense so it holds up well and absorbs vibration. I'd advise using two layers of 3/4", and then covering it with plastic laminate (aka Formica).
In either case, the thickness means you'll want a thinner plate to mount the router to so 1) you don't lose all of your depth capacity and 2) you can remove it easily for bit changes, etc.
Some time ago, I made a work top, (2) 3/4'' thick fir plywood sheets sandwiched together---
later it developed a slight warp.
Never could get it flattened out.
Built new ones, using MDF---they're all flat and stable.
Larger work tops, (over 2'x3'), should be supported by a framed member, or the like, on the underside,
so as to remain ''flat''.
I used 2 layers of 3/4 inch baltic birch (13 ply), edged with hard maple, with a layer of white laminate to keep the top real smooth. I also have support structure underneath. When I glued the plywood together, I used a bunch of screws for clamping, and then removed them all.
I really had a hard time choosing which type of top to go with for my router table. You gave me some great ideas and some great tips. If anyone else has any other ideas go ahead and list them. I'll write them all down and later I will pick the one that is ideal for my router table.
Do a search, using the search field, located in the upper hand corner of the page.
Perhaps you'll find some pertinent info.
>>>.... If anyone else has any other ideas go ahead and list them. I'll write them all down.../p>
1 1/4'' thick top, consisting of
3/4'' thick top side and a 1/2'' thick underside---
sandwiched together and glued,
a 3/4'' thick edgeband.
Buy a melamine board from Home Depot or Lowes. They're cheap, dimensionally stable, and pre-covered with a surface that will allow boards to slide nicely past your router bit. They sell them thick enough that routing out a recess for the router's plate won't weaken it, especially if you brace it well underneath.
When using melamine products you need to be sure to use the industrial grade. There are at least two grades of melamine one of which the cheaper is sold at the discount places and is not near as strong and wear resistance as the industrial grade. The difference being is the method of which the top coating (melamine) is applied. Some is cold rolled and some almost like painted on. The industrial grade is hot applied and pressed. Another difference is the grade of particle board that it is applied to. The industrial grade is a higher density than some melamine that I have had experience with.
Some do nor realize that there are two different grades of particle board as well with the better knows as the hight density board while the other is just a loose pressed particle board. I use the high density in such places as building laminate covered counter tops. It is a heavier product and does not ring like plywood and loose particle board laminated countertops do. Because the high density particle board is pressed tighter it is more warp resistant than the other loose pressed board.
Thanks for your inputs, Jay.
I've used some of the cheaper board---the ''loosed pressed'' variety---
And--- the laminate is ''VERY'' thin---like paper thin.
I have a router table top that I purcased from rockler, but in the future I would like to make my own router table. I think the best router table top I can imagine is made from 2 pcs of mdf 48''x48'' glued together with a laminate top that was edge in a hardwood. I would use 4 t tracks that went from side to side and end to end, I would have 2 fences facing oppisite each one with 2 router plates one each side. That way you could do doors without having to worry about changing bits. The base on a table that size could give you unlimited possibilities for storage for bits and etc. It would also have to be mobile and have a efficent dust collection system.