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Bosch RA1171 Benchtop Router Table
Pro features, shop-friendly size and price
Text & photos by Tom Hintz
Benchtop router tables have been popular with on-site contractors for decades. For the woodworker, these capable but space-saving benchtop tables can be just the thing to expand your routing capabilities without giving up precious shop space to a full-sized, stand-alone table.
The Bosch RA1171 is constructed of ¾”-thick laminate-covered MDF (medium density fiberboard) while the top is a bit over 1 1/8”-thick to insure stability during use. The cabinet even has a dust collection port on the rear face. In addition to a fully adjustable fence system, the Bosch RA1171 includes a heavy-duty aluminum plate capable of supporting even big horsepower routers without fear of sagging or distortion.
Assembly & Setup
Putting the Bosch RA1171 together was fast and easy. The cabinet parts come from the box ready for assembly. In many cases, the pre-drilled screw holes are located so they only match the correct mating piece. Special MDF screws with Allen socket heads hold most of the cabinet parts together and are driven with a 4mm Allen wrench that is included. All of the MDF and metal parts fit correctly making assembly a 30-minute task. Even the holes for the hinges, switch and other included accessory pieces are pre-drilled and fit the included fasteners very well.
Aside from adjusting the aluminum plate so it is flush with the tabletop, there is little to do in the way of setup. The Bosch RA1171 goes together so accurately, it is nearly ready to use when the last screw is driven.
Table & Cabinet
Both the table itself and the cabinet beneath it strike a good balance between being big enough to handle most woodworking jobs and being sufficiently compact to be manageable in the home woodshop – or on the job site.
The cabinet is 18”-wide and 13”-front-to-back. An important dimension is the 12 ½” from the underside of the table to the floor of the cabinet interior. That leaves lots of room for 2 1/4Hp routers like the Bosch 1617. We hung our 1617 motor in the Bosch RA1165 under table mount to make use of the through the table height adjuster and to keep the fixed base available for other chores. Though there isn’t a lot of room left over, the cabinet is big enough for the big boy Bosch 1619EVS, 3 1/4Hp brute, fully extended on its columns.
The base is 21 ½”-long, 14 1/8”-deep and has a 1 ¾”-wide lip along the sides that make clamping the Bosch RA1171 to a bench easy. Each corner also has a pre-drilled ¼”-diameter hole for screwing the Bosch RA1171 to the bench.
The table is 25 ½”-long, 15 7/8”-deep and a hefty 1 1/8”-thick. Again, the size is nice for the shop or work site, balancing capacity and conserving valuable space.
The table also has a full-sized aluminum miter slot running side-to-side. The extruded channel is shaped to accept T-style miter guide bars – like the one we got with a table saw and never use.
The Bosch RA1171 comes with a heavy, cast aluminum plate with hole patterns for several popular routers. (See chart below left) it also has a hole that allows access to the above table adjusting screw on the Bosch RA1165 under-table mount for the 1617 motors. Fasteners for most mounting options are also included.
The plate has a considerable amount of re-enforcement webbing on the underside to prevent sagging under the weight of even big horsepower routers. To prevent even small movements of the plate during use, it is secured with screws at the corners, directly into the leveling screws beneath it.
To make using various diameter bits safe and efficient, the plate opening can be reduced with three included snap-in rings. The rings have inside diameters of 1”, 2” and 2 ¾”. Without a ring the opening is “-diameter and can accept bits up to 3 ½”-diameter.
An important feature of any router table is a solid fence system. The Bosch RA1171 scores big in this regard. The supplied fence is not only large, adjustable and square, it is removable to allow working with larger freehand routing jobs. All fence functions are controlled with finger-operated knobs to make it completely tool-free.
The fence is based on a rigid 25”-long by 5”-tall aluminum extrusion that has a large gusset channel formed along the inside corner that makes it exceptionally rigid. When assembled, the face of the fence was checked and found to be almost perfectly square to the table surface. The flat mounting surface at the rear of the fence itself and the rear of the individual faces make getting it perfectly square an easy job.
To make this fence system even more versatile, Bosch includes a pair of 1/16”-thick, full-sized shims that when inserted behind the outfeed face, turn the Bosch RA1171 into an effective jointer. The shims have a long slot rather than hole so the MDF faces need only be loosened to slip the shim behind.
Note: This is the same fence system used on Bosch's other new router table, the RA1181. To see a short video of the jointing function in action - Click Here to see the RA1181 review with that video
The Bosch RA1171 has 2-1/2”-diameter dust ports on the fence and the rear of the cabinet. Insert the hose from your DC or shop vac and the majority of debris is removed from the work area.
The gap around the door, especially where it passes by the On/Off switch box appears to leave a substantial air leak that would compromise the efficiency of the cabinet dust collection. However, we need air going in to allow the vac system to remove it at the rear. In our testing, the gaps around the door seem to be sized right and allowed good airflow through the cabinet without modification.
The Bosch RA1171 comes with a pre-wired switch block. For On/Off functions, a rocker switch with a “bump” off cover makes sure you turn the router on when wanted and can shut if off quickly if necessary.
The switch block has a removable “key” that renders the unit inoperable when not in place. Keep in mind that the key is meant to prevent inquisitive types from plugging the unit in and giving it a test drive when you are not around. Removing the key does not take the place of unplugging the system from the power source when changing or working near the bit!
There are two grounded outlets on the rear of the block, both controlled by the On/Off switch. Plug the router into one and the dust collector in the other so both can be turned on or off at the same time from the same place.
The Bosch RA1171 kit includes a pair of featherboards and bit guards for use on the fence and another without the fence. One of the featherboards uses a mount that locks it in the miter channel but it can be changed over for mounting on the fence if needed.
The bit guards do help keep your fingers from the immediate area of the bit but they serve another safety-related purpose. When installed and adjusted properly, these guards help prevent chips and splinters from flying upwards off the bit or as they ricochet off a fence surface. Combined with the dust collection passages, the amount of dust and debris thrown about is surprisingly small.
In The Shop
The more I used the Bosch RA1171, the more I liked its size and features. Mounting this router table on a bench or stand is fast, easy and allows using it where you have space at the moment. Like most of yours, my shop is light on extra space. Being able to use the Bosch RA1171 in the area that is available at the moment is safer and prevents having to re arrange the shop.
The table is easily large enough for most common routing jobs and has enough surface to keep 6’-long boards steady while performing edging type operations. The fence provides plenty of contact area on either side of the bit and its height makes routing all but the largest of pieces on edge easy.
The pair of 1/16”-thick shims provided for jointing on the Bosch RA1171 is an exceptionally good idea. Being full-sized, the outfeed face is moved out consistently over its entire surface, making jointing a much easier and more accurate task. I think using both included shims, for 1/8” of material removal per-pass might be excessive but having that option covers all the bases.
Though I did make a few passes with the Bosch 1618EVS installed, the majority of the evaluation was done with a Bosch 1617 motor mounted in a RA1165 under table base. I think this will be the most common combination and it fits the Bosch RA1171 very well.
Throughout the evaluation, the Bosch RA1171 handled all routing jobs with ease and accuracy. The table surface is slick right out of the box and with a light coat of Johnson’s Paste Wax, stayed that way. All of the adjustments are easy to make and secure when locked down thanks to the large knobs that control them.
The fence is bigger than I anticipated on a router table this size and really adds to its capabilities. Raising panels flat on the table or on edge with a vertical bit is stable and safe. Along with its other features, the fence makes the Bosch RA1171 a very capable tool for any shop. It’s size makes using and storing it in a small shop an important attribute.
With a street price of $169.99 (7-14-2006) the Bosch RA1171 is an economical way to bring full-on router table capabilities to your shop. Between its space-saving footprint and being able to mount it to any stable, flat surface, the Bosch RA1171 can make precision routing easier in the space you have available. The adjustable fence, featherboards and heavy-duty aluminum plate further extend the value of this unit.
Visit the Bosch web site – www.boschtools.com
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