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Rockler Router Table Package
Fence to casters this package is accurate and dependable
Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz
Posted - 1-15-2014
The route table may be the most-used piece of equipment in a woodworking shop except for the table saw. Though most of us have to spend our tool dollars carefully there is lots of common sense behind investing in a high-quality router table because of the impact I has on so many of our projects now and in the future.
The Rockler Router Table Package reviewed here is made up entirely using Rockler products. When you look at the quality, price and availability it is hard to beat this combination. To keep some sense of order I am going to look at each component in the order in which I assembled them. I think you will agree that the end result is a great router table with all of the capabilities and durability we want!
In addition to the combination shown in this review Rockler has many variations available. You can cruise the links at the end of this review to see more on those set ups.
Rockler Router Table Steel Stand
This Rockler Router Table Steel Stand (#48426) is part of several router table packages from Rockler but can be purchased separately to go under your shop-built table or for many shop uses. This is an all-steel stand that uses heavy components and quality hardware to produce a stable and strong support system.
I assembled the Rockler Router Table Steel Stand by first putting both end assemblies together and running the fasteners down just finger tight. Then the cross pieces were installed and you have some options here. The cross pieces can be installed two ways to put the flanges up or down. I put the upper cross pieces with the flange up for securing the table top through pre-drilled holes. The lower cross pieces were installed with the flange on the bottom to support a drop-in shelf if I decide to add that later.
The Rockler Router Table Steel Stand comes with a set of heavy-duty leveling feet with rubberized pads on the bottoms that help resist sliding around. These feet can be adjusted to stop a wobble on a not-so-flat floor or to fine-tune the overall height a little.
Router Table Stand Casters
Like many of you, everything in my shop has to be on wheels to be brought out for use and then parked out of the way to free up work space. So I installed a set of Router Table Stand Casters (#47034) that not only let me move the table where I need it I can also lock it in place for use. A simple foot-operated lever at each wheel locks the wheel and the ball bearing swivel to keep the table securely in place. Flip the same levers the other way and the table rolls smoothly across the floor.
High Pressure Laminate Router Table
The high pressure laminate (HPL) table comes with a white HPL surface that improves visibility. The table is built around a 1-1/8" thick MDF core that is strong enough to support even the big horsepower routers. At 24" x 32" the table provides over five square feet of work area.
Plate or Lift
The Rockler Router Table Package is available with a tough 8-1/4" x 11-3/4" x 1/4" aluminum plate that has been CNC machined to insure precise flatness over its full surface. To get it flush with the table surface the plate has 8 leveling points and 2 diagonally placed locking points. These plates are available with a standard 3-1/4'' bit opening or the large opening of 3-11/16'' - diameter.
You can choose from several plate versions that come pre-drilled for most common routers in use today. See the full list of compatible routers on Rockler.com. They also offer a blank plate that you can drill for not-so-common routers should you have one.
This outfit comes with a Rockler Router Table Fence (#49298) and brings the versatility we need for use in a normal woodworking shop. This fence is tool-free, easily adjusted and solid. The fence is strengthened by an aluminum backer that maintains its rigidity. This backbone is 32”-long so there is plenty of table-wide support to insure the faces remain straight while in use. They also include a top-mounted Universal T-Track that makes mounting stops and other hardware as well as your shop-made (or many commercial) jigs and fixtures easy and secure. This T-Track is compatible with 1/4" T-bolts, 5/16" T-bolts, or 1/4" hex bolts.
The Rockler Router Table Fence also sports a 2-1/2" O.D. (2-1/4" I.D.) dust port and a high-visibility bit guard that is easily adjusted to best fit the job at hand. The fence faces are fully adjustable and are made from melamine-coated MDF that stands up to your work while maintaining a slick surface to insure smooth stock movement. The fence opening is generous for even the larger router bits woodworkers use.
Dust Collection Hose Kit
Dust management is always a concern on a router table so we added this hose kit to the Rockler Router Table Package. The components in this hose package give you plenty of options to hook up to your vacuum system. All of the components are made from tough polypropylene plastic.
The kit includes a 2-1/2" ID Flex Hose that expands from 12" to 36". You also get 2 hose end adapters 2-1/2" OD to 2-1/4" OD, a narrow nozzle and a wide nozzle attachment. With all of the variables included in this kit it is easy to apply to virtually any router table.
Safety Power Tool Switch
Safety at the router table must always be a primary concern. Rockler’s Safety Power Tool Switch (#20915) makes safety easy. It features a large, easy to find paddle switch that shuts the router off with the bump of a hand, or leg. That can prevent you from having to let go of the stock to shut down the router. The Safety Power Tool Switch mounts easily to nearly any router table with screws. That also makes it easier for you to position the Safety Power Tool Switch where it is easiest for you to reach or bump.
Standard 6-Pc Router Accessory Kit
I also added the Rockler 6-Pc Router Accessory Kit (#47443) that includes three table inserts, one 3-1/4” opening, one 3-11/16” opening and one blank that you can make a custom fit insert for special or frequently used bits.
This kit also comes with three feather boards that let you be more consistent and safer by reducing the chances of a kickback. Two of the feather boards mount to the fence to keep the work firmly on the table surface. The third is secured to the table at the slots to hold the work against the fence again for consistency and safety.
Porter-Cable 690LR Router
To power the Rockler Router Table Package I went with the Porter-Cable 690LR Router (#29205). This router motor has a great balance of power and cost to make it very popular. It has a 1-3/4 horsepower (11 amp) motor that generates (no load) 27,500 RPM. It comes with both 1/4" and 1/2" auto-releasing collets for the most versatility.
The aluminum motor case is fitted with sealed ball bearings and a dust resistant switch. The motor housing diameter is 3-1/2” which makes it compatible with a huge range of lift plates.
Quick-Change Musclechuck™ Type 1
To simplify bit changes I added the Musclechuck™ (#43849) that brings the bit ½” further above the table and lets you make the change with only a half-turn of a 5/32 in hex wrench. And the Musclechuck™ is self-extracting so the bits pop free when the screw is loosened. You don’t even have to use a spindle lock which makes bit changes easier yet. The Musclechuck™ is available in two types to fit a wide range of routers on the market today. See the listing on Rockler.com for specifics.
Aluminum Router Lift FX
To finish the Rockler Router Table Package off I added the popular Rockler Aluminum Router Lift FX (#23194). Built around a heavy-duty 8-1/4" x 11-3/4" x 3/8" aluminum plate to resists sagging this lift makes changing bits and adjusting bit height precisely a snap. A plug-in handle gives you good control over height adjustments. The insert plate's center hole (3-5/8" overall dia.) is designed to accept larger raised panel bits. Plus they include an insert ring with a 1-1/2" bit opening that accommodate of straight bits commonly used today.
In the Shop
Putting together the components that make up a router table can be frustrating when you find that one in less than compatible with another in some way. The Rockler Router Table Package suffers no such conflicts and lets you focus on doing your work safely and accurately. The overall size of the Rockler Router Table Package fits the average woodworker well and provides plenty of support in a package that doesn’t eat up floor space unnecessarily.
The fence system is both straight and easy to adjust. I like the simplicity and sturdy construction that gives us a slick guiding surface to make many operations accurate and safe because the movement of the wood is predictable and we are not fighting excess friction at the table or fence face. Dust collection is as good as any I have seen on a router table. The mounting tracks built into the fence make building and attaching specialty jigs very easy.
The stand and wheels are nearly mandatory in most shops. The stand has a nice height for working without straining your back. The wheels lock solidly yet allow us to move the Rockler Router Table Package where we can best use it in our always-too-small shops or even outside on a nice day. If your shop is like mine everything has to be on wheels to be effective where I have room at the moment.
The Porter-Cable 690LR Router is a good choice for supplying power on a budget. It’s not fancy but has the power we need without bells and whistles we never use. This motor has long been known for smooth-running which translates to long life and cleaner cuts.
While it is virtually impossible to design a single router table that will fit everyone’s needs and budgets Rockler has devised the Rockler Router Table Package so that you can select a range of components that tailor this outfit to what you really need and can afford. Not many major tools are as flexible in their makeup as the Rockler Router Table Package.
The Rockler Router Table Package may lack some of the sparkle of the high-buck versions but it does have the strength, stability and square surfaces that let us work on it accurately. The durability of the components mean this Rockler Router Table Package will last a long time without compromising its accuracy or safety.
I really like the range of kits Rockler offers that lets us get more for the tool dollars we have available. You get what you really need rather than buying features you don’t need to get the ones you do. The fact that it comes from Rockler with their decades of experience in the woodworking marketplace means we can buy this system knowing that they will be there tomorrow should we need them.
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