Router tables are a huge aid in achieving precision and control when DIY woodworking – but not all tables are created equal.
The electric router is one of the most versatile tools available to woodworking enthusiasts, both amateur and professional. Although a handheld model can tackle the rare job more capably than a fastened one, it’s vastly inferior in most situations.
For that reason, any DIY woodworker serious about their craft should give plenty of thought to acquiring a router table to ensure they make the most of the tool’s abilities. But with literally hundreds of different models on the market, it can be difficult to know where to start.
Any comparison of router tables should take into account several different elements. Namely, the final decision should be influenced by the size of the table, the materials from which it is fashioned, the quality of those materials, the ease of the table’s use and, of course, the product’s price point, as well as any additional extras included in the deal.
We’re well aware that weighing up all of those contributing factors can cause no little headache, which is why we’ve done all the legwork for you. The following buyer’s guide should give you an insight into some of the leading options on the router table market, as well as answer some basic questions you might have about their use. Quite simply, it’s your route to router table success!
Last update on 2021-02-12 / All Pricing & Imagery from Amazon Product Advertising API
See more on our top picks below:
This sturdy, decent-sized table comes with its own 1,500W router and built-in height adjustment lift mechanism.
Cost: Price not available
Lumberjack have provided a one-stop-shop solution with the Lumberjack Tools RT1500, given that the table comes complete with a 1,500W router and both ½-inch and ¼-inch collets supplied as standard.
Best of all, its built-in handwheel lift mechanism allows for easy adjustment of the height of the router to 2mm accuracy, allowing for incredible precision with just the turn of a wheel.
The table proportions are adequate for most DIY jobs, coming in at 597mm x 457mm. At 22.3kg, it’s a sturdy enough unit, although the use of plastic in some of its elements does give it a slightly more lightweight and less reliable feel than if it had been constructed from alloy instead. However, the trade-off in materials is reflected in a very affordable price for such a comprehensive piece of kit.
Criticisms include the fact that the track is quite narrow (at just 12mm) and can be uneven, compromising the quality of the work carried out on it. Some consumers have reported a lack of quality and durability in the individual components, while Lumberjack’s customer service may leave something to be desired, as well.
All in all, though, it’s an attractive option for DIY woodworking enthusiasts who are looking for a quick and competitively priced integrated product.
- Comes with 1,500W mounted router and two collets as standard
- Lift mechanism allows for precision raising and lowering of router
- Affordable pricing for all-in-one solution
- Plastic elements compromise professional feel
- Reports of poor customer service from Lumberjack
Compact, stable and versatile, this budget-friendly option adopts a no-frills approach that pays off in its simplicity.
Unlike the Lumberjack option mentioned above, the Charnwood W012 doesn’t come with a whole host of additional bells and whistles. It’s only made to fit a ¼-inch router and doesn’t provide raising or lowering capabilities, meaning it resides at the more basic end of the spectrum when it comes to router tables.
Although it’s a self-assembly piece of hardware, the instructions are clear and there are plentiful videos online demonstrating how to put things together, meaning the construction process isn’t too complicated. The trickiest part comes when attaching the router itself, since the size and positioning of the unit means turning the router on and off once mounted might pose a challenge.
Having said that, there are plenty of things to admire once you are up and running. At just 8kg in weight, the table is incredibly versatile and can easily be moved around and positioned wherever you like; you can either use the included legs or clamp it to an existing worktop with ease. Don’t be fooled by that lightweight figure, however; the Charnwood offers great strength and stability, no matter what you throw at it.
Undoubtedly its strongest suit lies in the price-tag, however. For the outlay, you’ll be hard pushed to find a better router table on the market to meet your needs.
- Very affordable in comparison to other models
- Compact and lightweight without sacrificing strength and sturdiness
- Easy to assemble
- Only compatible with ¼-inch routers
- Installing the router and ensuring easy access to it can be troublesome
Versatility is the name of the game here, as this multi-purpose table offers six functions in the same space as one.
For any amateur handymen looking for a table that can handle a variety of different applications, look no further. The Wolfcraft Master Cut 2500 offers up the option to use it as a workstation, jigsaw table, saw bench, guided circular saw bench, milling bench and mitre saw bench. Six uses for the price of one!
Well, the price does obviously reflect its flexibility, coming in at considerably more expensive than any other table on this list – but then again, it’s quite unlike any other table on this list. The variety of different purposes to which it can be put mean that it’s more of an investment than a purchase and, given the requisite care and maintenance, could be the only one you ever need to own.
There’s ample space to work with, with the bench surface boasting generous dimensions of 1035mm x 695mm. It’s manufactured from impact-resistant MDF, making it resilient against general wear and tear, while the multitude of tool holes and measurement marks means it offers supreme ease of use. Despite its size, it’s not prohibitively heavy, either. At just 24kg, it could serve well for a tradesman who must travel.
The biggest downside is undoubtedly the heft of its price-tag, which budget-conscious DIYers might not be able to see past. But once that’s been overcome, there’s very little to complain about. One minor gripe might be that the attached guard is ineffectual at extracting dust, but it’s an issue that can be easily solved.
- Unbeatable adaptability with ports to accommodate all kinds of power tools
- Portable but ample in size and robust in constitution
- Accuracy and control are almost guaranteed
- Prohibitive price tag
- Unsuitable for those only in need of a router table
Incredibly lightweight and very affordable, this extendable table can do a more than decent job – but only for smaller routers.
Cost: Price not available
The ToolTronix 1800W boasts that it can accommodate any router up to 1800W in power. For a smaller router, it certainly is a budget-friendly and perfectly serviceable option, complete with an aluminium surface that offers rigidity and robustness.
The main table itself has dimensions of 460mm x 335mm, but the overall length can be extended up to 870mm with the addition of the two pressed steel wing tables. This offers ample working space for most home projects and is especially impressive given that the weight of the product is a mere 5kg.
However, one sticking point for many router owners is that those with a base plate larger than 157mm in diameter simply will not fit onto the table. In practice, that actually means the table can only really accommodate ¼-inch routers without modification, and given that base plate diameter isn’t always a standard specification for all routers, it might take some prior enquiries to ensure that the one you buy will be compatible with the table.
These teething problems, alongside a slightly tricky setup process, are downsides of the ToolTronix 1800, but on the whole it’s a great little table for the price – if you know what you’re getting and what you’ll be using it for.
- Attractive and affordable option for those working with smaller routers
- Somehow manages the contradictory feat of being lightweight, stable and expansive all at once
- Comes with No Volt Release (NVR) switch for additional safety
- Not compatible with routers with a base plate over 157mm – which rules out many
- A little fiddly to set up
Very strong and stable router table with modest dimensions and an even more modest price tag.
Cost: Price not available
The FERM 162mm is an impressive sight once assembled; constructed from stout aluminium, it looks every inch the robust router table it proclaims to be.
At just 450mm x 330mm in size, it’s one of the smaller options on the market – and as the name suggests, it only accepts routers with a baseplate size of 162mm or less. However, anyone who is aware of those limitations and happy to work within them won’t be disappointed with the functionality of the table… once they’ve got it up and running, that is.
Unfortunately, the instructions provided by FERM are nigh on useless, meaning that what should comprise a fairly straightforward assembly job can become a confusing ordeal. Fortunately, there are images available online to simplify things, but it’s a misstep from the manufacturers for sure.
Another complaint pertains to the flimsy plastic components which detract from the contrasting hardiness of the table’s main aluminium frame. From slack moulding to quick degradation, there are clear issues with inserts and other smaller parts of the table, which may be testament to its lower price tag.
Nonetheless, the FERM 162mm can still do a job, particularly for woodworkers who don’t require a huge amount of space or a large amount of versatility from their tools.
- Affordable pricing comparative to the rest of the market
- Aluminium frame is sturdy and durable
- Let down by cheapness and poor quality of plastic components
- Instruction manual is almost laughably inadequate for aiding in set-up
- Diminutive dimensions mean it’s only suitable for smaller jobs
How To Use A Router Table
The main advantage provided by a router table is the fact that the user handles the material itself and guides it against the tool, rather than vice versa. This allows for a far greater degree of control and precision, allowing for the creation of truly intricate pieces with relative ease.
Meanwhile, router tables which come equipped with a router lift allow the user to raise or lower the router with the minimum of fuss. What this means in practice is that the user is able to make grooves and cuts of uniform perfection throughout the whole piece, resulting in a far more impressive end product.
Not all router tables are equipped with a lift as standard, but they should contain an insert plate, mitre slots, an adjustable fence and additional safety features, such as guards and NVR power switches. A port for attaching a vacuum is also a common feature and can be very helpful in removing excess dust and debris, which not only improves visibility when working but makes the environment safer.
Users can either opt for a free-standing router table or one which mounts onto their workbench. The latter option is generally preferable, since it’s more lightweight and portable, but at the same time robust and stable when fixed in place. However, such a decision will rest on personal preference.
Are Router Tables Universal?
The short answer here is no. Router tables are not manufactured to handle any and all routers and in fact there is great variation in the sizes and wattages of routers that they can accommodate. Even insert plates which may claim to be universal are unlikely to fit all routers, so ensure you do your homework before you make a purchase.
The good news is that while there is no one-size-fits-all solution for router tables, there is certainly a solution to fit every size. All it takes is a thorough understanding of the specifications of the router you own and a small amount of research to ascertain whether the table you are interested in will accommodate it. Most suppliers will be happy to answer your queries to clear up this latter point if you remain in any doubt.
Jonny is an avid writer with a background in tourism, film and literature, but has a penchant for penning articles on all kinds of topics. He's always considered himself an environmentalist to some degree, but in recent times he has found himself shining a greater spotlight on his daily lifestyle choices and how the tiny changes he can make to his routine can have a cumulatively significant impact on the planet.