Upgrade Router Capability

So I have been wanting to progress this for a while to upgrade our Router capability.
The current Router table whilst serviceable, has significant limitations and is a bit of a pain to use.
Setting it up and getting repeat accurate cuts can be a significant pain.

  1. Basic Router Table
    Something like this is pretty much a replacement of what we have but much better quality
    Is reasonably priced and reasonably capable
    Can use the current router and has heaps of accessories

  2. All in one Cast Iron table
    Basically the same as above, but with accessories built in and a cast iron top which is more durable
    Also requires a different router than we currently have.

  3. Semi Auto Router
    Is greater capability but is more expensive than the above solutions, particularly with all the accessories.
    Is digitally controlled and therefore very accurate and can do lots of repeat cuts at different heights very easily.

Anyway, if you have thoughts, arguments or other suggested options please add them to this thread.

Wanted to add some more information for people reading :slight_smile:

Just to expand a bit on the last option, the advantage there is that its extremely repeatable. I believe that package is purely the fence and lift however, so if you wanted to make it a full router table package you would buy these also:

I believe none of these come with a router in them, so there’s two options here:

It can be a little hard to adapt Australian routers to router tables because we don’t get them in the same shape as the Americans do.

I think that we should go for a cast iron table surface if possible. Phenolic isn’t necessarily bad but I think in our environment it will wear quicker than we want. The cast iron table linked as option 2 only has a very very basic router plate in it, as opposed to a router lift, just fyi.

It’s also worth noting that while the ready2route system is $1,800, decent router lift platens are up to $1.4k on their own. What you really really want in these things is ability to do everything from above, adjust the cut height, change bits etc. How accurate the lift is, how repeatable, backlash, maintenance etc are all issues.

Whichever way we go, I think its probably a better idea to pick all our individual parts and assemble the router table platform we want rather than purchase a preconfigured kit (unless we ended up matching a kit).

A note on router tables as table saw wings: due to our always limited shop space I’ve thought long and hard about whether it makes sense for us to do this, and my end conclusion is no. Because a router table travels in the opposite direction, it greatly limits our ability to be able to cluster machines effectively in a central island. Its better to have a separate table where you can position the direction of travel as appropriate.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1z534iiZ3aC4h7dhmATfI0vCC9qDiJ5cyiUTWzcEfn4w/edit?usp=sharing I put together some costs into a google sheet. Please feel free to commment here or on the sheet directly and I will curate. My personal preference at this point is a cast-iron table with a lift + standard spindle. I think I’d rather put the cost of the ready2route toward the purchase of a CNC sheet router.

I’ve always found Timbecons method of listing multiple options for the same machine a bit confusing.

What’s the difference between a router table with ‘Plunge Router Lift’ and a ‘Lift & Round Body Motor’? Is a Round Body Motor just a standard electric motor deal instead of having a handheld router mounted underneath? I’d probably go more towards the ‘round body motor’ one.

Hi Mac.
You’ve got it -
‘plunge router’ : Your run-of-the-mill handheld plunge router, designed to be operated by humans.
‘round body motor’ : router body designed specifically to fit to some kind of machinery - no plunger mechanism, handles etc.
‘water cooled CNC spindle’ : REALLY FANCY round body motor designed to be run continuously for hours at a time on a CNC router table.