If you’re looking for more versatility for your woodworking, having a router is one way you can do so. Routers are ideal for cutting wood pieces in various designs, making them a handy tool to have in your arsenal.
You can even create router tables to make it more convenient. However, can you use any router with any router table? Check out this article to learn more about routers and what router to use for your router table.
What Are the Different Types of Routers?
A router is a woodworking machine used to cut a variety of designs, patterns, and grooves onto a piece of wood. In general, two types of routers are based on their design. These types are:
Fixed Base Router
The fixed base router is a router whose cutting bit is secured or “fixed” into a specific location on the machine’s base. The cutting bit cannot move vertically in a fixed base router, unlike in a plunge router.
However, unlike a plunge router, you can set and lock the depth for cutting on a fixed base router, allowing for greater accuracy. Fixed base routers are generally used for woodworks; wherein exact cuts are needed.
Named after the “plunging” motion that it does when being used, the plunge router has a base that can move vertically, allowing the cutting bit of the router to go through the material from above.
A plunge router helps woodwork such as fluting, grooves and rebates, insets, dados, and many more where one is needed to work on top of the board.
Despite this, plunge routers can still be used on edge work but not as efficiently as fixed-based routers. Plunge routers also often need bearings to be able to operate well.
There are also router kits wherein you can swap the bases between fixed and plunge, depending on your needs. These are called combination router kits and are great if you want the best of both worlds.
Can Any Router Fit Any Router Table?
A router table is a type of table that enables a router to widen the array of functions that it can perform. By mounting a router upside down, the router table allows a router to be more versatile with the jobs that it can achieve.
To mount a router base to a router table, one needs to fasten them into the table by screwing the mounting pattern on the router base to the insert plate or mounting plate on the router table.
However, it is crucial to note that the mounting patterns on a router base are not standard for all routers, which is also the same for the mounting patterns on a router table’s insert plate.
Despite this, there are common patterns on different types of routers and router tables. This means that a particular router base can be mounted to multiple router tables. Still, it cannot be mounted to all router tables.
However, you can always buy a different insert plate and install it into your router table if your current insert plate is not compatible with the router that you have. There are also insert plate sets that can accommodate the different mounting patterns of other routers.
It will cost you extra to buy them, though, and cost you time installing them manually. Therefore, it is essential to buy a router table that is already compatible with the router’s mounting pattern to save both time and money.
What Kind of Router Do I Need for a Router Table?
In general, you can mount or install almost any router on a router table. However, many newer router models can be better suited for mounting onto a router table.
This is because they have a built-in lift handle which is a mechanism that allows you to adjust the height of your cutting bit from above the table.
This allows for better ease of control since you will no longer need to reach below the table or remove the router from its mount before you can adjust the height of your cutting bits. Although you can buy the lifts and install them manually, they are often quite expensive and can even cost as much as buying a new router.
In short, you can use any router you have for mounting onto a router table. Still, suppose you want to adjust the cutter bit height to be more convenient. In that case, it is better to opt for new routers that have the built-in lift mechanism or buy a lift and install it manually on your current router.
It is vital to note that if you opt for having the lift, you will need to cut an extra hole into your insert plate for the lift to go through it.
Also, as mentioned in the previous section, it is essential to note the mounting pattern on the router you have or will buy when you are thinking of mounting your router onto a router table.
What Type of Router Is Best for a Router Table?
Although you can mount both fixed base and plunge routers into a router table, it is generally better to mount a fixed base router over a plunge router.
This is because mounting a router to a router table negates most of a plunge router’s advantages and functionalities. On the other hand, it complements a fixed base router’s ability to work on designs and other woodwork that require precise movement.
So, can you use any router with any router table? The answer to that question is a definite no. One cannot just mount any router to any router table. Both the router and the insert plate of the router table have mounting patterns.
These two patterns need to be compatible with each other to be able to mount the router. Despite this, you can buy insert plates separately and install them manually on your router table, but it will cost time and money.
Therefore, it is essential to note your router’s compatibility with the router table you’re planning to buy to save both time and money.
It is also great to find routers with lifts since they are very convenient once mounted onto a router table. These lifts allow you to adjust the cutting bit’s height without having to take extra steps.
Lastly, although you can mount both fixed base and plunge routers into a router table, it is often better to use a fixed base router since it is better for mounting than a plunge router.