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A router table is one of the most useful and versatile additions you can make to your shop. With the router mounted securely in a table, both of your hands are free for maximum workpiece control during the cut. That extra control makes some routing operations much easier – routing grooves or edge profiles, for example. It also allows you to do some things you couldn’t safely do with a handheld router – such as routing narrow stock, making cope-and-stick joinery cuts on the rails and stiles for paneled doors or cutting the raised panels themselves.
1. A Flat, Solid Top
It’s really important that the table surface is rigid and as close as possible to perfectly flat. In many router table operations – cutting joinery or treating the edge of a board, for example – precision is crucial. Even minor irregularities in the surface can lead to skewed joints, uneven edge profiles and other problems.
Rigidity is important for two reasons: First, a router table that flexes when it encounters the downward pressure necessary in feeding wood won’t reliably produce accurate cuts. In fact, it could ruin a profile being routed on the edge of a board or molding. Second, the table must be able to support the weight of the router and plate or router lift without deflecting.
So what kinds of materials provide the necessary flatness and rigidity?
Because of its low cost and reasonably reliable stability, MDF has become one of the most popular materials for both shop-made and commercial router
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