Router tables take your router and make it far more precise and useful. The added stability and convenience you gain lets you make complicated, professional-style cuts that you’d otherwise be unable to make.
If you’ve browsed online for a router table, you may have realized that they come with many different features, styles, and prices. And, if you’ve never owned one before, it can be hard to tell which ones are a good deal, and which ones don’t live up to their sticker price.
That’s why we’ve assembled this list of reviews of the best router tables of 2019. We’ve also included an in-depth buyer’s guide, so if you’ve never shopped for a router table before, you can get a good education on every feature you should look for before you buy.
|Bosch RA1181 Benchtop|
|Kreg PRS1045||70 lbs||4.7/5|
(Best for the Money)
|Craftsman 37599||27 lbs||4.2/5|
|MLCS 2394 Extension Router Table Top & Fence||38 lbs||4.0/5|
The Bosch RA1181 Benchtop is a great choice for people who have limited workshop space but need a robust, high-quality router table. This model will attach to most workbenches, which makes it great for shops where you’re not going to have space for a full cabinet router. It comes with adjustable featherboards, which makes it easy to make safe, reliable cuts, but also allows you to cut several boards in the same way quickly. This feature makes it great for projects like crafting your own floorboards, where you’ll need to make a lot of the same cut repeatedly.
It also comes with a 2½-inch dust port, which means there’s a good chance that the shop vac you may already own is compatible with it. That makes cleanup easy and fast. There’s also a convenient pair of power outlets, so you’ll always have a good place to plug in your shop vac or other equipment that you want to use with your router table. One minor quibble with this table is that the fence is often hard to move, which is too bad given that the rest of this table is a pleasure to use.
The Kreg PRS1045 the runner-up on our list. It comes with a large table top without being too bulky, which makes it good for shops with some floor space to spare, but it won’t be too much of a space hog, either. It comes with a large 24” by 32” router table top, which makes it suitable for almost any project. The inclusion of a micro-adjust fence is also a nice touch, as it gives you confidence that every cut you make will be exactly what you want it to be.
The stand is adjustable to between 31” and 39” in height, which means you can set it to the height you find most comfortable. It’s also easy to assemble out of the box, which is nice given that assembly is often difficult on other models. What keeps this model out of first is its inconsistent inserts. Most are perfectly level, though a small number come with up to 1/16” of warp in either direction. You can exchange these inserts for a good one, but that’s a pain you shouldn’t have to deal with.
The Skil RAS900 is our choice for best for the money. One of the best things about it, and something you’ll notice right out of the box, is how easy to assemble it is. Not all router tables are like that, so it’s nice to find a model like that when you can. It comes with great featherboards and clamps, which make most routing jobs far easier, and improve the overall value of this router table. It also comes with a starter pin and guard, which makes it capable of making high-quality circular cuts, something you wouldn’t expect at this price point.
You also get easy bit changes through the tabletop with this router table, which will save you a lot of time and frustration while you switch between projects. Some router models can be difficult to attach to this table, so you may have to struggle a bit to get things to fit. However, you’re getting phenomenal value for this model at just about any price point. So, if you need a router table with great ease of use and a low price, this model is the one for you.
The Craftsman 37599 is a good router table if you’re a beginner to the field and want to try things out without making a huge financial investment. If that’s you, the first great thing you’ll notice is the price, which is very low on this model. Of course, that usually means that there will be quality problems, which we’ll address in a moment. It’s easy to assemble, which is another reason that this model is good for beginners, and while it doesn’t come with a great miter gauge or featherboards, it does come with some that will get you started.
However, this model isn’t compatible with a wide number of routers, which means you’ll have to drill your own holes in the mounting plate to get it to work, which is something you shouldn’t have to do. Likewise, the low-price results in questions about quality. There’s a lot of cheap plastic in this model, and while it may last you a while, this isn’t a model that’s going to last you forever. That’s not a big deal if you’re a beginner who would probably upgrade down the line but is something to consider.
The MLCS 2394 Extension Router Table Top & Fence addresses one of the problems found in the last model right off the back, as it comes with a universal router plate that should fit any model of router from any brand. However, the first big red flag with this product is the failure to include any brackets, meaning you have to fashion your own to attach your router, which can be a scary proposition. It also comes with a low-quality base plate that is hard to level, and then you’ll likely have to level again after attaching your router since it’s weak enough that it sags even under moderate weight.
It also isn’t a standalone device but is instead designed to mount to the side of a workbench. While this might sound like a nice feature, it’s only going to be useful for some people and will be a deal breaker for others. You also need to consider that you can get cheaper router tables, which means that you’re getting relatively-poor value with this table. While some people might be willing to deal with the downsides of this router table, it’s too much hassle for the price for most.
We hope our reviews have already given you some insight into the world of router tables. If you’re interested in learning more about router table or want to see an explanation of the thinking that went into our reviews, you’ve come to the right place. This is a great section to read if you’ve never bought a router table before, but it also contains some in-depth information that experienced users might find useful.
One of the features that most influences a router table’s usefulness to a given person is the range of routers that it accepts. Different routers have different arrangements for attaching them to a router table, so not all routers are compatible with all tables. If you already own a router, you should make sure to check the list of compatible routers before you invest in a new router table. That way you can ensure that you get one that will work with what you already own.
Likewise, if you don’t own a router, you should still check the list. Some brands make tables that are only meant to be compatible with their routers, while others will support many routers from multiple brands. If you’re not yet ready to buy a router, you should probably invest in a router table that supports as many models as possible so that you can choose from a wide selection when you are ready.
You should also keep in mind that many companies make different base plates for the same table. We’ll talk more about those in a later section, but for now, you should now that the base plate is the part that holds the router in place within the table. You can typically swap these out, though on some models they’re permanently affixed to the surface. If you can change these out, there’s a chance that you can get a first-party or third-party baseplate that will fit your router and also fit your table, so on some models, you won’t be limited to the original router list.
While you might assume that every router table would come with a great table, this simply isn’t the case. The cause of bad tables varies. Sometimes it’s because they were made from low-quality materials, other times it’s a design flaw that makes them hard to level, or sometimes production errors result in tables that won’t work well.
While a table that isn’t level might sound like a deal breaker initially, in many cases, it’s a fixable problem. Sometimes the manufacturer includes washers you can add to raise or lower corners to level out the table, or in a worst-case scenario, you can level the whole router table from beneath by adding shims beneath the feet. That’s not optimal, but it means that you can save a bit of money if you’re willing to gamble on a lower-quality product.
A much larger concern in table quality is a warped table. There’s not much that you can do about a warped table, as raising or lowering one side just changes where the warped section is and doesn’t cancel out the warp itself. There’s not much you can do to fix a warped table, so if you find yourself in this situation, the best thing you can do is return the router table and get a new one.
If you don’t, all your cuts will be a bit off, as you’ll be cutting in an extra dimension without meaning to. If the warp is small, there’s a chance it won’t matter, but in some situations where you need a tight fit, a warped table can make a project miserable.
The table surface is also very important, which is any it warrants a separate section. The very best tables are made from metal, but not all metal tables are made equally. The very best you can find are cast iron tables. These tend to be the most durable by far, and they tend to have few problems with warping. However, that great durability comes at a cost. Cast iron router tables are extremely heavy and not very mobile. That means they require a sturdier-than-average base, which means that you can’t skimp there, either.
The next best table surface material is aluminum. While it’s not as durable as cast iron, it holds its own. It’s much lighter, so you can move it around more easily, and it’s not as dependent on having an extremely sturdy base. Aluminum is more prone to scratching, which means it’s not going to look pristine forever, but hopefully, that’s not the most important thing you’re looking for in a heavy-duty piece of equipment.
You’ll also find plastic and wood table surfaces. You have similar problems and strengths in each. These are the lowest-quality surfaces, but they’re also hard to judge because they have the largest variance in quality. Some will hold up for the life of the table, while others won’t last nearly as long. These tend to be found on cheaper router tables, and they tend to have the most problems with warping. You should probably avoid these unless you need to buy a truly cheap model.
The base plate is another vital piece of the router table. It’s the part that sits in the table and holds the router in place. So, if it has any flaws, they’re likely to be serious. If the base plate is bent or warped, it’s not going to sit flush with the rest of the table, which means the wood you’re trying to cut will get jostled or stuck when you try to cut it.
Like with a bent table, if the base plate is warped, your cuts are not going to be nearly as precise as you’re hoping, and in some circumstances could be enough to make a piece of wood not fit where it needs to go. If this is the case, the whole router table isn’t worth much, so its imperative that you get a good base plate.
You can generally adjust each corner of a base plate individually to level it, which is easier on some models than on others. High-end models feature a turntable spring system that you can adjust without removing the base plate, though most models feature washers and shims that you add and remove to level the plate. The second method usually requires you to remove the plate each time, which can be a pain.
You also want to make sure that you’re getting a base plate that’s strong enough to support your router. It’s possible that you get a perfectly-level, perfectly-flat base plate that begins to sag when you attach your router. If you have a heavier router, you’ll want to invest in a model with a sturdier base plate.
The fence is a piece included with almost all table routers. The bad news is that most companies, in apparent cost-cutting measures, include a low-quality fence with your purchase. The fence is the part of the table router that you run the wood against to keep it straight while you cut them. However, you’ll find that most factory-included fences either aren’t straight or don’t fit with the table well enough to remain straight during your cut.
You have a few options for solving this problem. The first is to invest in a table router that comes with a high-quality fence. Another is to buy an aftermarket fence. These usually aren’t very expensive and are typically high-quality. You just have to make sure that you get one that’s compatible with your router table.
You could also build your own if you’re the handy type, though that’s a task that’s probably easier with a working fence and router table.
Many companies also include miter gauges, but much like the fences, they are often subject to cost-cutting measures that result in poor-quality products. The purpose of a miter gauge is to help you maintain a certain angle that isn’t 90-degrees while you make the cut. This can be a great tool for creating decorative pieces but is also sometimes necessary for perfect structural fits.
Unfortunately, when companies include a miter gauge, they often include a model that either struggles to hold its angle or isn’t accurate. If it can’t hold a constant angle under the pressure of an active router, there isn’t much value to the gauge. Likewise, there’s no value in a miter gauge with inaccurate angle markings.
This is another piece of equipment that you can buy on the aftermarket, and it may be worth it if you plan on making a lot of high-quality cuts.
No one router table is going to be the right thing for all people. And, of course, not every router table is going to be a reasonable purchase based on your budget alone. However, getting good value is about more than just spending as little money as possible. If you get a model that breaks down in less than a year, you’re going to be out at least the same amount of money to replace it, so that’s not a good deal.
On the other hand, you could spend a ton of money and get a top-of-the-line model and find that you have no use for many of the features, or don’t use it often enough to justify the cost.
Our advice is to take an honest inventory of every feature that you expect your table router to have. Once you’ve done that, restrict your list to the models that have those features, and don’t add ones that you don’t need. Once you’ve done that, it will be a lot clearer which models will be good buys for you, and which you’re better off skipping.
The Bosch RA1181 Benchtop router table is our top choice, as it can be mounted to most work benches and comes with a convenient power outlet. The Kreg PRS1045 ranks highly due to its micro-adjust fence and large table top but misses out on first due to the occasional insert flaw. The Skil RAS900 is the best value for the money on our list, as it comes with a bevy of great features at a phenomenal price. The Craftsman 37599 is a good choice for beginners but lacks the quality and durability that experts need. The MLCS 2394 Extension Router Table Top & Fence has a wide router compatibility, but makes strange demands, like requiring you to make your own brackets, which makes for poor value and sinks it to the bottom of our list.
Hopefully, our reviews have helped you understand what you should look for when shopping for router tables. Using that knowledge, you should be able to find a model that you’ll love using, and that you’ll love the price of, too.
Also, we just released a new router lift buyer’s guide. Feel free to read it if you’re interested!