It is possible to use a router without a router table but it depends on the scale of your project. Most routers are designed to be used in different ways which are either hand-held/stationary or mounted in a router table. While most people invest in a router table such as these, others decide to make their own. However, a good quality router table is designed to take most modern routers easily.
If you decide to use a hand-held router without a table, you should do so when working with larger pieces of material that may be hard to support on a router table. Hand-held routers can also provide a better view of the router cutter as well as the cut you are making. Therefore, you can alter the feed rate if required.
Router tables are best suited to smaller pieces of material that are not able to support the base of a hand-held router. However, a table router should always be used when you use larger router bits (over 44mm in diameter). This is because they are generally harder to control when using a hand-held router and a table can provide more stability overall.
How do you mount a router to a router table?
Every model of router may differ slightly so you should check the manufacturer’s guidelines on how to assemble your particular router to a router table.
Here is a general guide on how to mount your router to a router table:
- Check the insert plate is correct and identify the mounting holes that line up with the securing points on the router’s base
- If the insert plate is correct, turn the table on its side and line up the mounting holes to the bottom of the plate with the securing points in your router
- Attach the router to the insert plate via bolts. These insert into the plate and go through the base of the router
- You have to attach any washers or nuts if required for the router to be securely in position
As you can see, there isn’t much to mounting a router to a router table. As long as the insert place is secure on the table as well as insert rings in the insert plate, you should be ready to go.
Can you use a router upside down?
You can produce anything with a router and a plank of wood. This is especially true if you understand the correct way of using one. However, most woodworkers tend to make the mistake of moving the router in the wrong direction. You should always move the router against the rotation of the bit. This allows the bit to cut straight into the wood so you have complete control over the tool.
When it comes to mounting your router upside down in a router table, you can expand its capabilities. This makes routing easier and safer!
You should hold the router securely in place with both hands safely feeding the stock into the bit. From this angle, the bit is clearly visible so you can plainly see what you are doing.
Routing upside down is extremely useful when milling smaller parts, using large-diameter pieces of wood, and when you want to cut stopped grooves.
Do I need a table router insert?
A table router insert is what the router is attached to. It allows you to take the router in and out of the table more easily.
You will always need a table router insert unless you have the Triton Routers or a Freud above the table router. These routers allow you to bolt them directly into the top of the table as long as there is a ring set for you to pop in and out of the table. Overall, most router tables use inserts.
Lifting your router out of a table can make bit changes a lot easier. An insert generally has an opening that can accommodate larger bits such as panel raisers. This is difficult to achieve with a direct-mounted router.
A table router insert can provide maximum support for your work and can help minimise the risk of chipping. It limits the possibility of your woodwork snagging on or even traveling through an opening on the table.
There are many advantages to using a router table. Although there is a time and place (and size) for using these tables, many projects will benefit from their use.
You can see your cutting precision and speed improve drastically when setting up your router on a router table. You should be able to achieve more intricate cuts and inlay work which can be hard to attain with a manual, hand-held router.
Lastly, router tables allow you to make deeper cuts. You can customize your cuts and get more consistency than using a manual router.
If it makes your life easier, then you should certainly consider mounting your router to a router table as soon as possible.